This is the second weekly installment of the Legislative Update for the 2012 legislative session. Below are the summaries of bills of interest to the judiciary heard this week in committee.
Chief Justice Shepard gave his 25th and final State of the Judiciary Address, titled “On the Way to Something Better,” on January 11, 2012. A copy of his speech is available at: http://www.in.gov/judiciary/supreme/2465.htm.
If you are interested in reading the text of any bill introduced this session, you may find the bill information at: http://www.in.gov/apps/lsa/session/billwatch/billinfo.
The Senate Corrections, Criminal and Civil Matters Committee began hearing SB 5, on funding of lawsuits, authored by Sen. Head. The bill would regulate the practice of making a loan to a plaintiff in an action in exchange for the contingent right to receive a part of the potential proceeds of the action. As time ran out before the bill presentation was completed, the bill hearing will resume at the Committee’s next meeting.
The Senate Corrections, Criminal and Civil Matters Committee heard SB 54, regarding state university use of eminent domain, authored by Sen. Eckerty. The bill would allow the owner of a business condemned by state universities to recover not only the value of the condemned property but also the capitalized value of the business’s estimated future earnings. The bill passed with a vote of 6-4.
The House Judiciary Committee heard HB 1015, authored by Rep. Davisson, regarding immunity when granting access to cemetery. This bill provides immunity from civil liability to landowners who grant a decedent’s family members and descendants access to cemeteries that are located on the landowners’ properties and a property tax assessment as cemetery lands. It also provides immunity from civil liability to persons who guide family members or descendants to those cemeteries. The Committee heard testimony for and against the bill. The Committee will incorporate the comments and questions into an amendment. No vote was taken, and the bill was held to incorporate an amendment.
The House Veterans Affairs and Public Safety Committee heard HB 1040, on immunity for fast responders, authored by Rep. Grubb and Rep. T. Brown. This bill provides that if a county adopts an ordinance approving the provision of community fast responder services and the nonprofit corporation directing the provision of community fast responder services maintains a certain level of insurance, then the liability of a community fast responder is limited to the amount of insurance. This bill also provides that a community fast responder nonprofit corporation does not include a hospital or an entity operated or directed by a hospital, and that fast responders have the same immunity from liability as first responders. Additionally, this bill requires a community fast responder nonprofit corporation to purchase an insurance policy that provides $700,000 of insurance coverage for the liability of the corporation’s community fast responders, and provides that the limit of liability of a community fast responder nonprofit corporation is $5,000,000. The bill passed 10-0.
The Senate Corrections, Criminal and Civil Matters Committee heard SB 6, on knives with automatic blades, authored by Sen. Tomes and Sen. Nugent. This bill would repeal the B misdemeanor offense for possessing a switchblade knife. The bill passed with a vote of 8-0 after some non-substantive amendments.
The Senate Corrections, Criminal and Civil Matters Committee heard SB 11, authored by Sen. Steele, which would make the offense of attending animal fighting contests applicable to anyone attending, whether they have an animal or not, and elevates the crime to a D felony. A number of senators felt that the D felony penalty was not proportionate to the offense. The bill passed with a vote of 5-4.
The Senate Judiciary Committee heard SB 26 authored by Sen. Bray reorganizing the Title 35 definitions and making technical amendments. An amendment revising and correcting references to other portions of the criminal code was adopted by consent of the committee. The bill passed as amended, 9-0.
The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard HB 1077, regarding battery upon a law enforcement officer, authored by Rep. Neese. This bill makes battery a Class D felony if the offense is committed against a law enforcement officer, or a person summoned and directed by a law enforcement officer while the officer is engaged in the execution of the officer’s official duty. The Committee tabled this bill and sent it to the Criminal Code Evaluation Commission.
