INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana General Assembly has discussed several proposals to start the 2015 legislative session. State Senator Lonnie M. Randolph (D-East Chicago) has authored a number of initiatives, focusing on issues related to criminal justice, economic development and death penalty.
Fire protection district per diems
To provide an additional incentive and motivate members of the community to get involved or participate in public safety, SB 16 proposes an increase from $20 to $30 in the maximum amount that a member of the Board of Fire Trustees of a fire protection district may receive for each day that the member devotes to the work of the district.
Grandparent and great-grandparent visitation
Sen. Randolph proposed SB 18 to help strengthen the sanctity of family in child visitation matters. The proposal would allow grandparents and great-grandparents to seek visitation rights with their grandchildren and great-grandchildren in certain circumstances. The proposal would also establish factors for the court to consider when determining if granting a grandparent or great-grandparent visitation rights is in the best interests of the child, as well as if a grandparent or great-grandparent should pay a reasonable fee for gaining rights of visitation.
Media production expenditure tax credit
To expose an area to further development and investment, SB 21 would reestablish the tax credit offered for media production expenditures in Indiana that expired in 2012. In order to qualify for the tax credit, expenditures must exceed $50,000 and no more than $6,000,000. The amount of credit is determined on the location of the production and its cost.
Charity gaming operations
SB 22 would allow workers at charity gaming events to receive compensation for their work of up to $50. The charity organization may also provide meals and or recognition dinners for workers as long as it does not exceed an unreasonable expenditure in the conduct of the event. Full-time employees and volunteer ticket agents who sell tickets are ineligible to the aforementioned benefits. The proposal would relocate the prohibition on paying volunteer ticket agents to the statute imposing other rules on the use of a volunteer ticket agent.
Economic development incentive accountability
The annual “Economic Incentives and Compliance Report” in current law would be renamed to the “Job Creation Incentives and Compliance Report” (report) under SB 23. The proposal would require an incentive recipient to submit a publicly available annual compliance report on the number of jobs created or retained, employee pay and various other information concerning the use of the incentives.
Protective orders and employment
An individual would not be subject to disqualification from eligibility for unemployment benefits because of discharge from the individual’s employment due to circumstances directly related to the individual’s filing of a petition for a protective order and an employer would not be terminate an employee or discriminate against an employee with respect to compensation, benefits, or terms and conditions of employment based on the filing by the employee of a petition for a protective order, whether or not the order has been issued under Sen. Randolph’s proposal of SB 133.
Battery on a sports official
To help improve the integrity of the game, SB 134 would increase the penalty for battery if it is committed against a person certified as a referee, an umpire, or an athletic official. Simple battery would be increased from a Class B misdemeanor to a felony and the defendant could be imprisoned for up to 30 months. Battery causing bodily injury would be classified as a felony instead of a Class A misdemeanor and be imprisoned for one to six years. Sen. Randolph proposed this bill in reaction to the behavior of fans at sports games, especially basketball, in the area he is from in East-Chicago.
Health facility employee criminal background check
According to SB 135, all health facilities would be required to obtain a national criminal history background check or an expanded criminal history check for all health facility’s employees. The initiative would provide immunity to individuals for denying or terminating employment because of another person’s criminal history or for reporting to or participating in the proceedings of the State Department of Health or the Registry of Nurse Aides.
Death sentence elimination and life imprisonment
SB 136 would abolish the death penalty and repeal the law concerning the imposition and execution of death sentences and would make conforming amendments. The proposal would sentence a person to life imprisonment without parole if that person was sentenced to death and is awaiting execution of the death sentence. Defendants charged with murder sentenced with life imprisonment without parole would be able to file a petition alleging that the defendant is an individual with mental retardation.
Magistrates and criminal trials
In an effort to maintain fairness, SB 137 would require the same judge who tries a case to also hand down sentencing. This would eliminate a third party with little or no knowledge of a case from having an effect on the outcome of the case.
Prosecutorial consent with expungements
SB 138 would require a prosecuting attorney to file objections to an expungement petition, a type of lawsuit in which a first time offender of a prior criminal conviction seeks that the records of that earlier process be sealed, thereby making the records unavailable through the state or Federal repositories, with the court and serve a copy on the petitioner and that the court shall set a hearing regarding the objections if the court finds there is just cause to the objections.
