The Indiana General Assembly made some of its first votes this week, while four legislative committees discussed an array of issues that may be of interest to the state's legal community.
The House of Representatives unanimously passed House Bill 1044 on county clerk liability, which mirrors Senate Bill 29 that also passed unanimously in the Senate this week. Both will now move to the other house for consideration. The House also passed HB 1109 regarding satellite voting locations, an issue that went as high as the Indiana Supreme Court in the past two years. Representatives also passed by a 97-2 vote the comprehensive HB 1001 on lobbying and campaign contributions, while the Senate considered its own SB 114 on government ethics reform that the Rules and Legislative Procedure Committee had approved unanimously Jan. 11. All bills can be viewed completely at http://www.in.gov/apps/lsa/session/billwatch/billinfo.
The Senate Committee on Courts Criminal and Civil Matters met Tuesday and passed several bills on to the full Senate for consideration.
- SB 25 would legally allow a person to keep firearms locked in his vehicle on the property of a person, company, or governmental agency; passed 8-3.
- SB 27 deals with habitual offender filing deadlines; passed 8-2. - SB 71, which passed 9-0, targets the unlawful termination of a pregnancy in cases in which someone operates a vehicle while intoxicated and causes the fetus' death. - SB 147 passed 7-0 and provides that a law enforcement official who engages in sexual conduct with a child between 16 and 18 commits Class D felony child seduction. It also increases the penalty for false reporting.
- SB 178, dealing with custody and parenting time, was approved 5-4.
Senate Bill 148, dealing with corrections and developmental disability tracking, was withdrawn because of its potential financial impact of between $35,000 and $850,000 in new costs for prison inmate testing. Sen. Connie Lawson, R-Danville, plans to pursue an aspect that an entity be approved and accredited to provide certain services. The House Judiciary committee met Tuesday morning and considered key legislation:
- HB 1193, which passed 10-0, would create a 20-person work group to study and make recommendations to the Department of Education about school policing and racial disparity issues, as well as providing education and training to law enforcement on these topics.
- HB 1154 passed 11-0 and would convert all 24 Marion County commissioners to magistrates, with the county using an already-established county traffic infractions fee to pay for the conversion so that the state wouldn't have to pay the estimated $2.3 million cost. This would also allow the county to save money currently paid at the county level and possibly use it to pay for court-ordered guardian ad litem appointments. Representatives rejected the idea of attaching an amendment to allow Bartholomew Superior Court to establish its own fee to pay for converting its current Title IV-D commissioner to an elected judge position, in order to run a needed family court.
House Bill 1167, which would repeal a 2009 special session provision requiring the Department of Child Services to approve all out-of-state placements for juveniles, was not considered. The committee postponed until everyone who wants to testify about the legislation could attend the meeting.
The Senate Judiciary met for the second time on Wednesday and considered a bill that had previously come before it about child support as well as others involving noncode statutes, guardianships, trusts, and grandparent visitation. Sen. Richard Bray, R-Martinsville, said members will likely only have one more meeting on its own bills before they switch focus to consider House-approved bills, and so the other 46 Senate bills currently assigned to it probably won't all get the committee's attention.
- SB 163, targeting child support collections and requiring the gaming industry to intercept certain larger winnings on people who owe child support payments, passed 9-1. - SB 59 on grandparent visitation passed 9-0 with two amendments
- SB 65 on a guardian's powers in estate planning passed 10-1.
- SB 67, which deals with trust matters that include protecting interests and funds held by beneficiaries, passed 9-1.
- SB 134, a bill referred from the interim Code Revision Commission and corrects and codifies certain noncode statutes, passed 10-0. On Wednesday, the House Courts and Criminal Code considered three bills:
- HB 1118 on nuisance actions by community organizations passed by a 9-3 vote. Representatives voted 12-0 to pass HB 1186, allowing interlocal agreements between city and town courts. Members held off on voting until next week on HB 1163, which would require records and criminal histories be expunged for anyone who's been released by a court after being exonerated by DNA evidence.