Statehouse update: Guns in school parking lots, concussion training, veterans clinics and more

March 13, 2014

High-profile bills on mass-transit, road funding and business taxes passed the Indiana General Assembly on Thursday, but so did several other pieces of legislation. Here's a rundown of some of those bills, which still require approval from Gov. Mike Pence to become law.

Guns in school lots

Legislature passed Thursday would make it legal to leave firearms locked and concealed in vehicles on school property.

Current law states that if a person brings or leaves a firearm in a vehicle on school property he or she could be charged with a felony.

Under the bill passed Thursday, people could only be charged with a misdemeanor – and only if they leave a firearm out in the open in an unlocked vehicle.

The National Rifle Association supports the bill, while it is opposed by the Indiana State Teachers Association, the Indiana Association of School Principals, Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents, Indiana School Boards Association, Indiana Urban School Association, and the Children’s Coalition of Indiana.

Concussion training

Indiana could soon become the first state to require high school football coaches to take part in a player safety and concussion-training course under Senate Bill 222, authored by Sen. Travis Holdman, R–Markle.

The bill would parallel the state of Washington’s law that requires football players to wait 24 hours before returning to the field of play after a concussion.
SB 222 also addresses liability concerns for coaches. If a coach completes the training and attempts to help a player with a possible concussion, the coach would be immune from any legal repercussions if the player’s condition worsens.

Holdman said more than 30 medical and sports organizations support the legislation.

Unemployment drug testing

A proposal to drop current drug-testing standards for unemployment benefit applicants was passed by the House 65-34 and the Senate 34-14.

Indiana labor groups say unreliable tests bought at drug stores could be used in the absence of state standards. Opponents of the bill disagree on how stringent tests should be, but they believe some oversight is needed.

The measure was tacked onto a child labor bill in the closing days of the session.

Veterans disability clinic fund

Senate Bill 180, authored by Sen. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City, establishes the Veterans Disability Clinic Fund. The fund would provide grants to certain law schools that maintain a veteran’s clinic. The little-to-no-cost clinics would allow law students to gain career experience by counseling or representing veterans in claims for disability compensation.

“It’s an unfortunate reality that many disabled veterans are unable to access the support they need,” Banks said. “Some veterans never even pursue disability compensation, due to the overwhelming costs of legal fees. The Veterans Disability Clinic Fund is an innovative way to help our service men and women while providing law students hands-on experience in their field.”

Under the legislation, the Indiana State Department of Health would have to further study programs for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder or traumatic brain injuries.

Neonatal abstinence syndrome

Senate Bill 408 is designed to encourage improvement in reporting of infant health problems caused by drug-addicted mothers. Authored by Sen. Vaneta Becker, R-Evansville, it requires the Indiana State Department of Health to study and collaborate to determine best practices and reporting of neonatal abstinence syndrome cases.

NAS can arise when mothers abuse either prescription or illegal drugs while pregnant, causing their babies to experience drug dependency, seizures, slow weight gain and other dangerous symptoms.

The bill passed both the House and Senate unanimously.


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