New Indiana State Laws Take Effect Tuesday
By Mike Pelreberg
(Indianapolis, Ind.) – It’s July 1, bringing into effect a myriad of new laws in Indiana.
The Indiana General Assembly passed the bills and Governor Mike Pence signed more than 150 of them into law during and following the legislative session in Indianapolis earlier this year.
One of the most important and complex new laws passed are those dealing with criminal code reform. Minimum sentences are now on the books for most violent felony convictions. Habitual felons can see their sentences enhanced by 20 years. The new rules also bring harsher penalties for drug offenses involving heroin, cocaine and meth.
How much of a sentence a convict must serve is also being adjusted. Indiana’s allowance for good time credit – typically two days credit for every done day on good behavior behind bars –will be changed to require that at least 75 percent of a sentence be served for some convictions.
Other noteworthy laws affecting Hoosiers that kick in Tuesday include:
Lifeline Law: Indiana’s Lifeline Law was enacted two years ago to allow underage drinkers to receive immunity from prosecution for minor consumption if they call 911 to report an alcohol-related medical emergency. The law has been expanded this year to also cover a drug overdose, sexual assault, or a crime. The law was co-sponsored in the Indiana House by southeast Indiana state representatives Randy Frye (R-Greensburg) and Jud McMillin (R-Brookville).
Overdose-countering drug: As part of the expanded Lifeline Law, the Indiana Emergency Medical Service Commission will establish standards to allow qualified first responders – such as EMTs, firefighters, or police officers – to administer drugs like Naloxone, which counteract the effect of a drug overdose.
Guns in school parking lots: Gun owners may keep their firearm locked and out of sight in their vehicle when parking on school property – a practice that could have previously resulted in a felony criminal charge. The person with a gun in their vehicle must be able to legally own a gun. The law applies to parents and teachers as well as students who are a member of a gun club or shooting team.
State gas tax change: Indiana’s prepaid 19-cents per gallon sales tax on gas is being replaced with a gasoline use tax. The Department of Revenue will determine a rolling, monthly statewide average cost of a gallon of gas and then add seven percent. The tax will be calculated for the next month on the 22nd of each month.
Tanning beds: Tanning bed users must be 16 years or older to use a tanning bed in Indiana. Previously, the state allowed teens to tan if they had the permission of a parent or guardian.
Motorcycles and red lights: Already enacted in a number of other states, Indiana’s new Dead Red Law allows motorcycle or bicycle riders who have been waiting at a stagnant red light to go ahead if they wait at least two minutes and determine that the intersection is clear of traffic. A “dead red” light is one that is designed to turn green or begin a timer when a vehicle driving onto a detector is not heavy enough – such as a motorcycle or bike – to trigger the light.
You can find a full list of the new laws signed by Governor Mike Pence this year at http://www.in.gov/gov/2014billwatch.htm.