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Weekly Statehouse update: Partisan school boards, property tax relief debate starts

The Indiana Statehouse at night. In the foreground there is an art sculpture on the west side of the building.
Brandon Smith
IPB News
The Indiana Statehouse.

Lawmakers revive a debate over partisan school boards. There are challenges ahead for a makeover of Indiana’s public health system. And a property tax relief discussion begins.

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

SB 188: School corporation governing bodies

Indiana is one of 41 states that doesn’t allow partisan labels on the ballot for school board candidates. The only people who showed up this week to support a bill to change that were people mad at last year’s election results. They say partisan labels promote transparency. But opponents argue they will inject more hyper-partisanship into the process and make it harder to find good candidates.

SB 4: Public health commission

A bill unanimously approved by a Senate committee spells out about a half dozen core services local health departments must provide if they want new, dramatically increased state funding. Despite large support, the measure drew fierce opposition from those fearful of a state takeover of public health. And even some senators who voted yes voiced hesitance about the bill’s future.

HB 1499: Taxation of homestead property

As property values skyrocket around the state, lawmakers are exploring options to provide property tax relief. That includes potentially lowering the caps on how much homeowners will pay. But those solutions likely won’t affect this year’s tax bills.

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.

Brandon Smith has covered the Statehouse for Indiana Public Broadcasting for more than a decade, spanning three governors and a dozen legislative sessions. He's also the host of Indiana Week in Review, a weekly political and policy discussion program seen and heard across the state. He previously worked at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri and WSPY in Plano, Illinois. His first job in radio was in another state capitol - Jefferson City, Missouri - as a reporter for three stations around the Show-Me State.