The Legislative Council of the Indiana General Assembly has assigned the study topics various committees will examine this summer and fall. Some of the areas include creating a centralized department of administrative law judges and review of various Department of Child Services practices.
The Commission on Courts will look at whether ALJs should be organized under one department within the Office of the Indiana Attorney General. The commission will look at the fiscal impact and logistics of implementing what is known as the “Texas model.”
Senate Enrolled Act 286 spelled out several areas that the Department of Child Services Interim Study Committee will take a look at this year, including progress and improvements made by the department since its creation in 2005. The committee will also look at how it’s determined whether a family or child is eligible for DCS services, critical problems within DCS, and the communication between family court and DCS to collaborate on families’ involvement in each entity.
The Commission on Mental Health and Addiction is also going to look at juvenile matters brought up in SEA 286. The commission will study whether prosecuting attorneys should be allowed to file a petition alleging a child is in need of services under Indiana Code 31-41-1-6. A Morgan County judge recently ruled in a CHINS case that DCS is correct that a prosecutor does not have statutory authority to file a CHINS petition. The Morgan County prosecutor met with DCS prior to filing the CHINS petition, but DCS did nothing until the prosecutor filed the CHINS 6 petition. DCS argued that only it had the authority to file CHINS petitions.
Morgan Circuit Judge Matthew G. Hanson wrote in his May 15 order that it seemed like a “grave mistake” for the Legislature to previously remove prosecutors or anyone else from the ability to file these cases. Hanson wrote that the issue presented in this case cannot be left to die as it is one that is likely problematic throughout the state in regards to how DCS is refusing to handle mental health and disease cases as they should be.
The Criminal Law and Sentencing Policy Study Committee will examine the provisions of I.C. 24-4-18 regarding criminal history providers and the need for any legislation to amend that statute before it takes effect July 1, 2013. As of that date, a criminal history provider must update its records annually to remove inaccurate information and information that has been expunged, restricted or limited; and only disclose certain information relating to a conviction. House Enrolled Act 1033 makes it a Class B infraction for an employer to ask if a person’s criminal records have been sealed or restricted and sets out the method for a court to convert a Class D felony conviction to a Class A misdemeanor conviction.
The committee will also study the criteria necessary to require someone to register as a sex or violent offender, how long one should remain on the registry, and what constitutes relief when registration requirements have been fulfilled.
A complete list of the study committees and topics is available here.