New laws take effect July 1

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By The Staff

On the legislative calendar, the next big date is today.

That's when most of the new laws passed earlier this year by the Indiana General Assembly take effect.

In this report, I want to highlight some of the measures that just became law.

When we debated ways to create more jobs for Hoosiers, one emphasis was assistance for Indiana's small businesses, which already employ 1.3 million people in our state. One way to help will come from the position of small business ombudsman, which became part of the Indiana Economic Development Corp. July 1.

The person filling this position will have a laundry list of duties under 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.

As we help with job creation, we want to make sure that there is job accountability as well.

Accountability can come 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. 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 110, the Indiana Department of Labor must begin on July 1 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.

Hoosiers 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. 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 public attention focused on a provision that requires casinos to withhold winnings from parents who ignore court-ordered child support obligations.

PL 80 also 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, rather than Indiana taxpayers.

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.

Here are a few other new laws that took effect July 1.

You won't 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.

Be prepared to show some identification when you purchase any alcoholic beverages for carry out (PL 10). If you want to display a political sign in your yard, you cannot be stopped by your homeowner's association (PL 5).

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). And, last but not least, hypnotists will no longer be licensed in Indiana after July 1.

If you need to contact me during the interim, you can call the toll-free Statehouse telephone number of (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/H74.