General Information

April 9, 2015 | Category: General

This is the fourteenth 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. The next Legislative Update will outline the bills that have been signed into law.

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

Civil Law

April 9, 2015 | Category: Civil

The House Judiciary Committee heard SB 98 concerning lawsuits against gun manufacturers sponsored by Reps. Smaltz and Torr.  Rep. Smaltz presented the bill, which seeks to amend provisions in Title 34 to prohibit bringing or maintaining certain lawsuits against weapons manufacturers, effective retroactively to August 26, 1999.  After receiving testimony and committee discussion, the bill passed 7-4.

The House Judiciary Committee heard SB 282 concerning unclaimed property act and savings bonds sponsored by Rep. Wesco.  The bill authorizes the Attorney General to process unclaimed savings bonds held for more than 20 years as unclaimed property. The bill also authorizes the Attorney General to claim unclaimed savings bonds held by the federal government if the bond was purchased in Indiana or held by an Indiana resident.  A representative for the Attorney General’s office testified in support, and the bill passed 9-0.

The House Judiciary Committee continued its discussion from a few weeks ago on SB 307 concerning consumer protection authored and presented by Sen. Bray. The Committee adopted an amendment by consent that clarifies that telephone service providers are not subject to the provisions of this bill.  The committee also accepted a second amendment by consent to provide that the issuer of life insurance must include certain disclaimers that the insurance policy is not a contract for prepaid services or merchandise under IC 30-2-13, or a funeral policy; and the proceeds are not guaranteed to be exempt as a resource from Medicaid. The Committee considered an amendment relating to the home improvement fraud provisions of the bill. After discussion on those provisions and the amendments, the Committee removed the home improvement fraud sections of the bill.  A representative from the Attorney General’s office testified on the bill and the amendments.  The amended bill passed 7-3.

The House Judiciary Committee continued its discussion from last week on SB 524 concerning tax deeds and conveyance documents authored and presented by Sen. Zakas.  An amendment was offered that makes the provision on tax deeds and tax sales effective January 1, 2016, and the provision on recording certain documents effective upon passage; clarifies that if a purchaser fails to include the specified documents with the verified petition, the tax deed is not prima facie evidence of the sale; clarifies that if verified petitions are filed by the county auditor under an agreement with the county treasurer, the tax deed constitutes prima facie evidence of the validity of the sale upon timely production of all copies of the notices, etc., in response to a challenge to a tax deed; and specifies that if the issuance of a tax deed does not constitute prima facie evidence, then the purchaser has the burden of proving the validity of the sale by a preponderance of the evidence.  The amendment was adopted by consent.  The Indiana State Bar testified in support of the amended bill.  The bill passed as amended 10-0.

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.

Judicial Administration

April 9, 2015 | Category: Administration

The House Ways and Means Committee heard SB 217, sponsored by Reps. Gutwein, McNamara and Lawson, on service of process fees collected by a sheriff. This bill requires a sheriff to collect a service of process fee of $25 instead of $13 from a party requesting service of a writ, an order, a process, a notice, a tax warrant, or any other paper completed by the sheriff. It also provides that a sheriff may collect an additional fee for post-judgment service. This additional money will help fund the sheriffs’ pension fund. An amendment was adopted by consent that clarifies that the $25 fee can only be charged once per case. The amended bill passed 24-0.

Probate Law

April 9, 2015 | Category: Probate

The House Judiciary Committee heard SB 65 concerning claim deadlines authored and presented by Sen. Holman. The bill amends provisions related to the time frame for barring claims filed against an estate and the statute of limitations on claims. These provisions would apply to estates when the decedent’s death occurred after June 30, 2015. An amendment was offered that provides a new procedure for filing a notice to preserve a claim with the clerk’s office for a $25 fee. The notice to preserve a claim may be filed at any time after the decedent’s death, before a petition to appoint a personal representative is filed, and not later than nine months after the decedent’s death. This provision specifies what information must be included in the notice to preserve a claim, these notices may be assigned to another any time after filing, and these notices expire18 months after the decedent’s death. The amendment also details the specific circumstances that will result in a barred claim based on key time lines and whether or not a notice to preserve a claim was filed; requires the personal representative to specify the proper deadline for claims on notices served to creditors; and makes conforming amendments to the statute of limitation provisions. The amendment was adopted by consent. The Indiana State Bar Association testified in favor of the bill and amendment. The bill passed as amended 11-0.