The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard HB 1011, on various corrections matters, authored by Rep. Foley and Rep. Steuerwald. The introduced version of this bill was prepared by the Criminal Code Evaluation Commission. This bill establishes the probation improvement fund administered by the Judicial Conference. This bill also creates the forensic addiction fund administered by the Indiana Judicial Center to create a funding source for grants to probation departments and community corrections programs to increase substance abuse treatment access for individuals on probation or in a community corrections program. This bill also creates funding for the probation improvement fund. This bill requires a sentencing court to inform the Department of Correction if the person sentenced is a credit restricted felon, and requires a court that determines that a person sentenced is a credit restricted felon to state in the sentencing order and the abstract of judgment that the person is a credit restricted felon. Additionally, this bill requires the Judicial Conference to adopt rules concerning incentives and sanctions that a probation officer may use in supervising persons on probation. This bill requires that credit time earned by certain offenders shall be reduced to the extent that application of the credit time would result in post-conviction release or a community transition program assignment in less than 45 days after the person earns the credit time. This bill requires the Department of Correction to establish an automated victim notification system, and notify a registered crime victim of certain changes affecting the committed offender who committed the crime against the victim, specifying when certain victim notifications shall be made. This bill provides that if a court imposes a felony sentence that involves a commitment to the department, the court shall state certain information in the sentencing order and abstract of judgment. Three amendments were introduced by Rep. Foley. Concerns were voiced over specific provisions and amendments by the Indiana Prosecuting Attorney’s Council. Testimony was offered in general support by Jane Seigel, Judge Becky Pierson-Treacy, Indiana Department of Corrections, Indiana Addictions Coalition, Probation Officers’ Professional Association, a professor at Indiana University, Indiana Public Defender Council, and the Indiana Sheriffs’ Association. The Committee decided to hold the bill until to the next meeting for more discussion.
The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard HB 1196, regarding synthetic drugs (including “bath salts”), authored by Rep. M. Smith and Rep. Yarde. This bill adds additional chemical compounds (including some compounds sold as “bath salts”) to the definition of synthetic cannabinoids, and expands the definition of synthetic cannabinoids to encompass certain chemical compounds that are structurally related to synthetic cannabinoids. Testimony was heard in support of this bill by the Indiana Prosecutors, Indiana State Police Laboratory, among others. An amendment was introduced and adopted by consent that replaced “synthetic cannabinoid” with “synthetic drug” and added more chemical compounds to the definition. The bill passed as amended, 11-0.
The Senate Corrections, Criminal and Civil Matters Committee heard SB 18, authored by Sen. Steele, which would amend the child support statutes to provide that a parent’s duty to support a child ceases when the child becomes 19 years of age, instead of the current 21 years of age. Sen. Steele explained that many states now end the duty to support when the child becomes 18. This bill was prepared by the Child Custody and Support Advisory Committee. The bill passed with a vote of 7-6.
The Senate Judiciary Committee resumed discussion on SB 32 authored by Sen. Bray and Sen. Randolph extending guardianships to the age 22. Two amendments were adopted clarifying that the petition to extend the guardianship after age 18 must be verified, and that the extended guardianship does not place the protected person under a legal disability. The bill passed as amended, 9-0.
