House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianaolis, standing left, and House Democratic Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, debate Tuesday whether the state superintendent of public instruction should be an appointed or elected post.
INDIANAPOLIS — State lawmakers gave final approval Tuesday to a top legislative priority for Gov. Eric Holcomb, but delayed the start of the policy change until the day after the Republican would leave office following a potential second term.
House Bill 1005, which passed the Republican-controlled House 66-31 Monday, replaces the elected state superintendent of public instruction with a governor-appointed "secretary of education," starting in 2025.
The sponsor, House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said he would prefer that the governor elected in 2020 get to pick his or her own leader for the Indiana Department of Education.
He's also not keen on provisions added by the Republican-controlled Senate requiring the education secretary be an Indiana resident for at least two years, have leadership experience in education, an advanced degree and relevant work experience.
"I would like to give the governor, of either party, the flexibility to pick some nationally renowned, off-the-charts person that we all say, 'Wow, we've attracted this person,'" Bosma said.
But Bosma agreed to accept the later start date and qualification requirements after they were added to get around a procedural roadblock in the Senate, which only approved the measure 28-20 after initially rejecting an earlier proposal that was more in line with Bosma's preferences.
"I just finally concluded this was the best policy that we were going to be able to get this session," Bosma said. "Doesn't mean we can't discuss changing it in the future, but I'd just as soon get the statute on the books at this point."
Several House Democrats condemned the decision to deny Hoosier voters their choice for state superintendent, a position that has been elected in Indiana since the mid-19th century.
"What's going to happen is the topic of education, which is so paramount for the quality of life of our constituents, is going to get lost in the governor's race," said state Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary.