The Indiana General Assembly approved over 200 new laws this year, many of which will become effective July 1. The changes in state law taking place this summer impact a variety of issues. Read on for a brief summary of some of the new laws taking effect July 1, 2013, and several that are already effective.
To see a complete list of new laws enacted and signed by the governor in 2014, visit the governor’s Bill Watch page.
The Senate Democrats’ highest legislative priority, the General Assembly signed off on Indiana’s first state-funded preschool program. House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1004 creates a five-county pre-kindergarten pilot program, enrolling as many as 3,000 4-year-olds. The pilot program will be open to families earning up to 127 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $30,000 for a family of four, and will utilize $10 million in reversions from the state budget and up to another $5 million in contributions. The measure includes a longitudinal study tied to the pilot program. The portions of this law that requires a study of early childhood education became effective upon passage, while the other portions of the law became effective July 1, 2014.While the act calls for implementation this fall, Governor Pence and his administration has not taken the necessary steps for the program to begin within the time frame laid out by the act.
Senate Democrats argued that a quality preschool option is a critical part of ensuring that Hoosier children get a head start on education and develop the skills to be lifelong learners. Until the act was signed into law, Indiana was one of only 9 states that do not provide state funding for pre-K programs after Mississippi rolled out a state-funded option earlier this year.
Child care safety requirements
Providing better quality day care programs is the goal of HEA 1036, a new law which specifies certain conditions that a child care provider must meet to be eligible for federal Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) voucher payments. The vouchers assist low-income families with child care costs. The law specifically requires various health, education, safety, and employee training requirements, such as child-to-staff ratios and nutritious meal requirements. The law also requires the immediate notification of a parent or legal guardian of a child in the event of serious bodily injury while at the day care facility. Senator Greg Taylor has offered similar legislation in previous years in response to a number of deaths at child care facilities across Indiana.
Business tax cuts
SEA1 further reduces the corporate tax rate to 4.9 percent over six years while fully phasing it down by 2022. The corporate tax cut passed in 2011 stopped at 6.5 percent by 2016. SEA 1 also reduces the financial institutions tax rate to 4.9 percent over six years while fully phasing it down by 2023. The financial institutions rate cut passed last session stopped at 6.5 percent in 2017. SEA1 also authorizes county governments to fully exempt personal property tax levied on businesses with less than $20,000 in acquisition costs, allows local governments to award up to 20 years of tax abatement on business personal property and permits local governments to exempt taxes collected on any new business personal property.
SEA 1 is a scaled-down version of the Governor’s proposal to eliminate the business personal property tax, which generates about $1 billion a year statewide. Of this $1 billion, two-thirds would be revenue lost to local units of governments and one-third would be higher taxes for other taxpayers, including homeowners.
The provision establishing the new business taxation commission was effective upon passage, while the remaining provisions became effective July 1, 2014. The provisions concerning local options for exempting business personal property tax are effective July 1, 2015.
Central Indiana mass transit expansion
Under SEA 176, the expansion of mass transit services for Delaware, Hamilton, Hancock, Johnson, Madison and Marion counties will be approved through local public questions placed on the ballot this November. The measure authorizes eligible counties to fund approved public transportation projects through raising various tax rates slightly, including income tax rates, while fares will cover 25 percent of the costs associated with expanded mass transit services. While the expansion cannot include light rail projects, funding for other forms of transportation such as expanded and more frequent bus routes, bus rapid transit, and the associated infrastructure improvements will be decided by local fiscal bodies after the public referendum. A provision that would allow local townships to opt-in with respect to establishing or expanding mass transit services in Central Indiana was included in the closing negotiations of the legislative session.
The provision requiring the business community from providing 10 percent of the costs associated with expanded mass transit services was also removed in the conference committee process. Instead, the legislation would set up a nonprofit organization whose goal is to raise 10 percent of the cost from the business community. If that goal is not reached, the burden of raising that revenue would fall on local governments.
Excused absence from school for state fair activities
SEA 114 allows the governing body of a school corporation or the chief administrative officer of a nonpublic school system to authorize, for not more than five instructional days in a school year, the excused absence of a student if that student or a member of the student’s household participates or exhibits in the state fair.
Second service for veterans
SEA 331 establishes the Second Service for Veterans Program to attract veteran students to the teaching profession. The new law requires a state educational institution to adopt a policy to award academic credit to a veteran or a member of the United States Armed Forces of Indiana National Guard who completes certain college equivalency examinations. This policy must allow credit to be awarded toward an individual’s degree requirements if their military training applies to the requirements needed to attain an education degree.
Guns on school property
A controversial new law will now allow individuals who legally possess a firearm to keep it in a motor vehicle parked in a school parking lot as long as the firearm is locked in the vehicle out of plain sight. Under current law, it is a felony to possess a firearm on school property. However, with the passage of SEA 229, this penalty is eliminated as long as the firearm is locked in the trunk, glove box or out of plain sight in the vehicle. If persons in legal possession of a firearm leave the firearm in plain view in the vehicle while on school property, they would be charged with a Class A misdemeanor.
In addition, SB 229 allows law enforcement agencies to sell confiscated firearms to the general public at auction. Only individuals who are lawfully allowed to own firearms could make purchases. Proceeds from these sales would be used by the agency for the purchase or maintenance of firearms, ammunition, protective vests, and other law enforcement equipment. Another provision provides that a firearm scheduled to be destroyed can be sold to a salvage company where it can be dismantled for parts, scrap metal, recycling, or for resale as parts for other firearms.
High school athletes and concussions
High school student athletes would be required to be removed from play because of a suspected concussion or head injury for at least 24 hours under SEA 222. Current law stipulates that a student athlete may not return to play until the athlete has been evaluated by, and has received written clearance from, a licensed and properly trained health care provider. Under the act, athletes suffering head injuries will also have to sit out the required 24 hours. Additionally, the legislation would require high school and youth football coaches to take concussion awareness courses at least once every two years beginning July 1, 2014. The act also stipulates, except in cases of gross negligence, that a coach who completes the required coaching certification training would not be held personally liable if an athlete under the coach’s supervision suffers a concussion or head injury. Some concerns about the act center round the cost of the program and who would pay. The National Federation of High School Associations certification program is available on-line for a $10 fee. USA Football also has a certification program consisting of two levels. Level 1 costs $25, which includes membership in USA Football. Level 2 consists of age-specific courses for ages 6 to 14 and the cost is $10 per course. According to a USA Football spokesman who testified on behalf of the bill, the money would be used to build the infrastructure of the online education course. USA Football also includes training for “Heads Up Football,” a national initiative supported by the NFL and more than two dozen other entities to promote safety.
Health of student athletes
HEA 1290 adds athletic trainers to the definition of “health care provider” for purposes of laws concerning hospitals and public health measures. It requires both the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education to disseminate guidelines, information sheets, and forms to school corporations, charter schools, public schools, accredited nonpublic schools and postsecondary educational institutions to inform and educate coaches, student athletes, and parents and legal guardians of student athletes of the nature and risk of sudden cardiac arrest. Among other provisions, the act requires instruction in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and use of an automated external defibrillator for students.
Criminal Code Reform
During the 2013 legislative session lawmakers signed off on a comprehensive overhaul of the state’s criminal code. The legislation is meant to curb the costs of incarceration through the Department of Correction, while allowing non-violent offenders to remain in community correction programs implemented at the local level. The landmark reform efforts were bi-partisan and received support from prosecutors, sheriffs, judges and public defenders.
Some changes in HEA 1006 are largely technical—like changing the felony classification system from four to six levels—but some modifications are more substantial. The legislation raises the advisory sentences for Level 3, 4 and 5 felonies, increases the number of crimes that are non-suspendible, and prohibits a credit-restricted felon from obtaining sentence modification. Additional changes include allowing persons convicted of a Class A misdemeanor or Level 6 felony to earn one day of credit time for every day served and permits credit time for persons serving home detention. Maximum sentences for Level 1 and Level 3 felonies decreases from 50 to 40 years and from 20 to 16 years respectively. The changes also allow the Department of Correction to transfer funds to local community corrections programs if the reforms lead to an influx of inmates at the local level.
