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Indiana House moves bill aimed at school board meetings

January 25, 2022 GMT

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana legislators advanced a bill on Tuesday that would force public comment in school board meetings, while a separate proposal seeking to add political party identifications to what are now nonpartisan school board elections throughout the state was effectively abandoned.

A House bill requiring school boards to accept oral public comment at every meeting, allowing no less than three minutes per person, was approved by the full House and now heads to the Senate.

The legislation is a response to contentious school board meetings in Indiana over the last year, during which some districts chose to temporarily suspend public comment periods.

A related Republican-backed proposal that would require candidates running for school boards to identify as a Republican, Democrat or Independent did not advance from the House elections committee by the Tuesday deadline, however.

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The committee chairman, Republican Rep. Tim Wesco, was not immediately available to comment on why the bill was held, or if lawmakers in the Senate could still advance their own version of the proposal.

The bill has drawn opposition from the Indiana School Boards Association and dozens of school board members from districts across the state, who argue that such steps would needlessly further insert politics into local school decisions.

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Casey Smith is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow Smith on Twitter.