The Senate Judiciary Committee heard SB 286 introduced by author Sen. Lawson concerning the Department of Child Services by repealing the statute requiring the county to pay for the placement of a juvenile if the court does not use the required Title IV-E language and making numerous other changes. Sen. Lawson explained that the bill includes the following provisions: (1) Creates a new collaborative youth program to receive Title IV-E monies to replace the older youth in foster care program; (2) Expands the authority of DCS to permit, not require, DCS to conduct criminal history checks on parents, relatives or others in the home when the permanency plan for a child is reunification; (3) Permits youth over 18 to stay in a guardianship assistance program to age 20; (4) Clarifies and amends the definition of child abuse and neglect; (5) Creates Permanency Roundtables to review all permanency options for a child in placement over six months; (6) Creates Placement Review Committees to review residential placements for all CHINS and delinquency cases; (7) Revises statutes on foster care licensure and bases payment to foster parents by level of need of the child and not by license type; (8) Repeals various reporting requirements; (9) Reduces the length of stay under the Emergency Shelter Care statute from 60 to 20 days; (10) Requires training for attorney GAL, in addition to other CASA and GAL, in early childhood and child and adolescent development; (11) Permits sharing of the outcome of abuse and neglect assessments involving a teacher with the state superintendent of public instruction in addition to the teacher; (12) Makes calls to the child abuse and neglect hotline confidential; (14) Creates regional child fatality review teams; (15) Permits the stay of an administrative appeal hearing on a DCS substantiation of a report of abuse or neglect when there is an informal adjustment or criminal proceeding involving the same alleged perpetrator; (16) Permits DCS to keep unsubstantiated reports of abuse or neglect for internal reference only; (17) Requires an initial hearing to be held within 48 hours in all cases, not just when a child is removed from the home; (18) Provides adverse consequences if the time frames in disposition hearings, adjudicatory hearings and TPR cases are not met; (19) Adds a presumption of CHINS if there is competent evidence of probative value that there was an injury to the child; (20) Permits the use of child videotape testimony in CHINS in DCS administrative appeal hearings in substantiation of abuse and neglect, and foster home license revocation; (21) Changes the requirement to include reasons for dismissal of a required Termination of Parental Rights petition to permit, rather than require, reasons of dismissal to be alleged in the petition; (22) Provides when a court finds there are statutory reasons for DCS not to make reasonable efforts to reunify in CHINS case, these reasons should be prima facie evidence in a later TPR case that there is a reasonable probability the conditions that resulted in the child’s removal will not be remedied and continuation of the parent-child relationship is a threat to the child’s well-being; (23) Permits DCS to only make payments for group homes and residential facilities under contract with DCS unless the child services are recommended or approved by the DCS or director’s designee agrees in writing prior to the placement; and (24) Corrects a reference to the Interstate Compact on Juveniles to require DCS to pay for the return of runaways under both the old and new compacts.
DCS Director James Payne testified in favor of this legislation. Senate Judiciary Committee members raised questions about keeping unsubstantiated reports of child abuse and neglect. Judge Burnham, President, Indiana Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges testified in favor of the legislation. Judge Burnham also introduced Judge Rush, Chair, Juvenile Justice Improvement Committee, Judge Chris Lee, Fulton Circuit Court, and Judge Marilyn Moores, Marion Superior Court. A representative of the Association of Indiana Counties testified in favor of removing the county pay portions of the bill. Jane Seigel, Executive Director, Indiana Judicial Center and Commissioner of the Interstate Compact on Juveniles for Indiana thanked the committee for amending the citation to the new juvenile compact to permit DCS to continue paying for the return of runaways under the compact. A representative from the Indiana Association of Residential Child Care Agencies (IARCCA) expressed concern about the elimination of Ind. Code § 31-34-1-6, the requirement of a contract with a facility before DCS would approve a placement, the revised definitions for foster care and reimbursements, and the elimination of various reports. The committee adopted an amendment about the effective dates of the Older Youth in Foster Care program, changing of wording of minor or incapacitated person to protected person, and reports of the permanency roundtable and residential placement committee’s recommendations to be made to the court. The bill passed as amended, 9-0.
The Senate Judiciary Committee heard SB 287, authored by Senator Lawson concerning the Department of Child Services. The bill repeals obsolete and outdated language, codifies case law, aligns Indiana law with federal law, and adds language to clarify current statutes. A technical amendment to the bill was introduced. The bill passed as amended, 9-0.