Law enforcement cultural diversity and U-Visa training
Authored by Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane, SEA 343 requires law enforcement agencies to provide training on cultural diversity and U non-immigrant Visas (U-Visas). The use of the U-Visa will benefit those who do not hold legal status in the United States and are victims of violent crimes. An understanding of the U-Visa process by law enforcement officers is important as certification of a victim’s cooperation by an officer is a prerequisite to a victim’s application for U-Visa status with the federal government. U-Visas would not serve as a shortcut to citizenship, but instead a vehicle for cooperation. Law enforcement agencies would be educated on the purpose of U-Visas and their role as an authorizer. Law enforcement officers would only be liable for indicating whether a victim was cooperative or are likely to be helpful in the future.
Implied consent for forensic examination
To assist law enforcement agencies in gathering necessary evidence to prosecute sexual offenders, Sen. Lanane also authored SEA 255. The act defines “sexual assault examination kit”, and requires the State Police to develop and distribute a standard sexual assault examination kit, and health care providers conducting forensic medical examinations of suspected victims of sex crimes to use the kit if practicable. The act provides that a health care provider may conduct a forensic medical examination of an unconscious person who is suspected to be the victim of a sex crime without the consent of the victim or other authorized individuals under certain circumstances. In addition, the act provides the health care provider with immunity in conducting the examination.
Downloading cell phone information by police
SEA 1384 prohibits a police officer from downloading cellular data from a cell phone without the owner’s consent for a traffic violation concerning typing, transmitting, or reading a text message while operating a motor vehicle. Exceptions include when the police officer has probable cause to believe that the device has been used in the commission of a crime, the information is extracted or otherwise downloaded under a valid search warrant, or otherwise authorized by law.
Agricultural trespass or “ag-gag”
SEA 101 raises the penalty for trespassing and causing damage on the property of an agricultural operation, or any facility used for the production of crops, livestock, poultry, livestock products, poultry products, or horticultural products or for growing timber. The new law increases the penalty to the same level as trespassing on a place of religious worship, school, community center or facility. With pressure from the Hoosier Press Association and animal rights groups, this bill looks nothing like the proposal that failed in the waning hours of the 2013 session, and threats towards whistleblowers and press restrictions were removed.
Meth lab disclosure in property sales
HEA 1141 requires disclosure in property sales of properties that were used for the manufacture of methamphetamine. HEA 1141 provides that the State Police maintain the methamphetamine laboratory web site, and that properties housing methamphetamine labs may not be placed on the web site until 180 days after being reported. State Police are not required to place a property on the website if it was decontaminated, and a property must be removed from the web site no longer than 90 days after it has been deemed decontaminated by an approved inspector. Any person responsible for damages done to the property due to manufacturing methamphetamine must pay restitution to the owner for actual damages, such as the costs of decontamination.
School resource officers
After extensive study during the 2013 interim, a new law will authorize the Secured School Safety Board to award matching grants for school resource officer training. SEA 85 requires a school resource officer to be employed by law enforcement, appointed as a police reserve or special deputy, or employed as a school corporation police officer. The Indiana Law Enforcement Training Board will be responsible for approving school resource officer training programs. School resource officers are charged with keeping the school secure, as well as helping to educate and counsel students on a daily basis.
Expansion of Lifeline Law
Legislation providing legal protection for anyone under age 21 who calls 911 to report a medical emergency that involves alcohol, a possible drug overdose or a sexual assault has become law. Aimed at protecting lives, SEA 227 is an expansion of legislation enacted in 2012 referred to as the Lifeline Law, which provides immunity to those who call 911 to report an alcohol-related medical emergency, such as alcohol poisoning. SEA 227 provides that a person is immune from arrest or prosecution for certain alcohol offenses if the arrest or prosecution is due to the person reporting a medical emergency, being the victim of a sex offense or witnessing and reporting what the person believes to be a crime. The new law includes provisions to allow first responders and other emergency professionals on the scene to administer an overdose intervention drug to a person suffering an overdose. Other portions of the law provide for several studies and evaluations to be conducted on crimes of sexual and domestic violence.
