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Elkhart council passes resolutions opposing state bills on tax cuts, school transparency

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The Elkhart Common Council passed two resolutions opposing state legislation at its meeting on Monday, Feb. 7.

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The Elkhart Common Council passed a pair of resolutions Monday night opposing legislation in the state House.

The first opposed HB 1002, which would lower a number of business taxes. Council members raised concerns that the change could potentially impact Elkhart’s city budget by $3 million dollars or more.

Councilman Brent Curry said the point of the resolution is to encourage legislators to provide for that lost revenue in the bill’s language.

“I think our effort here is to say to the state, ‘We don’t necessarily disagree with what you’re doing,’” he said. “All we’re asking — is there a way that you can replace these dollars to the cities?”

Some council members argued that since the bill is good for businesses, any lost city revenue would be replaced by private investment encouraged by the legislation.

“Whatever stimulates businesses to grow, we all win. The whole community wins,” Councilman David Henke said. “I think we have to look at that at a reasonable term to say, ‘We’re missing $7 [million], but we got a new investment of 15.’”

The resolution still passed 5 to 4.

The council also passed a resolution opposing HB 1134, which would require teachers to post all lesson plans online before the start of the school year, among other things.

Proponents say the bill is meant to increase transparency between parents and schools, but many educators say it’s meant to control what they’re allowed to teach students.

Several teachers spoke against the bill Monday night, including Krista Riblet, a 25-year educator.

“If you ever wonder why there is a teacher shortage in Indiana, it is because of the ridiculous legislation being discussed in the Statehouse by people who have no idea what happens in the classroom,” Riblet said. “If I truly had the power to indoctrinate my students, they would turn in all of their work on time and put their phones away while I’m teaching.”

Parents also spoke against the bill, including Janine Doot of Elkhart.

“Parents have a job to teach their kids hard things, to talk about difficult things, to introduce literature that is difficult,” she said. “I’m always really grateful that my kids come home with books that I haven’t read. It forces me to read them too, and it forces me to see different things and have conversations.”

The resolution opposing the bill ultimately passed 8 to 1, with Councilman Brian Thomas voting against it.

Council President Arvis Dawson said he and other council members planned to travel to Indianapolis Tuesday to discuss the bills with state legislators.

Contact Gemma at gdicarlo@wvpe.org or follow her on Twitter at @gemma_dicarlo.

Gemma DiCarlo comes to Indiana by way of Athens, Georgia. She graduated from the University of Georgia in 2020 with a degree in Journalism and certificates in New Media and Sustainability. She has radio experience from her time as associate producer of Athens News Matters, the flagship public affairs program at WUGA-FM.