Indiana Laws change with new year

Written by Mike Siroky. Posted in Uncategorized


Published on January 11, 2011 with No Comments

by Mike Siroky

As a new year rolls in, so do some new laws.

Among the most interesting change came at state license bureaus, which literally have become a place to only get licenses, but not license plates or license plate renewals.

To get a new license plate or sticker, drivers must use either mail or online links. The state will continue to mail license plate renewal information to all car owners.

In Lake and Porter counties, registrations may be renewed at the Clean Air Car Check emissions testing facilities, so local drivers caught a break in those counties. Other counties do not have mandated clean air testing.

Lawmakers took steps to address the complicated legal issues surrounding “sexting.” Schools may now offer instruction on the risks and consequences of sending suggestive text messages, e-mails and other online messages.

Legislators are considering harsher penalties for “sexting” offenders.

This use of electronic devices piggybacks on another law that makes it illegal for drivers under the age of 18 to use cell phones while driving. It was estimated this affects 180,000 Indiana drivers.

This is seen as a test law which could be expanded ñ as it has in other states, including Illinois ñ to make use of cell phones by all drivers illegal.

In addition to the cell phone law, teens will not be allowed to drive between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. for six months after they get their license

Teens also have to wait longer to drive with friends in the car. Teenagers had to wait 90 days after getting their license to have a passenger under the age of 21 under the old law. Now they have to wait 180 days, to have a passenger under the age of 25.

The new law also says passengers cannot use speakerphones or show the driver a message on a cell phone while a teen is driving. The fines range from $500 and court costs depending on which county arrests them.

Indiana is unlike many states in that once a law is passed by the General Assembly, it generally is signed by the governor and takes effect immediately.

So the laws passed in 2010 have mostly been in effect since the wrap-up sessions of the Legislature.

The General Assembly approved 115 new laws in 2010. Some of the highlights:

ïOne of the new laws, co-authored by Porter County Sen. Karen Tallian, assists small businesses with the creation of the small business ombudsman’s office under the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.

ïIn the realm of alcohol sales, clerks are now required to ask all patrons for photo identification to verify that the purchaser is at least 21 years of age for the carry-out purchase of alcohol. The new law also allows Indiana’s microbreweries to sell their product for carryout on Sundays similar to the state’s wineries. Two other provisions of the law allow alcohol sales on primary and general election days and extended hours for bars and restaurants to serve alcohol on Sundays.

ïIndiana’s riverboat casinos and horse racing facilities are now required to withhold cash winnings of those individuals who are delinquent in child support payments

ïA court can now require a defendant in a domestic violence case to wear a GPS tracking device as a condition of bail.

ïTo protect victims of domestic battery, a new law requires those accused of the crime to ìcool offî in jail for at least eight hours before they can be released. The Indiana Department of Education will begin to develop policies and materials to inform students and make them more aware of dating violence.

ïPharmacies and other retailers selling drugs containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine are required to post a sign warning customers that the purchase of more than 3.6 grams of the substance within one day is a criminal offense in Indiana. The new law is intended to make customers aware of state laws restricting the drugs, which are commonly found in cold medications and are used in the production of methamphetamine.

ïFor counties that anticipate delivering delayed property tax bills, another bill sponsored by Tallian requires a provisional spring tax bill be issued to taxpayers.

ïIn the wake of the mortgage meltdown, appraisal fraud was exposed as a contributing factor that led to lenders approving loans for homes that were dramatically overvalued. To prevent appraisal fraud, lenders turned to Appraisal Management Companies (AMCs) must register with the state. Also, the law prohibits a person from owning an interest in an AMC if their license or certificate to act as a real estate appraiser in any state is not in good standing.

A separate law requires any for-profit company offering foreclosure consultant services to register a surety bond with the Attorney General’s Office.

ïAn ethics reform package creates a one-year cooling-off period before retired legislators can become lobbyists and lowers the threshold for reported one-time lobbyist expenses from $100 to $50.

ïLawmakers delayed a scheduled increase in unemployment insurance premiums paid by employers. The delay will save Indiana employers an estimated $400 million.

ïTo help ease the taxpayer burden on Indianaís over-crowded correctional facilities parole boards are now allowed to consider early discharges for long-term, non-violent offenders who have been incarcerated for 21 consecutive years and have completed a four-year college degree or other approved community transition program. Every year of incarceration costs taxpayers at least $20,000 per inmate.

ïThe legislators approved the merger of rural telephone and electric cooperatives into single co-ops.

ïThe names, addresses and other identifying information of more than 300,000 Hoosiers with handgun licenses ñ also referred to as concealed carry permits ñ are confidential, like tax records.

ïLegislation designed to stiffen penalties against drunken drivers passed. The new law amends existing involuntary manslaughter language to classify the killing of a fetus as a result of driving drunk a Class D felony.

ïVoting is easier for those with disabilities and military personnel serving our country overseas. A new law ensures disabled voters have the same access to private, independent voting methods when casting ballots early or absentee as they do when voting on Election Day.

It also provides more options for military personnel to cast a vote when serving overseas.

ïAimed at protecting Hoosier homeownersí right to display political signs on their property, lawmakers approved a bill allowing homeowners associations to regulate but no longer ban the display of political signs during election seasons.

ïRoadside workers are more protected with stiffer penalties for drivers who fail to slow down and move over when approaching a stationary utility vehicle on the side of the road.

ïAnother law increases penalties for drivers who kill a law enforcement officer or law enforcement animal while driving drunk or resisting arrest.

ïThe state will establish a study of teen suicide and prevention measures, including teacher training to recognize early signs of suicidal tendencies in youth.

ïLawmakers supported a bill aimed at combating prescription drug abuse. The new law expands the data collected by Indianaís prescription monitoring program (INSPECT) and allows INSPECT to release information on prescribers and patients to the state toxicologist, Medicaid fraud investigators and substance abuse assistance programs.

ïStudents who have had to interrupt their progress toward getting a college degree have some new help. The law requiring students to use state-sponsored financial aid within 10 years has been repealed.

ïTwo new laws are aimed at those who have served in the military. Purple Heart recipients are exempted from paying tuition and fees at any state college or university. Flags on state property will be flown at half-staff on the day of the funeral or memorial service for a Hoosier soldier who dies in combat.

ïTo protect people who invest money in trusts to pay for funerals, burials and grave site upkeep a new law raises the penalties against anyone who would fraudulently use that money for other purposes.

ïAmong a series of new laws designed to protect at-risk youths is PL 143, which enables children to remain in foster care until they reach the age of 21, a move to help ensure that youths can provide for themselves before living on their own. A second law extends the length of time that youth shelters have to investigate claims of abuse before notifying parents about the location of a child.

ïBars and taverns across Indiana can again sell pull tabs, punch boards, tip boards and other forms of small stakes gaming. The same types of games had been available at clubs operated by veterans groups and fraternal and not-for-profit organizations. Those facilities that choose to offer such games must obtain a license from the state.

ïNew health care provisions will provide greater access to medically-needed prosthetic limbs and other devices, and make it easier for some new mothers to have areas at work where they can pump breast milk.

ïIndividuals of any age will be able to go hunting before taking a hunter education safety class ñ formerly required for any hunting license ñ if they purchase an apprentice license and are accompanied by a licensed hunter.

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About Mike Siroky


All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed in the above excellent column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Mike Siroky is a writer and editor. He is a native of Northwest Indiana. He has worked in media from coast to coast. To contact Mike, email mikel@the chronicleNWI.com

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