Military family relief fund
Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 352 gives priority to qualified service members and their dependents if they have not yet received grants through the Military Family Relief Fund (MFRF). MFRF provides assistance with food, shelter, medical services, utilities, child care, education, employment, and other essential expenses that are sometimes difficult for service members or their families to afford. SEA 352 also eliminates the provision that limits grant eligibility to three years after their active duty service ends. Instead, the State Budget Agency will set a maximum dollar amount available to be dispersed between MFRF grants. In order to qualify for these grants, a military member must be an Indiana resident and a recently active member of the Armed Forces or National Guard. This law becomes effective July 1, 2014.
Hoosier women’s veteran coordinator
SEA 354 establishes the Hoosier Women Veterans Program to provide information and services to Indiana’s growing population of female veterans. The act will require the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs (IDVA) to implement the Hoosier Women Veterans Program and hire a women veteran’s coordinator under the supervision of the director of IDVA. The costs of the program and the compensation of the state coordinator will be funded using existing funds already allocated to IDVA. To help meet the needs of women veterans at a local level, the act also allows a county executive to appoint a county service officer for a four-year term. This law becomes effective July 1, 2014.
The original proposal was weakened during the House committee process exclude language allocating new funds to IDVA to fund the women veterans’ coordinator position. Against the wishes of supporters of the initiative, the proposal was weakened in the House when the “shall” requirements were changed to “may”, meaning IDVA will not be required implement the program until funds can be allocated. Additional funds will most likely have to be allocated to the department during the next budget process.
Veteran treatment programs
In an effort to address the health needs specific to the growing Hoosier veteran population, SEA 180 establishes the Veterans Disability Clinic Fund and the Indiana Veteran Recovery Program and Fund. The programs are designed to assist veterans that have traumatic brain injuries or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The Veterans Disability Clinic Fund will provide grants to qualified law schools that maintain a veteran disability clinic. The Indiana Veteran Recovery Program and Fund will provide certain services, such as medical treatments and counseling, for those veterans suffering from traumatic brain injuries or PTSD.
Employment discrimination against veterans
The new law provides that it is an unlawful employment practice for an employer to discriminate against a prospective employee on the basis their veteran statusby refusing to employ an applicant for employment on the basis that the applicant is a veteran of the United States Armed Forces, the Indiana National Guard or member of a reserve component. HEA 1242 requires the Indiana Civil Rights Commission to enforce alleged violations of the practice, and requires the the Indiana Department of Veterans’ Affairs to disseminate information necessary to inform veterans of the practice.
Subject to federal approval, SEA 357 would authorize the State Seed Commissioner at Purdue University to license the cultivation and production of industrial hemp in Indiana. Although related to marijuana, hemp does not contain the intoxicating qualities of its cousin. During World War II, Indiana was a leader in hemp production when it was used for making rope. Today, hemp is used in the manufacturing of various products, including plastics, paper, food, textiles, construction materials, auto manufacturing materials, beauty products and medicines. However, hemp is expensive because it must be imported from other countries, like Canada and China.
The original proposal, authored by Sen. Richard Young, passed the Senate by a unanimous vote. However, the House of Representatives added language during the committee process that would regulate the storage of various domestic transportation fuels, like fuels containing ethanol. That portion of the bill was later removed during the conference committee process. Passage of this bill will allow Indiana to move quickly to promote the growth and marketing of industrial hemp.
Indiana Grown Commission
House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1039 was co-sponsored by Sen. Young and establishes the Indiana Grown Commission, an organization dedicated to marketing the state’s agriculture industry and connecting it with local businesses that sell local agricultural products. The commission will be composed of members of the agriculture industry, the state’s largest general farming organization, representatives from retailers, farmers’ markets and restaurants that sell Indiana-grown products, agricultural marketing experts and the Dean of Purdue University’s College of Agriculture. The Indiana Grown Commission will be tasked with marketing and promoting Indiana-grown products and materials to other state businesses and residents. The commission will also be responsible for submitting an annual report to the Indiana General Assembly regarding any updates and recommendations for future legislation.
