INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana General Assembly has discussed several proposals to start the 2015 legislative session. State Senator Frank Mrvan (D-Hammond) has authored a number of initiatives, focusing on issues related to minimum wage, economic development and tuition exemption.

Minimum wage for certain Indiana employees

Senate Bill (SB) 160, drafted by Senator Mrvan, seeks to help the economic growth of Indiana by boosting the wages of nearly 1,600 state employees. The proposal calls for an increase of minimum wage on June 30, 2015 from $7.25 to $8.50 per hour, and another increase on June 30, 2016 from $8.50 to $10.00 per hour. This would help both part-time and full-time employees.

Economic development incentive accountability

In order to increase transparency and reporting of job creation incentive dollars distributed by the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), SB 162 would require a clear record of all taxpayer-funded economic development incentive spending.  All records would be disclosed under the open records law. In addition, SB 162 would require that the IEDC’s yearly report be posted on the Indiana Transparency Portal website along with the IEDC and the Department of State Revenue (DOR) to compile information on all job creating incentives granted, including the total amount of uncollected or diverted state tax revenues resulting from each incentive which would then have to be included in IEDC’s annual Job Creation Incentives and Compliance Report.

The proposal would repeal and replace the definition of “job creation incentive” without change to maintain alphabetical order and would make technical corrections.

Tuition exemption for children of veterans

Under current law, a veteran’s child can receive free tuition at a state educational institution if the veteran served during a war or performed hazardous duty recognized by an aware of campaign medal. SB 552 would remove this requirement to allow more students of veterans free access to post-secondary education.

Statute of limitations on rape

To allow victims of rape an appropriate amount of time to file charges Sen. Mrvan proposed SB 519 that would eliminate any statute of limitations for rape. Victims could be under custody of the accused and feel uncomfortable or unsafe reporting a rape until after they are out of custody which could surpass the current five year statute of limitations.

Vote fraud and public employment

In order to prevent those with a history of voter fraud from further affecting state and local offices, SB 161 would bar those convicted of fraud from being employed by the state, municipality or township for a period of three years. However, if the offense was found to be committed due to a fear of employment retaliation, the court may modify or suspend the prevention of employment under this proposal.

Improper worker classification

SB 163 would authorize the Department of State Revenue, the Department of Labor, the Worker’s Compensation Board, and the Department of Workforce Development to issue summons and question witnesses, who would be under oath, when conducting an investigation of any suspected improper worker classification by a construction contractor. The authorized departments would be permitted to release any investigation records. In addition, the Workers Compensation Board would be allowed to issue stop work orders as a solution against an employer who does not have the required insurance or satisfactory proof of self-insurance. The proposal would also issue a civil penalty of $1,000 for each day an employer violates a stop-work order.

School buses

A school bus driver would have to load and unload a student as close as possible to the right-hand curb when driving on a highway under SB 520. The proposal would make changes to prerequisites for bidders to receive school transportation contracts to the provision regarding when school bus drivers must obtain a physical examination. It would also add a provision indicating what type of vehicle must be used to transport foster care students to the students’ school of origin and would repeal a provision concerning inspection requirements for special purpose school buses.

Restroom access for certain retail customers

Sen. Mrvan proposed SB 521 that would require a retail establishment with a toilet facility on its premises to allow a customer to use the toilet facility during normal business hours if certain conditions are met. These conditions include a customer that has Crohn’s disease or another medical condition requiring the customer to have immediate access to a toilet facility. If the retail establishment refuses the customer to use the restroom, the establishment would be issued a Class C infraction and a civil judgment of up to $100 would be imposed. The establishment would be provided immunity from civil liability for any act or omission in allowing the customer to use the employee toilet facility if all of the conditions are met, provided that the act or omission is not willful or grossly negligent and occurs in an area of the retail establishment that is not accessible to the public.

Serious sex offenders

Entering school property by a convicted sex offender would have an enhanced penalty of a Level 6 felony under SB 522. If a sex offender has a polling place that is located on a school property, they would have to be notified by a circuit court clerk before an election, and be provided the opportunity to vote by mail or have transportation to a clerk’s office, satellite office, or vote center in order to vote. The Department of Corrections (DOC) would be required to inform a serious sex offender at the time of discharge from the DOC the infraction charges and voting alternatives.

Mrvan represents Indiana Senate District 1 which includes portions of Lake County. District 1 communities include Hammond, Munster, Highland, Dyer, Schererville and Griffith as well as two precincts in Crown Point. For more information on Sen. Mrvan his legislative agenda or other State Senate business call 1-800-382-9467 or visit www.IN.gov/S1.

 

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