Criminal Law

April 9, 2015 | Category: Criminal

The House Veterans Affairs and Public Safety Committee resumed consideration of SB 551, establishing a crime fighting pilot project in Marion, Lake, and Allen counties.  Sponsor Rep. David Frizzell presented an amendment intended to address the Committee’s concerns about oversight of expenditures of the $600,000 to be appropriated in another bill to fund the pilot.  Rep. Frizzell said that the amendment would place oversight and fund distribution responsibility with the Criminal Justice Institute, and would specify that the funds were to be transferred to the chief of police of the largest city in each pilot county.  The Committee noted that the chief of police distribution scheme could likely generate controversy in Lake County, which has a number of cities interested in participating in the pilot. It was also noted that there was no provision for any funds for CJI to administer the pilot. Lack of specificity about permissible uses of pilot funds was also raised in Committee. Committee Chair Rep. Frye decided it would be better to hold the bill so that Rep. Frizzell could consult with CJI and then work with Chairman Frye to get an acceptable final version in the two remaining days before the bill has to receive a Committee vote.  The bill was held on that understanding.

The Senate Health and Provider Services Committee heard HB 1269 on mental health matters sponsored by Sen. Patricia Miller and Sen. Crider. The bill addresses a number of mental health issues including: (1) authorizing the DOC, county or health navigator to serve as a representative of inmates for the purpose of applying for Medicaid eligibility, (2) requiring the DOC, county or health navigator to assist inmates to apply for Medicaid and to secure treatment services upon release or discharge from incarceration, (3) authorizing a community mental health center to assist DOC and jail offenders to apply for Medicaid, (4) establishing that a person found to be Medicaid eligible who is incarcerated in DOC or a jail shall have their Medicaid participation suspended for a period not to exceed three years before participation is terminated unless the individual is receiving immediate medical attention, and (5) requiring a person who is arrested and taken into custody to be assessed, subject to available funding, by a qualified and licensed mental health or addictions professional or a provider certified or licensed by DMHA to determine if the person has a mental illness or substance addiction, establishing required reporting of assessment results and providing for re-assessments until release. Eight amendments were adopted, including the incorporation of language from SB 212 on inmates and Medicaid coverage, and reducing the suspension period for Medicaid coverage from three years to one year during incarceration. The amended bill passed 8-0.

The Senate Health and Provider Services Committee heard HB 1448 pertaining to mental health drugs and coverage sponsored by Sen. Patricia Miller and Sen. Grooms. Author Rep. Davisson summarized the bill as establishing Medicaid coverage for in-patient substance abuse detoxification services and authorizing the prescription of nonaddicting medication assisted treatment for the treatment of substance abuse without prior Medicaid authorization. The bill also provides for the dissemination of information or training to judges by the Indiana Judicial Center, prosecutors by the Prosecuting Attorneys Council, and public defenders by the Public Defenders Council on diversion programs or other probationary programs available for individuals with an addictive disorder, include medication assisted treatment within these programs. An amendment was adopted to resolve a conflict in the bill with SB 464 pertaining to the training of criminal justice partners on addiction treatment resources. Testimony in support of the bill was heard from Mental Health America of Indiana and the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council. The amended bill passed 7-0.

The Senate Health and Provider Services Committee heard HB 1449 authorizing opioid treatment programs in community mental health centers sponsored by Sen. Patricia Miller and Sen. Grooms. Sen. Hershman introduced an amendment adding language from SB 439 and SB 464 into the bill placing limitations on Medicaid reimbursement for Suboxone and similar drugs if prescribed for the treatment of pain, and authorizing Medicaid reimbursement of Suboxone for substance abuse treatment in excess of six months under certain conditions with prior authorization. The amended bill passed 7-0.

Criminal Law

April 2, 2015 | Category: Criminal

The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard SB 8, sponsored by Rep. Cox and Rep. Steuerwald, on a death penalty aggravator, making a murder eligible for the death penalty if the murder involved decapitating or attempting to decapitate the victim while the victim was still alive. A representative of the Indiana Catholic Conference testified against the death penalty generally. The bill passed 10-0.

The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard SB 385, sponsored by Rep. McMillin and Rep. Truitt, on murder sentencing; aggravating circumstance. This bill permits the state to seek the death penalty or a sentence of life without parole for a murder committed in a building primarily used for educational purposes if the murder is committed on school property or in a building owned by a post-secondary educational institution and at a time when children are likely to be present (for a building on school property) or classes are in session (for a building owned by a post-secondary educational institution). This bill also authorizes the state to seek the death penalty or a sentence of life without parole for a murder committed in a building primarily used for religious worship if the murder is committed at a time when persons are likely to present for religious worship or education. A representative of the Indiana Catholic Conference and a representative from the Public Defenders Council testified against the bill. The bill was held to clarify language issues.

The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard SB 559, sponsored by Rep. Frizzell, on crimes of violence. This bill adds unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon to the definition of “crimes of violence”. It also establishes new caps for consecutive sentences that result from a single episode of criminal conduct. This legislation defines “emergency medical services provider”. It also establishes a 20 year sentencing enhancement for a person who points or discharges a firearm at an individual whom the person knows or reasonably should have known was a police officer.  A representative from the Public Defenders Council testified against the bill because of the mandatory criminal sentence for the police officer enhancment. The bill was amended to change the police officer enhancement to “may” instead of “shal” for 5 to 20 years. The bill was also amended to provide that a person is a habitual offender if the state proves the person has been convicted of three prior unrelated felonies of any level. A police officer and a prosecutor from Dearborn County, spoke in favor of the police officer enhancement. The amended bill passed 9-0.

The Senate Appropriations Committee heard HB 1006, sponsored by Sen. Steele and Sen. Young, on criminal justice funding. This bill was amended to provide:

  1. the DOC to compile certain information and submit a quarterly report to the state budget committee and a monthly report to the Justice Reinvestment Advisory Council;
  2. provides that counties or courts wishing to apply to the DOC for financial aid shall apply through the Community Corrections Advisory Board and specifies the purposes for which the DOC may award financial aid;
  3. permits a residential work release facility to be physically connected to a jail if total separation between the facilities is maintained;
  4. repeals the county corrections fund that provides funding to each county for operation of the county’s jail, jail programs, or other local correctional facilities or community based programs;
  5. removes the provision in the bill that would require the Indiana Judicial Center to award grants to assist with community corrections programs in each county;
  6. provides that the Executive Director of the Indiana Judicial Center is to serve as the chairperson of the Justice Reinvestment Advisory Council;
  7. establishes the mental health and addiction forensic treatment services account within the statutes governing the Division of Mental Health and Addiction rather than the statutes governing corrections (under current law);
  8. provides that the Division of Mental Health and Addiction may use money in the account to fund grants and vouchers for mental health and addiction forensic treatment services;
  9. requires a probation officer to consult with community corrections in preparing a presentence report;
  10. permits a court to delegate the terms of placement in community corrections to the community corrections program director, and permits the director to change the terms of placement or reassign a person in community corrections;
  11. permits the sheriff to receive a community corrections grant as a per diem or as reimbursement for the medical expenses of an incarcerated person;
  12. establishes the duties of the advisory council.

