Internet InfoMedia indiana gov holcomb greenlights bills addressing child care tenure reform and more

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb has signed a bipartisan bill to support child care in the state on top of 74 other measures, according to his office.

The signings on Wednesday included several contested proposals, such as an overhaul of faculty tenure at state colleges and universities, the repeal of a state statute letting Ukrainian refugees get driver’s licenses and broader gun rights for some state officials at the Capitol in Indianapolis.

Addressing the affordability of child care was a priority for both Republican and Democratic leaders this year, but lawmakers were limited in their action due to the nonbudget cycle. Indiana creates a biannual budget during odd numbered years.

INDIANA GOV. HOLCOMB SIGNS ELEMENTARY LITERACY BILL INTO LAW

Holcomb signed the state Senate agenda bill on Wednesday, expanding eligibility for a child care subsidy program for employees in the field with children of their own. The legislation also lowers the minimum age of child care workers to 18 and, in some instances, to 16.

The governor also put his signature to a Republican-backed bill that undoes some regulations on child care facilities. The legislation would make a facility license good for three years, up from two, and allow certain child care programs in schools to be exempt from licensure. It also would let child care centers in residential homes increase their hours and serve up to eight children, instead of six.

Eric Holcomb

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb speaks with reporters at the Indiana Statehouse on April 4, 2023, in Indianapolis. Gov. Holcomb has signed a bipartisan bill to support child care in the state on top of 74 other measures, according to his office. The signings on Wednesday. March 13, 2024 included several contested proposals, such as an overhaul of faculty tenure at state colleges and universities, the repeal of a state statute letting Ukrainian refugees get driver’s licenses and broader gun rights for some state officials at the Capitol in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Tom Davies, File)

Republicans have said undoing regulations eases the burden of opening and operating facilities. Many Democrats vehemently opposed the measure, saying it endangers children.

Holcomb signed another closely watched bill dealing with higher education on Wednesday, creating new regulations on tenure for faculty at public colleges and universities.

Tenured professors will be reviewed every five years and schools must create a policy preventing faculty from gaining tenure or promotions if they are “unlikely to foster a culture of free inquiry, free expression and intellectual diversity within the institution.” Backers argued it will address a hostile academic environment for conservative students and professors.

“Universities that fail to foster intellectually diverse communities that challenge both teachers and learners fail to reach their potential,” the bill’s author, state Sen. Spencer Deery, said in a statement Wednesday. “This measured bill makes it significantly less likely that any university will shortchange our students in that way.”

Opponents said it will make it harder for Indiana schools to compete with other states for talent.

“This is a dark day for higher education in Indiana,” Moira Marsh, president of the Indiana State Conference of the American Association of University Professors, said in a statement Thursday.

Holcomb also put his signature to a bill allowing certain statewide officials to carry guns in the statehouse and to legislation that repeals a law allowing Ukrainian refugees to obtain driver’s licenses. The repeal jeopardizes a discrimination lawsuit against the state brought by a group of Haitian immigrants in the same immigration class.

The second term Republican governor has signed 166 bills this year, his last in office under state term limits. Once bills reach the governor’s desk, he has seven days to either sign or veto them. If no action is taken, the bill automatically becomes law.

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Most laws in Indiana go into effect July 1, unless otherwise stipulated.

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