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Weekly Statehouse update: Nursing shortage, transgender girls athletes bill opposition intensifies

Lauren Chapman
IPB News
The Indiana statehouse.

Opposition to a transgender athletes bill intensifies. Lawmakers are poised to reverse a key portion of their criminal justice reform effort. And legislators try to address the state’s nursing shortage.

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

HB 1041: Transgender girls athletics 

Hoosiers rallied against a bill that would ban transgender girls from girls high school sports, saying it harms trans students. That demonstration came in advance of a Senate committee hearing on the measure. HB 1041’s future isn’t certain – but it appears likely to advance.

Earlier in the week, lawmakers and LGBTQ advocates condemned the bill, drawing connections between it and other legislation supported by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian advocacy organization classified as a national hate group for its efforts targeting the LGBTQ community.

The group has been involved with passing similar bills – and litigation around them – in states like Idaho and Montana.

HB 1004: Low level felony treatment programs

Indiana’s 2013 criminal justice reform law aimed to keep people convicted of low-level, non-violent felonies out of the prison system and into local community corrections. But many counties don’t have adequate mental health and addiction treatment programs for those offenders.

And so a bill this session, HB 1004, would give judges the discretion to send people with low-level felony convictions to state prisons.

HB 1003: Nursing programs

And with nursing shortages at “crisis” levels, lawmakers want to relax some policies at nursing schools, making it easier to hire part-time faculty and replace some clinical training – working with real patients – with simulation programs.

Hospital systems support the bill – HB 1003 – but many nursing school leaders say they will weaken standards too much.

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. Trying to follow along with our coverage of the legislative session? We've compiled all the stories our reporters have published by bill number and topic here.

SB 200 and HB 1195: Driving cards for undocumented immigrants

Undocumented immigrants in Indiana are not legally allowed to obtain a drivers license. Immigrant rights activists have been disputing the law since it was put in place 15 years ago.

Two bills – SB 200 and HB 1195 – were introduced in the 2022 General Assembly that would reverse the law. Neither bill received a hearing in their committees.

READ MORE: Movimiento Cosecha Finishes 300 Mile 'Walk For Licenses' For Undocumented Hoosiers

Dominga Cortes is one of several thousand undocumented immigrants in Indiana who can’t legally drive. She and other members of immigrant rights activist group Movimiento Cosecha demonstrated at the Statehouse on Wednesday.

HB 1214: Sealing some eviction filings

A Senate committee heard legislation Wednesday that would seal eviction filings in some instances.

Those instances can include when there is no action on an eviction case after 180 days from the initial filing, when an eviction filing is resolved outside of court, or when a judgment is entered in favor of a tenant.

Tenant advocates have long argued that eviction filings can serve as a permanent “scarlet E” that harms a renter's chances of getting housing in the future – even if an eviction filing against them is ultimately thrown out.

During a hearing in the House, Representative Ethan Manning (R-Peru), who authored HB 1214, said roughly 40 percent of eviction filings don’t result in an eviction or judgment, and tenants should have the option of keeping those filings sealed.

State of Higher Education

Indiana's Commissioner for Higher Education gave her final annual address Tuesday, touting the state’s successes, as well as the need for more affordable, accessible and valuable education for students.

Lubbers highlighted some positives for Indiana like the 21st Century Scholars program, the rate of dual credit achievement for high schoolers and efforts to skill up the state's workforce.

But she said it's vital for colleges and universities to prove their value to students, as fewer of them enroll.

Stay in touch: sign up for the Indiana Two-Way by texting "Indiana" to 73224.

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