Representatives of several agency service providers, Universal Health, and the Probation Officers Professional Association of Indiana testified in support of the bill. The amended bill passed 11-0.

The Senate Health and Provider Services Committee heard HB 1269 on mental health matters sponsored by Sen. Patricia Miller and Sen. Crider. Author Rep. Clere reported that the bill addresses a number of mental health issues including: (1) authorizing the DOC, county or health navigator to serve as a representative of inmates for the purpose of applying for Medicaid eligibility, (2) requiring the DOC, county or health navigator to assist inmates apply for Medicaid and to secure treatment services upon release or discharge from incarceration, (3) authorizing a community mental health center to assist DOC and jail offenders apply for Medicaid, (4) establishing that a person found to be Medicaid eligible who is incarcerated in DOC or a jail shall have their Medicaid participation suspended for a period not to exceed three years before participation is terminated unless the individual is receiving immediate medical attention, and (5) requiring a person who is arrested and taken into custody to be assessed, subject to available funding, by a qualified and licensed mental health or addictions professional or a provider certified or licensed by DMHA to determine if the person has a mental illness or substance addiction, with required reporting of assessment results and providing for re-assessments until release. Testimony was heard in support of this bill from the Indiana Council of Community Mental Health Centers, Mental Health America of Indiana, Children’s Coalition of Indiana, Recovering Kids and Families, Indiana University Health, and the Indiana School Counselor Association. The bill was held until next week for amendment.

The Senate Appropriations Committee heard HB 1304 on various criminal law issues sponsored Sen. Steele and Sen. R. Michael Young. The committee adopted three amendments. Two of the amendments made language changes and technical corrections. The third amendment, introduced by Sen. Kenley, excludes certain offenders from treatment in lieu of prosecution or incarceration and removes provisions providing for 100% state reimbursement to chief public defenders.

The amended bill passed 11-0, and includes the following provisions:

  • Amends the forensic diversion program (pre-conviction and post-conviction) to make persons with intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, and autism spectrum disorders eligible for participation;
  • Authorizes a drug abuser or alcoholic charged with or convicted of a felony to request treatment in lieu of prosecution and imprisonment under certain conditions;
  • Authorizes the voluntary and involuntary commitment of alcoholics and drug abusers to DMHA;
  • Authorizes a court alcohol and drug program under IC 12-23-16 or the clerk of a court to collect program user fees;
  • Authorizes a court to appoint a court appointed forensic advocate to assist persons with intellectual disabilities or autism spectrum disorders charged in a criminal offense and for payment of a user fee for this service;
  • Amends Ind. Code § 35-50-2-8 to allow a court to suspend the sentence of certain habitual offenders if the habitual offender is in a court approved substance abuse treatment program and if the offender completes the program, to deduct the time spent in treatment from the fixed term of imprisonment;
  • Authorizing the use of a federal Food and Drug Administration approved long acting, nonaddictive medication to treat opioid or alcohol addiction as a condition of parole, probation community corrections, pretrial diversion or participation in problem solving courts;
  • Excludes possession of rolling papers and raw materials from the crime of possession of paraphernalia and makes the knowing and intentional possession of paraphernalia a Class C misdemeanor and increases the penalty to a Class A misdemeanor if the person has a prior unrelated judgment or conviction;
  • Makes it a Level 6 felony to possess a hypodermic needle with intent to commit a controlled substance offense (current law makes it a crime only if committed with intent to violate the legend drug act);
  • Requires the Criminal Justice Institute to track, by age and offense, the number of presumptive and permissive waivers of jurisdiction involving juveniles in adult court to evaluate the feasibility of increasing the age in these cases from 16 to 17 years;
  • Raises the minimum age a child can be charged with murder if committed by an adult and waived from 10 to 12 years of age under Ind. Code § 31-30-3-4;
  • Adds a new article to the juvenile code to require a law enforcement agency to record custodial interrogations of juveniles, except in schools, if it would impair the administration of school functions;
  • Specifies that a juvenile may not be restrained in court unless the court has determined on the record that the juvenile is dangerous or potentially dangerous;
  • Removes the authority of a court to hold truants and runaways for 24 hours (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and nonjudicial days) before and after a detention hearing; and
  • Establishes that a child commits a delinquent act, runaway, when the child leaves a specific location previously designated by the child’s parent, guardian or custodian in addition to home.

Criminal Law

March 27, 2015 | Category: Criminal

The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard SB 174, Sen. R. Michael Young’s bill on sentence modification sponsored by Rep. Frizzell. Sen. Young presented an amendment to the bill which the Committee adopted by consent.  As amended, the bill would (1) allow persons sentenced for nonviolent crimes committed before July 1, 2014 to petition for sentence modifications without any requirement of prosecutorial consent but subject to a two petition cap with a separation of at least one year between petitions, but (2) would require persons convicted of violent offenses committed prior to July 1, 2014 to obtain prosecutorial consent for a sentence modification petition filed more than 365 days after sentencing.  Public defenders testified in support of the bill, although they did not support the amendment limiting petitions by violent offenders. The bill passed as amended 10-0.

The House Public Health Committee heard SB 464 on mental health issues sponsored by Rep. Clere and Rep. Davisson. The bill:

  • Establishes reimbursement limitations for the prescription of methadone for pain management.
  • Provides that addictions counseling, inpatient detoxification services, and long-acting, non-addicting medication may be required to treat opioid or alcohol addiction as a condition of parole, probation, community corrections, community transition programming, pretrial diversion, or participation in a problem-solving court.
  • Establishes In-patient detoxification services under Medicaid.
  • Establishes non-addicting medication assisted treatment for the treatment of substance abuse under the Indiana check-up plan.
  • Authorizes the Division of Mental Health and Addiction (DMHA) to approve no more than five new opioid treatment programs prior to June 30, 2018.
  • Requires prescribers to indicate on the prescription when methadone is prescribed for pain management.
  • Establishes of the Mental Health and Addiction Forensic Treatment Services fund under the administration of DMHA to be used for grants and vouchers for mental health and addiction treatment services to community corrections, court administered programs, probation, community mental health centers, and certified mental health and addictions providers.
  • Establishes the qualifying criteria for individuals to receive funding from the Mental Health and Addiction Forensic Treatment Services fund.
  • Requires DMHA to survey recipients of Mental Health and Addiction Forensic Treatment Services funds.
  • Requires DMHA to coordinate employment and training services for individuals receiving money from the Mental Health and Addiction Forensic Treatment Services fund with the Department of Workforce Development.

