This is the twelfth weekly installment of the Legislative Update for the 2011 legislative session. Below are the summaries of the bills of interest to the judiciary heard this week in committee.
If you are interested in reading the text of any bill introduced this session, you may find the bill information on Access Indiana at: http://www.in.gov/apps/lsa/session/billwatch/billinfo.
The House Commerce, Small Business and Economic Development Committee heard SB 180 sponsored by Rep. Foley and Rep. L. Lawson concerning limited partnerships and liability companies. The bill requires the Indiana Business Law Survey Commission to conduct a study concerning the desirability of enacting: (1) the uniform limited partnership act; and (2) the revised uniform limited liability company act. The bill passed 9-0.
The House Judiciary Committee heard SB 215 sponsored by Rep. Foley regarding forfeiture. The bill determines the distribution of the proceeds in a civil forfeiture action. An amendment was adopted by consent that changes the distribution of the proceeds to include the deposit of 12% of the proceeds in the county school security fund rather than the common school fund as required in criminal forfeiture actions. Testimony in support of the bill was heard from representatives of the Prosecuting Attorneys Council, the Office of the Attorney General, and the Public Defender Council. Several concerns were brought to the committee’s attention and some of the committee members expressed a number of reservations regarding the distribution of the proceeds. The amended bill passed 10-1.
The House Employment, Labor and Pensions Committee heard SB 411, sponsored by Rep. Eberhart and Rep. Burton on disclosure of firearm or ammunition information. The bill prohibits public or private employers from requiring employees or applicants for employment to disclose information about their ownership, possession, use, or transportation of firearms or ammunition, unless the disclosure concerns a firearm or ammunition “used in fulfilling the duties of the employment of the individual.” The bill creates a civil cause of action against a private employer or “public official” defined as including an elected or appointed official in the executive, legislative, or judicial branch, who violates the prohibition and allows damages, costs and attorney fees, and punitive damages for a knowing and willful violation of this prohibition. Testimony was heard in favor of and against the bill. The bill passed 11-1.
The House Financial Institutions Committee heard SB 582 concerning settlement conferences in residential foreclosures sponsored by Rep. Burton. Sen. Tallian testified to several concerns with the current foreclosure settlement conference process and provided an overview of the mortgage foreclosure trial assistance project. The bill: (1) provides that the notice of settlement conference must be on the summons; (2) defines a “loss mitigation package” as a set of documents the debtor must bring to the settlement conference; (3) authorizes an appearance at a settlement conference to constitute the filing of an appearance in the case; (4) authorizes the court to issue an order requiring the debtor to continue to make monthly payments with respect to the mortgage if the debtor continues to occupy the mortgaged dwelling; (5) authorizes payments to be held in trust for the parties by the clerk of the court or in an attorney trust account and only disbursed upon order of the court; (6) protects “good Samaritans” from liability if in good faith they enter private property believed to be abandoned to clean it up or mow the lawn; and (7) establishes a study committee to review abandoned property and short sale procedures as well as non-judicial foreclosure procedures. Mr. Mark St. John, representing the Indiana Association of Community Economic Development and Mr. Tom Dinwiddie, representing the Indiana Mortgage Bankers Association, testified in support of the bill. Mr. David Miller of the Office of the Attorney General testified that the attorney general’s office has a mortgage foreclosure best practices petition pending with the Indiana Supreme Court which incorporates several provisions in the bill, and provided the committee with a comparison chart. An amendment containing substantial provisions of Rep. Burton’s HB 1181 concerning residential foreclosures was adopted by consent. The amended bill passed 9-0.
The Senate Judiciary heard HB 1321 sponsored by Sen. Bray and Sen. Simpson concerning secured transactions. The bill makes changes to Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code to provide conformity and make technical corrections. Rep. Foley introduced the bill and answered questions from the committee members. The bill passed 8-0.
The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard SB 216 presented by author Sen. Bray on access to child pornography in criminal discovery. This bill provides that material allegedly constituting child pornography must remain in the custody of the state or the court and that the court shall deny requests by defendants to reproduce the material as long as the state provides the defense with the opportunity to examine the material. The bill was amended to bring it into compliance with federal child pornography rules against copying child pornography by providing that a defendant and defense counsel may view the alleged pornography, but may not copy it. The amended bill passed 9-0.
The Senate Corrections, Criminal and Civil Matters Committee passed HB 1083 sponsored by Sen. Head requiring the Criminal Code Evaluation Commission to study child solicitation and child trafficking. An amendment was adopted to include the study of increased penalties for sex crimes against children by school employees, volunteers, and others. The amended bill passed 10-0.
