INDIANAPOLIS - State Senator Lindel Hume (D-Princeton) proposed several bills during the recently adjourned legislative session that were approved and signed into law by the governor. Among his legislative initiatives this session were bills aimed at improving public safety and enhancing government transparency.
Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 4, authored by Sen. Hume, strengthens the state's human trafficking laws by eliminating loopholes and making it easier to prosecute offenders with the removal of a requirement to prove force or fraud. The legislation also includes a clause that blocks offenders from citing consent as a defense. Penalties are increased with new language geared to protect children specifically, stating that any person who recruits, harbors, or transports a child less than 16 years of age with the intent of engaging the child in forced labor, involuntary servitude, prostitution or sexual conduct commits promotion of human trafficking of a minor, a Class B felony punishable by six to 20 years in prison. Further, the act makes it illegal for any adult to sell or transfer custody of a child for sexual activity, expanding the previous statute that only applied to a child's parent, guardian or custodian. This new law became effective immediately upon passage in January.
House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1250, sponsored by Sen. Hume, aims to deter nepotism and conflicts of interest in state government. The act prohibits state employees from working in the same agency as a relative if that relative is in direct line of supervision or is the appointing authority of the agency. Jobs that match these conditions but existed on or before July 1, 2012 will not be affected. Further, the act allows an individual employed in an agency for at least 12 consecutive months immediately preceding the date the individual's relative becomes the appointing authority to remain under the agency and under the direct line of supervision of the relative.
HEA 1005, sponsored by Sen. Hume, aims to deter nepotism and conflicts of interest in local government. The act prohibits public workers from hiring family members. In addition, the proposal prevents firefighters, police officers, park officials and other municipal employees from serving in an elected position on a county council or board of commissioners that sets agency budgets and salaries. The legislation also stipulates that upon election, public officers must resign their employed position to serve in the elected office.
HEA 1003, sponsored by Sen. Hume, permits governing bodies to adopt policies allowing public access to state agency meetings conducted by electronic communication at a public place. The act aims to improve public access by strengthening the Public Records Law and the Open Door Law.
Current law permits property taxes to be used for highway maintenance only in an emergency and by unanimous vote of the county fiscal body, and provides that the county general fund may be used only for county highway department employees' personal services. Under SEA 98, co-authored by Sen. Hume, a county will have more options for county highway funding by allowing counties to use property taxes and miscellaneous revenue deposited in the county general fund for county highway maintenance purposes.
SEA 97, co-authored by Sen. Hume, provides that a person may not be convicted of certain offenses relating to public intoxication unless the person endangers one's own life or the life of another person, breaches the peace or is in imminent danger of doing so, or harasses, annoys, or alarms another person.
The difficult economic climate has led to a surge in the number of homes being acquired through foreclosure and abandonment. HEA 1249, sponsored by Sen. Hume, urges the establishment of an interim study committee to discuss possible improvements to Indiana's land bank statute. The committee would take on a study of land bank issues and determine the use and effectiveness of current law. Other charges would include: the review of the creation of land banks at the municipal level as opposed to the county level; the implications that land banks would have for Indiana's current tax sale process; and the effect of Indiana's current tax sale process on the disposition of vacant and abandoned property.
HEA 1237, co-sponsored by Sen. Hume, provides additional consumer protections for Indiana consumers of home improvement supplies and sets rules for home improvement contracts to better protect consumers from scams. The act targets storm chasers, who often come into a state and give quotes for repair work without following required insurance procedures.
HEA 1033, co-sponsored by Sen. Hume, will assist individuals who have completed their court-ordered sentence to reenter the workforce. The new law will prohibit employers from asking applicants, employees and contract employees whether a person's criminal record has been sealed or restricted. The act makes this action a Class B infraction. The act also prevents persons or organizations that maintain criminal background information from providing to employers criminal histories that have not been updated within 60 days. In addition, persons with a Class D felony, after three years served, could appeal to the court to have the crime reduced to a Class A misdemeanor under certain circumstances.
HEA 1018, sponsored by Sen. Hume, requires mine electricians who perform electrical work in certain coal mines to be tested by and receive a certificate of competency from the Mining Board. The act allows certain individuals certified by the Mine Safety and Health Administration or another state to serve as a mine electrician if the individual obtains an Indiana Miner's Certificate of Competency from the director of Mines and Mine Safety.
Most new laws will become effective July 1, 2012.
This is only a sample of Sen. Hume's legislation set to become law. For a complete list, click here.
For more information on Sen. Hume, his legislative agenda or other State Senate business call 1-800-382-9467 or visit www.SenateDemocrats.IN.gov.
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