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Indiana lawmakers return to correct errors

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State lawmakers returned to the Indiana Capitol Tuesday to fix a series of problems with their sweeping overhaul of the state's criminal sentencing rules.

Shortly after lawmakers wrapped up their 2014 session this past March, legislative leaders discovered a series of drafting errors with the legislation they had just passed which had serious consequences.

In one instance, a child sex offense charge could be wrongly interpreted as a lower level felony than what lawmakers intended. In another case, Indiana law was accidentally changed so that police officers would not be able to immediately arrest a suspected thief or shoplifter without obtaining a warrant first.

The problems were discovered in a sweeping overhaul of the state's criminal sentencing rules that lawmakers, lawyers and others have spent many years putting together. The legislation was approved earlier this year.

House Judiciary Chairman Greg Steuerwald, R-Avon, said that even with the thorough reviews, the effort was so extensive it's likely to result in some other errors shaking out in the future.

"We've had literally a thousand sets of eyes on this thing, and the cooperation and the input has been outstanding. At this point in time we've discovered any issues we might have, but I'm pretty sure there are going to be others," he said.

The goal of Tuesday's "technical corrections day" at the Statehouse is to approve the series of fixes before the legislation takes effect on July 1.

Lawmakers are also correcting separate legislation that was intended to limit the amount of tax credits available for natural gas vehicles, but accidentally was applied to all alternative fuels.

The General Assembly occasionally approves seemingly small errors in legislation which have big consequences. In 2011, a measure was passed that accidentally de-authorized the Family and Social Services Administration. Then-Gov. Mitch Daniels was forced to draft an executive order that allowed the agency to keep operating.

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