IN Focus: New laws take effect in Indiana, abortion law partially blocked

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INDIANAPOLIS – A new month means hundreds of new laws in the state of Indiana.

Here’s a look at some of the new laws that went into effect on July 1, and one that was partially blocked:

Gas tax increase

Indiana’s gas tax will increase by 10 cents just in time for the Fourth of July weekend, when gas prices typically surge thanks to the expected uptick in holiday travelers.

The state legislature passed the increase to help pay for a 20-year infrastructure and road improvement plan. The move is expected to generate $1.2 billion by 2025, according to estimates.

Abortion consent law

An Indiana law requiring a judge to inform parents that their daughter is seeking an abortion was supposed to go into effect on July 1. The law was designed to make it more challenging for minors to get abortions without their parents’ knowledge or consent.

However, a federal judge issued a temporary injunction against the law, blocking three provisions after the ACLU of Indiana and Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky launched a legal challenge.

Rescuing animals from hot cars

Hoosiers who see a pet trapped inside a hot car can take steps to rescue the pet without fear of prosecution.

They’re even allowed to break windows to free the trapped pet, but there is a catch: Good Samaritans will have to pay 50 percent of damages to the vehicle unless the owner decides to pay the entire bill.

A person who intervenes must call 911 before breaking into the vehicle and stay at the scene with the animal until law enforcement officers arrive.

On an 80-degree day, it takes just 20 minutes for the inside of a car to heat up to 110 degrees.

ATV helmets

Children under the age of 18 will have to wear a helmet while riding or operating an off-road vehicle. Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the measure into law in April.

The law means people who own ATVs are liable for a Class C infraction and a $500 fine if they allow children to ride the vehicles on private land without a helmet that meets federal safety guidelines.

A mother pushed for the law after her 11-year-old daughter was killed in an ATV accident in 2015. She was not wearing a helmet.

Online sales tax

Online retailers aren’t required to charge sales tax for Indiana customers unless they have a physical presence in the state. Hoosiers are supposed to pay that tax on their tax returns, but most don’t.

The state pushed to change that with a law requiring online businesses with Indiana sales exceeding $100,000 or making more than 200 transactions per year to collect sales tax.

However, the law could prove difficult to enforce and end up with a flurry of legal challenges. A 1992 Supreme Court ruling is a major obstacle in implementation: the court ruled that business don’t have to collect sales tax unless they’re physically located in a state.

South Dakota passed a similar law in 2016, making it the first state to do so. It faces a legal challenge and is viewed as a key test case on the issue.

Handguns for domestic violence victims

Victims of domestic violence will be able to carry a handgun without a license for 60 days as long as they have a protective order against their abuser.

The bill was at the center of intense debate during the legislative session, with supporters saying the measure would protect domestic violence victims and critics believing the law could put them at risk.

Ban on sales of fake urine

It’s illegal to use fake urine on a drug test, but that hasn’t stopped many people from trying it. The fake urine can be difficult to spot in tests.

Starting July 1, the state of synthetic urine will be illegal in Indiana, a move lawmakers hope will make it more difficult for people to cheat on drug tests.

Limits on opioid prescriptions

Curtailing the state’s opioid problem was a major focus of this year’s legislative session. Gov. Holcomb went to Richmond this week for the ceremonial signing of four bills—which were among the 20 opioid-related bills passed in the spring.

One bill limits the amount of opioids a doctor can prescribe to children and first-time opioid users. There are some exceptions for people struggling with particular diseases such as cancer or those who need it to treat a substance abuse disorder.

New limits on drones

The General Assembly also passed a bill involving drones that goes into effect on July 1.

The law makes it illegal for anyone to use drones for voyeurism or harassment. The bill creates a “remote aerial voyeurism” crime aimed at sex offenders who use drones inappropriately.

A first violation of the law is a misdemeanor carrying a year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. A second violation can be elevated to a felony.

In addition, the bill makes it illegal to use a drone to interfere with public safety officials like police and firefighters.

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