INDIANAPOLIS – Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane (D-Anderson) 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. Lanane’s legislation focused on establishing the state’s first independent redistricting committee, improving the state’s casino and gaming industry, ethics reform and creating a student bi-literacy recognition program.

Redistricting

Sen. Lanane spearheaded a proposal he has repeatedly offered that creates a special committee to study and make changes to the state’s redistricting process.  House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1003 is a first step toward redistricting reform in Indiana as the committee will evaluate challenges, benefits and other issues associated with drawing electoral district boundaries. Currently, the state constitution mandates that legislative and congressional districts shall be drawn by the legislature every 10 years following the U.S. Census collection of new population data. To reduce political influence in the redistricting process, 12 states now authorize a body or commission other than the state legislature to redraw district boundaries. The Interim Study Committee on Redistricting will evaluate the structure and methods that other states utilize to establish new procedures for Indiana when districts are next redrawn in 2021.

 Gaming

Sen. Lanane sponsored HEA 1540,  which makes changes to the state’s gaming industry, in order to allow the industry to have a greater impact on economic development. One major change to current law will permit riverboat casinos to move inland to adjacent properties and become land-based. The act opens the door to allowing 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. Sen. Lanane stated his disappointment that live dealers were not allowed at racinos immediately to create jobs at facilities like Hoosier Park in Anderson. The act also urges study of the revenue and taxes generated from gaming to determine how gaming revenue is shared with local municipalities.

Ethics

Lawmakers have crafted a bipartisan ethics reform proposal that focuses on transparency and accountability. Sen. Lanane helped to craft HEA 1002 requiring lawmakers to be more transparent regarding their finances and business interests, and prohibits elected officials from using state resources – employees and equipment – from being used for political gain. The act mandates ethics training for lawmakers and creates an Ethics Oversight Office within the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency (LSA). The act sets new requirements for legislative statements of economic interests that would require lawmakers to disclose active business investment of at least $5,000.

 Biliteracy

Another initiative authored by Sen. Lanane recognizes students who study more than one language. Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 267 creates the State Bi-literacy Program to be administered by the Department of Education. Participating students who show proficiency in both English and one other language will receive a Certificate of Bi-literacy that will appear on their high school transcripts to highlight this skill for the use of future employers and admissions offices in their considerations.

Serious sex offenders

Sen. Lanane authored SEA 522 to increase the penalty of a serious sex offender entering school grounds to a Level 6 felony. Provisions were included in the bill to allow offenders with polling places on school properties to vote by mail or be provided transportation to alternative voting locations. A serious sex offender will be notified upon discharge of imprisonment of their voting options by the Department of Corrections.

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