2024 Legislative Report and Scorecard

2024 Session By the Numbers

The Latest Battleground: Indiana’s Schools and Children

This legislative session, certain Indiana lawmakers attempted to further establish Indiana’s schools—and youth in general—as the latest battleground in the Culture Wars. This extremist agenda is presented under the guise of “parental rights” and “protection of children” — when in reality these policies are infringing on our freedom of speech, students’ privacy rights, and freedom of religion.

At least eight bills were introduced this year targeting education. These measures seemed to be a calculated effort to diminish the quality of sex education, with a disproportionate impact on LGBTQ students, promote specific religious viewpoints in public schools, and chill speech in public institutions such as schools, government buildings and even online platforms.

Despite legislators’ best attempts to take our state backwards, the ACLU of Indiana, our partners, and our supporters were ultimately able to defeat many of these dangerous and unconstitutional bills — including the school chaplains bill, in addition to legislation targeting library funding and several anti-LGBTQ bills. Click through below to read more about the bills we defeated, the bills that passed, and how we will continue to make an impact. Scroll to the bottom to see how your lawmakers voted on key bills.

Chaplains in Public and Charter Schools



Indiana lawmakers this year launched an effort to bring unlicensed chaplains into public schools to counsel students, undermining the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. Allowing chaplains to serve an official role in our schools would have created an environment ripe for religious coercion and indoctrination of students. This directly violates another founding principle of our country – the separation of church and state. While some legislators claimed this bill was about addressing Indiana’s school counselor shortage, we urged lawmakers to reject this proposal and look for ways to better serve students that do not involve unconstitutional school-sponsored religion.

ACLU of Indiana supporters sprung into action, sending thousands of messages to state lawmakers urging them to uphold religious freedom by opposing the proposal — and it worked. The legislation was ultimately killed in the final hours of the legislative session. 

Human Sexuality Instruction



SB 128 would have imposed redundant and unnecessary burdens on sex education professionals, needlessly complicating an already vital subject. Some legislators argued that the bill aimed to enhance transparency by mandating school boards to review and approve sex education curricula. However, parents already possess the right to opt their children out of sex education and review the curriculum.

Our biggest concern was the bill’s use of an undefined term, “human sexuality,” to censor what teachers can and cannot discuss. We’ve seen this language used in recent years by Indiana legislators to censor conversations about the LGBTQ community. Again, Hoosiers saw the dangers of this bill and implored lawmakers to drop the bill, and SB 128 ultimately died.

All students deserve a high quality and inclusive education that isn’t censored by school board members’ personal or political concerns. 

Free Speech On Campuses

The rise in antisemitism is deeply upsetting and has no place in our schools, or anywhere. Efforts to address antisemitism, though, can be effectively balanced with the right to protected political speech. Unfortunately, HB 1002, as drafted, did not appropriately strike that balance. HB 1002 jeopardized free speech on college campuses by explicitly defining certain critiques of Israel as antisemitism. This definition would punish constitutionally protected speech, and would disproportionately infringe on the speech of Palestinian-Americans and supporters of Palestine. After backlash from free speech and Palestinian rights advocates, an amendment significantly improved the bill that took out these specific examples. The bill eventually passed out of the legislature, but was vetoed by Governor Holcomb, who released an official proclamation instead.

When lawmakers encroach on our free speech rights on campuses, they erode the foundation of these institutions: academic freedom, meaningful debate, and divergent opinions. While the final version of HB 1002 was an improvement from the original version, we still opposed the bill due to its broad language that could be used to silence protected speech. We stand with those who want to combat anti-semitism in a constitutional way and hope Indiana public universities will continue to adhere to their First Amendment obligations.

But HB 1002 wasn’t the only legislation to target free speech on campuses – SB 202 also undermines the same principle. 

SB 202 is wrapped up in language about free inquiry and expression, but we are very concerned about provisions limiting or chilling speech on campus. In particular, this vague bill addresses classroom curriculum and will leave subject matter faculty experts confused on what can and can’t be discussed. Given that a faculty member could face a range of serious disciplinary actions, including demotion and termination, this vagueness is particularly troubling.

The bill also creates similarly vague criteria for evaluation of tenure decisions. This will require a largely appointed Board of Trustees to evaluate the bill’s criteria across dozens of disciplines – a standard that is wholly unrealistic. The likely result is arbitrary promotion and disciplinary decisions, potentially informed by the political beliefs of a majority of the board.

The passage of both SB 202 and HB 1002 out of the legislature should sound alarms about the legislature’s willingness to encroach on students and educators’ freedom of speech. 

Online Age Verification

SB 17 was passed into law this year, and stipulates that websites with at least one third of its content deemed “material harmful to minors” are required to use an age verification method to guarantee only adults are accessing the website. If the website fails to do so, they can face penalties from parents and the Attorney General of Indiana.

