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Weekly Statehouse update: 21st Century Scholars automatic enrollment, childbirth expenses expansion

A Senate committee advances a bill that would criminalize some bystanders in police situations. Legislation to automatically enroll students in a key state scholarship program continues to progress. And a bill headed for the full Senate expands the list of childbirth expenses a court can order fathers to help pay.

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

HB 1186: Encroachment on an investigation

Legislation headed for the full Senate creates a crime for a person who encroaches on a 25-foot bubble after being told to stop by a police officer who is “engaged” in their duties. Supporters say HB 1186 is about keeping police and the public safe. But opponents worry it’s too vague and could be abused.

HB 1449: 21st Century Scholars enrollment

The 21st Century Scholars Program covers full tuition at state colleges and universities for low-income students. But only about a half of eligible students enroll, in part because you must do so by the end of eighth grade.

Students are required to maintain a 2.5 GPA, earn at least a Core 40 high school diploma, and complete activities like visiting a college campus and filing the Free Application for Federal State Aid (FAFSA).

Proposed legislation, HB 1449, heard in a Senate committee this week would automatically enroll students, while offering the ability to opt-out. It would not change the requirements of the program, which also includes a pledge by the student to stay out of trouble, such as avoiding drugs and alcohol and the juvenile justice system.

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 throughout the legislative session. And follow along with our bill tracker.

HB 1009: Court ordered pregnancy and childbirth expenses

And the list of expenses a court can order biological fathers to cover 50 percent of around childbirth could grow to include items like cribs, clothing, blankets and more. Some lawmakers expressed a desire in committee this week to give those fathers more of a say in the purchase of those expenses.

Find all the bills our statewide team is covering in our bill tracker at

Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Copyright 2023 IPB News. To see more, visit .

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.