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Indiana legislative round-up

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The following is a snapshot of key points from bills heard in the 2012 legislative session. All enrolled acts were signed by the governor by March 20.

Civil rights

Senate Enrolled Act 1 specifies that a person may use reasonable force against any other person in certain circumstances. Provides that a person is justified in using reasonable force against a public servant if the person reasonably believes the force is necessary to protect the person or a third person from unlawful force, to prevent or terminate the public servant’s unlawful entry into the person’s dwelling, or to prevent or terminate the public servant’s criminal interference with property lawfully in the person’s possession. This legislation was spurred by the Indiana Supreme Court decision Barnes v. State of Indiana.

House Enrolled Act 1003 provides that a court may impose a civil penalty against an officer, management-level employee, or a public agency for violating the public records law if the officer, management-level employee, or agency continues to deny a request for a public record after the public access counselor has issued an advisory opinion that instructs the agency to allow access and denies the request with the specific intent to unlawfully withhold a public record that is subject to disclosure.

Courts and trial procedures

SEA 152 allows the judge of the Allen Circuit Court – beginning July 1, 2013 – to appoint a second full-time magistrate.

SEA 246 requires a prosecuting attorney who intends to introduce a laboratory report into evidence to file a notice of intent at least 20 days before the trial, and requires a defendant who wishes to cross-examine the laboratory technician who prepared the report to file a pretrial demand for cross-examination not later than 10 days after receiving the notice from the prosecutor.

HEA 1092 adds a fourth judge to the Johnson Superior Court as of January 1, 2015. Prohibits the auditor of state from paying the part of the total salary and benefits that would otherwise be paid by the state for the fourth judge of the Johnson Superior Court until the auditor of state receives a resolution of the board of county commissioners of Johnson County that sets forth the board’s determination that a building in existence on January 1, 2012, has been rehabilitated and is ready as a place for the new court to hold sessions. Provides that the Wabash City Court has concurrent jurisdiction with the Wabash Circuit Court in civil cases where the amount in controversy does not exceed $1,500.

Education

House Bill 1326 contained many provisions, including one which would have required the Department of Education, in collaboration with other agencies and organizations having expertise in criminal gang education, prevention, and intervention, to identify or develop model education materials and develop a model policy to address criminal gangs and criminal gang activity in schools. A Senate committee recommended an addition to this bill that would have allowed undocumented immigrant students who were already enrolled in a state university as of July 2011 to continue paying in-state tuition. Soon thereafter, the bill failed after making it through the House and second reading in the Senate.

Energy and environment

SEA 133 allows the solid waste management board to adopt rules and establish requirements for underground storage tanks in conformance with the delivery prohibition program under 42 U.S.C. 6991k. Allows the commissioner of the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to enforce the delivery prohibition program if an owner or operator of an underground petroleum storage tank fails to register the tank or pay annual registration fees, and requires the commissioner to provide notice before issuing such a temporary order.

Health

HEA 1269 authorizes Indiana’s participation in a Health Care Compact, whereby states could collectively seek permission from Congress to suspend all federal laws, regulations and orders concerning health care that are inconsistent with the laws and regulations adopted by the member state under the compact, to the extent allowed under the Constitution of the United States and the constitution of the member state.

Juvenile justice and family law

SEA 19 lowers the age at which a parent’s obligation to pay child support ends – from age 21 to age 19 – with exceptions for higher education expenses. The bill brings Indiana’s law into alignment with support laws in most other states.

SEA 190 creates a study committee to determine whether parental rights should be terminated for rapists whose criminal act produces a child.

SEA 286 creates a Department of Child Services Interim Study Committee to examine how the DCS operates and responds to hotline calls. It also stipulates that a telephone call to the child abuse hotline is confidential and may be released only upon court order. An audio recording of a report of child abuse or neglect that is the subject of a complaint made to a prosecuting attorney under Indiana Code 31-33-22-3 shall be released without a court order to the prosecuting attorney upon written request of the prosecuting attorney.

Labor

Senate Bill 346 (FAILED) would have required the Worker’s Compensation Board, not later than January 1, 2013, to adopt rules to establish reimbursement rates for charges for medical services, treatment or supplies provided by a medical services facility to an employee for purposes of determining the pecuniary liability of an employer or an employer’s insurance carrier for a specific service, treatment or supply covered under worker’s compensation or occupational diseases compensation, and would have increased benefit amounts for injuries and disablements occurring on and after July 1, 2012.

HEA 1001 makes it a Class A misdemeanor to require an individual to become or remain a member of a labor organization; to pay dues, fees, or other charges to a labor organization; or to pay to a charity or another third party an amount that represents dues, fees, or other charges required of members of a labor organization as a condition of employment or continuation of employment.

Probate

SEA 293 phases out the inheritance tax over nine years, beginning in 2013. It reclassifies transferees, and increases the inheritance tax exemption amount for Class A transferees from $100,000 to $250,000 with respect to taxable transfers resulting from the deaths of individuals dying after Dec. 31, 2011.

HEA 1258 makes several changes to probate law, including eliminating authority to file a recovery claim against the estate of the recipient’s spouse. It also authorizes foreign wills to be probated after the expiration of the probate deadlines for the same limited purposes for which Indiana wills may be probated after the deadlines. It provides that costs of administration include the fee of a surrogate attorney to determine the priority of claims when an estate’s resources are insufficient to pay all claims.

