Indiana Sine Die blog recap: Lawmakers pass budget, other key bills

Holcomb sine die

Gov. Eric Holcomb speaks at the post-Sine Die press conference in his office at the State Capitol in Indianapolis on April 28, 2023. (Credit: Kaitlin Lange)

INDIANAPOLIS — Lawmakers wrapped up the 2023 legislative session early Friday, and State Affairs was on the floor as the House and Senate did some last-minute wrangling to get things done.

Legislators passed dozens of bills over the last few days, including the $43 billion budget — but not until it was held up by some education-funding language that later ended with more money being allocated to public schools.

Gov. Eric Holcomb, at the post-Sine Die press conference, said he'll "gladly sign" the budget once it hits his desk. Other bills headed his way include one dealing with cuts to health care costs, one targeting material "harmful to minors," and one that takes aim at rising property taxes.

Reporters Ryan Martin (@ryanmartin) and Kaitlin Lange (@kaitlin_lange) were at the Indiana Statehouse. You can check out their updates on Twitter, as well as at State Affairs (@stateaffairsin) and right here in this blog.

Here's what we were watching. Scroll down through our posts to see how each played out:

This live blog has ended. We'll have a recap sometime Friday. Thanks for following along! Be well.

2:50 a.m.

Some last-minute wrangling over public school funding initially delayed the Indiana General Assembly from passing the two-year state budget on Thursday.

Indiana Statehouse night
"That’s a wrap. Time: 4:12 a.m." - Kaitlin on Twitter

But as the clock ticked into Friday, Republican leadership solidified the votes. 

For the House, the final approval came just before 1:40 a.m. 

For the Senate, it was 2:25 a.m. 

In the final hours, lawmakers stripped $300 million initially slated as part of a payment toward the pre-1996 teacher retirement fund and instead threw it toward K-12 schools. The update led to a change in per-student funding for traditional public schools, which jumped by 5.9% in the first year and 2.1% in the second. (Before the late negotiations, the numbers in the proposed budget were 4.1% and 1.9%.)

Republicans celebrated the budget as a “historic” investment in education.

It was a language choice that bothered Democrats. 

“When we say historic increases in funding for education, my question is: to who?” said Sen. Fady Qaddoura, D-Indianapolis, from the Senate floor. “My district, in the second year, will be harmed.” 

Sen. Andrea Hunley, D-Indianapolis and a former public school principal, also said the funding fails to keep up with inflation, which effectively amounts to a “defunding” of education. 

School choice vouchers were expanded significantly by Republicans in the budget. The program will now be open to families making 400% of the income required to qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, or around $220,000 in income for a family of four. 

“It gives parents the opportunity to choose what they believe is the best school,” Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Lizton, said from the House floor. “They’re the ones that decide what’s best.” 

Following the budget votes in each chamber, lawmakers also quickly passed an uncontroversial technical bill. 

And with that, the legislative session came to an end.


2:33 a.m.

2:27 a.m.

The Senate passed the budget 39-10, sending it to Gov. Holcomb.

2:12 a.m.

1:49 a.m.

One down, one to go!

1:39 a.m.

Read Kaitlin's Q&A with Rep. Jeff Thompson, the House's chief budget writer.

1:34 a.m.

1:12 a.m.

Also, House Bill 1499, the watered-down property tax relief bill, passed the Senate 49-1. It now goes to Gov. Holcomb.

12:39 a.m.

12:22 a.m.

The property tax bill, HB 1499, passed the House 98-0.

Rep. Cherrish Pryor, D-Indianapolis, said, "We really have not done anything significantly to help homeowners, so this is one step in that direction. I quite frankly wish we could have done more."


12:15 a.m.

The end is nigh! Kaitlin says the Senate is now headed to their final Rules Committee.

12:12 a.m.

House Bill 1004, another attempt to cut health care costs, has crossed the finish line. But, the final version of the bill has been significantly watered down and primarily calls for more data collection and analysis. Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, said it’ll lead to “uncontroversial data.”

Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso
Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso (Credit: Mark Curry for State Affairs)

“We are getting to the point where we are going to have all kinds of data to move into the future to make a decision about what are the best avenues for us to take as a state,” Charbonneau said on the Senate floor.

