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Flurry of new laws set to take effect in Indiana

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Beginning Tuesday, guns will be allowed in school parking lots, beer and alcohol will be legal for sale at the Indiana State Fair and veterans will have more support from the state as they seek new careers.

The start of the state's new fiscal year also will bring sweeping changes to how much time convicted criminals spend in jail. That issue was so important that lawmakers returned for a day earlier this month to correct the legislation before it took effect.

The measures are among dozens of laws approved during lawmakers' short two-month legislative session this year. Many will barely be noticed by the public, while others are still months or more away from implementation.

Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said that, for a part-time legislature, Indiana's General Assembly is still able to accomplish a lot in a short amount of time.

"I think this year reflects a very typical, multi-faceted set of laws that affect every Hoosier in one way or another," Long said. "I don't think we were excessive, I think a large majority of the bills were filed did not see the light of day in the end. And that's the way it should be."

Many of the laws taking effect now build on previous legislation. Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, approved an expansion of the state's "Lifeline Law," which grants protection to people under 21 who seek emergency aid for a friend if that person has had too much to drink. The expanded law will protect anyone who had been drinking underage if they report a crime or are a victim of sexual assault.

Other laws taking effect next week will make it illegal for anyone under 16 to use tanning beds, require new concussion training for high school football coaches and make it illegal to provide a gun to a known felon.

Some of the biggest measures approved this year, including tax cuts and a preschool expansion program, won't be felt for many months. New cuts to the state's corporate income tax and changes in the business property tax — priorities for the state's Republican leaders — won't kick in until next year at the earliest. A plan to award families vouchers to send their children to preschools takes effect next July.

Legislative Democrats, a distinct minority in both the House and Senate, have repeatedly said the state's Republicans are ignoring issues important to the state's middle class.

Speaking in response to a tax summit called by Gov. Mike Pence last week, House Minority Leader Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, said that real the wealth and earnings for most residents have been declining in the past year. He pointed to a study from the right-leaning Tax Foundation that found the average tax burden for residents increased between 2001 and 2011, in large part because earnings decreased for so many residents.

"In short, workers and consumers paid a higher overall percentage of taxes on paltrier earnings. I suspect these facts will not be parsed at the governor's soiree," Pelath said.

Pelath and other Democrats pushed a series of measures they said would help shore up the middle class, but the bills were largely unsuccessful during the past session.

That isn't to say Democrats have been entirely unsuccessful inside the Statehouse. Rep. Justin Moed, D-Indianapolis, successfully pushed a measure granting student loan aid for anyone who begins teaching science, technology, engineering or math — collectively called STEM — in Indiana.

State lawmakers are set to return for their 2015 session — a lengthier, budget-writing session — in January. Before then, they will spend the summer and fall studying issues for possible legislation next year.

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  • kudos DC
    well said DC. Naysayers please move to your beloved meccas of California, NY, or wherever. you hate it so much here...please go away.
  • gun laws
    the restrictions on guns only hurt the law abiding citizens. all, yes ALL, of the mass shootings have occurred in "gun free" zones. you may have to actually think with your head and not your heart on this one. see if you can figure it out. the facts are out there. violent crime decreases dramatically when you let law abiding citizens protect themselves. For some reason criminals and wackos don't care about laws forbidding them from carrying weapons. strange huh?
  • Naysayers!
    Let's see, Indiana is sitting on a HUGE budget surplus, so giving some of the money back to the people who paid it, granting immunity to minors who try to help someone whose life is in danger because of bad behavior and requiring parental consent for 15 and under kids to go to tanning salons are all evil schemes cooked up by those greedy, fat, rich, Koch brother loving, Republican right-wing nut jobs who are ruining our state. Jeez. Take a trip to Illinois. It's broke and getting worse. Its last two governors are in prison. Its businesses are fleeing to other states (like Indiana). And its been run by democrats for decades. Hell, you don't even have to go there! Just ask a democratic legislator from Indiana. They all played hookey over there for several weeks a couple of winters ago..
  • Looking for trouble
    As far as take you gun to your school parking lot - what is this supposed to do exactly except make it easier for somebody who is having a bad day to go out their car to retrieve their weapon and use it in the school. Don't we have enough violence now? Who benefits from this ridiculous twisting of our rights to bear arms? Schools should be weapon-free!!!!
  • Italiano Clarification
    @ Italiano, which laws are you referring to as favoring the rich and discriminating against the poor?
  • Vote them out?
    If you look at what happened in Fishers with Mayoral canidate and Town Manager Scott Fadness. Fadness gave away almost 30 million dollars to developers to build apartments for the rich. Fadness also used TIF's to provide corporate welfare for his campaign donors. Funny enough the HSE school district is now projecting a 30 million deficit. Fadness is a republican who has demonstrated time and again he had no regard for what taxpayers want or need. Yet he still won the primary.
  • laws
    I can not believe they are allowing guns on school property. With all these school shootings. How stupid are they? Something will happen at a school in Indiana of mass and then what? Guns should not be allowed anywhere public.
  • Destruction
    GOP continues their never ending mission to destroy this state. I hope people wake up and vote them out of power before it is too late.
  • Bang Bang
    and the right wing-nuts have passed a bunvh of laws that favor the rich and discriminate against the poor. Wake up Indiana, VOTE THEM OUT

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  1. Angela IS the best RD

  2. We are a nation of speed. All of our younger lives are filled with deadlines, quotas and bottom lines. We start to ease out of the pressured rat-race when we finally see "retirement." The most enjoyable travel on the planet is passenger rail service. Indy to Chicago does not beat Megabus or Southwest Airlines in speed. Passenger rail however has the best seating, mammoth legroon, seat backs that recline to more than 45 degrees and employers that really want you to return as a customer. Indiana municipalities need to maintain subsidies to support this transportation mode. Losing it is loss for all of us.

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