An amendment was adopted by committee consent, making several changes to the bill, including:

  • Adds case management and daily living skills to the available treatment options that may be required as a condition of parole, probation, community corrections, community transition programming, pretrial diversion, or participation in a problem-solving court.
  • Reinserts the provision concerning the Department of Correction operational savings as a result of HEA 1006-2014 and authorizes these funds to be deposited in the Mental Health and Addiction Forensic Treatment Services account.
  • Requires DMHA to provide education and training on the use of involuntary commitments and medication assisted treatment to circuit and superior court judges, prosecuting attorneys and deputy prosecuting attorneys, public defenders and programs and providers eligible for funding from the Mental Health and Addiction Forensic Treatment Services account.

The amended bill passed 10-0.

The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee resumed consideration of SB 522, sponsored by Rep. Smaltz, preventing serious sexual offenders from being on school property and extend to such offenders the right to vote by mail.  The bill passed 12-0.

The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard HB 1401, sponsored by Sen. Young and presented by author Rep. Washburn, concerning Medicaid fraud. The bill expands the crime of Medicaid fraud to include knowingly or intentionally making, uttering, presenting, or causing to be presented a claim that is materially false or misleading. After the committee received supporting testimony from the Attorney General’s Office, the bill passed 8-0.

The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard HB 1531, sponsored by Sen. Steele and Sen. Houchin and presented by author Rep. Davisson, concerning video conferencing by confined persons. The bill provides for using two-way video conferencing between courts and DOC inmates and between jail inmates and mental health providers. The committee raised a number of questions regarding the circumstances in which video conferencing could be used. Testimony was received from the Indiana Council of Community Mental Health Centers, Public Defender Council, and Hoosier Press Association. After committee discussion, there were several amendments offered to the bill, which include requiring the defendant’s consent to video conference for court proceedings and for mental health evaluations, provides that the mental health evaluations under this statute would be for treatment and assessments, and prohibits video conferencing for competency determination assessments or for evaluations related to the defense of mental illness or mental defect to a crime.  The amended bill passed 9-0.

Criminal Law

March 19, 2015 | Category: Criminal

The House Public Policy Committee heard SB 6, sponsored by Rep. Dermody, powdered or crystalline alcohol prohibited. This bill makes it a Class B infraction to possess, purchase, sell, offer to sell, or use powdered or crystalline alcohol. The bill was amended to assign the subject of crystalline alcohol to a study committee. The amended bill passed 13-0.

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard SR 34 authored by Sen. Messmer urging the legislative council to assign to an appropriate committee the topic of the sentencing level of a caregiver who causes the death of a mentally handicapped person 18 years of age or older. The resolution passed 6-0.

The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard SB 94, Sen. Crider’s bill to extend the statute of limitations for rape to allow prosecutions for Level 3 felony rapes within five years of the time prosecution becomes possible with DNA evidence or the time a confession is obtained.  Rep. Hale testified in support of the bill, as did David Powell of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council.  The bill passed 11-0.

The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard SB 313, sponsored by Rep. Kirchhofer and Rep. Hale, Sen. Head’s bill to change the definition of “sexual conduct” to include exhibition of the female breast as used in child exploitation and pornography offenses.  After Sen. Head presented the bill, Suzanne O’Malley of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council said that the law had been amended to include breast exhibitions two years ago, but that such exhibitions were excluded inadvertently in last year’s legislation. A representative of the Motion Picture Association of America testified in support of the intent of the bill, but noted that it posed several problems, including display of films with actresses over age eighteen portraying characters under age eighteen and having its “descriptions” prohibition applied to verbal descriptions or drawings in violation of the First Amendment. The bill passed 10-0.

The House Public Policy Committee heard SB 433, sponsored by Rep. Lucas, repealing the prohibition against manufacturing, importing, selling, or possessing a sawed-off shotgun. This bill also provides for a 10-year sentence enhancement if a person possesses a sawed-off shotgun in violation of federal law while committing certain offenses. A representative of the National Rifle Association testified in favor of this bill. The bill passed 12-1.

The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard SB 522, deterring serious sex offenders from entering school grounds.  Sen. Mrvan explained that the bill defines “serious sex offenders” and makes it a Level 6 felony for a serious sex offender to enter school property. The bill allows these offenders to vote by mail. The Committee expressed concern about the bill’s creation of a new category of sex offenders and asked whether the sex offender registry or sexually violent predator statutory categories could be used instead.  In discussion, it was noted that the sex offender registry responsibility ends for many after ten years and that sexually violent predators could seek to have their status removed by judicial hearing.  Sponsor Rep. Smaltz said that he and Sen. Mrvan are willing to utilize the sex offender registry definition instead. The bill was held to allow the definition change to be explored.

The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard SB 532, sponsored by Reps. McNamara, Cox, Hale and Lawson, on forfeiture of property used in human trafficking and indecent nuisances.  Sen. Head explained that sexual trafficking would be added to the indecent nuisance statutes, and provide that 80% of the money obtained from property taken in prosecutors’ human trafficking indecent nuisance actions would go into a human trafficking prevention and victim assistance fund established by the bill, with the remaining 20% going to the prosecutor.  Sen. Head agreed to a Committee amendment incorporating SB 375 into this bill, which provides for asset seizure and forfeiture of vehicles and other property used in human trafficking or promoting prostitution. The Committee also adopted Rep. Pierce’s amendment, making the bill consistent with Sen. Hershman’s SB 388, on asset forfeiture reporting. SB 388 requires the State Police to report the amounts received from human trafficking forfeitures through cooperation with federal authorities and for prosecutors to report to the Prosecuting Attorneys Council on funds received through state human trafficking forfeiture actions. The bill passed as amended 10-0.

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard HB 1006 on criminal justice funding sponsored by Sen. Steele and Sen. Young. Author Rep. Steuerwald explained that the bill reduces the deadline for submitting a collaboration plan between the probation department and the community corrections program in each county for the provision of community supervision for adult offenders from July 1, 2017 to January 1, 2016. The date upon which persons convicted of a Level 6 felony may not be committed to the DOC, unless the commitment is due to a probation, parole or community corrections violation, was also extended until after January 1, 2016. The bill authorizes community corrections grant funds to be used to support court supervised recidivism reduction programs. The bill establishes the justice reinvestment community grants program under the administration of the Indiana Judicial Center, and vests the authority to adopt rules for the program in the Judicial Conference of Indiana Board of Directors (including the requirement that at least 75% of awarded funds must be used to provide evidence-based mental health and addiction treatment). A justice reinvestment community grants program advisory council (membership specified) is established and charged with making recommendations to the Judicial Center on the award of grant applications. An amendment was adopted by consent adding representatives from the Probation Officers Professional Association of Indiana and the Indiana Association of Community Corrections Act Counties to the advisory council.

