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Indiana lawmaker seeks to close voucher law loophole

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A state lawmaker plans to sponsor a bill seeking to close a loophole that bars the children of some military families from taking part in Indiana's school voucher program.

State Rep. Robert Behning, R-Indianapolis, told WRTV-TV for a story that aired Monday he intends to introduce a bill in the Legislature's next session to close the loophole in the state's 2-year-old voucher law.

"These people have enlisted and joined the armed services, deployed all over the world. As long as are paying taxes, they should have the availability of the services the state makes available," said Behning, the chairman of the House Education Committee.

Indiana lawmakers last year approved the nation's broadest voucher program for low-to-moderate income families. In the 2011-12 school year, nearly 4,000 students took advantage of the law that allows parents to send their children to private schools using state funding.

But U.S. Army Sgt. David Greer recently learned that his 11-year-old daughter, Kaylee, wasn't eligible for a voucher to attend Christ the King Catholic School in Indianapolis. Greer's family owns a home in Indianapolis and pays local property taxes, but they've been living in Georgia, where Greer has been stationed at Fort Gordon.

Indiana's school voucher program stipulates that a student must attend an Indiana public school for one year before seeking a voucher to attend a parochial or charter school. That excludes Greer's daughter from taking part in the program for the coming school year.

"I just find it appalling. I don't think any state military members should be treated as out of state, out of mind," Greer said. "I'm basically being treated as if I'm not an Indiana citizen, as if I am not a Hoosier."

Officials with the Indiana Department of Education said that leaving active-duty military families out of the law was an oversight. As written, the state's law does not allow for a waiver or an appeals process.

Indiana lawmakers would have to make any change, said department spokesman Alex Damron.

"We would support members of the Legislature seeking to allow military families access to the program sooner rather than later," Damron said.

Indiana's voucher law has been challenged in court by opponents who say it violates the state constitution by funneling tax dollars to religious institutions. But supporters say the program gives families more education options.

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  1. Now if he'd just stay there...

  2. Daniel - what about the many US citizens who do NOT follow what the Bible teaches? The Hindus, Jews, Muslims and others who are all American citizens entitled to all rights as Americans?? This issue has NOTHING to do with "What the Bible says..." Keep all Churches separate from State! Pence's ongoing idiocy continues to make Indiana look like a backwards, homophobic state in the eyes of our nation. Can't we move on to bigger issues - like educating our kids?

  3. 1. IBJ should link to the referenced report. We are in the age of electronic media...not sharing information is lazy. Here is a link http://www.in.gov/gov/files/Blue_Ribbon_Panel_Report_July_9_2014.pdf 2. The article should provide more clarity about the make-up of this panel. The commenters are making this item out to be partisan, it does not appear the panel is partisan. Here is a list of the panel which appears to be balanced with different SME to add different perspectives http://www.in.gov/activecalendar/EventList.aspx?view=EventDetails&eventidn=138116?formation_id=189603 3. It suggests a by-pass, I do not see where this report suggests another "loop". 4. Henry, based on your kneejerk reaction, we would be better off if you moved to another state unless your post was meant as sarcasm in which case I say Well Done. 5. The article and report actually indicates need to improve rail and port infrastructure in direct contradiction to Shayla commentary. Specifically, recommendation is to consider passenger rail projects... 6. People have a voice with their elected officials. These are suggestions and do not represent "crony capitalism", etc. The report needs to be analyzed and the legislature can decide on priorities and spending. Don't like it, then vote in a new legislature but quit artificially creating issues where there are none! People need to sift through the politics and provide constructive criticism to the process rather than making uninformed comments in a public forum based on misinformation. IBJ should work harder to correct the record in these forums when blatant errors or misrepresentations are made.

  4. Joe ... Marriage is defined in the Bible ... it is mentioned in the Bible often. Marriage is not mentioned once in the US or Indiana Constitution ...

  5. Daniel - Educate me please: what does the Bible have to do with laws? If the government wasn't in the business of marriage to begin with, then it wouldn't have to "define" marriage at all. Marriage could be left as a personal, religious, or otherwise unregulated action, with no ties to taxes, legal status, etc. Then people could marry whomever they want, and all this silliness would go away. Remember to vote Libertarian in November.

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