Parole eligibility for certain offenders
A person would be eligible for consideration on parole under SB 139 if a person was sentenced to more than one term of life imprisonment without parole upon conviction of more than one felony and at least one of the person’s felony convictions was for kidnapping.
Tax credit for hiring certain individuals
SB 140 would provide a nonrefundable tax credit to a small business for employing an individual who is receiving unemployment benefits or returning from military service (qualified new employee) and that the small business must employ a greater number of full-time employees in Indiana in the taxable year than the small business employed in Indiana, on average, in the small business’s base employment period (generally January 1, 2014, through June 30, 2014). The credit would apply only to taxable years beginning in 2015 through 2017 and the credit is $3,000 per qualified new employee, not to exceed $100,000 per small business. The small business could carry any excess credit over to not more than three subsequent taxable years. The small business would forfeit 50% of the amount of the tax credits attributable to the employment of a qualified new employee, if within 18 months after the qualified new employee was initially hired the qualified new employee is terminated, laid off, or otherwise reclassified to a position that is not a full-time employment position with the small business or the position created for the qualified new employee is eliminated
Small business council established
SB 141 would establish the Small Business Council (Council) to provide oversight and guidance to the Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship (Office), designate the membership of the Council and specify the duties of the Council. It would also require the Office to report to the Council at least twice a year and the Council to submit an annual report to the Legislative Council. The Office would not be able to refuse to provide assistance or information to an individual or entity because of the individual’s or entity’s income or other compensation, credit history, credit score, employment history, or criminal history under the proposal.
Beverage container deposits
In an effort to encourage recycling, beginning in 2016, returnable beverage containers would be a required use under Sen. Randolph’s SB 142. A $0.10 refundable deposit would be received for each container and manufacturers or distributors would be the originator of the deposit. Retailers would have to make cash refunds to consumers and distributors to make cash refunds to retailers. An originator of deposits would have to file a deposit report with the state and pay any excess deposits the originator collects and excess deposits are to be used to compensate retailers for taking returns, to cover administrative costs of the state, and to provide revenue to the Recycling Promotion and Assistance Fund. The Department of State Revenue would be the administrator of the beverage container deposit program. A penalty for a general violation of the law would be $100 to $1,000 plus costs and attorney’s fees associated with a civil action filed to collect the penalty. A person who returns or attempts to return nonreturnable containers would commit either a Class C infraction if it involves at least 25 but not more than 100 nonreturnable containers or a Class C misdemeanor if it involves more than 100 nonreturnable containers or is a second or subsequent violation. The person would also have to pay the amount of loss caused to the retailer by the violation and retailers would be required to post a sign setting forth these penalties.
State park admission for disabled veterans
Disabled veterans would not be charged a fee for a Golden Hoosier Passport, which entitles the holder, the holder’s vehicle, and passengers in the holder’s vehicle to unlimited admission to state parks and other Department of Natural Resources (DNR) properties for which an admission fee is charged under Sen. Randolph’s SB 349. This would encourage the visitation of disabled veterans to state parks.
East Chicago school board
SB 350 would reduce the number of members of the governing body of the School City of East Chicago from nine to five, beginning January 1, 2017. If a vacancy occurs on the governing body before January 1, 2017, the vacancy would not be filled unless the vacancy reduces the number of members to fewer than five. Three members of the governing body would be elected at large by the voters of the city, one member would be appointed by the city executive, and one member by the city legislative body. Adoption subsidy payments
In an effort to strengthen and amend broken families, Sen. Randolph proposed SB 351 which would require the Department of Child Services (DCS) to enter into an agreement, with each adoptive parent of a child with special needs who is eligible to provide an adoption subsidy for the child and allocate funds to the Adoption Assistance Account necessary to make the adoption subsidy payments. The proposal would also prohibit the DCS from terminating an adoption subsidy agreement with adoptive parents due to insufficient funds in the Adoption Assistance Account.
Sen. Randolph represents Indiana Senate District 2 which encompasses portions of Lake County, including the communities of East Chicago, Whiting, and portions of Gary, Griffith, Hammond, Hobart and Merrillville.For more information on Sen. Randolph, his legislative agenda or other State Senate business call 1-800-382-9467 or visit www.IN.gov/s2.