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Lawmakers miss self-imposed deadline

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The Indiana General Assembly tried to end the session more than a week before the constitutional March 14 deadline, but impasses on school funding and unemployment insurance caused the legislators to miss their March 4 self-imposed deadline.

Several bills of interest to the legal community made it out of conference committee, a few with major changes. Legislators cut out the language in Senate Enrolled Act 307 that established Bartholomew Superior Court 3 and reorganized Clark Superior Courts into a unified Circuit Court. Instead, the bill reverted back to its original form of dealing only with Floyd County court matters.

House Enrolled Act 1276, which had been amended to require the Judicial Technology and Automation Committee to report divorce decree statistics each year, was completely stripped in conference committee and converted into a bill on French Lick resort matters. When originally filed, the bill dealt with domestic violence, bullying, and sending of sexual material, but was later amended to focus on the release of records, HIV testing, and JTAC matters.

SEA 224 was amended in conference committee to make the new filing and notice requirements for sex offenders effective upon passage instead of July 1, 2010. The bill was amended during the session to include language addressing the process of removing names of sex offenders from the registry if they qualify.

The Indiana Supreme Court's 2009 decision in Wallace v. State had caused confusion about the process. Now sex offenders will need to file a petition in court and request a court order for removal. The prosecutor will receive notice and have a chance to respond, and the offender would have to provide information to prove he or she is no longer eligible for listing on the registry. If the judge orders removal, the Department of Correction would have to grant it.

Senate Bill 399, which deals with caps on fines for moving violations, now says that a person who admits the violation on the day of the person's court date or who contests the ticket under certain circumstances may not be required to pay more than court costs plus a judgment of $35.50. The conference committee also resolved a conflict between its language and language in HEA 1154, a bill dealing with Marion County courts.

Language concerning Local Development Agreement transparency may not be dead yet. The language was originally inserted into SB 405, which died in the House. There is a chance the language will be inserted into HB 1086, an economic-development bill currently in conference committee, said Bryan Corbin, public information officer for the Attorney General's Office. The AG supports only this language in the bill, which would require non-profit and for-profit LDA agencies that receive casino money to disclose to the state how they distribute grant money. This language failed to pass during the 2009 session.

Two bills of relevance to the courts remained in conference committee as of Indiana Lawyer deadline Thursday - SB 149, involving Department of Child Services matters including out-of-state placements; and HB 1271, which deals with problem-solving courts.

Already before the governor awaiting signatures are HEA 1100, which prohibits an inmate in a county jail from having a cell phone; HEA 1186 on interlocal agreements concerning courts; and HEA 1350 on uniform acts concerning civil procedure.

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