General Information

March 13, 2015 | Category: General

This is the tenth weekly installment of the Legislative Update for the 2015 legislative session. If you are interested in reading the text of any bill introduced this session, you may find all of the bill information here.

This week the Senate and House committees heard the following bills of interest to the judiciary:

Civil Law

March 13, 2015 | Category: Civil

The House Judiciary Committee heard SB 306 concerning limited liability arising from trespassing, sponsored Rep. Steuerwald and Rep. Koch. Sen. Bray introduced the bill, explaining that this bill codifies current trespass liability common law. The bill establishes that a person who possesses any fee, reversionary, or easement interest in real property, including an owner, a lessee, or another lawful occupant of real property, does not owe a duty of care to a trespasser, except to refrain from willfully or wantonly injuring the trespasser, after the trespasser has been discovered on the real property possessed by the person. The bill provides that the person may be subject to liability for physical injury or death to a child trespasser under certain circumstances.  Representatives from Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, State Farm Insurance, Indiana Chamber of Commerce, and an attorney spoke in favor of the bill. The bill passed 6-3.

The House Judiciary Committee heard SB 307 concerning consumer protection, sponsored by Rep. Steuerwald. Sen. Bray introduced this bill, which amends several provisions of the senior consumer protection act (act). It amends the act as follows: (1) Expands the class of consumers covered by the act to include: (A) veterans; and (B) individuals with physical disabilities, developmental disabilities, or mental impairments; in addition to senior consumers. (2) Changes the term “senior consumer” to” protected consumer” to encompass the additional consumers covered. It amends the statute concerning telephone solicitations of consumers (Indiana’s “do not call” law) to provide that a person may not provide substantial assistance or support to a telephone solicitor, a supplier, or a caller if the person knows or consciously avoids knowing that the telephone solicitor, supplier, or caller has violated the “do not call” law or the statute concerning the regulation of automatic dialing machines. Amends the statute concerning home improvement contracts to specify that: (1) an exterior home improvement includes lawn care, landscaping, snow removal, driveway sealing, tree trimming, and pest control services; and (2) a home improvement includes interior pest control services. Amends the statute concerning the regulation of automatic dialing machines to provide that the attorney general is not required to prove that a violation of the statute was knowing or intentional for a court to impose a civil penalty for the violation. Amends the statute concerning the investigation and prosecution of complaints concerning regulated occupations to add to the permissible reasons for disclosure of information concerning a complaint a disclosure that is made to a law enforcement agency that has or is reasonably believed to have jurisdiction over a person or matter involved in the complaint. Amends the law concerning the payment of funeral or burial service expenses in advance of need to provide that “contract”, for purposes of the law, includes an agreement for the issuance of a life insurance policy where: (1) the death benefit of the policy is or may be designated for use in the purchase of funeral or burial services or merchandise; and (2) the policy is intended to be an exempt resource for Medicaid qualification purposes. Provides that the issuer of a contract meeting this description is a “seller” for purposes of the law and that a contract meeting this description must satisfy certain statutory requirements.

Sen. Bray introduced an amendment addressing the provision concerning home improvement contracts, to clarify that when exterior home improvements are added as a service, a new contract does not need to be executed. Sen. Bray also introduced an amendment concerning telephone line providers of automatic dialing machines, to accept telephone providers from violation of telephone privacy laws inadvertently when dialing machines use their lines. A representative from Area 16 Agency on Aging; State Director of the AARP; Indiana Attorney General; Funeral Director Association; Indiana Lawn and Landscaping Association; and TruGreen lawn servicing support the bill as amended. A representative from the National Alliance of Life Insurance Companies addressed a provision in the bill concerning life insurance benefits for burial expenses and requested the bill be amended regarding pre-need instruments.  The bill was held.

The Senate Civil Law Committee heard HB 1050, sponsored by Sen. Glick, providing that actions against a surveyor to recover damages for a deficiency in a land survey must be brought against the surveyor not later than 10 years after the date of the survey. This bill requires notice of survey letter to an adjoining landowner. It provides that an action for damages for a survey completed before July 1, 2015, may not be brought against a surveyor unless the action is commenced within 15 years after the date of the survey. Indiana Society of Land Surveyors testified in support of the bill. The bill was held for amendment.

The Senate Civil Law Committee heard HB 1102, sponsored by Sen. Steele, on patent protection. This bill prohibits a person from asserting a claim of patent infringement in bad faith. It provides that a court may, upon motion, require a person to post a bond if the target establishes a reasonable likelihood that the person has made an assertion of patent infringement in bad faith. It also provides that a claim of patent infringement is not made in bad faith if certain conditions apply to the person making the claim. After testimony from representatives from Indiana University Intellectual Property Research and Technology and Purdue University requesting amendment, the bill was held for amendment.

