INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana General Assembly has discussed several proposals to start the 2015 legislative session. State Senator John Broden (D-South Bend) has authored a number of initiatives, focusing on issues related to child care affordability and children safety.

Solemnizing a marriage

In addition to any judge, mayor, city clerk or clergy member of a religious organization, SB 64 would allow a notary public to solemnize, or perform, a marriage. A notary public is a public official with legal training and licensed by the government to perform acts in legal affairs.  To become a notary in Indiana, one must be 18 years or older, a resident of the state and file an application.

Eligibility for child care voucher

To make child care more affordable and expand eligibility for the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), SB 129 would allow a child that is eligible for participation in the CCDF voucher program to be eligible to participate in the program if the child’s family income does not exceed 200 percent of the federal income poverty level and may continue to participate as long as the child’s family income does not exceed 250 percent of the federal income poverty level. The proposal would also make an appropriation for the expanded eligibility requirements.

Driving authority permits and learner’s permits

SB 362 would allow for the issuance of driving authority permits, probationary driving authority permits, and driving authority learner’s permits to residents of Indiana who cannot provide proof of identity and lawful status in the United States. The proposal would require these permits not be used for federal identification or for any federal purposes and that an individual who holds such a permit and operates a motor vehicle must ensure that required financial responsibility on the motor vehicle is continuously maintained in the amounts required by law. The proposal would also require conforming amendments and removing outdated language

Child molestation

To strengthen penalties against offenders convicted of child molestation, Sen. Broden proposed SB 363 to enhance the penalty for sex crimes against children that result in a sexually transmitted disease (STD). The legislation would enhance the penalty from a Level 3 to a Level 1 felony for child molestation that results in the victim contracting a “dangerous STD”.  Under the proposal, an STD would be defined as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), herpes, gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia or hepatitis. A level 1 felony carries a sentence of between 20 and 40 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

Department of Child Services reporting

Sen. Broden filed legislation to clarify the definition of near-fatalities in cases dealing with children. The proposal would make disclosures more transparent and ultimately help protect children. SB 364 would change the definition of “near fatality” for purposes of the law concerning records relating to a child’s death or near fatality to a severe childhood injury or condition that results in the child receiving critical care for at least 24 hours following the child’s admission to a critical care unit. The new definition is closely modeled on the federal definition of “near fatality”.

Confidential victim services requests

SB 289 would permit, 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

Sen. Broden represents Senate District 10, which includes the cities of South Bend and Mishawaka, and portions of Portage, Penn, Centre and Clay townships in St. Joseph County. For more information on Sen. Broden, visit www.IN.gov/s10.

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