Extensive testimony was heard in support of the bill from representatives of:  the Indiana Judicial Center, the Probation Officers Professional Association of Indiana, the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, the Indiana Public Defender Council, Lawrence County Superior Court, the Indiana Judges Association, the Monroe County Probation Department, the Marion County Probation Department, Vanderburgh County, Allen County, Mental Health America of Indiana, the Indiana Association of Community Corrections Act Counties, the Indiana Council of Community Mental Health Centers, the Indiana Sheriffs’ Association and two vendors currently partnering with community supervision agencies. The amended bill passed 9-0.

Criminal Law

March 13, 2015 | Category: Criminal

The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard SB 173 concerning the Department of Correction specialized vocational program. Sponsor Rep. Washburne explained that this bill permits the Department of Correction to establish a specialized vocational program to train minimum security inmates in trades such as truck driving, manufacturing, plumbing, construction, and heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. Testimony in favor of the bill was received by a representative of the Indiana Department of Correction, as well as a representative of the Indiana Motortruck Association. Rep. Washburne introduced an amendment to include “diesel technology” among the vocational trades specified in the bill DOC can train inmates. The amendment was adopted by consent. In discussing trades listed in the bill, the Committee wanted to ensure DOC is not limited on trades it can train inmates on, so an amendment was also introduced to clarify that DOC has discretion on what trades it may offer in its vocational programming. This amendment was adopted by consent. Two other non-substantive, technical amendments were offered and adopted by consent. The bill passed, as amended, 8-0.

The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard SB 175 sponsored by Rep. Steuerwald on credit time. This bill is intended to resolve conflicts in the interpretation of the various credit time terms used throughout the Indiana Code. Rep. Pierce introduced an amendment, adopted by consent, specifying that this bill (1) clarifies current law and does not create new law, (2) does not impact sentences imposed prior to July 1, 2015, and (3) codifies case law on the applicability of credit time in the home detention arena specifying that home detention as a condition of probation is eligible for credit time but home detention as a condition of pretrial release is not eligible for credit time. The amended bill passed 9-0.

The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard SB 285 sponsored by Rep. Dermondy and Rep. McMillin on inmate correspondence. Author Sen. Tomes explained that the bill gives offenders within the Department of Correction the option of sending correspondence via electronic mail or through the US Postal Service. Sen. Tomes stated that DOC currently provides offenders with stationery and postage to send two letters per month and that there may be a cost savings to the State if offenders opt to use email for this correspondence. DOC testified in support of the bill. The bill passed 8-0.

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard HB 1184 on controlled substances sponsored by Sen. Grooms and Sen. Becker. Author Rep. Davisson explained that the bill allows certain optometrists to prescribe Tramadol, now classified as a controlled substance, for ocular pain management. The bill also updates Indiana Code to mirror federal law on the classification of controlled substances. An optometrist testified in support of the bill. The bill passed 8-0.

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard HB 1302 on expungement sponsored by Sen. Steele and Sen. Taylor. Author Rep. McMillin explained the bill and his amendments as: (1) authorizing the expungement of charges when an arrest did not occur or allegations of juvenile delinquency did not lead to a delinquency adjudication; (2) specifying that the records of expungement proceedings become confidential when the court grants the expungement petition; (3) specifying a standard filing fee for expungement petitions; (4) specifying additional petition requirements requested by the Indiana State Police; and (5) clarifying that a subsequent petition is allowed if the initial petition was denied pursuant to judicial discretion. An amendment was adopted by consent prohibiting second time violent felons from obtaining an expungement. Another amendment was adopted by consent requiring the prosecutor to explain any objections to the petition. The Prosecuting Attorney’s Council testified to concerns with the second amendment. The Public Defenders Council testified in support of the bill but expressed concern that offenders with two weapons convictions would be prohibited from obtaining an expungement. The amended bill passed 7-2.

Criminal Law

February 27, 2015 | Category: Criminal

Bill No. Bill Title Committee 2nd Reading 3rd Reading Sponsor(s)
SR 3 A SENATE RESOLUTION urging the legislative council to assign to the appropriate committee the topic of raising the age of consent from 16 to 18 years of age. 2/19/15 Do Pass N/A 2/24/15 Voice Vote N/A
SB 8 Death penalty aggravator 1/14/15 Do Pass 1/20/15 Engrossed 1/22/15 Passed 45-4 Cox, Steuerwald
SB 37 Possession of paraphernalia 1/14/15 Do Pass –A 1/20/15 Engrossed 1/22/15 Passed 49-0 McNamara
SB 92 Deadly weapons 1/14/15 Do Pass –A; 1/29/15 Do Pass -A 2/2/15 Engrossed 2/5/15 Passed 43-5 Speedy, Frizzell
SB 93 Synthetic drugs 2/10/15 Do Pass –A; 2/19/15 Do Pass –A 2/23/15 Engrossed 2/24/15 Passed 50-0 Smith, M.
SB 94 Statute of limitations for rape 1/14/15 Do Pass –A; 1/22/15 Do Pass –A 1/26/15 Engrossed 1/27/15 Passed 49-1 Cherry, Schmaltz
SB 164 Crimes involving deadly weapons 1/14/15 Do Pass –A; 1/29/15 Do Pass –A 2/2/15 Engrossed 2/5/15 Passed 40-8 McMillin
SB 173 DOC specialized vocational program 1/14/15 Do Pass –A 1/20/15 Engrossed 1/27/15 Passed 49-1 Washburne
SB 174 Sentence modification 1/14/15 Do Pass –A 1/20/15 Engrossed; 2/3/15 Engrossed –A;

2/9/15 Engrossed –A

2/10/15 Passed 46-4 Frizzell
SB 175 Credit time 1/20/15 Do Pass 1/22/15 Engrossed 1/27/15 Passed 50-0 Steuerwald
SB 212 Inmates and Medicaid 1/20/15 Do Pass -A 1/22/15 Engrossed