The bill no longer contains its most controversial measure - fining hospitals that charge more than 260% the cost of Medicare. Instead, the final legislation simply uses 285% of Medicare as a price point for comparison purposes, not to implement penalties.

Some opponents, however, were concerned that bill language could still lead to issues in the future.

“I hate to see us heading toward anything that would be perceived as price control,” said Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg, “and I’m afraid this 285% might be.”

As passed, the bill would still require large health care providers to charge for services based on where the service is actually provided and provide tax incentives for physician-owned hospitals.

The House approved the measure by an 89-8 vote, and the Senate approved it by a 45-5 vote.

It now goes to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s desk.


12:09 a.m.

11:48 p.m.

So you can decide for yourself, here's HB 1454; HB 1001 is, of course, the budget.

11:42 p.m.

11:23 p.m.

Here's the conference committee report on House Bill 1499 (property taxes).

11:03 p.m.


10:56 p.m.

10:36 p.m.

Rep. Ryan Hatfield, D-Evansville, with the line of the night. (HB 1004 is the health care bill, in case you forgot. A little bit curious about what the question was, though.)

10:34 p.m.

We can only assume it was "The Midnight Special."

10:17 p.m.

Kaitlin also says if you know where she can get some, let her know! (Ryan thinks this means he's an influencer.)

9:06 p.m.

Okay, here we go. The updated budget has been released, and Republicans reiterate their commitment to end tonight.

8:50 p.m.

Read Kaitlin's previous story on rising property taxes here.

8:46 p.m.

Here's the House Bill 1004 (health care) conference committee report.

8:45 p.m.

And now for some news that isn't Statehouse-related (and maybe the only thing some people in Indy care about right now): The Colts selected Florida QB Anthony Richardson with their first-round draft pick (No. 4).

8:33 p.m.

8:08 p.m.

The working headline for Ryan's forthcoming Pulitzer-winning piece has been unveiled.

7:43 p.m.

In what will likely be the final hours of the legislative session, lawmakers finalized Senate Bill 8 in hopes of lowering health care costs.

The bill requires pharmaceutical benefit managers (PBM), who negotiate agreements with drug manufacturers for insurance companies, to pass along discounts to those who are insured. Depending on the health plan, a PBM could do so by either lowering premiums or making drugs cheaper at the point of sale.

The final version passed the Senate by a 40-9 vote and the House by a 69-21 vote. The bill now goes to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb for consideration.


7:30 p.m.

The Senate passed SB 8 by a 40-9 vote, per Kaitlin. It now goes to Gov. Holcomb. The bill deals with pharmacy benefit managers. Stand by for a more in-depth update.

7:19 p.m.

House Speaker Todd Huston (R) confirmed that lawmakers are going to be releasing a new final budget in the next hour or so.

A not-published conference committee report shows that lawmakers are planning to pump more funding than planned into education, adding an additional $310 million for tuition support to schools over the next two years.

The budget released by lawmakers on Wednesday, which was supposed to be the final version, contained a 4.1% increase for traditional public schools in fiscal year 2024 and an additional 1.9% increase in fiscal year 2025. House Democrats and public school advocates asked for more.

Asked when lawmakers might finish their work, Huston said he was “trying to beat midnight.”

Per House rules, lawmakers are supposed to release the final budget 24 hours before the House can vote on it, but it appears lawmakers plan to waive that rule.

Ryan and Kaitlin

7:03 p.m.

6:59 p.m.

6:44 p.m.

The House is back!

And, in case you missed it, Crouch's red dress got some love today, as did "Seinfeld" (from Ryan, anyway).

6:32 p.m.

5:30 p.m.

Three bills are headed to Rules, per Ryan, and the House is leaving for another hour or so.

We also got the conference committee report on SB 8 (prescription drug rebates and pricing).

5:19 p.m.

"Sounds like they're about to send one bill to House Rules. And they're close on a few more bills," Ryan says.

4:56 p.m.

Ryan is also wondering if "these people have heard of a recycling bin":

Someone(s) hadn't heard about the budget problem and started the party too soon. ... Or maybe they had heard and started the party too soon.

4:54 p.m.