The Senate Civil Law Committee heard HB 1358, sponsored by Sen. Steele and Sen. Broden, on the garnishment of state tax refunds. Author Rep. Cox explained that the bill provides that if a debt has been reduced to a judgment in Indiana and the judgment has not been satisfied, set aside, or discharged in bankruptcy, the judgment creditor may garnish a state tax refund otherwise due to the debtor. It also specifies the procedures that the judgment creditor must follow in obtaining the garnishment from the Department of State Revenue. The bill allows a writ of garnishment to be electronically filed with the Department of State Revenue. After hearing testimony expressing some concerns, the Committee held the bill for amendment.

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.

Family & Juvenile Law

March 13, 2015 | Category: Family/Juvenile

The Senate Family and Children Services Committee heard HB 1216 on missing and trafficked children sponsored by Sen. Head and Sen. Houchin. The bill requires the Indiana State Police to prepare a pamphlet for distribution to every law enforcement agency to include information on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the National Runaway Safeline. The bill also (1) requires DCS to be notified if a child under 18 years of age is detained and an alleged victim of human trafficking, and (2) permits a defense to a charge of prostitution if a child was the victim or alleged victim of human trafficking. Both the Indiana Attorney General’s Office and the Indiana Protection for Abused and Trafficked Humans Task Force testified in favor of the bill. The bill passed 7-0.

The Senate Family and Children Services Committee heard HB 1434 concerning the Department of Child Services sponsored by Sen. Head and Sen. Holdman. This legislation (1) provides for background checks for host homes used in the collaborative care program, (2) exempts DCS staff from social work licensure in the same manner as other state agencies, (3) repeals duplicative Regional Service Council reporting requirements, (4) provides for local law enforcement and sex offender registry checks for service providers, (5) implements provisions of the federal Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, and (6) makes other changes. For a more detailed listing, see the January 23, 2015 legislative update. The Committee adopted two amendments by consent. The first amendment adds additional language for local background checks, amends the new requirements for the Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement Permanency Option hearing to allow probation officers in delinquency cases and CHINS case managers to give information to the court in the same manner, either through court testimony or by report. The amendment also expands the number of DCS employees not subject to the social work licensure requirements, permits DCS to run record checks on successor guardians, and places all statutes on records checks in the same code section. The second amendment is technical in nature.  DCS testified in support of the bill. A public defender testified to concerns with the prohibition on using secure detention in CHINS cases. DCS agreed to reexamine this language. The amended bill passed 7-0.

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard HB 1304 pertaining to various criminal law matters sponsored by Sen. M. Young and Sen. Randolph. Author Rep. McMillin introduced the bill and an amendment that was adopted by consent. The amended bill passed committee 6-3. A summary of the amendment is as follows:

  • Requires the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute to track the number of juveniles under criminal court jurisdiction as a result of direct files and waiver of jurisdiction.
  • Authorizes individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism spectrum disorders to participate in pre-conviction and post-conviction forensic diversion programs.
  • Provides a treatment alternative to the prosecution of alcoholics and drug abusers through the Division of Mental Health and Addiction (DMHA) as an in-patient or in the community for a maximum of three years. The individual must be accepted by DMHA for treatment and approved by the court and the prosecutor to be eligible for this program. If the individual’s treatment program is successfully completed, the charges are dismissed.
  • Provides for treatment and probation following a conviction, subject to any mandatory minimum sentence imposed, for individuals with alcoholism or drug addiction. Failure to participate or complete treatment is a probation violation.
  • Establishes a new chapter for the voluntary treatment of drug abusers by DMHA.
  • Establishes a new chapter for the involuntary treatment by DMHA of alcoholics and drug abusers utilizing the civil commitment procedures under IC 12-26.
  • Amends IC 12-23-14-16 to authorize a court alcohol and drug program or the clerk to collect program fees.
  • Requires DMHA to establish standards and protocols for opioid treatment, including alternatives to methadone such as Naltrexone, Vivitrol, or a similar substance.
  • Clarifies that a person who possesses a hypodermic syringe, needle or other instrument adapted for use to violate the Indiana Legend Drug Act or commit an offense under IC 35-48-4 commits a level 6 felony.
  • Increases from 10 to 12 years old the minimum age in which a juvenile court shall waive a juvenile for murder after a full investigation and hearing.
  • Applies Indiana Rule of Evidence 617 to the custodial interrogation of juveniles and, if held in a place of detention, provides the interrogation must be video recorded.  Clarifies custodial interrogations of juveniles at schools shall be audio recorded.  The custodial interrogation of the juvenile is confidential and is exempt from disclosure under IC 5-14-3.
  • Prohibits the restraint of juveniles in court, unless the court has determined on the record, after considering the recommendation of the sheriff or transport officer, the juvenile is dangerous.  However, if the juvenile caused a physical disruption in open court, the court may order restraints.
  • Authorizes the county auditor to seek 100% reimbursement for county expenditures for a full-time chief public defender from the public defense fund if the county has an office established under IC 30-40-7 or IC 36-1-3.
  • Amends IC 33-37-2-2 to provide that a delinquent act is committed if a child leaves home or a specified location previously designated by a parent, guardian or custodian.
  • Authorizes a court to appoint a “mental health advocate,” who is a trained community volunteer, to assist a person with an intellectual disability or autism spectrum disorder who has been charged with a criminal offense.
  • Amends the crime of possession of paraphernalia (IC 35-48-4-8.3) to exclude rolling papers and reduces the offense to a class C misdemeanor unless the individual has a prior unrelated conviction under this section, making the offense a class A misdemeanor.
  • Authorizes, as a condition of probation, a prosecutor diversion program, parole, community corrections, forensic diversion, a problem-solving court or a mental health and addiction forensic treatment services program, an individual to receive addiction counseling, inpatient detoxification, and medication assisted treatment, including Vivitrol.
  • Amends the habitual offender statute (IC 35-50-2-8) to allow a court to suspend a portion of any additional term imposed under this section if the offender participates and successfully completes a court approved substance abuse treatment program. The accrued time in the program shall be deducted from the habitual offender’s additional fixed term of imprisonment.