Various agricultural matters
A new law decreases the extent of oversight and regulation required for agricultural operations if they meet certain requirements, such as the size of the operation. SEA 179 allows poultry farms to slaughter and process up to a certain amount of poultry annually without inspections under federal regulations. The new law provides that a local unit of government may not, by ordinance or resolution, require licensure, certification, or inspection for food or food products of an individual vendor, farmer, or bona fide egg producer who meets certain requirements. The act also allows poultry that is sold on a farm to be refrigerated at the point of sale. SEA 179 requires poultry that is sold at a farmer’s market, through delivery, or at a roadside stand to be frozen at the point of sale. It requires poultry that is sold on a farm, through delivery or at a roadside stand to be used, sold, or frozen within 72 hours of processing.
State policy on agriculture and farmers’ rights
SEA 186 declares a state policy on agriculture and farmers’ rights. The act states the General Assembly declares that it is the policy of the state to conserve, protect, and encourage the development and improvement of agriculture, agricultural business, and agricultural land for the production of food, fuel, fiber, and other agricultural products. The act states that the Indiana Code shall be construed to protect the rights of farmers to choose among all generally accepted farming and livestock practices, including the use of ever changing technology.
Mental health pilot project
According to research conducted by Brown University, only 1 in 3 state prisoners and 1 in 6 jail inmates with a mental health problem receive treatment since being incarcerated, and three quarters of prison and local jail inmates who were diagnosed with a mental health problem also meet the criteria for substance dependence. SEA 235 requires community corrections programs to use evidence based services, programs, and practice in order to reduce the risk of relapse for persons with mental health problems or substance addiction. This new law establishes will eligibility and treatment criteria for the award of certain grants by the Department of Correction and requires any person providing mental health and substance use treatment services be certified by the Division of Mental Health and Addiction. Additionally, the law provides for the establishment of a three year Marion County pilot program to offer participation in a treatment program as an alternative to incarceration. A final report from the Marion Superior Court will be due on October 1, 2015 including the cost savings, opportunities for replication, and recidivism rates for persons in the program.
School building safety
SEA 344 creates a division of the Indiana Department of Education dedicated to increasing the safety of school buildings. Under this new law, the School Building Security and Safety Division would be responsible for creating nonbinding guidelines for the construction or renovation of buildings or facilities for school corporations. Schools would be required to consider these guidelines during construction and could request recommendations from the School Building Security and Safety Division when creating plans for construction, renovation or alteration of school facilities.
Office of Minority Health
HEA 1358 immediately extended the expiration date for the Office of Minority Health from July 1, 2014 to July 1, 2017 upon approval. Established in 1991, the Office of Minority Health funds minority health programs and expands, develops, and implements community awareness of minority health problems. The office is also charged with conducting research within minority populations as well as monitoring minority health progress. In addition, the act requires a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder at any age to be reported to the birth problems registry (current law provides reporting be made before a child’s fifth birthday). HEA 1358 allows not more than 50 percent of the monies in the Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Fund to be used to develop a statewide trauma system. Lastly, the law requires the state Department of Health to adopt rules concerning the regulation of facilities for treatment of traumatic brain injuries, and to make recommendations to the Legislative Council and Health Finance Commission concerning food handling law changes.
Minors and tanning devices
SEA 50 prohibits a person under the age of 16 years old from using a tanning device in a tanning facility while repealing a conflicting law requiring a person less than 16 years old to be accompanied by a parent of legal guardian when using a tanning bed in a tanning facility.