Will the legislative session wrap up tonight? That’s still unclear. 

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch (R) confirmed to State Affairs that there was an error in the budget surrounding the school funding formula, which means a new version of the budget may be printed tonight. 

Per House rules, lawmakers have to wait 24 hours after the final budget is released before they can vote on it. Crouch said the House was “looking at trying to waive” the rule. 

“I was told earlier we’re going to be here tomorrow, and then I was just told, ‘Oh no, we might get out tonight,’” Crouch said. “So I don’t know.”

Crouch also elaborated on a tweet criticizing lawmakers for inserting a last-minute provision into the budget giving elected officials substantial pay raises. She argued the pay raises should have been discussed earlier in the legislative process. 

“If it’s something that is important to do, and if the work we do really reflects a higher salary, which I’m not arguing against,” Crouch said, “it should be a part of the legislative process and it should be able to be discussed and vetted and people should be able to weigh in.” 

Ryan and Kaitlin 

4:38 p.m.

Here's a link to the current budget proposal.

4:23 p.m.

Kaitlin says the Senate is now going to caucus as well.

4:13 p.m.

There appears to be an issue with the budget. So, should we cancel those dinner plans?

4:09 p.m.

2:59 p.m.

From a previous report by Kaitlin: Health insurance is less affordable in Indiana based on workers’ average annual pay than the U.S. as a whole, a report from the Nicholas C. Petris Center found. On average, premiums for an individual were 14.1% of a workers’ annual average pay in Indiana, compared to 11.2% in the U.S. as a whole in 2020.

2:45 p.m.

Legislation about obscene and harmful materials in public schools has now moved through both chambers of the Indiana General Assembly. 

The bill's concepts, initially contained within Senate Bill 12, were tucked by Republican lawmakers into moving legislation after SB 12 died earlier this session. 

Republicans added the language to House Bill 1447, an education bill about third-party surveys. The legislation, largely supported by Republicans and opposed by Democrats, cleared both chambers on what is expected to be the final day of the legislative session.   

Now the bill awaits the governor.

Scroll down in this blog to read more about HB 1447 and SB 12, a controversial measure dubbed by opponents as the book-banning bill. 


2:26 p.m.

2:19 p.m.

2 p.m.

"Jeopardy!" theme song plays.

1:45 p.m.

House is in recess until 3:30. Perhaps Ryan and Kaitlin will be able to restock their snacks!

1:42 p.m.

"A wild @ryanmartin in his natural habitat (working on the House floor)" via @Kaitlin_Lange:

Production editor (and blog writer) Jackie Winchester really likes that carpet and wants to know if she can get it for her home.

1:35 p.m.

12:55 p.m.

More on 1447 (materials "harmful to minors") below. (We can't do anything about the snacks, though. Sorry, Kaitlin!)

12:40 p.m.

Hang in there, Ryan!

11:15 a.m.

Senate Bill 4, which seeks to revamp the state’s public health system, is on its way to Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) for consideration after both chambers approved the final version of the bill this morning. 

The House voted 73-21, while the Senate voted 39-10.

The bill sets up a grant program for local health departments to receive state money, with a goal of increasing services that local health departments provide, such as tobacco cessation programs or immunizations for children. 

SB 4 vote
Vote on SB 4 this morning. (Credit: Kaitlin Lange)

“This is a preventative health bill,” said bill author Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso. “I think where we have ended up is a very good bill that is going to move us into the next level of health care.”

The bill is paired with $225 million funding for the next two years in the budget bill. Before the pandemic, Indiana only spent $55 per capita on public funding, compared to the U.S. average of $91, leading to inequities in public health across the state.

The final bill no longer contains language added on the House side that created a task force to study the state government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As a body, I think over the last two years we’ve made a lot of adjustments to respond to the public health emergency,” said bill sponsor Rep. Brad Barrett, R-Richmond.

The bill had more Republican “no” votes than typical in the legislature. Some voiced concern throughout the process due to fears that the bill would expand the purview of the state health department following the pandemic when some conservatives accused the state of government overreach.


Rep. Brad Barrett
Indiana State Rep. Brad Barrett, R-Richmond, at the Statehouse on April 25, 2023. (Credit: Mark Curry for State Affairs)

10:55 a.m.