Judicial Administration

March 13, 2015 | Category: Administration

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard HB 1110 on magistrates sponsored by Sen. Steele and Sen. Grooms. Author Rep. Stemler introduced the bill stating the bill began as a request for a magistrate in Clark County but has been expanded to include all requests for magistrate positions this session. Magistrate positions included in this bill are in Clark, Greene, Madison, Marion, Porter and Vanderburgh counties. Each of these proposals was approved by the Interim Study Committee on Courts and the Judiciary. Sen. Zakas introduced an amendment, adopted by consent, adding two magistrate positions in St. Joseph County to the bill. Judges Oakes and Welch testified in support of the bill’s provision converting four commissioners to magistrates in Marion County after December 31, 2015. Also testifying in support of the bill were Judge Martin from Greene County and Judge Clem from Madison County. The amended bill passed 9-0 and will be recommitted to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard HB 1131 on exemption of military reservists from jury duty sponsored by Sen. Raatz. The bill provides an exemption from jury service to reservists while on military orders. Representatives from the Veterans Coalition of Indiana and the Disabled Veterans Association testified in support of the bill. The bill passed 9-0.


March 13, 2015 | Category: Miscellaneous

The House Judiciary Committee heard SB 4, the technical corrections bill, sponsored by Rep. Washburne. Author Sen. Bray introduced the bill, which was prepared by the Code Revision Commission. The bill resolves: (1) technical conflicts between differing 2014 amendments to Indiana Code sections; and (2) other technical problems in the Indiana Code, including incorrect statutory references, nonstandard tabulation, and various grammatical problems. The bill also provides that the technical corrections bill may be referred to as the “technical corrections bill of the 2015 general assembly” and specifies that this phrase may be used in the lead-in line of SECTIONS of another bill to identify the provisions added, amended, or repealed by the technical corrections bill that are also amended or repealed in the other bill. The bill provides the publisher of the Indiana Code with guidance concerning resolution of amend/repeal conflicts between the technical corrections bill and other bills passed during the 2015 legislative session. Lastly, the bill specifies that if there is a conflict between a provision in the technical corrections bill and a provision being repealed in another bill, the other bill’s repealer is law. The bill passed 8-1.

The House Judiciary Committee heard SB 171 addressing updates of federal law citations, authored by Sen. Bray, sponsored by Rep. Washburne. Sen. Bray explained that this bill updates federal law citations throughout the Indiana Code (the introduced version was prepared by the code revision commission). The bill passed 8-0.

The House Judiciary Committee heard SB 199 concerning substantive problems in the Indiana Code, authored by Sens. Bray, Head, and Randolph and sponsored by Rep. Washburne.  Sen. Bray introduced this bill, which resolves various nontechnical conflicts and problems not suitable for resolution in the annual technical corrections bill, including: (1) statutes that have been both amended and repealed; (2) ambiguous language and references; (3) faulty definitions; and (4) reference to defunct entities. (The introduced version of this bill was prepared by the code revision commission.)  Two amendments were introduced replacing certain instances of “lieutenant governor” with “director of the Indiana office of energy development” and providing a definition of “small business ombudsman.”  That amendment also replaces instances of “ombudsman” with “small business ombudsman.”  Both amendments were adopted by consent, and the amended bill passed 8-0.