INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana lawmakers have killed a controversial school curriculum bill on Monday that would have restricted what educators could say in the classroom about race, gender, ethnicity and religion.
House Bill 1134, which opponents have called "racist" and "dangerous," was killed in the Senate on Monday ahead of a key legislative deadline.
Bills that don't advance this week are set to die. That's what happened to HB 1134. Lawmakers took two recesses on Monday to discuss some of the controversial bills and after discussing HB 1134, GOP leaders announced the bill would not be advancing.
Republican leaders said they were considering putting some of the bill's language into another bill moving forward, giving it a chance to still pass this session.
“At the end of the day, this one was difficult to move for lots of different reasons,” said Republican Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray. “We had some members of our caucus who felt like it didn’t go far enough. We had some members of our caucus who felt like it was too much of a burden on education.”
Bray said the GOP is still dedicated to moving forward legislation that would provide more transparency and parental input.
Many teachers spoke against it, and the part of the bill that includes a section that would have prevented educators from teaching one sex, race, ethnicity, religion, color or national origin is "inherently superior or inferior" to another. It also would stop educators from saying one of those groups is "inherently responsible for actions committed in the past" by others of that same group.
HB 1134 and SB 167 were sister bills. Both originally included language preventing teachers from telling students they should feel “discomfort.” SB 167 died after the bill’s author made remarks saying part of the goal was to make sure teachers remained neutral. The bill was killed shortly after he said teachers should remain neutral even when teaching about Naziism, despite later walking back those comments.
SB 167 died mid-January, its “sister” bill HB 1134 still had life and passed the House before making it to the Senate.
“1134 was a very complex bill,” said Sen. Linda Rogers, R-Granger, who tried to rebrand it as the “New HB 1134” with an amendment that severely gutted it.
“At the end of the day it’s been a very healthy debate,” Bray said. “We may continue to have some conversations about pieces of this as we move forward.”
However, GOP leaders would not say what specific parts of the bill could be put in other legislation.
The Senate is set to convene Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. and bills that do not pass a third reading will die. The House’s third reading deadline was Monday.
Lawmakers still have about two weeks to work on legislation that passed both houses.