Indiana lawmakers strip Superintendent Ritz of powers

Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz was stripped of some of her powers during the legislative session this week.
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Indiana lawmakers went late into the night, but finally passed a balanced budget and wrapped up the session just before midnight Wednesday. But not all Hoosier voters are happy about some of the changes to education.

In a republican supermajority in Indianapolis, one democrat is having much of her power stripped away.

Voters picked Glenda Ritz for Superintendent of Public Instruction, but she's losing some of her authority thanks to Senate Bill One.

Ritz will chair the State Board of Education through the end of December 2016.

Starting in 2017, the board will pick its own chair. The bill allows Governor Pence to pick eight board members. Ritz will also no longer oversee standardized tests or grant money.

“There was a lot of legislation that was brought forward that should've just been left alone, left off the table, that didn't need to be addressed. And that caused a lot of contentiousness, a lot of splitting among the caucuses,” democratic state senator Jim Arnold said.

"It is not a power grab. It's a forced functionality. We have to have a strongly functioning State Board of Education working with the Department of Education for kids. It's been that way for 50 years but over the last two years it has not," republican Speaker of the House Brian Bosma said.
Religious freedom is the story that made national headlines. The governor signed it, then sent it back to the house and senate to be revised.
The changes mean that businesses can't use the law to deny service based on someone's gender identity or sexual orientation.
The new religious freedom law goes into effect on July 1st. Governor Pence's platform is anti-drug abuse, but he signed a law allowing counties to set up their own needle exchanges.
That's in response to places like Scott County, where they've reported around 80 new cases of HIV and hepatitis C in just a few weeks. Also, many voters were hoping lawmakers would lift the ban and allow people to buy liquor on Sundays. That plan failed.