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Bill to move to partisan school board elections dies in House

Indiana Republican Representative J.D. Prescott stands on the House chamber floor. Prescott is a White man with brown hair, wearing a suit.
Brandon Smith
IPB News
Rep. J.D. Prescott (R-Union City) did not call his bill on partisan school board elections down for a vote on the House floor.

Legislation to allow local school board elections to become partisan died in the House Monday.

It’s very unlikely the issue will be revived this year.

The bill, HB 1428, would’ve allowed ballot referendums, prompted either by a local school board or by citizen petition, that could’ve made school board elections partisan.

On the deadline for House bills to clear that chamber, the measure wasn’t called down for a vote. House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) said it was hard to find a “sweet spot” on the issue.

“Do you force people to go through primaries?" Huston said. "Is it just for the general election you need to declare a potential party affiliation?”

READ MORE: House committee moves toward partisan school board elections

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House Democratic Leader Phil GiaQuinta (D-Fort Wayne) said there was clearly not enough support in the Republican caucus – and none in his.

“Deep down, I think most legislators feel like this is one area that we just should not be putting more politics into the system,” GiaQuinta said.

A similar bill on the issue, SB 188, didn’t get a committee vote and died in the Senate earlier this year.

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.