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New laws in Indiana
Hundreds of new state laws go into effect Tuesday. Here are a few of the most important and interesting ones to watch:
House Bill 1006 – An overhaul of the state’s criminal sentencing system meant to focus prison time on the most serious crimes.
House Bill 1009 – A limitation on police using electronic surveillance to invade citizens’ privacy.
House Bill 1134 – Allows a candidate, elected officeholder or volunteer of a candidate to participate in political activity on property owned by a homeowner’s association.
Senate Bill 50 – Prohibits Hoosiers under the age of 16 from going to a tanning bed. Those aged 16 and 17 need parental permission.
Senate Bill 114 – Allows students to miss up to five days of school to participate in the Indiana State Fair if approved by principals.
Senate Bill 229 – Allows Hoosiers with a valid gun license to have a firearm in their vehicle while at a school if the car is locked and the gun is out of sight.
Senate Bill 339 – Repeals a ban on selling alcohol at the Indiana State Fair.
Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Rick Held, an inspector for Crisis Cleaning, tests meth residue levels inside a home in Fort Wayne.

Meth database among state’s new laws

– Hoosiers have a host of new laws to look forward to Tuesday when most of the statutes passed by the legislature this year go into effect.

Many of them aim to protect residents, including three laws focusing on meth labs, child-care safety and concussions.

Here is a synopsis of these new state laws:

Meth lab cleanup

Methamphetamine has devastated Indiana communities around the state for years. And every year there are more attempts to at least contain the damage.

A meth lab blew up a mile from the home of Rep. Wendy McNamara, R-Evansville. And a real estate agent friend was exposed to meth residue in a home, requiring the agent to now wear a respirator in some homes.

So McNamara wrote House Bill 1141 this year that would make it easier for Hoosiers to know what homes or apartments have had meth contamination, and also require disclosure of meth-related damage when selling a home.

The Indiana State Police under the law now must maintain an online database people can search to see every property, car or outside location that was once the site of a clandestine meth lab that has yet to be cleaned and decontaminated.

Under the new law, police cannot add a location until 180 days after the department learns from law enforcement that the property has been the site of a meth lab.

This gives property owners a chance to properly clean up the house or apartment first.

If it is certified decontaminated before the 180 days is up, the property cannot be added. If it is certified decontaminated after it has been placed in the public database, the police have 90 days to remove it.

“You don't want a property to be tainted forever,” McNamara said.

There are 9,200 properties statewide currently on the list, which can be found at www.in.gov/meth/2371.htm.

Concussion safety

Lawmakers advanced another step toward concussion safety for Hoosier athletes.

Senate Bill 222, written by Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, requires football coaches who are coaching people younger than 20 to complete a course concerning player safety and concussions at least once during a two-year period.

The Department of Education has to approve coaching certification courses.

Holdman said several groups are working on protocols and the the Department of Education has approved USA Football's program.

He said the focus is on football because it is a concussion-prone sport.

Two years ago a law was passed requiring students be removed from play when a concussion occurs and require medical clearance to return.

The newest law expands on that portion by saying athletes must wait at least 24 hours after being removed from play before they can return.

Holdman said that was a recommendation from a task force on the issue though he thinks it adds confusion to the system.

And he said the training for coaches is affordable.

Child care

The biggest triumph of the session likely belongs to House Bill 1036 – an effort to require all child-care facilities receiving federal funds to follow basic safety rules and regulations.

The bill was fought hard for several years by religious groups running church child cares, including many that are unlicensed registered ministries.

The law goes into effect Tuesday, but operators won't be held accountable under the new rules until next year.

Rep. Kevin Mahan, R-Hartford City, said he believes media coverage of recent child-care deaths helped the bill finally pass – especially the heartbreaking story of a child who wandered away and drowned in a baptistery.

He said the most important part of the law requires these child cares to abide by child-staff ratios so that one or two adults aren't responsible for a large number of children.

“We need to make sure we have enough hands, arms and bodies on deck,” Mahan said. “God forbid (that) if something happens you can get the kids out.”

The law also requires certain daily activities, such as learning how to hold a book, and daily outdoor play when weather permits.

A provider also must make drinking water available at all times and have nutritious meals.

Mahan said it is almost sad these kinds of details need to be in a law because the majority of child cares – but not all – already do it.

nkelly@jg.net

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