Indiana Gov. Holcomb signs elementary literacy bill into law

Indiana Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb signed 67 bills on Monday, three days after lawmakers concluded their annual session.

This is Holcomb’s last year as governor as he cannot run again because of term limits.

Among the legislation Holcomb signed was a major item on literacy that was sought by Republicans in both chambers of the General Assembly and the governor’s office. Senate Enrolled Act 1 will hold back thousands more third-graders who don’t pass the state reading exam as a proposed solution to the state’s long declining literacy rates.

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The law includes some exceptions and establishes several early intervention processes. For example, all second-graders will be required to take the test to gauge their reading abilities.

While many lawmakers and organizations supported the early intervention pieces, the retention statute of the bill was hotly contested throughout the legislative session.

Eric Holcomb, governor of Indiana, speaks during a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden, business leaders and governors in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, March 9, 2022. (Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Holcomb also signed a bill Monday that establishes several new voter verification checks in the state. Among the changes, first time voters will need to provide proof of residency when registering in person, unless they submit an Indiana driver’s license or social security number that matches an Indiana record.

The law requires officials to cross reference the state’s voter registration system with data from the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles. The intent is to identify any noncitizens enrolled in the voter registration system, something voting advocates in Indiana say does not exist. It also gives the state the power to contract with credit data agencies to verify voters’ addresses.

Voting advocates called the bill cumbersome and said it could lead to legally registered voters being disenfranchised.

Once bills reach the governor’s desk, he has seven days to either sign or veto them. If no action is taken, the bill automatically becomes law by the eighth day.

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Most laws in Indiana go into effect July 1, unless otherwise stipulated.

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