INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana General Assembly is underway and Senate Democrat Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) has authored a number of initiatives, focusing on redistricting, civil rights, and combating Indiana’s HIV epidemic.

Redistricting commission

Currently, state lawmakers are charged with drawing legislative districts after the Census every 10 years. Senate Bill (SB) 278 would establish a redistricting commission to create, hold hearings on, take public comment about and recommend plans to redraw legislative and congressional districts. By placing that duty in the hands of an independent commission, Sen. Lanane believes it would preserve the integrity of legislative elections and ensure fairness and competitiveness.

Prohibited discrimination in civil rights statutes

Currently, 18 states provide statewide civil rights protections for sexual orientation and gender identity. In Indiana, most protections for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community exist at the local level in a handful of counties and cities with ordinances. SB 487 would establish statewide protections for the LGBT community in Indiana’s Civil Rights statutes.

Fighting the state’s HIV epidemic

Currently, sexual assault victims who test HIV positive are not reimbursed for the administration of prophylactic medication. SB 279 would change the definition of “additional forensic services” to include HIV prophylactic medication, and remove discretionary reimbursement for the service.

Children in need of services

SB 280 addresses juvenile prostitution and human trafficking crimes. The measure includes a new definition for juvenile prostitution, provides that prostitution is a criminal offense only if committed by a person who is at least 18 years of age, and provides that a person less than 18 who is engaged in juvenile prostitution is considered a juvenile prostitution victim. The bill adds juvenile prostitution to elements involving prostitution in human trafficking crimes. In addition, the bill provides that a juvenile prostitution victim who needs care, treatment, or rehabilitation from the court is a child in need of services.

Emergency rules for outdoor event equipment

SB 486 seeks to extend the authority of the Fire Prevention and Building Safety Commission to adopt temporary rules in the manner of emergency rules to govern outdoor event equipment until April 1, 2018. Safety requirements for design and construction of outdoor stages expired on Jan, 1, 2016 and no further action was taken by former Governor Pence to reinstate those regulations.

School concussion recovery guidelines

In continuing efforts to deal with the issue of head injuries in school sports, Sen. Lanane has introduced SB 359. This proposal would require the Department of Education to develop and disseminate, before July 1, 2018, guidelines to school corporations concerning suggested protocols for a student who has received a concussion or brain injury to return to classroom work.

Driving authority permits

SB 488 provides for the issuance of driving authority permits, probationary driving authority permits, and learner’s driving authority permits to residents of Indiana who cannot provide proof of identity and lawful status in the United States. The bill provides that permits may not be used for federal identification or any federal purposes. It also requires that an individual who holds a permit and operates a motor vehicle must verify that financial responsibility on any motor vehicle that the holder operates is continuously maintained in the amounts required by law.