Pro bono

SEA 235 stalled in committee, but Sen. Brent Steele was able to amend HEA1049 to include language originally contained in the bill. As of July 1, 2012 – and until July 1, 2017 – a fee of $1 assessed on any civil filing will benefit the Indiana Bar Foundation in order to supplement dwindling interest on lawyer trust accounts that fund the state’s pro bono districts.

Sentencing and criminal code

SEA 4, signed by Gov. Mitch Daniels on Jan. 30, went into effect before the Super Bowl, for the purpose of preventing human trafficking. The revision to Indiana code provides that recruiting, harboring or transporting another person to participate in sexual conduct by force, threat of force, or fraud constitutes human trafficking. It also provides that a person who recruits, harbors or transports a child less than 16 years of age with the intent of engaging the child in forced labor, involuntary servitude, prostitution or sexual conduct commits promotion of human trafficking of a minor, a Class B felony.

HEA 1033 allows a court to convert a Class D felony conviction to Class A misdemeanor, depending on the nature of the offense and the offender’s criminal history.

House Bill 1036 (FAILED) proposed making intimidation a Class C felony instead of a Class D felony if the person to whom a threat is communicated is a judge or bailiff of any court. It also would have made intimidation a Class C felony instead of a Class A misdemeanor if the person to whom a threat is communicated is a prosecuting attorney or deputy prosecuting attorney.

Tort law

SEA 273 allows the Indiana Department of Homeland Security’s Fire Prevention and Building Safety Commission to adopt rules to regulate outdoor stage equipment used in connection with an outdoor performance as a Class 1 structure. It also creates an interim committee to study the regulation of outdoor stage equipment and recommend permanent legislation.

House Bill 1234  (FAILED)  proposed increasing the liability cap in the tort claims act to $1.3 million per person and $22 million per occurrence for causes of action accruing on or after July 1, 2011.•

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  1. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  2. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

  3. Diversity is important, but with some limitations. For instance, diversity of experience is a great thing that can be very helpful in certain jobs or roles. Diversity of skin color is never important, ever, under any circumstance. To think that skin color changes one single thing about a person is patently racist and offensive. Likewise, diversity of values is useless. Some values are better than others. In the case of a supreme court justice, I actually think diversity is unimportant. The justices are not to impose their own beliefs on rulings, but need to apply the law to the facts in an objective manner.

  4. Have been seeing this wonderful physician for a few years and was one of his patients who told him about what we were being told at CVS. Multiple ones. This was a witch hunt and they shold be ashamed of how patients were treated. Most of all, CVS should be ashamed for what they put this physician through. So thankful he fought back. His office is no "pill mill'. He does drug testing multiple times a year and sees patients a minimum of four times a year.

  5. Brian W, I fear I have not been sufficiently entertaining to bring you back. Here is a real laugh track that just might do it. When one is grabbed by the scruff of his worldview and made to choose between his Confession and his profession ... it is a not a hard choice, given the Confession affects eternity. But then comes the hardship in this world. Imagine how often I hear taunts like yours ... "what, you could not even pass character and fitness after they let you sit and pass their bar exam ... dude, there must really be something wrong with you!" Even one of the Bishop's foremost courtiers said that, when explaining why the RCC refused to stand with me. You want entertaining? How about watching your personal economy crash while you have a wife and five kids to clothe and feed. And you can't because you cannot work, because those demanding you cast off your Confession to be allowed into "their" profession have all the control. And you know that they are wrong, dead wrong, and that even the professional code itself allows your Faithful stand, to wit: "A lawyer may refuse to comply with an obligation imposed by law upon a good faith belief that no valid obligation exists. The provisions of Rule 1.2(d) concerning a good faith challenge to the validity, scope, meaning or application of the law apply to challenges of legal regulation of the practice of law." YET YOU ARE A NONPERSON before the BLE, and will not be heard on your rights or their duties to the law -- you are under tyranny, not law. And so they win in this world, you lose, and you lose even your belief in the rule of law, and demoralization joins poverty, and very troubling thoughts impeaching self worth rush in to fill the void where your career once lived. Thoughts you did not think possible. You find yourself a failure ... in your profession, in your support of your family, in the mirror. And there is little to keep hope alive, because tyranny rules so firmly and none, not the church, not the NGO's, none truly give a damn. Not even a new court, who pay such lip service to justice and ancient role models. You want entertainment? Well if you are on the side of the courtiers running the system that has crushed me, as I suspect you are, then Orwell must be a real riot: "There will be no curiosity, no enjoyment of the process of life. All competing pleasures will be destroyed. But always — do not forget this, Winston — always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always, at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face — forever." I never thought they would win, I always thought that at the end of the day the rule of law would prevail. Yes, the rule of man's law. Instead power prevailed, so many rules broken by the system to break me. It took years, but, finally, the end that Dr Bowman predicted is upon me, the end that she advised the BLE to take to break me. Ironically, that is the one thing in her far left of center report that the BLE (after stamping, in red ink, on Jan 22) is uninterested in, as that the BLE and ADA office that used the federal statute as a sword now refuses to even dialogue on her dire prediction as to my fate. "C'est la vie" Entertaining enough for you, status quo defender?

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