The House filed a conference committee report for House Bill 1447, confirming what State Affairs reported last night.

The legislation, crafted by a conference committee, was originally about school surveys and is now reviving language from Senate Bill 12, which died earlier this session. 

The bill would make it easier for employees of public K-12 schools to be criminally charged for providing books that contain materials considered obscene or harmful to minors. It would also create a new appeal process to request the removal of books — including a new requirement that school boards must respond to requests by the next public meeting. 

Rep. Sharon Negele, R-Attica, spoke during a House committee meeting this morning about some concerns she had with the original Senate bill that had been addressed in the conference committee report.

Before voting her approval, Negele wanted to ensure someone couldn’t simply disrupt school board meetings by repeatedly challenging the same books or by traveling the state to raise challenges in multiple school districts.

Indiana House Negele and Cherry
Deputy Speaker Pro Tempore of the Indiana House, Rep. Sharon Negele, R-Attica, and Rep. Bob Cherry, R-Greenfield, at the Indiana Statehouse on April 25, 2023. (Credit: Mark Curry for State Affairs)

HB 1447, though, will enable school boards to develop rules that won’t require them to relitigate the appropriateness of a book multiple times. It also would limit who can challenge books and materials — giving the opportunity only to parents or guardians of a student in the school or a community member in the school district. 

Rep. Martin Carbaugh, R-Fort Wayne, addressed Negele’s initial concerns in his comments during the House committee meeting. 

“Once a book’s been approved, it would seem we wouldn’t have repeat challenges of the same book,” Carbaugh said. “We want to be reasonable about it.” 

Three Democrats on the Rules Committee voted against the bill.

Rep. Ryan Dvorak, D-South Bend, said bills like HB 1447 — which draw heated feelings from both sides of the issue — should not be passed by the legislature during the conference committee process. 

“I think everybody knows this is a sneaky way to do legislation,” Dvorak said. 

In another change from the original bill in the Senate, HB 1447 would not affect public libraries. 

The bill next moves to the full House sometime today. It would also need Senate approval.


Indiana State Rep. Ryan Dvorak
Indiana State Rep. Ryan Dvorak, D-South Bend, prepares for session at the Indiana Statehouse in Indianapolis on April 25, 2023. (Credit: Mark Curry for State Affairs)

9:50 a.m.

From Wednesday night:

The House and Senate appear to have reached an agreement on where to put language that died earlier in the legislative session limiting materials that are “harmful to minors” in schools.

A version of a House Bill 1447 conference committee report obtained by State Affairs contains similar language to Senate Bill 12, a controversial measure dubbed by opponents as the book-banning bill.

SB 12 passed the Senate but never received a committee hearing in the House. (More below.)

9:46 a.m.

9:30 a.m.

9:14 a.m.

Time to update those scorecards.

8:05 a.m.

Good morning. We're back for what will likely be the last day of the legislative session. The House returns at 9 a.m., while the Senate will start at 9:15 a.m. with a Rules and Legislative Procedure committee meeting.

Lawmakers posted an updated conference committee report for the budget last night, with some minor Medicaid changes. You can read that here.

We started the week with a list of 12 questions, and we have four outstanding:

1.  Will language banning “harmful material” make it across the finish line after years of failed attempts by the Senate? An unpublished conference committee report points to yes, but it hasn't been finalized yet.

2. Will lawmakers make any big changes to lower health care costs? We're still waiting to see final bill language for two health care cost-cutting bills.

3. Will Hoosiers receive any property tax reliefLawmakers say Hoosiers will see some in House Bill 1499, but we also haven't seen the final bill language for that. 

4. When will the legislative session actually end? Probably today, but what time? 

— Ryan and Kaitlin

This live blog is adjourned....until Thursday.

7 p.m.

The House and Senate are done for the day. The fun will begin again when both chambers return Thursday morning.

And that's when our live blog will kick back into action. By the way, all signs point to Sine Die happening Thursday. We'll see!


Have a great evening, folks! We'll see you back here Thursday morning for the rest of the action.

6:45 p.m.

The House and Senate appear to have reached an agreement on where to put language that died earlier in the legislative session limiting materials that are “harmful to minors” in schools.

