2011: New laws become effective July 1

The Indiana General Assembly approved 229 new laws this year, many of which will become effective July 1. The changes in state law taking place this summer impact a variety of issues, from alcohol sales to texting while driving. Read on for a brief summary of new laws taking effect July 1, 2011.

To see a complete list of new laws enacted and signed by the governor in 2011, visit www.in.gov/gov/billwatch.htm. The Senate Democrats’ Acts of Interest 2011, a summary of new laws approved in 2011, is also available for download (4.59 MB PDF).

Carding for alcohol purchases
The 2011 legislature amended a 2010 law that required retail clerks to verify the age of any customer purchasing alcohol for carry-out. State law requires that a photo ID with date of birth be presented by the customer for age verification. Senate Enrolled Act 78 changed the ID requirement to only require clerks to request an ID from customers who reasonably appear to be younger than 40 years old. The ID law, including the new changes, only applies to carry-out purchases. Restaurants and stores may have stricter policies for serving or selling alcohol.
Texting while driving prohibited
House Enrolled Act 1129 stipulates a Class C infraction, which carries a $500 fine, for drivers who are found to be using a cell phone or other device to type, transmit or read a text message or email message while driving. Use of hands-free devices, however, is permitted. The measure would not infringe upon a driver’s ability to talk on the phone while driving.

Cell phones on Do Not Call list

Cell phone numbers can now be included on the state’s Do Not Call registry, a popular program administered by the Indiana Attorney General’s office and provided free of charge to Indiana residents. House Enrolled Act 1273 extends the protections of Indiana’s telephone privacy laws to include cell phone numbers, prepaid wireless calling and internet-enabled VOIP services. Phone numbers with out-of-state area codes are also now eligible if the billing address for the service is in Indiana.

More than 1.8 million phone numbers are registered on the Do Not Call list. Telemarketers who call a cell phone number registered on the Do Not Call list will face the same penalties as those who call a registered land line. Registration is available by calling 1.888.834.9969 or online at www.IndianaConsumer.com.

Buy local program for state government

This change in state law promotes the use of state agencies’ purchasing power to help Indiana companies that employ Hoosiers and contribute to local economies. Under House Enrolled Act 1183, a formula used during the bidding process will give Indiana businesses a competitive edge over out-of-state companies for state contracts and purchases, including agriculture products.

The act also directs the Commission on Military and Veterans’ Affairs to study how the state could implement a similar preference for veteran-owned Indiana businesses. The commission is expected to recommend changes for the 2012 legislature to consider.

Education:

New laws concerning education have become law dealing with school vouchers, charter schools and teacher evaluation.  Read highlights of the new laws here.

Immigration reform:

Originally introduced as an Arizona-style immigration law, Senate Enrolled Act 590 was ultimately watered down to primarily address issues related to employers hiring illegal immigrants. The legislation requires state and local agencies and public contractors to verify the citizenship of their employees using the E-Verify system if hired after June 30, 2011. The act makes it a crime for anyone accepting an ID, other than a passport, issued by a foreign consular as valid form of identification.  Two provisions of this new law have been suspended by the U.S. District Court Southern District as of June 24. Read more about the evolution and court case involving this law>>

House Enrolled Act 1402  also targets illegal or undocumented immigrants in the state. The act restricts undocumented students living in Indiana from receiving in-state tuition rates. That could mean a substantial increase in tuition costs for students living in Indiana. At Indiana University, for example, the jump would be from approximately $9,000 for in-state tuition to more than $27,500 for out-of-state tuition for full-time undergraduate students.

Guns:

With the passage of Senate Enrolled Act 506, A person can now carry a handgun without a license if they are on their own property or in their own vehicle.  A person can also carry a handgun without a license on another person’s private property or in another person’s vehicle with the owner’s consent.  Any person may regulate handgun possession on their own property.  However, an employer cannot prohibit employees from keeping a firearm or ammunition in a locked vehicle’s trunk or glove compartment.

Senate Enrolled Act 292  prohibits local governments from regulating any matter pertaining to firearms, ammunition or accessories.  Any local ordinance enacted on or before June 30, 2011, will be voided. Exceptions include buildings with metal detection devices at each public entrance to the building if the building has at least one law enforcement officer at each public entrance.  The local unit, however, still may not prohibit or restrict the possession of the handgun in the building if the person carrying has been issued a valid license to carry.

Laws affecting military members and veterans:

Among enacted legislation affecting military members and veterans is a new law that will reduce the university tuition benefit provided to children of disabled veterans under an existing state program. The benefit is now based on the parent’s disability level as determined by the VA. Since 1935, Indiana has paid 100% tuition and normal fees for the children of disabled or deceased vets for post-secondary education at a state college or university. Under the new plan, the amount of the benefit will be equal to the parent’s percentage of disability plus 20%, with a maximum of 100%. For a veteran with a 10% disability rating, for example, the child’s tuition benefit will be 30%.

Other changes approved this year for this program will require children using the scholarship to be younger than 32 years old, require that the parents live in Indiana and that students maintain a minimum grade-point average. The act will affect the children of service members enlisted after June 30, 2011. Children of service members and veterans enlisted before July 1, 2011, remain eligible for the 100% tuition benefit.  Read more about laws affecting military members and veterans>>

Toll road authorization:

The governor now has total authority to create toll roads through public-private partnerships under Senate Enrolled Act 473. He can authorize the addition of toll lanes on existing highways, tolling on the proposed Illiana Expressway in Northwest Indiana and on Ohio River bridges planned between Indiana and Kentucky. The authority applies to projects on which construction begins after June 30, 2011, but exempts the I-69 project in Southern Indiana. The requirement for legislative review will be restored as of July 1, 2021.

Energy:

Under Senate Enrolled Act 251, utility companies can now recover the costs of complying with federal mandates by increasing rates on consumers.  The definition of “clean energy” has also been amended to include coal bed methane and nuclear energy.  Democrats were disappointed that the act does not include a strong Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) which would require the increased production of energy from renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, biomass and geothermal.  Including an RES would have placed an obligation on utilities to produce a specified amount of their electricity from renewable energy resources.  Indiana is one of only 14 states without such a standard.

Redistricting:

The drawing of new legislative districts is undertaken by the Indiana General Assembly every ten years after the federal Census is conducted. Changes to Indiana’s 50 state senate districts, 100 house districts and 9 congressional districts have been established under House Enrolled Acts 1601 and 1602.  To view the new district maps and learn more about the redistricting process, visit www.redistricting.IN.gov.