INDIANAPOLIS — Despite plans to bar testimony on legislative bills during the upcoming special session of the Indiana General Assembly, there will be 90 minutes for public testimony on a school bill.
The decision came after a request from Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson, asking that legislative leaders allow for public testimony on House Bill 1315, which in part sets up a procedure for Ball State University to take control of the troubled Muncie school district and changes how Gary schools operate.
Testimony will be allowed on May 7, one week before the May 14 special one-day session.
The hotly debated bill was one of four considered critical but did not pass the General Assembly before its March 14 deadline.
“In March, Gov. Holcomb stated the special session would be used to give a $12 million loan to the Muncie Community Schools (MCS) and nothing more,” Lanane said in a statement asking for testimony.
“However, in a move that has misled the constituents of Muncie, Republican legislative leaders now insist on the complete, irreversible and undemocratic Ball State University takeover contained within the failed House Bill 1315. Further, I am dismayed they ask that this crucial bill affecting both Muncie and Gary be passed in a no-rules, no-constitution, no-amendment, one-day rubber-stamp session,” Lanane said.
In response, House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, and Senate President Pro Tempore David Long, R-Fort Wayne, decided to allow testimony on the bill.
In a letter to Lanane, Bosma said he would be interested in receiving testimony about a $10 million capital bond issue for Muncie schools, “which according to reports, was not used for its stated purpose and instead was placed directly into the district’s operating accounts.”
Bosma asked Lanane to have people testify with specific knowledge of the transaction. Bosma also asked for a transcript of the bond issue.
On Monday, Bosma will chair and Long will serve as vice-chair of the Legislative
Council, which is expected to make formal recommendations on the legislative agenda and procedure for special session. During that meeting, there will be 45 minutes allowed for each side of the House Bill 1315 issue.
For the May 14 special session, Bosma said the proposed legislation includes House Bill 1230, House Bill 1315, House Bill 1316, Senate Bill 242 and House Bill 1457 — a technical corrections bill. All bills will begin in the House of Representatives and maintain or receive a “House Bill” designation. Senate Bill 242 will become House Bill 1242.