New laws on the books

Posted by: Courtney Scott  | Thursday, July 2, 2015

This week marks the beginning of the new fiscal year in our state and with that, a tide of new legislation that goes into effect. Hoosiers will feel the impact of more than 70 new laws that hit the books on July 1, after passing through the General Assembly earlier this year. I’ve highlighted a few of those new laws here, all of which are aimed at creating a brighter, safer and fiscally sound future for Indiana.

A high infant mortality rate and overcrowded domestic violence shelters prompted urgent legislative action in regards to Hoosier public safety. We established the Safety P.I.N. (Protecting Indiana’s Newborns) grant program to provide $13.5 million over the biennium in grants to fund innovative ideas for reducing infant mortality in Indiana. Furthermore, lawmakers doubled existing funding for domestic violence prevention and treatment.

The Department of Child Services will see $7.5 million per year in new funding for additional caseworkers. For those struggling with addiction or who have substance abuse disorders, family members or friends may now obtain overdose intervention drugs to help save the lives of loved ones gripped by addiction.

In the interest of finding justice for victims of sexual violence, Senate Enrolled Act 94 extends the statute of limitations for rape victims. Dubbed "Jenny's Law," the measure addresses a loophole that prevented the prosecution of a man who admitted to raping an Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis student years afterward. Now, the law allows for prosecutors to file rape charges after Indiana's five year time limit has expired when new DNA or recording evidence surfaces in the case or, as was the case for Jenny, when a confession is made.

In the midst of a national discussion about the rising costs of college tuition, Indiana went on the offensive, implementing an approach to loan education that aims to empower the state’s college students. The General Assembly passed House Enrolled 1042 with the intent to give heightened loan perspective to students attending in-state public universities.

When classes resume this fall, public colleges and universities will be required to provide students with information pertaining to their education loans, including loan totals, total payoff amount, monthly repayment amounts and percent of borrowing limit reached. The idea? By having students see the impact that their loans will have, it may persuade them to make smarter decisions about their borrowing choices.

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education intends to aid in this effort by providing colleges with a template letter for students that outlines their education loan information. By next year, participation in the program will be required in order for public universities and colleges to be eligible for state financial aid.

The list of laws enacted this year vary in topic, but each piece culminated in a slate of enacted law that will pay forward dividends for public safety and overall quality of life for Hoosiers for years to come. For a full list of legislation that passed out of the Indiana General Assembly this year, visit iga.in.gov/legislative/2015/session/digest_of_enactments/. If you have any questions regarding legislation enacted into law, feel free to reach out to my office by phone at 317-234-3827 or by email at h67@iga.in.gov.

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