Holcomb signs police reform, school funding bills into law

Indiana Statehouse (IBJ file photo)

Bills aimed at increasing police accountability and ensuring Indiana’s public schools receive full funding for all students during the coronavirus pandemic were among 19 measures signed into law by Gov. Eric Holcomb on Thursday.

House Bill 1006, a bipartisan proposal, includes provisions for mandatory de-escalation training, misdemeanor penalties for officers who turn off body cameras with intent to conceal, and bans on chokeholds in certain circumstances.

The bill establishes a procedure for the law enforcement training board to decertify officers who commit misconduct, and eases the sharing of employment records between police departments, thus helping to stop “wandering officers” from moving jobs.

It also includes $70 million to help the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy upgrade its nearly 50-year-old training facility and implement the changes made necessary by the bill, which takes effect July 1.

Indiana’s Republican governor also signed into law a bill that redefines what constitutes a “virtual student” and ensures schools receive full funding for all students, regardless of whether they are receiving instruction virtually or in the classroom due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A twice-yearly count of students attending schools is used to determine how much money the state allots to each facility. Through the end of the spring 2021 semester, students will not be counted as “virtual” in the most recent fall and spring counts, even if most or all of their learning takes place online.

Without that change, an estimated $160 million would be on the line for schools using hybrid formats or offering instruction online only as a means to minimize the potential spread of COVID-19. Current state law caps per-pupil funding for students who take at least half their classes virtually at 85% of full in-person student funding.

A rundown of other bills signed by the governor on Thursday can be found here.

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