2/17/15 Engrossed –A

2/19/15 Passed 49-0 Clere, Brown, T.
SB 242 Motor vehicle title fraud 2/19/15 Do Pass 2/23/15 Engrossed –A 2/24/15 Passed 42-8 Speedy
SB 261 Appeals by the attorney general 1/29/15 Do Pass –A 2/2/15 Engrossed 2/3/15 Passed 50-0 Cox
SB 285 Inmate correspondence 2/5/15 Do Pass –A 2/9/15 Engrossed 2/10/15 Passed 50-0 Dermody, McMillin
SB 287 Expungement 2/19/15 Do Pass 2/23/15 Engrossed 2/24/15 Passed 41-9 McMillin
SB 289 Confidential victim services requests 2/12/15 Do Pass 2/16/15 Engrossed 2/17/15 Passed 50-0 McNamara, Lawson
SB 313 Definition of “sexual conduct” 2/5/15 Do Pass 2/10/15 Engrossed 2/12/15 Passed 50-0 Kirchhofer
SB 363 Child molesting 2/5/15 Do Pass –A 2/9/15 Engrossed –A 2/10/15 Passed 50-0 DeVon, Niezgodski
SB 375 Human trafficking, promoting prostitution, and asset forfeiture 1/29/15 Do Pass 2/3/15 Engrossed –A 2/10/15 Passed 50-0 McNamara, Cox
SB 385 Murder sentencing; aggravating circumstance 2/19/15 Do Pass –A 2/23/15 Engrossed –A 2/24/15 Passed 45-5 McMillin, Truitt
SB 388 Reporting of property forfeiture 2/12/15 Do Pass –A 2/17/15 Engrossed; 2/23/15 Engrossed –A 2/24/15 Passed 50-0 Karickhoff
SB 433 Shotguns 1/29/15 Do Pass –A 2/2/15 Engrossed 2/3/15 Passed 44-6 Lucas
SB 464 Mental health issues 2/5/15 Do Pass –A; 2/19/15 Do Pass –A 2/23/15 Engrossed –A 2/24/15 Passed 50-0 McMillin, Brown, T.
SB 522 Serious sex offenders 2/12/15 Do Pass –A 2/17/15 Engrossed 2/19/15 Passed 49-0 Smaltz
SB 532 Human trafficking and indecent nuisances 2/12/15 Do Pass –A 2/16/15 Engrossed 2/17/15 Passed 50-0 McNamara, Cox
SB 536 Methamphetamine 2/17/15 Do Pass –A; 2/19/15 Do Pass 2/23/15 Engrossed –A 2/24/15 Passed 46-3 McMillin, Washburne
SB 551 Crime fighting pilot project 1/14/15 Do Pass –A; 1/29/15 Do Pass –A; 2/19/15 Do Pass –A 2/23/15 Engrossed 2/24/15  Passed 49-0 Frizzell, Moed
SB 559 Crimes of violence 1/29/15 Do Pass 2/3/15 Engrossed –A 2/5/15 Passed 42-6 Frizzell
HB 1006 Criminal justice funding 2/10/15 Do Pass –A; 2/17/15 Do Pass –A 2/19/15 Engrossed 2/23/15 Passed 97-0 Steele,

Young, M.

HB 1269 Mental health matters 2/19/15 Do Pass –A 2/23/15 Engrossed 2/24/15 Passed 95-0 Miller, Pat,

Crider

HB 1302 Expungement 1/29/15 Do Pass –A 2/2/15 Engrossed –A 2/3/15 Passed 86-8 Steele, Taylor
HB 1401 Medicaid fraud 2/12/15 Do Pass –A 2/16/15 Engrossed 2/17/15 Passed 94-0 Young, M.
HB 1448 Mental health drugs and coverage 2/5/15 Do Pass 2/9/15 Engrossed 2/10/15 Passed 94-0 Miller, Pat, Grooms
HB 1449 Opioid treatment programs in community mental health centers 2/5/15 Do Pass 2/9/15 Engrossed 2/10/15 Passed 94-0 Miller, Pat,  Grooms
HB 1531 Video conferencing by confined persons 1/29/15 Do Pass 2/2/15 Engrossed 2/3/15 Passed 95-0 Steele, Houchin

Criminal Law

February 20, 2015 | Category: Criminal

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard SR 3 urging the study of raising the age of consent from 16 to 18. The resolution was presented by Sen. Steele and a member of the public testified in support of the resolution. The resolution passed 8-2.

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard SB 93 concerning synthetic drugs authored and presented by Sen. Merritt. This bill is in response to a Court of Appeals case finding the current statute vague. The bill requires the Indiana Administrative Code publish a list of substances declared by the Board of Pharmacy to be synthetic drugs in a specific location, and requires the Board of Pharmacy to include a link to that provision of the Indiana Administrative Code on its Internet web site. An amendment was taken by consent listing the expiration date of the rules and also adding a provision on the expiration of emergency rules under this statute. The amended bill passed 7-0.

The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard SB 242 regarding motor vehicle title fraud authored by Sen. Young. This bill establishes the crime of motor vehicle title fraud, a level 6 felony. The bill is intended to rectify a gap in current law that allows an individual who is otherwise prohibited from registering a motor vehicle to form a business entity for the sole purpose of registering a motor vehicle. Representatives from the Secretary of the State’s office testified in support of the bill. The bill passed 8-1.

The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard SB 287 on expungement. Author Sen. Young introduced the bill explaining that the expungement statute has been in place for three years and additional adjustments to the law are needed. The bill:

(1)  authorizes the expungement of charges when an arrest did not occur and allegations of juvenile delinquency;

(2)  clarifies that if the prosecutor fails to timely respond within 30 days to the petition, any objection to the petition is waived;

(3)  authorizes the expungement of pre-1977 convictions;

(4)  resolves a conflict between federal and state law by clarifying that expungement does not restore the right to possesses a firearm otherwise prohibited under federal law;

(5)  specifies that the records of expungement proceedings become confidential when the court grants the expungement petition;

(6)  specifies that there is no filing fee for expungement petitions;

(7)  specifies additional petition requirements; and

(8)  specifies requirements for redacting or sealing expunged information.

The Clerks Association testified expressing concern about the burden of processing expungement petitions without a filing fee. The bill passed 5-2.

The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard SB 385 pertaining to murder sentencing; aggravating circumstance. Author Sen. Hershman introduced the bill explaining that this proposal is a response to the Purdue University shooting last year. The bill creates an aggravating factor to murder if the murder is committed on property owned or rented by an educational institution. An amendment, adopted by Committee consent, expanded the scope of this bill to include murders committed in a building used primarily for religious worship. The Tippecanoe County Prosecutor testified in support of the bill. The Indiana Catholic Conference testified in opposition to the bill, reiterating its opposition to the death penalty. The Indiana Public Defenders Council testified to concerns about the vagueness of the amendment language. The amended bill passed 7-2.

The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard SB 396 on child exploitation. Author Sen. Houchin stated that the decreases in the penalty provisions for child exploitation as a result of the criminal code revision were an oversight. An amendment was adopted removing the second level penalty increases in the bill. The amended bill raises the penalty for possession of child pornography from a level 6 felony to a level 5 felony, and the penalty for dissemination child pornography from a level 5 felony to a level 4 felony. The Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council testified in support of the bill, stating that the criminal code revisions in effect lowered the penalty for possession of child pornography. The Indiana Public Defenders Council testified in opposition to the bill and encouraged the Committee to allow the current law time to work. The bill was held.

