July 1 marks start date for several new laws around Indiana

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – July 1 marks the start date for dozens of new laws around the state of Indiana.

The laws affect a broad range of topics from electric scooters to stopping for school buses, hate crimes and more. Here’s a look at some of them:

Hate crimes

The General Assembly passed Senate Enrolled Act 198, which Gov. Holcomb signed into law in April. The law includes explicit protections for victims of crimes based on color, creed, disability, national origin, race, religion and sexual orientation. It does not, however, include protections for age, gender or gender identity.

Critics of law said it’s too vague. However, the governor and other supporters said the law gives a judge leeway to consider bias in a crime and allows for an enhancement that adds more time to a sentence.

Failure to stop for school buses

Drivers who pass a school bus when the stop arm is out will face harsher penalties, including the suspension of their driver’s license. If a driver fails to stop for a school bus with its stop arm extended and causes an injury or death, that individual will face a felony.

Lawmakers drafted the bill after a crash in Rochester killed three children and seriously injured a fourth last year.

Citizenship test requirement

Every high school student will be required to take the naturalization test given to immigrants hoping to become U.S. citizens as part of a mandatory government course. The exam tests students on their basic knowledge of how the U.S. government works as well as U.S. history. Passage of the test won’t affect graduation requirements.

Department of Child Services changes

Caseworkers will have more time for initial assessments when a child is reported to be in danger. The way their caseloads are counted will change, making it easier to meet required levels. Foster parents will also play a larger role in long-term child welfare cases.

The agency faces a lawsuit concerning its practices.

Animal cruelty

A new animal cruelty law prohibits someone convicted of an animal abuse offense from owning, harboring or training a pet. The law outlines 13 types of animal abuse offenses including animal fighting, neglect, and cruelty to a service animal, among other offenses.

A separate law requires animal control programs to put an animal down only by “humane euthanasia.”

Scooters

Scooter use on interstates is banned while local governments can regulate where scooters can be used. The state law also defines scooters at electric foot scooters and puts them in the same class as bicycles, meaning they can be used on sidewalks and trails

Revenge porn

It’s a crime to distribute an intimate image of another person without their consent. Doing so is a misdemeanor punishable by a 1-year sentence and a $5,000 fine. Repeat offenders will face a felony charge.

A separate law allows for civil action against someone who engages in revenge porn.

Fertility fraud

After Dr. Donald Cline was convicted of artificially inseminating patients with his own sperm, the General Assembly passed a law allowing patients to sue in cases of fertility fraud. Senate Enrolled Act 174 allows for civil action in such cases and increases the penalty for fertility deception to a Level 6 felony.

Gaming

Lawmakers made significant changes to the state’s gaming laws with the expansive House Enrolled Act 1015. Facilities can start seeking licenses for sports betting on July 1. In September, sports wagering will become legal online, in-person and at approved gambling facilities for people 21 and over. The law prohibits betting on e-sports or amateur athletes 18 and under.

The start date for horse race tracks to use live table games will be moved up to January 2020. The law also increases the number and type of facilities a gaming operator can own.

Veterans’ issues

Gov. Holcomb signed House Bill 1257, which calls for reforms for an Indiana Department of Veterans Affairs grant program that drew scrutiny after an investigation from our media partners with the IndyStar.

The investigation found employees of the agency were able to get emergency grants through the Military Family Relief Fund. An independent commission will now handle grant applications instead of employees.

A separate law makes direct family members of returning veterans eligible for in-state tuition at Indiana’s public universities, regardless of whether they’ve lived in Indiana before.

Those are just a few of the new laws going into effect July 1. You can find all the bills Gov. Holcomb signed into law here.

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