McNamara: Governor signs two bills aimed at increasing public safety

Posted by: Jessica Baker  | Thursday, June 1, 2017

STATEHOUSE (June 1, 2017) – Gov. Eric Holcomb today ceremonially signed into law two bills sponsored by State Rep. Wendy McNamara (R-Evansville) that would help law enforcement agencies and domestic violence victims.

Under Senate Enrolled Act 322, those arrested for a felony would have a DNA profile taken through a cheek swab. The profile would be run through a federal DNA database if the arrest was made pursuant to a felony arrest warrant or after a court has found probable cause for the arrest. Currently, Indiana law only allows for the swab to be taken after a felony conviction.

“By collecting these DNA samples, law enforcement agencies are given another tool in their toolbox to help identify the guilty and absolve the innocent,” said McNamara, vice-chair of the House Committee on Judiciary. “In the 30 other states who have already implemented felony arrest DNA tests, they have resolved cold cases, tied serial offenders to a string of unsolved crimes and exonerated the innocent. With this new law, I trust Indiana law enforcement will be further empowered to protect Hoosiers.”

McNamara said the DNA sample would be expunged from the database if the person is acquitted of all felony charges or if the charges were downgraded to misdemeanors. Additionally, the sample would be removed if all felony charges against the person were dismissed or no felony charges are filed against the person with 365 days.

Another piece of legislation sponsored by McNamara will allow victims of domestic abuse to legally separate their shared cell phone plan from their abuser. Senate Enrolled Act 323 requires wireless providers, under a court order, to transfer plans over to abuse victims without the consent of the account holder. Under this new law, judges are allowed to include pets, as they would personal property, in a protective order for domestic violence.

“This proposal makes significant and important steps to take the power away from the abuser and help survivors make a clean break,” McNamara said. “Hopefully this new law will empower victims to leave abusive situations as quickly as possible, without having to worry about financial considerations, such as phone contracts, or the safety of a beloved pet.”

According to McNamara, if the abuser is the primary account holder on a shared cell phone plan, they can track call histories, emails and even locations of the victim. This law helps victims maintain their phone number and contacts, but eliminate the ability of their abuser to surveil their phone activity.

Both SEA 322 and SEA 323 go into effect July 1. To learn more about these bills, visit iga.in.gov.

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State Rep. Wendy McNamara (R-Evansville) represents House District 76,
which includes portions of Posey and Vanderburgh counties.