A version of a House Bill 1447 conference committee report obtained by State Affairs contains similar language to Senate Bill 12, a controversial measure dubbed by opponents as the book-banning bill.

SB 12 passed the Senate but never received a committee hearing in the House.

Rep. Vernon Smith and Sen. Andrea Hunley, both Democrats, were removed from the conference committee Wednesday and replaced by Republicans. That often happens at this stage in the process when Democrats refuse to approve language preferred by both House and Senate Republicans.

The language contained in an unpublished conference committee report would make it easier for employees of public K-12 schools to be criminally charged for providing books that contain materials considered obscene or harmful to minors. The legislation would also create a new appeal process to request books be removed.

One thing that is different compared to SB 12 is that public libraries would no longer be impacted. 

The legislation also would limit third-party surveys, as the original HB 1447 did.

Ryan and Kaitlin

6:05 p.m.

Republican lawmakers released the full 248-page final budget Wednesday evening, about 45 minutes later than expected. The release of the budget indicates the end is near, and lawmakers need to start wrapping up their discussions on other outstanding issues. 

You can read the document here.

Earlier in the day, Senate President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray (R) and House Speaker Todd Huston (R) boasted about the final budget.

“The product is really going to be beneficial to the state of Indiana,” Bray said. “We couldn’t be more pleased that we have a responsible, balanced budget that’s going to care for Indiana for the next two years and do so in a fiscally responsible way.” 

The final budget, which lawmakers will have to vote on Thursday, contains priorities from Republicans in both chambers. That includes an investment of $3.1 billion to pay down debt associated with the pre-1996 teacher pension fund. Senate Republicans have routinely advocated for paying down that fund to free up money in future budget cycles. 

Meanwhile, House Republicans pushed through a school choice voucher expansion and acceleration of income tax cuts put into law last year.

Here’s how much a Hoosier making $50,000 per year will save per year under the income tax cut plan in the final budget:

“The more we cut taxes, it seems like the more revenue we get in,” Huston said.


6 p.m.

Lawmakers have posted a conference committee report for Senate Bill 4, which seeks to expand public health services in Indiana. You can read the report here.

The final bill no longer contains language added on the House side that created a task force to study the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Both chambers still have to vote on the final report, which they likely will do Thursday, so things could always change.


5:55 p.m.

House Rules Committee is meeting on adjournment and they have 11 bills outstanding. Kaitlin is working on an update now, so check back! In the meantime, here's a link to the sort-of-long-awaited final budget.

5:46 p.m.

Meanwhile, in D.C.

5:38 p.m.

In case you forgot because it's been a hot minute, the final budget was allegedly going to be posted at 5 p.m., but it's crickets in the Statehouse.

5:26 p.m.

Early dinner break, perhaps?

4:27 p.m.

A state budget detailed by Republicans on Wednesday will not fully fund a three-part mental health crisis system

Republicans are budgeting $50 million per year, which is less than half the amount needed, according to an Indiana Family and Social Services Administration estimate

Advocates had been hoping to reach a full $130.6 million per year, particularly after revenue forecasts showed an unexpected $1.5 billion in available spending over the next couple of years. 

Indiana struggles with the number of people who die of overdoses and suicides, and the state routinely ranks poorly for the amount of funding it gives to mental health clinics. 

President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville, acknowledged the funding fell short of the need but said it will still help mental health clinics further develop the services they provide.

"This is a good start and a big investment in that space," Bray said during a press conference. He also noted that lawmakers declined to pursue a cell phone surcharge or additional cigarette tax to pay for the services. 

Sen. Michael Crider, the Greenfield Republican who pushed for the mental health system revamp, said he was disappointed that he was unsuccessful in reaching the full amount. 

"I've spent more time laying awake at night thinking about this and what I could have done," Crider told State Affairs. "I was trying to hit it to the fence. I got to second base. You know, that's great progress."


4:20 p.m.

Indiana Republican leadership on Wednesday said they will be providing relief for increased property taxes before the legislative session is over. 

They did note, however, that the actions will not affect what people are paying this year. Some Hoosiers are seeing their bills jump by as much as 20%.

