INDIANAPOLIS -- The start of summer is upon us. It's a great time to catch up, especially as we come together to celebrate our nation's independence.
I thought it would be timely to review some of the new laws that were passed earlier this year by the Indiana General Assembly.
Mark your calendar for July 1, as the following report will highlight a number of measures that will become effective this Thursday.
As we worked to create an environment that will produce more jobs in Indiana, we focused on providing assistance for Indiana's small businesses, which employ 1.3 million people in our state. To help in this endeavor, we created a position of small business ombudsman, which becomes part of the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC) on July 1.
The person filling this position will have a laundry list of duties with two primary functions: providing information on the types of assistance that can be provided by state government and giving small businesses an advocate to help cut through the kind of government red tape that can hinder growth.
Additionally, we added a provision for job accountability. This will be accomplished by clearly identifying guidelines and procedures for investigating complaints about worker misclassification, which takes place when employers treat their workers as independent contractors, rather than waged or salaried employees, in order to bypass paying benefits. Designation as an independent contractor means that workers -- rather than their employers -- must pay for health insurance, unemployment, Social Security and payroll-related taxes.
Under the provisions of Public Law (PL) 110, the Indiana Department of Labor will begin to develop the guidelines needed to investigate worker misclassification complaints. Getting tougher on violators will protect individual workers and lessen the burdens that face Indiana taxpayers and businesses that follow the rules.
Next, Indiana citizens who own guns will see their Second Amendment rights strengthened through two new laws. PL 90 will allow gun owners to leave legally-permitted firearms in a locked vehicle while parked at their workplace but employers still have the right to restrict any weapon in the workplace. PL 47 will restrict public access to information about Hoosiers who hold licenses to carry concealed weapons.
When lawmakers decided to overhaul Indiana's child support laws, most of the attention focused on a provision that requires casinos to withhold winnings from parents who ignore court-ordered child support obligations. PL 80 contains a series of changes that will improve the way the state handles collection and payment of support. These changes will make sure that children are supported by their parents who have a responsibility to provide for their family.
Families that want to pursue the dream of owning their own home will have expanded options through a program now called the Hoosier Traditional Mortgage (PL 115). Lenders, brokers and banks will be able to advertise state-certified mortgages that offer reasonable terms that will not break first-time buyers. In addition, buyers will be educated about the risks of purchasing a home and what can be done to avoid potential pitfalls.
Additional changes that take effect on July 1st are referenced below.
You cannot be denied unemployment benefits if you are called for jury duty (PL 110). An employer's insurance carrier may not delay emergency medical treatment for worker's compensation injuries (PL 67).
Penalties will be toughened against a drunken driver who causes the death of a fetus (PL 7) and against anyone who kills a law enforcement official when fleeing police or a law enforcement animal while under the influence (PL 102).
Indiana National Guard members returning from overseas deployment will be able to have a face-to-face interview with a trained health care provider before returning to civilian life (PL 54).
Under PL 66, Hoosier voters who have disabilities, serve in the military or are staying overseas will find it easier to cast ballots.
Voters with disabilities will have the same type of assistance when they vote ahead of time that they would receive at their precincts on Election Day, including access to touch screen voting and machines that are capable of reading ballots to voters.
The same law brings Indiana up to date with the federal Military and Overseas Voting Empowerment (MOVE) Act. It will enable counties to use e-mail, faxes and the Internet to contact voters who are in the military or are staying overseas and provide them with voter registration applications and absentee ballots.
By virtue of PL 10, you will need to be prepared to show identification when you purchase any alcoholic beverages for carry out regardless of your age. PL 5 includes a right for you to display a political sign in your yard. You cannot be stopped by your homeowner's association.
A person charged with domestic violence may be required to wear a GPS device as a condition of bail (PL 94). A 16-year old will be able to donate blood, as long as parents give permission (PL 4). Permits will not be required to remove a logjam that has built up in a river or stream (PL 76).
Last but not least, hypnotists will no longer be licensed in Indiana after July 1. While some of these provisions will not affect everyone, it does highlight some of our new laws that people should be aware of as we move into July. If you need more detail, you may call my office or check out the Legislature's website at www.in.gov. Just click on General Assembly and go to Bills & Resolutions to see the details.
Should you need to contact me during the interim, you can call the toll-free Statehouse telephone number of 1-800-382-9842, write to me in care of the Indiana House of Representatives, 200 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204, or send a message to my web site at www.in.gov/H44.
As always, have a great week and I look forward to seeing you as I visit the district.