The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard SB 536 authored by Sen. Young and Sen. Yoder on methamphetamine. The bill heard by the Committee combined two previously adopted amendments establishing reporting requirements for the purchase of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine. The bill:

(1)  requires courts to report drug related convictions to the State Police;

(2)  requires the State Police to report drug related felonies to NPLEx for the purposes of controlling purchases by convicted drug felons;

(3)  prohibits any convicted felony drug offender from purchasing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine for seven years without a prescription;

(4)  requires the State Police to report the number of Methamphetamine labs discovered in calendar year 2019; and

(5)   provides that if the number of methamphetamine laboratories discovered is greater than 400: (a) ephedrine and pseudoephedrine become Schedule IV controlled substances from 2020 until 2023; and (b) reporting requirements relating to the purchase of ephedrine and pseudoephedrine, as well as certain provisions relating to retail sale, are suspended from 2020 to 2023.

A technical amendment was adopted by consent. The amended bill passed 7-1.

The Senate Appropriations Committee heard SB 536, authored by Sen. Young and Sen. Yoder, on methamphetamine. The bill provides that anyone convicted of a drug-related felony must get a prescription for pseudoephedrine or ephedrine for seven years after conviction. If methamphetamine labs are not reduced by this provision, then in 2020 a universal prescription for pseudoephedrine or ephedrine goes into effect. A representative of the Consumer Healthcare Products Association testified in opposition to the prescription only provision. The bill passed 7-6.

The House Ways and Means Committee heard Rep. Steuerwald’s HB 1006 on criminal justice funding.  The Committee amended the bill by consent to reduce the first-year appropriation to $30 million, to move the appropriations to the Judicial Center’s budget, and to define treatment for addiction.  The bill passed as amended, 18-0.

The House Public Health Committee heard HB 1269 concerning mental health matters, authored by Rep. Clere.  As reported previously, this bill addresses several mental health issues including:

(1)  authorizing the DOC or jail to serve as a representative of inmates for the purposes of applying for Medicaid eligibility;

(2)  requiring the DOC or jail to assist inmates apply for Medicaid prior to release from incarceration;

(3)  requiring a person who is arrested and taken into custody to be assessed by a qualified and licensed mental health or addictions professional to determine if the person has a mental illness or substance addiction, establishing required reporting of assessment results and providing for re-assessments until release; and,

(4)  appropriating $22,000,000 to the forensic diversion account on an annual basis and providing that this account is established to fund the custodial assessments following arrest.

This week, an amendment was introduced requiring accident and health insurance coverage to be equal for telemedicine services as they are for in-person delivered health care services.  The amendment also makes inmates on work release or other DOC programming involving alternative sentencing eligible for Medicaid, subject to federal approval.  Additionally, it establishes annual reporting requirements for the Office of Medicaid policy and planning to report on the use of qualified providers to undertake presumptive eligibility services determinations. Testimony was heard in favor of the amendment from the Director of Indiana Medicaid, a representative of the Indiana Council of Community Mental Health Centers, a representative from IU Health, and a representative from a private health services provider.  The amendment was adopted by consent, and the bill passed 12-0.

Criminal Law

February 13, 2015 | Category: Criminal

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard SB 289, authored by Sen. Arnold and Sen. Steele, on confidential victim services requests. This bill permits, for purposes of the public records law, a law enforcement agency to share certain information with a crime victim advocate without the agency losing the discretion to keep this information confidential from other persons requesting records. Representatives from the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, the Hoosier State Press Association, and the Sheriff of St. Joseph County testified in support of the bill. The bill passed 9-0.

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard Sen. Hershman’s SB 388 on seizure and forfeiture of property. The bill was significantly amended from its original provisions and now focuses on collection of data. The bill requires that forfeiture and seizure data, including an itemized list of property seized, estimated value of seized property, and an itemized list of any previously seized property returned to the owner, must be compiled at least once a month. The amended bill passed 7-0.

The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard SB 522 concerning serious sex offenders, authored by Sens. Mrvan, R. Young, Bray ,and Lanane.  The bill defines “serious sex offender” and makes entry on school property by a serious sex offender a Level 6 felony. The bill also provides that a serious sex offender is entitled to vote by mail and requires the department of correction to inform a serious sex offender at the time of discharge from the department: (1) that a serious sex offender who knowingly or intentionally enters school property commits unlawful entry by a serious sex offender, a Level 6 felony; and (2) of voting options for the serious sex offender. The bill was presented by Sen. Mrvan for amendment only, and an amendment was introduced striking the section of the bill of the informing provisions required of the department of corrections, with the understanding that additional amendments would likely need to be made on second reading.  The amendment was adopted by consent and the bill passed 10-0.

The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard SB 532 concerning human trafficking and indecent nuisances authored by Sen. Head and Sen. Houchin. This bill originally provided that 50% of the money collected under the actions for the indecent nuisances law concerning human trafficking would be deposited in the county general fund and credited to a separate account identified as the prosecuting attorney’s human trafficking collections account. This week Sen. Head introduced an amendment deleting those provisions and establishing a human trafficking prevention and victim assistance fund to provide services to human trafficking victims, as well as prevention programs. The amendment further provided that 80% of the monies collected in those actions should be collected in the human trafficking assistance fund, and 20% in the county general fund to be appropriated to the prosecuting attorney to defray costs associated in the collection of the funds and investigating or prosecuting human trafficking. The amendment was adopted by consent and the bill passed 9-0.

The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard testimony concerning SB 536 addressing methamphetamine related conviction reporting authored by Sens. R. Young, Yoder, and Head. This bill requires courts to report methamphetamine related convictions to the state police department, and requires the police department to report those convictions to the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators so that stop sale alerts may be issued through the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx) to prevent individuals with methamphetamine related convictions from purchasing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine.

Sen. Steele offered an amendment to the bill similar to SB 445 providing that materials, compounds, mixtures, or preparations that contain ephedrine or pseudoephedrine would be dispensed only by prescription. Representatives from the Indiana Association of City and Towns, the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, the Terre Haute Police Department, the Wabash County Sherriff, the Madison County prosecuting attorney, and the mayor of Terre Haute testified in favor of the bill. Testimony against the amendment was received from a St. Francis hospital physician representing the Indiana Academy of Family Physicians; a physician from the Indiana State Medical Association; a representative from the Indiana Minority Health Coalition; a consumer healthcare products association director; a representative of the Indiana Retail Council; and a local resident of Speedway, Indiana. Sen. Steele’s amendment was held for further discussion.

Sen. Young then introduced testimony on his bill, and introduced an amendment expanding the precursor band tracked in NPLEx. The amendment was adopted by consent, and testimony explaining the bill was received by an NPLEx representative and legal counsel from the Indiana State Police. The Indiana State Medical Association, Indiana State Retail Council, and the Indiana Osteopathic Association testified in favor of this amendment. The amended bill was held for final vote.