The Senate Corrections, Criminal and Civil Matters Committee heard HB 1217, sponsored by Sen. Steele and Sen. Lawson increasing the penalty from a Class A misdemeanor to a Class D felony for the criminal conversion of leased motor vehicles. The bill failed with a vote of 4-5.
The Senate Corrections, Criminal and Civil Matters Committee heard HB 1416 on credit time for approved correspondence courses sponsored by Sen. Waterman and Sen. M. Young. The bill provides that for an imprisoned person to earn credit time for successfully completing the requirements for a high school diploma through a correspondence course, the correspondence course must be approved in advance by the Department of Correction. The bill passed 10-0.
The Senate Judiciary Committee continued discussion of HB 1107 sponsored by Sen. Buck and Sen. Lanane regarding preventive programs for at-risk children. An amendment was adopted to revise the definition of an at-risk child for the purposes of this legislation to include children who were previously declared a CHINS and who need ongoing supervision and assistance or have been the victim of domestic violence. In addition, the amendment requires the court to conduct a criminal history check on an early intervention advocate prior to appointment. The bill passed as amended 8-0.
The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard SB 96 sponsored by Rep. McMillin concerning Cass County deputy prosecuting attorneys. The bill authorizes the Cass County prosecuting attorney to appoint an additional deputy prosecutor. The bill passed.
The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard author Sen. Bray present SB 301 concerning court fees. The bill provides that the automated record keeping fee be set at $6 between June 30, 2011, and July 1, 2013, and be decreased to $4 after June 30, 2013. Rep. Hinkle offered an amendment providing that $1 of the fee go to the circuit court clerk in counties which do not rely solely on a case management system provided by JTAC. Reps. Pierce, Foley, and DeLaney stated that they would vote for the amendment, but emphasized the need to properly fund the JTAC system, a statewide infrastructure offering many benefits not obtainable with individual county-by-county systems. The Committee adopted the amendment by consent and passed the amended bill 8-3.
The House Judiciary Committee heard SB 266 regarding noncode statutes project trailer provisions sponsored by Rep. Foley and Rep. Bartlett. Sen. Holdman introduced the bill and a representative from the Legislative Services Agency explained the bill provisions. The bill contains two substantive changes to the Indiana Code proposed by the Code Revision Commission: (1) deletes certain references to obsolete entities in codified noncode transitional provisions relating to the creation of the Indiana Finance Authority; and (2) repeals a codified noncode statute relating to enforcement of child support orders that was held unconstitutional by the Indiana Court of Appeals. The bill passed 11-0.
The House Judiciary Committee heard SB 295, the technical corrections bill sponsored by Rep. Foley and Rep. Bartlett. A representative from the Legislative Services Agency explained that the bill resolves technical corrections conflicts and makes various other non-substantive changes to the Indiana Code. The bill passed 11-0.
The House Judiciary Committee heard SB 490, concerning noncode statutes sponsored by Rep. Foley. A representative from the Legislative Services Agency explained that the bill is part of a three-year project to: (1) repeal; (2) retain; or (3) codify noncode statutes. The bill also corrects omissions discovered during the project review. An amendment was adopted by consent to incorporate three additional changes into the bill discovered after the bill was filed. The amended bill passed 11-0.
The Senate Judiciary Committee continued discussion on HB 1055, enacting the uniform adult guardianship and protective proceedings jurisdiction act sponsored by Sen. Zakas, Sen. Head, and Sen. Broden. The bill passed 8-0 without further public testimony.
The House Employment, Labor and Pensions Committee heard SB 521 sponsored by Rep. Steuerwald, Rep. M. Smith and Rep. Niezgodski on the state deferred compensation plan. The bill provides that if an employee does not choose another amount, the state shall, in each pay period during the first year the employee is automatically enrolled in the state’s deferred compensation plan, deduct from the employee’s compensation the greater of: (1) the maximum amount of any match provided by the state on behalf of the employee to a defined contribution plan; or (2) one-half percent of the employee’s base salary; and deposit the amount deducted in the employee’s account. The bill further provides that the percentage of an employee’s base salary used to determine the employee’s contribution increases each year, for five years, by one-half percent from the percentage determined in the immediately preceding year to a maximum of three percent. The Committee passed the bill 13-0.
The House Roads and Transportation Committee heard SB 528 on various motor vehicle issues. The bill makes technical amendments to various Indiana Code Title 9 provisions, including amending incorrect references to probationary and hardship licenses. Sponsor Rep. Soliday introduced the bill and a representative from the Bureau of Motor Vehicles explained the provisions of the bill. Two minor amendments were introduced and passed by committee consent. The amended bill passed 10-0.