While intended to “protect minors online,” this legislation will undoubtedly have a chilling effect on free expression online for adult Hoosiers. The legitimate fear of having personal information exposed may deter adults from accessing legal and constitutionally protected adult content, thereby limiting their freedom to explore and express themselves in a private digital space. 

SB 17 also uses the broadly defined phrase “material harmful to minors,” which could ultimately be used to target age-appropriate LGBTQ+ or sex education content. We’ve already witnessed a systematic effort to censor access to LGBTQ+ literature in Indiana’s schools and libraries using the phrase “material harmful to minors.”

Parents can already filter what content their children and youth access online. These existing tools can do the job of this bill, without infringing on Hoosiers' rights.

Student Privacy



This bill epitomizes the ongoing efforts from certain Indiana lawmakers to infringe on the privacy rights of Indiana children and youth, especially in the school setting. SB 46 would have required state, county, and local government employees to disclose information that a child or youth shared with them, including potentially private information, at a parent’s request – a violation of a student’s right to privacy. The bill would have imposed new, onerous civil penalties on any covered government employee found to have violated the law.  

Gender Based Terms



In a blatant attempt to deeply harm transgender individuals and their families, HB 1291 would have erased trans people from Indiana state code. This bill attempted to place antiquated gender assumptions as a rule of law, but Hoosiers will always stand up for the LGBTQ community. After outcry and backlash from the public, lawmakers refrained from even giving this bill a hearing. “Gender Identity” has been a widely accepted characteristic for more than two decades, and no matter how much they want to, Indiana legislators won’t change that by trying to erase it from Indiana code. 

Reproductive Rights

It’s been seven months since Hoosiers were stripped of their right to an abortion. Since then, countless Hoosiers have been forced to go out of state to access the abortion care they need. For those unable to muster the resources to travel out of state, many have been forced to carry their pregnancies against their will — a devastating consequence of Indiana’s abortion ban, especially in a state with the third highest maternal mortality rate in the country.

In the latest legislative session, lawmakers had the opportunity to improve the reproductive rights landscape in Indiana – despite the ban. Unfortunately, we did not see our elected officials step up to make Indiana a more hospitable place for pregnant people. 

Pregnancy Accommodations 

In a state that forces people to carry their pregnancies, we’re disappointed that lawmakers choose not to codify the Pregnancy Fairness Workers Act into Indiana law. This federal law grants pregnant workers the right to reasonable accommodations on the job, and HB 1024 would have further ensured that Hoosiers no longer have to choose between their paycheck and a healthy pregnancy. 

Sales Tax Exemption For Period Products

A crucial provision in SB 256 would have eliminated the sales tax of period products. While necessities like food and certain medical supplies are exempt from the state’s sales tax, Indiana currently taxes menstrual products at the highest rate in the country. We’re disappointed that some Hoosier lawmakers choose not to advance this portion of SB 256, despite passing out of the House. This proposal would have been a positive move in the fight against poverty and sexism. 

Medicaid Pregnancy Related Reimbursement Rates

In a state that has effectively banned abortion services, we’re disappointed to see some lawmakers refuse to bear the financial cost of their ban. People who are not financially prepared to have children will rely on Medicaid to pay for their necessary health expenses. Medicaid reimburses hospitals and doctors for these services, but far below the rate they would receive from the private insurance market. SB 242 and HB 1028 would have helped alleviate this problem. Rural and low-income hospitals will disproportionately bear the brunt of providing pregnancy care for Medicaid recipients. Without an increase in the reimbursement rate, we could see more rural obstetrics providers close their doors at a time when Hoosier women need more access to healthcare, not less. 

Attacks on Voting Rights

In an election year, our representatives should be working to make it easier to vote – not harder. But at a time when the fundamental right to vote has increasingly become a partisan pawn, some lawmakers made an effort to make it more difficult for Hoosiers to vote.

It is crucial to prioritize the protection of voter rights and work towards solutions that foster inclusivity, rather than exclusion, in our democratic process. The future of our democracy depends on it.

Voter Suppression

HB 1264, which was signed into law, could lead to unjust voter purges. Specifically, the bill gives new power to voting officials to verify citizenship by comparing the statewide voter registration system with the potentially out-of-date BMV list of temporary credentials given to noncitizens. People flagged with a potential discrepancy would have 30 days to prove their citizenship — something immigrants’ rights advocates say can be difficult to do in that timeframe. The bill also allows the state to use potentially inaccurate data from private credit agencies to cross-check voters’ addresses, and purge voters from the rolls if they are flagged for discrepancies.

We are also concerned that the proof of residency components included in this bill could hinder voter registration campaigns and will likely disenfranchise first time voters who are college students, part of the unhoused population, or other individuals who may not be able to meet the requirements.
While the goal of protecting our elections is undoubtedly important, it must not come at the expense of disenfranchising eligible voters — especially in a state where voter turnout is among the worst in the country. 

Prohibition of Free or Reduced Fare on Election Day (Defeated!)

