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Weekly Statehouse update: Session hits its midpoint, partisan school boards bill dies

A zoomed in look at the dome of the Indiana Statehouse.
FILE PHOTO: Justin Hicks
IPB News

The first half of the legislative session wraps up as the Senate approves bills banning books and criminalizing electronic tracking, while a bill to move to partisan school boards dies in the House.

Here’s what you might have missed this week at the Statehouse.

SB 12: Material harmful to minors

The Senate passed a bill that strips school librarians and teachers of a legal defense against charges that they shared harmful materials with minors. Opponents worry SB 12 will suppress books that deal with difficult historic issues such as slavery and the Holocaust.

The bill’s backers say those aren’t the books they’re trying to get rid of – but shied away from sharing specific examples of what they say is pornography rampant in schools.

SB 161: Unlawful use of a tracking device

Under Senate-approved legislation, tracking someone electronically would be a felony under state law, with some exceptions. SB 161 came out of a case in which a woman was attacked by her ex-boyfriend after he tracked her with a GPS device. Exceptions include family members tracking each other and tracking your own property.

Join the conversation and sign up for the Indiana Two-Way. Text "Indiana" to 73224. Your comments and questions in response to our weekly text help us find the answers you need on statewide issues throughout the legislative session. And follow along with our bill tracker.

HB 1428: School board elections

And a bill – HB 1428 – which allowed local communities to decide whether to force school board candidates to use political party labels on the ballot did not get called down for a vote in the House. House Speaker Todd Huston said it’s unlikely the issue will be revived this session.

Find all the bills our statewide team is covering in our bill tracker at

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.