Recycling reporting, state goal, and study
HEA 1183 sets a statewide goal for recycling municipal waste and requires Indiana recycling organizations to post periodic reports on their recycling efforts. The law sets in place a goal for Indiana to recycle at least 50 percent of its municipal waste, and defines municipal waste as any garbage, refuse, industrial restroom waste, office waste or another similar material. The law requires all Indiana recycling organizations and businesses to submit an annual recycling activity report to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management beginning in 2015. Those reports would be shared with the public through the department’s website. The Department of Environmental Management would also be required to submit to the Environmental Quality Service Council an annual report summarizing the information contained in the recycling reports.
To further study Indiana’s communities and how they can better help residents age in place, House HEA 1391 establishes the Community Living Pilot Program beginning January 1, 2015, until June 30, 2017, and sets forth eligibility requirements to participate in the program. The act requires the Division of Aging to administer the program, establish a cost participation schedule, and establish certain standards for the program. Additionally, the act sets into place asset limitations within the Community and Home Options to Institutional Care for the Elderly and Disabled(CHOICE) Program from $500,000 to $250,000, and specifies certain exemptions, and requires annual adjustment of the asset limitation using the federal Consumer Price Index, and made other changes to the CHOICE program. The act also requires reporting of program data and outcome measures concerning the program to various entities on specified dates, and allows the division to audit and penalize an area agency on aging for any violations. The act repeals a provision establishing a pilot program for certain Medicaid populations and participation in a risk-based managed care program (effective immediately). Finally, the act requires the Office of the Secretary of Family and Social Services to submit to the General Assembly reports on nursing facility beds, long term care, and any risk-based managed care program for certain Medicaid recipients.
New laws that became effective immediately
HEA 1002 releases up to $400 million from the Major Moves 2020 Trust Fund created last year. Language contained in HEA 1002 would authorize the State Budget Agency to transfer before July 1, 2014, not more than $200 million from the Major Moves 2020 Trust Fund to the Major Moves Construction Fund. The funding would be used immediately for various road projects including the widening of Interstates 65, 70 and 69 to six lanes in certain areas. The second transfer of $200 million is subject to State Budget Committee review and approval. This law became effective immediately upon passage.
Senate Democrats fought to add a provision that would allocate $25 million to fund local road projects. They argued that ensuring local roads and bridges are adequately funded is as important for economic development as widening interstates. Ultimately, local road funding was kept out of the final bill.
Common Core standards
Indiana will discontinue using Common Core standards adopted in 2010 under SEA 91. Agreed upon by the governors and school superintendents of 45 states as a unified attempt to establish similar standards and requirements for all schools, the standards detail what K-12 students should learn by the end of each grade level. SEA 91 would require the State Board of Education to adopt new standards by July 1, 2014. Supporters believe Indiana should have better standards. Opponents argue that program implementation thus far has cost the state about $24 million and passage of the bill would hurt many schools that have significantly invested in teaching Common Core standards for the past several years. The legislation also authorizes the State Board of Education and Indiana Department of Education to administer the ISTEP assessment or a comparable assessment aligned to the new standards in the 2015-2016 school year. The new assessment must be signed off on by the state budget committee. This law became effective immediately upon passage.
Water resources study committee
SEA 271 urges the Legislative Council to assign to the appropriate committee for the 2014 legislative interim the responsibility of receiving testimony about a number of subjects related to water resources including certain recommendations of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), the effect of water resource availability on state and regional economic development decisions, coordination of state government activities relating to water resources, and key elements that a state water plan should contain. The committee created with this new law will also study the potential creation of a water institute and a water management authority. The law became effective April 1, 2014.
Elimination of energy efficiency programs
SEA 340 prohibits the extension, renewal, or establishment of an energy efficiency program as well as requiring an electricity supplier to meet a goal or target. The new law requires a report on the status and effectiveness of all energy efficiency programs, including the degree to which energy efficiency program costs are shifted among customer classes, program costs (to date and projected), impact of program cost on rates, and methods by which the interests of customers and electricity suppliers may be changed. SEA 340 also dismantles a demand side management program which has saved customers hundreds of dollars on their monthly bills and offered an innovative way to deal with problems of energy overuse. This law became effective immediately upon passage.