President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville, and House Speaker Todd Huston, R-Fishers, said their caucuses' work on property tax relief will be contained inside House Bill 1499

That bill is currently in the hands of a conference committee. 

Neither leader shared specific details about what the actions might be. 

Huston said he wanted to put "guardrails" on increases that Hoosiers see on their bills next year. He also noted that property tax revenue does not fuel the state budget; all the money heads to local governments.

"We want to be respectful," Huston said. "We're also imploring and asking our local elected leaders to show some restraint." 


2:58 p.m.

House Democrats took aim at the two-year state budget announced by House and Senate Republicans on Wednesday. 

"I'm not happy with the budget," said Rep. Gregory W. Porter, D-Indianapolis, during a brief press conference inside the Statehouse. "Democrats will not be happy with this budget."

Indiana House & Senate budget
House and Senate Republicans presented House Bill 1001, the biennial budget, on April 26, 2023, at the Statehouse in Indianapolis. (Credit: Indiana House Republicans)

Republicans plan to expand access to vouchers that pay for private schools. Currently, vouchers are available for families at 300% of the income required to qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. The new budget expands eligibility to 400%.

"The expansion of vouchers at that magnitude is despicable," Porter said. 

He also criticized Republicans for not providing more funding for public and mental health — two areas that have drawn bipartisan support for increased funding in the state budget. Neither allotment meets the amounts outlined in state commission reports.

"It's nonsensical at this point," Porter said. "And I hope that they would just go back, work on it again, and take care of people here in the state of Indiana."


2:08 p.m.

Ryan with reaction from Democrats and mental health advocates after learning they're only getting $50 million of a requested approx. $130 million toward a three-part crisis system.

The House is in recess until 3 p.m. The Senate is in recess until "the fall of the gavel," whenever that might be.

1:55 p.m.

Indiana Republicans announced some details of the $44.5 billion final budget proposal on Wednesday afternoon, including a significant expansion of the state’s school choice voucher plan. 

Under the final proposal, families making 400% of the income required to qualify for free or reduced-price lunches would qualify for a school choice voucher. That means if your family of four makes about $220,000 per year or less, you would qualify for a school choice voucher.

The final budget also includes the following:

  • An acceleration of income tax cuts lawmakers passed last year, similar to what the House wanted.
  • A pre-K expansion to include families making 150% of federal poverty level income, rather than the current 127%, like the Senate wanted.
  • $225 million for an expansion of public health, rather than the $315 million Gov. Eric Holcomb requested.

You can read the full presentation online. The final budget will be posted at 5 p.m. today. 

Both chambers will have to vote on the final budget plan one last time, which will likely happen Thursday just before Sine Die.


(And, we still have a few unanswered questions.)

1:30 p.m.

You can read the FY 24/25 Budget Conference Committee Report here (pdf).

Download the FY 24/25 Budget Conference Committee Report here (pdf).

1:05 p.m.

Ryan and Kaitlin previously wrote about House Republicans prioritizing the expansion of school choice vouchers and speeding up income tax cuts. You can read that report here. And here's their reporting on trauma care in rural Indiana and on SB 1 (mental health care reform).

10:17 a.m.

Republican lawmakers announced they will release the bones of the final version of the state budget at 1 p.m. today via a PowerPoint presentation posted on and

That document should answer some major outstanding questions we have about the budget, such as how much money lawmakers plan to spend on mental health and whether or not Indiana will expand its school choice voucher program. Plus, we’ll find out what lawmakers are doing with the surprise $1.5 billion.

The full budget document will be available online in the same place at 5 p.m., but of course, we’ll have an update on our live blog.

Lawmakers usually aim to vote on the budget and wrap up the legislative session approximately 24 hours after the final bill language is released, so expect the session to end Thursday.


10:02 a.m.

Well, that's one question answered. Stand by for an update from Kaitlin at the Statehouse.

Contact Ryan Martin on TwitterFacebookInstagramLinkedIn, or at [email protected].

Contact Kaitlin Lange on Twitter @kaitlin_lange or at [email protected]

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Header image: Gov. Eric Holcomb speaks at the post-Sine Die press conference in his office at the State Capitol in Indianapolis on April 28, 2023. (Credit: Kaitlin Lange)