The House Family, Children and Human Affairs Committee heard HB 1019, on adoption history information, authored by Rep. Karickhoff. This bill allows a relative of an adoptee or a pre-adoptive sibling to obtain medical history information and to file a petition with an appropriate court to request the release of medical information, nonidentifying information, or identifying information. The petition requesting release of medical, nonidentifying, or identifying information must include the reasons why the release of information may be beneficial to the adoptee, pre-adoptive sibling, or birth parent. Testimony was heard in support of the bill by Indiana Adoption Agencies United. An amendment was adopted by consent to define “interested person” consistently throughout the bill. The bill as amended passed with a vote of 11-0.
The House Family, Children and Human Affairs Committee heard HB 1065, regarding military custody and parenting time matters, authored by Rep. Borders. If the military duties of a parent have a material effect on the parent’s ability to appear in person at a regularly scheduled hearing concerning custody or parenting time, this bill requires a court, upon motion by a parent who has received military temporary duty, deployment, or mobilization orders to hold, upon good cause shown, an expedited hearing in determining or modifying custody or parenting time. This bill allows, with reasonable notice and good cause shown, a parent to present testimony and evidence by certain electronic means in a custody or parenting time proceeding. This bill also allows a court, upon motion by a parent who has received military deployment orders, to delegate the parent’s parenting time, or a part of the parent’s parenting time, during the time that the parent is deployed to a person who has a close and substantial relationship with the parent’s child if the court determines delegating the time is in the best interests of the child. This bill provides that an order delegating parenting time automatically terminates after the parent returns from deployment, and allows the court to terminate an order delegating parenting time if the court determines that the delegated parenting time is no longer in the best interests of the child. It was announced that the bill is supported by the family section of the Indiana State Bar Association since a representative was unable to testify. The bill passed with a vote of 12-0.
The House Judiciary Committee heard HB 1009, authored by Rep. Foley, making technical corrections. This bill resolves technical conflicts between differing 2011 amendments to Indiana Code sections, and other technical problems in the Indiana Code, including incorrect statutory references, nonstandard tabulation, grammatical problems, and misspellings. This bill also makes technical corrections and conforming amendments, as required by P.L.229-2011, Section 285, related to the repeal and enactment in 2011 of laws concerning the state civil service system and repeals provisions made obsolete by the 2011 changes in the state civil service system laws. The committee acknowledged the need for an amendment to the proposed bill, and held the vote until the next meeting when the amendment was prepared.
The Senate Judiciary Committee heard SB 176 concerning immediate detention orders authored by by Sen. Young and Sen. Bray. This bill permits a judge, in addition to a law enforcement officer, to issue an immediate detention order for a preliminary medical or psychological evaluation, if the court has reasonable grounds to believe the individual has a mental illness, is dangerous and is need of immediate hospitalization. Judge Gray, Morgan Superior Court, testified in favor of this legislation. The bill passed 9-0.
The House Veterans Affairs and Public Safety Committee heard HB 1120, on arrests or citations at traffic stops authored by Rep. Morris. This bill provides that a law enforcement officer may not arrest or issue a traffic information and summons to a person for a violation of a law regulating the use and operation of a motor vehicle on an Indiana highway or an ordinance of a city or town regulating the use and operation of a motor vehicle on an Indiana highway unless, at the time of the arrest or issuance, the officer: (1) is wearing a distinctive uniform and a badge of authority; (2) immediately identifies himself or herself as an officer using an authorized departmental identification card and a badge of authority; or (3) is operating a motor vehicle that is equipped with at least one signal lamp equipped with a red beam and a blue beam and a siren. This bill also provides that, upon request, a law enforcement officer must allow a person who is the subject of such an arrest, or issuance of a traffic information and summons to contact a law enforcement agency or emergency dispatcher to verify the identity of the law enforcement officer. Additionally, this bill makes an exception to these requirements for a law enforcement officer who is making an arrest, or conducting a search or seizure of a person or property in connection with the commission of a felony or misdemeanor that is not related to the use or operation of a motor vehicle. Testimony was heard from the Indiana F.O.P., Indiana Public Defenders’ Council, among others, expressing concerns with the bill. The bill was tabled due to the concerns expressed in testimony.