INDIANAPOLIS –State Senator Jim Arnold (D-LaPorte) proposed a number of bills during the legislative session that were approved by the General Assembly and are expected to be signed into law by the governor. Most new laws become effective July 1, 2015. Sen. Arnold’s proposals focused on improving the status of Hoosier veterans, law enforcement and public safety training and making improvements to the state’s gaming industry.
Service Members Civil Relief Act
Sen. Arnold spearheaded the development of the state’s first Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) to compliment the federal SCRA. House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1456 includes additional protections for Hoosier servicemembers on active duty and their families from obligations specific to Indiana that may not be covered under the federal SCRA, such as utility disruptions, debt collections, evictions, foreclosures and judicial proceedings. The state Attorney General’s Office will have jurisdiction under this act to respond to violations of the SCRA.
Veteran Preference Employment Policy
Sen. Arnold championed an effort allowing private employers to implement a voluntarily program and give veterans a preference in hiring, promotion or retention in private employment. Sen. Arnold noted the stubbornly high unemployment rate facing Hoosier veterans and hope Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 298 will provide veterans with an additional opportunity to find employment. A similar policy is utilized by state government and complies with local and state equal employment opportunity laws.
Northwest Indiana Law Enforcement Training
SEA 193, authored by Sen. Arnold, designates the Northwest Indiana Law Enforcement Academy (NILEA) as a criminal justice agency and a board-certified training center. Formed in 1982, the organization’s inception was in response to a legislative mandate that all police officers in Indiana have a minimum of 16 hours of in-service training to maintain their certification as law enforcement officers.
Fire Training Academy
With HEA 1182, Sen. Arnold worked to develop a fire and public safety academy training system to create and conduct programs to train public safety personnel. The act allows the fire training academy to develop the training programs in cooperation with other agencies, organizations and educational institutions.
In a move to cut maintenance costs, open harbor space and encourage interstate competition with neighboring states, Sen. Arnold worked to improve Indiana’s gaming industry by allowing riverboat casinos to move inland. HEA 1540 will permit riverboat casinos to convert to land-based operations and opens the door to allow live dealers to replace electronic table games at the state’s two racinos in the future, a move that when enacted, could generate hundreds of jobs. The law also urges study of the revenue and taxes generated from gaming to determine how gaming revenue is shared with local municipalities.
Confidential Victim Services Request
Sen. Arnold authored a new law permitting, for purposes of the Public Records Law, a law enforcement agency to share certain information with a crime victim advocate without the agency losing the discretion to keep this information confidential from other persons requesting records. SEA 298 was brought by several sheriffs and prosecutors who testified that it would help domestic violence victims receive proper help and not be re-victimized.
Statute of Limitations for Rape
To allow prosecutors the ability to file rape charges after the current five-year statute of limitations, Sen. Arnold co-authored SEA 98 that would eliminate any statute of limitations for rape if certain requirements are met. These requirements include if the state first discovers DNA evidence sufficient to charge an offender, the state becomes aware of the existence of a recording that provides evidence sufficient to charge an offender or a person confesses to the offense. Charges can be filed up to one year after the new evidence is acquired.
Sen. Arnold represents District 8 in the Indiana State Senate which encompasses the majority of LaPorte County including the City of LaPorte and the eastern part of Michigan City. It also includes western St. Joseph County and Davis, Oregon, Washington, Center and Jackson townships in Starke County. For more information on Sen. Arnold, his legislative agenda or other State Senate business call 1-800-382-9467 or visit www.IN.gov/S8.