The House Judiciary Committee heard Rep. Steuerwald’s HB 1006 on criminal justice funding. The bill creates the Justice Reinvestment Community Grants Program and provides that the Judicial Center shall develop and administer the program. The bill also provides that the Judicial Center shall award grants to assist with the establishment and maintenance of community corrections programs by 2020, to assist communities and counties to develop and maintain alternatives to incarceration that are needed in the applicable community or county, and to reduce recidivism. The bill provides that there is an annual appropriation of $50,000,000 to the program. The bill was amended by consent to provide that:

  • DOC shall award grants to community corrections programs and courts may apply for community corrections grants;
  • a court may not commit a person convicted of a Level 6 felony to the department of correction after January 1, 2016;
  • community corrections collaboration plans must be submitted by January 1, 2016; a justice reinvestment advisory council is established; and
  • at least 75% of funding awarded for justice reinvestment community grants must be used to provide evidence-based treatment for mental health and addiction directly to an individual.

Judge Robert Freese, Hendricks Superior Court; the Indiana Sheriffs Association; Jane Seigel, Judicial Center; the Indiana Public Defender Council; the Probation Officers Professional Association of Indiana; the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council; the Allen County Government Affairs; the Indiana Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force; the Marion County Public Defender’s Office; Mental Health America; and the  Indiana Council of Community Mental Health Centers all testified in support of the bill. The amended bill passed 10-0.

The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard HB 1401 regarding Medicaid fraud authored by Rep. Washburne and Rep. Bacon. This bill clarifies current law by including knowingly or intentionally making, uttering, presenting, or causing to be presented to the Medicaid program a Medicaid claim that is false or misleading to the definition of Medicaid fraud. Rep. Washburne introduced an amendment adopted by Committee consent further clarifying the application of the new definition. The Office of the Attorney General testified in support of this bill. An additional amendment was adopted by consent that the Medicaid claim must be “materially” false or misleading to qualify as Medicaid fraud. The amended bill passed 12-0.

The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard HB 1405 authored by Reps. Slager and Fine on the jurisdiction of the attorney general. The bill establishes the concurrent jurisdiction of the attorney general and the prosecuting attorney when public officers and public servants are accused of committing: official misconduct, bribery, ghost employment, conflict of interest, profiteering from public service, interference with the state examiner, failure to follow the state examiner’s directives, and failure to provide an annual report to the state examiner. The State Board of Accounts and the Office of the Attorney General testified in support of the bill. The Prosecuting Attorneys Council testified that changing the current law is unnecessary. The bill was held for further discussion and possible amendment.

Criminal Law

February 6, 2015 | Category: Criminal

The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard Sen. Tomes’ SB 285 on inmate correspondence. This bill provides that the DOC shall provide, without charge, an inmate with a reasonable method and opportunity for correspondence, and shall permit an inmate to purchase additional opportunities for correspondence, such as email. Sen. Tomes testified that more correspondence with family is thought to reduce recidivism and that email will be easier to monitor. An employee and former employee of DOC testified against the bill because most inmates’ families do not have email, and this would decrease access to sending mail. The amendment allows inmates to choose a method of communication other than mail.  The amended bill passed 9-1.

The Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard SB 313 regarding the definition of “sexual conduct” authored by Sen. Head. This bill expands the definition of “sexual conduct” (IC 35-42-4-4(a)(4)) by including the exhibition of a female breast for the purposes of the law on child exploitation and child pornography. Sen. Head testified that this portion of the definition was inadvertently removed in the 2014 criminal code revisions. The Prosecuting Attorneys Council testified in support of the bill. The Motion Picture Association of America brought issues of concern with the current statutory language and the bill to the Committee’s attention. The bill passed 9-0.

The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard Sen. Broden’s SB 363, on child molesting. This bill defines “dangerous sexually transmitted disease” and increases the penalty for child molesting from a Level 3 felony to a Level 1 felony if the offense results in the transmission of a dangerous sexually transmitted disease. An amendment adopted by consent denies guardianship to anyone that commits a Level 1 or 2 felony. Testimony was heard from someone whose son was infected with a sexually transmitted disease by a sexual molester. A representative of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council testified in support. The amended bill passed 10-0.

The Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard SB 532 authored by Sen. Head on human trafficking and indecent nuisances. The bill expands the definition of “indecent nuisances” (IC 32-30-7-1) to include a public place in or upon which human trafficking is conducted, permitted, continued, or exists, and the personal property and contents used in conducting and maintaining the place for such a purpose. The bill also specifies that 50% of the money and property confiscated under this law shall be distributed to the county general fund and 50% deposited in a new fund, the human trafficking collections account, administered by the jurisdiction’s prosecuting attorney’s office.  The human trafficking collections account funds shall be used for: (1) human trafficking victim services, (2) law enforcement investigations concerning human trafficking, and (3) human trafficking prevention programs provided by community based organizations, within the county. The bill was held for further discussion.

The House Public Health Committee heard HB 1269 on mental health matters authored by Reps. Clere and Steuerwald. This bill addresses a number of mental health issues including: (1) authorizing the DOC or jail to serve as a representative of inmates for the purposes of applying for Medicaid eligibility, (2) requiring the DOC or jail to assist inmates to apply for Medicaid prior to release from incarceration, (3) requiring a person who is arrested and taken into custody to be assessed by a qualified and licensed mental health or addictions professional to determine if the person has a mental illness or substance addiction, establishing required reporting of assessment results and providing for re-assessments until release, and (4)  appropriating $22,000,000 to the forensic diversion account on an annual basis and providing that this account is established to fund the custodial assessments following arrest. Extensive testimony was heard in support of this bill from the Association of Community Mental Health Centers, Mental Health America of Indiana, Recovering Kids and Families, the Office of the Attorney General and the Prescription Drug Task Force, Indiana Sheriff’s Association, Indiana Minority Health Coalition, Children’s Coalition of Indiana, Indiana School Counselor Association and Universal Health Services. The bill was held for further discussion.

The House Public Health Committee heard HB 1448 authored by Reps. Davisson and Clere pertaining to mental health drugs and coverage. The bill includes inpatient substance abuse detoxification services as a Medicaid service. The bill also prohibits the Office of Medicaid Policy and Planning from requiring prior authorization for a non-addictive medication assistance treatment drug prescribed for the treatment of substance abuse. The bill also requires the Indiana Judicial Center to provide judges, the Prosecuting Attorneys Council to provide prosecutors and the Public Defenders Council to provide public defenders with information and training concerning diversion programs or other probationary programs available for individuals with an addictive disorder, including information on medication assisted treatment within these programs. Testimony was heard in support of the bill from the Association of Community Mental Health Centers, a practitioner, Indiana School of Medicine, Indiana Psychological Association, the Office of the Attorney General and the Prescription Drug Task Force, and Mental Health America of Indiana. The bill passed 13-0.