In a blatant attempt to suppress voter turnout, SB 187 would have prohibited local public transportation agencies from offering free or reduced public transportation fares on election days. Cities like Indianapolis, Gary, Fort Wayne and Evansville in recent years have implemented these types of programs to help low-income Hoosiers access their voting sites. While we are glad this bill failed to advance, Indiana legislators should be focusing their efforts on expanding access to the polls, rather than further disenfranchising Hoosier voters. 

Criminal Legal Reform

Competency Evaluation (Victory!)

Our lawmakers took steps this session to ensure that defendants who don’t have the capacity to stand trial will not languish in Indiana’s jails. HB 1238 will streamline the process for a qualified mental health professional to examine a defendant, testify on their capability to understand the criminal proceeding, and assist with preparation of the defense. This improvement will protect our most vulnerable Hoosiers from being unjustly swept away in the criminal legal system. 

Fentanyl Test Strips 

Provisional data from 2023 reveals more than 1,500 Hoosiers died from a drug overdose. The majority of these preventable deaths are because of fentanyl. That’s why HB 1053 was introduced this legislative session to decriminalize fentanyl test strips. Today, fentanyl test strips are considered “drug paraphernalia” in Indiana, and the use of these life-saving tools can be considered a misdemeanor. While the bill passed nearly unanimously through the House, we’re disappointed it did not receive a Senate committee hearing. This bill would have prevented overdose deaths, with no negative impact on state resources. 

Marijuana Decriminalization & Hemp Bill

86% of Hoosiers support legalizing marijuana in some form, yet Indiana is one of a dwindling number of states that still has not implemented legal medicinal or recreational cannabis. This legislative session, numerous bills were introduced to decriminalize marijuana in a variety of ways. Yet, only HB 1079 received a committee hearing. We supported the original version of the bill that would have legalized the sale of craft hemp flower. The proposal ultimately failed, and while it would have been a step in the right direction, Indiana cannot begin to undo the harm that decades of failed War on Drugs policies have had—disproportionately inflicted on Hoosiers of color—without fully decriminalizing marijuana and expunging prior marijuana convictions.

Compassionate Release

Jail overcrowding inherently leads to conditions that the Supreme Court has designated as unconstitutional — and there’s no doubt that Indiana’s overcrowded, aging prisons pose serious health and safety concerns. We firmly believe that HB 1354 would have improved conditions, by establishing a system of medical and geriatric reprieve. This bill would have supported evidence-based pathways to release for the elderly and those with terminal medical conditions. We’re disappointed that lawmakers didn’t take the opportunity to make our prisons safer for everyone. 

Elimination of Money Bail 

HB 1263 would have abolished cash bail and repealed Indiana bail law. Currently, the overreliance on cash bail by judges leaves people – largely low-income and people of color – languishing behind bars simply because they cannot afford their bail, not because they pose a risk to public safety. 

Immigrants' Rights

In-State Tuition

Three bills – SB 106, HB 1065 and HB 1373 – were introduced to allow undocumented Hoosier students who graduated from a public school in Indiana, and have a pending DACA case, to pay in-state tuition at Indiana’s public colleges and universities. These young people are able and ready to actively participate in our economy, but are being denied the promise of the American Dream. We know that nearly 100,000 undocumented immigrants have made their home in Indiana, and we should support their growth into self-sustaining members of our communities. We’re disappointed that not one of these bills received a committee hearing, and are hopeful that next legislative session lawmakers will make this issue a priority. 

Foreign Land Ownership 

Indiana lawmakers singled out citizens of federally designated “adversary governments” for broad restrictions in property ownership and leasing – in essence, mandating national origin discrimination in Indiana. HB 1183 will restrict citizens from China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea and Russia from leasing or owning agricultural land or any property within a 10-mile radius of a military installation or armory, including if those citizens are living in Indiana lawfully. Thankfully, a last minute amendment supported by the ACLU of Indiana exempted lawful permanent residents and dual citizens from these restrictions.

Humanitarian Parole Licenses 

HB 1162 included language that voids a 2022 law that allowed access to BMV documents to Ukrainians granted humanitarian parole to be in the United States. Lawmakers passed this bill because a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction early this year in our case that extended this access to all humanitarian parolees in the state. As a result, the ability of humanitarian parolees to have access to vehicle registration and driver’s licenses is at significant risk. This is a particularly misguided step in a state where most people need access to a vehicle in order to earn a living, get their children to school and medical appointments, run basic errands, and attend religious services.  

Citizenship and Immigration Status

SB 181 is a clear attempt to target and punish Indiana cities like Gary and East Chicago that have established Welcoming City ordinances that limit their cities’ cooperation with immigration authorities. Now, Indiana law will require local governments and colleges to cooperate with demands from federal immigration authorities about a person’s immigration status. By feeding into a destructive narrative about undocumented immigrants, this bill is making our communities less safe by pitting law enforcement against immigrant communities.