[r89] Governor Signs Buell's Military Records and Coroner Training Bills (5/9/2007)

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Start Date: 5/9/2007 All Day
End Date: 5/9/2007

(Statehouse) May 9, 2007-House Enrolled Act 1546 (HEA 1546), co-authored by State Representative Larry Buell (R-Indianapolis), was signed by Governor Mitch Daniels.  The act fulfills one of the 2007 House Republican initiatives that will work to further protect Hoosier veterans.

HEA 1546 will protect military discharge records from being available to the public.  Because of the current availability of public military records, many veterans have become targets for identity theft. 

"It is our responsibility to protect Hoosier military records from the eye of the public," said Buell.  "These men and women have sacrificed their time, families, and oftentimes, their lives to protect our freedom and democracy.  We need to do our best to protect them from becoming victims of identity theft."

HEA 1546 provides that certain persons may have access to the records, including a veteran's service officer, an employee of the Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs, a funeral director, and anyone under a court order allowing him/her access to the records. 

Senate Enrolled Act 191 (SEA 191), co-sponsored by Representative Larry Buell, was also signed by the Governor last week.  The act requires coroners to complete an annual training course regarding death investigation, crime scenes, and preservation of evidence at a crime scene for police and crime lab technicians.

The legislation was drafted in response to events following a deadly accident involving students and faculty from Taylor University.  Laura VanRyn's remains were mistakenly identified as fellow Taylor student, Whitney Cerek, leading Cerek's family to believe she was dead while VanRyn's family cared for her in a Michigan hospital.  They believed Cerek was their daughter, Laura.

"This case of misidentification shocked the nation," said Buell.  "It is unfortunate that it took a horrific accident like this to realize that coroner issues needed to be addressed.  Specialized training courses for Indiana coroners will hopefully lessen the likelihood of this happening again."

SEA 191 requires the coroner to positively identify the deceased by one of four specified methods, including fingerprint identification, DNA analysis, dental record analysis, or positive identification by at least one of the deceased's family members.