The 119th Indiana General Assembly convened Jan. 12. The only order of business that is mandatory in this session is establishing the next biennial budget. There are also a few other bills that will capture — and keep — the attention of mainstream media, such as school funding. While all of those bills are important, NUVO has compiled a list of legislative bills we believe are of interest to our readership. Some could have a positive or negative impact. Some reflect the issues NUVO is dedicated to exploring like environmental or social justice issues. And some are just plain quirky. So here are the bills on NUVO’s list of 2015 LEGISLATIVE BILLS TO WATCH, each with a brief explainer on why they’ll be of interest.
SB 6 (Sen. Ron Alting) - Makes it a Class B infraction to possess, purchase, sell, offer to sell, or use powdered or crystalline alcohol. Establishes exceptions.
Powdered alcohol, or Palcohol, is not available for purchase on the open market yet. It is expected to be commercially available later this spring. However, in anticipation of this new product states like Ohio, New York and now Indiana are trying to make it illegal.
SB 9 (Sen. Brent Steele) - Provides that a probationer or parolee may be subject to search or seizure by a law enforcement officer at any time, as long as the search or seizure is not arbitrary, capricious, or conducted solely for the purpose of harassment.
If a random search cannot be for the purpose of harassment — or is simply arbitrary — why take out the probable cause clause?
SB 14 (Sen. Lonnie Randolph) - Authorizes a county, city, or town to establish or designate an agency to act for the county, city, or town as a local air pollution control agency. Requires the commissioner of the department of environmental management to enter into a contract with a county, city, or town air pollution control agency that is willing to enter into the contract.
More people paying attention to air pollution is always a good thing.
SB 15 – (Sen. Lonnie Randolph) - Prohibits an employer from using a consumer report for employment purposes unless certain conditions apply. Allows a consumer to bring a civil action against an employer for a violation of this provision.
Using someone’s financial literacy or in some cases illiteracy against them when determining employment shouldn’t be allowed. Looks like this bill aims to change that.
SB 27 (Sen. Dennis Kruse) - Imposes civil penalties on railroad corporations for obstructions of grade crossings that exceed 10 minutes. Provides that the civil penalties are in addition to any judgments for infractions.
This bill made me laugh. Sounds like someone is a little impatient waiting for trains to go by.
SB 28 (Sen. Dennis Kruse) - Requires the written part of an examination for a learner's permit or driver's license be in English. Prohibits an applicant from using a translator to take the written part of the examination.
SB 342 (Sen. Earline Rogers) – Requires the bureau of motor vehicles to conduct in certain foreign languages the testing and demonstration of ability to operate a motor vehicle.
Watching these two bills progress will show just how the general assembly views those Hoosiers whose native language is not English.
SB 38 (Sens. Brent Steele and Mike Delph) - Provides that a court may not apply, enforce, or grant comity, res judicata, claim preclusion, or issue preclusion to a foreign law, ruling, or judgment if doing so would violate the fundamental liberties, rights, and privileges guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States or the Constitution of the State of Indiana.
While I can imagine some situations where this would be a positive to Hoosiers (like divorced parents who normally would lose certain rights to their child in an international custody battle), the track records of the bill’s authors give some pause for concern.
SB 41 (Sen. Karen Tallian) - Increases the state minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10.
Hopefully minimum wage discussions will begin to get some traction in this state.
SB 44 (Sen. Jean Breaux) - Provides that: (1) it is an unlawful employment practice to pay wages that discriminate based on sex, race, or national origin for the same or equivalent jobs; and (2) the civil rights commission has jurisdiction for investigation and resolution of complaints of these employment actions.
Anti-discrimination and equal pay? Sounds good to me!
SB 54 (Sen. Brent Steele) - Allows the holder of an artisan distiller's permit to: (1) sell liquor for carryout on Sunday; and (2) upon approval, conduct business at three additional locations that are separate from the premises on which the artisan distiller manufactures liquor.
Separates establishments like Hotel Tango Whiskey from your average liquor stores and allows them to grow as a business. Sounds like a good plan!
SB 64 (Sen. John Broden) - Allows a notary public to solemnize a marriage.
Anyone can be a notary public if they have $11.22 and can buy a $5000 insurance bond (which is often covered by their employer). Notary publics are often in car sales, accounts payable, or banking offices.
SB 114 (Sens. Philip Boots and Mark Stoops) - Designates the elegant sea lily (Elegantocrinus hemisphaericus) as the official state fossil of Indiana.
I know we have a state bird, animal, and pie … but a fossil?