The House Public Health Committee heard HB 1449 authored by Reps. Davisson and C. Brown on opioid treatment programs in community mental health centers. This bill authorizes certified community mental health centers to operate opioid treatment (Methadone) programs. Testimony in support of the bill was heard from the Association of Community Mental Health Centers, Midtown Community Mental Health Center, and the Office of the Attorney General and the Prescription Drug Task Force. The bill passed 13-0.

Criminal Law

January 30, 2015 | Category: Criminal

The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard SB 92, Sen. Schneider’s bill to enhance criminal penalties using deadly weapons.  As introduced, the bill established sentencing enhancements of 5 to 20 years if a deadly weapon, not just a firearm as provided under current law, is possessed during the commission of all offenses against the person, arson for hire, resisting law enforcement, burglary, or rioting. This provision was amended by consent to make it apply only if the deadly weapon is used, rather than merely possessed. The bill also provides that a sentence may be enhanced when a deadly weapon is possessed during the commission of controlled substance offenses, but this provision was also amended by consent to make it apply only if the deadly weapon is used, rather than merely possessed. The bill was also amended by consent to provide that sentencing enhancements for the use of a deadly weapon during the commission of an offense may not be suspended. The bill also makes a person a habitual offender if the state proves the person has been convicted of three prior unrelated felonies of any level. Legislative Services staff reported that the fiscal impact of the bill cannot be predicted with confidence. The bill passed as amended 8-1.

The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard SB 164, Sen. Patricia Miller’s bill on crimes involving deadly weapons. The bill prohibits expungement for a person who has two or more convictions involving the unlawful possession or use of a deadly weapon. After testimony for and against the bill from prosecutors and public defenders, the Committee amended the bill by a vote of 6-3 to limit the expungement prohibition to persons who have “two or more felony convictions involving the unlawful use of a deadly weapon, not part of the same episode of criminal conduct.” The bill passed as amended 7-2.

The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee resumed discussion of SB 261, on the appeals by the attorney general in criminal and juvenile cases. Author Sen. R. Michael Young presented two amendments that were consolidated into a single amendment and adopted. The amendment clarifies that the State may take an interlocutory appeal of the dismissal of part of the charges filed in a case. It also would provide that the state may initiate an appeal of a legal error in a sentence and may, if a defendant appeals his/her sentence, take a cross-appeal of the length of the sentence imposed. The amended bill passed 10-0.

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard SB 375, authored by Sens. Houchin and Head, on human trafficking and asset forfeiture. This bill allows a law enforcement agency to seize real or personal property, including a vehicle that is used by a person to commit, attempt to commit, or conspire to commit, facilitate the commission of; or escape from the commission of; an offense concerning human trafficking. This bill aligns Indiana law with federal law. The Attorney General’s Office testified in favor of the bill. An Indiana sheriff who investigates human trafficking testified about the effectiveness of forfeiture. The bill passed 9-0.

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard SB 433, authored by Sens. Tomes and Waltz, on shotguns. This bill repeals the prohibition against manufacturing, importing, selling, or possessing a sawed-off shotgun. It also provides for a 10-year sentence enhancement if a person possesses a sawed-off shotgun in violation of federal law while committing certain offenses. The National Rifle Association and Indiana State Rifle and Pistol Association testified in support of the bill. The bill passed 8-1.

The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard SB 551, Sen. Waltz’s bill to establish crime fighting pilot projects in Marion, Lake, and Allen Counties, with an annual appropriation of $200,000 for each of the counties to be used only to pay overtime for officers assigned to a high crime district. Law enforcement officers from the chosen counties testified in support of the bill. Some committee members said they would vote to pass the bill, but wanted the pilot expanded to more counties. The bill passed 9-0.

The Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee heard SB 559, Sen. R. Michael Young’s bill to make a number of changes to crimes of violence. Sen. Young explained that the bill adds unlawful possession of a firearm by a serious violent felon to the definition of “crimes of violence.” The bill establishes new caps for consecutive sentences that result from a single episode of criminal conduct. Sen. Young explained that the changes are a result of unintended disproportion in the caps enacted in last year’s criminal law reform causing the maximum sentences for some of the new levels of felonies to be higher than the advisory sentences for the next higher felony level. The bill establishes a mandatory 20-year sentencing enhancement for a person who knowingly or intentionally points or discharges a firearm at a law enforcement officer while committing an offense. If the person is convicted of the charged offense, the jury will then resolve whether the State proved the pointing or shooting of the firearm at an officer beyond a reasonable doubt. The bill also makes a number of technical corrections in the penal code. After testimony in support of the bill from prosecutors and police officers, the bill passed 6-2.

The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard HB 1302, Rep. McMillin’s expungement bill. The bill addresses a number of issues concerning the IC 35-38-9 expungement remedy: (1) it expands the arrest expungement remedy to include criminal charges or delinquency allegations which did not lead to a conviction or adjudication; (2) it specifies that a person seeking to expunge a conviction is not required to pay a filing fee; and (3) it removes the certification requirement for the BMV driving record which must be attached to a conviction expungement petition. Rep. McMillin presented two amendments. The first, suggested by the Hoosier Press Association, would have expungement proceedings be open to the public until an expungement order is issued; the second would remove the requirement of notice to a victim in those cases in which expungement is mandatory if the petitioner establishes the requirements for expungement. Both amendments were adopted by consent. The Monroe Circuit Court and Tippecanoe Circuit Court clerks both testified about the increased expenses their offices have incurred to process expungement cases and encouraged the committee to not exempt expungement petitioners from paying standard filing fees, but the bill passed 12-0 without further amendment.

The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard HB 1531, Rep. Davisson’s bill on video conferencing by confined persons. The bill provides (1) court hearings by video conference for inmates in DOC facilities with video conferencing capacity, and (2) mental health evaluations of inmates in county jails ordered to be conducted via video conference with the mental health services provider. Rep. Davisson said the bill aims to reduce the expenses of transporting prisoners for hearings. Representatives from the DOC and the Association of Community Mental Centers testified in support of the bill, which passed 11-0.

The House Public Health Committee heard Rep. Kirchhofer’s HB 1614 on opioid prescriptions for pain management treatment. This bill requires the Indiana Board of Pharmacy or any licensing board, commission, or agency that controls, authorizes, or oversees controlled substance registrations, to adopt rules to establish standards and protocols for practitioners who prescribe opioid controlled substances for pain management treatment and provides that the rules may not be amended unless the proposed amendment has been approved by the medical licensing board. The bill was supported by the Indiana Medical Association, the Indiana Attorney General’s Office, and the Indiana Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force. The Indiana Podiatric Medical Association, the Indiana State Nurses Association, and the Indiana Veterinary Medical Association testified as to concerns with the bill. The committee held the bill for future action.