INDIANAPOLIS—State Senator Mark Stoops (D-Bloomington) proposed several initiatives that were approved by the General Assembly during the recently adjourned legislative session. Several of the proposals address concerns regarding child care, the elderly and environmental issues. These initiatives are expected to be signed into law by the governor, and most will become effective July 1, 2014.

Sen. Stoops co-authored Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 50, which enforces regulations prohibiting the use of tanning beds by individuals 16 years of age or younger, unless a parent or guardian signs a release form in the presence of the tanning facility operator. The proposal was a recommendation from the Health Finance Commission, which studied this topic last year. Testimony revealed that tanning bed use, especially among children and teens, has brought on an increased risk of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers associated with artificial tanning partly due to the fact that artificial tanning lamps and beds generate up to 10 to 15 times more damaging UV light than sunlight.

SEA 180, co-authored by Sen. Stoops, is geared to address the needs of veterans who have suffered brain injuries or Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). SEA 180 establishes the Indiana Veteran Recovery Program to provide certain services for veterans who have traumatic brain injuries or PTSD. The measure establishes the Veterans Disability Clinic Fund to provide funding for grants to qualified law schools that maintain a veterans’ disability clinic. In addition, SEA 180 requires the state Department of Health to study and report findings and recommendations to the Legislative Council not later than September 1, 2014, concerning implementation of a program for the treatment of veterans who have traumatic brain injury or suffer from PTSD.

Sponsored by Sen. Stoops, House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1183 aims to cut down the amount of municipal waste in Indiana by setting a recycling goal of at least 50 percent of all municipal waste. HEA 1183 requires that recyclers must report to the commissioner of the Department of Environmental Management on the recycling activities conducted either quarterly or annually. Also, HEA 1183 requires IDEM to develop a uniform recycling activity report form on the department’s internet website for recyclers to utilize. Annual reports will be required by IDEM on the information gained through the reports submitted by the recyclers. Lastly, HEA 1183 urges the Legislative Council to assign a study committee to investigate recycling efforts in Indiana during the 2014 interim.

Co-Sponsored by Sen. Stoops, HEA 1036 seeks to provide a safer environment for children in child care facilities. HB 1036 includes tougher regulations for all child care facilities that receive tax dollars through the federal Child Care and Development Fund. The bill targets more than 1,200 unlicensed day care centers in the state including church-run day cares and other unlicensed facilities. Among new requirements included in HEA 1036 are limits on the number of children these day care centers can serve and how many children one caregiver can oversee. A provision requiring that children be provided with nutritional meals, snacks, access to drinking water and daily activities is also included in the legislation. Another provision requires mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse. In addition, the legislation requires caregivers to receive at least 12 hours of continuing education annually. An investigation conducted by the Indianapolis Star found that since 2009 at least 31 children have died in Indiana day care facilities. Twenty-one of those deaths occurred in unlicensed or illegal day cares.

Sen. Stoops co-sponsored HEA 1384, which prohibits a police officer from extracting or otherwise downloading cellular data from a telecommunications device without the owner’s consent for a violation of the law concerning typing, transmitting, or reading a text message while operating a motor vehicle. Exceptions include when the police officer has probable cause to believe that the device has been used in the commission of a crime, the information is extracted or otherwise downloaded under a valid search warrant or otherwise authorized by law. This act also applies to a person who police believe has committed an infraction or ordinance violation. In this case, an officer may not, without the person’s consent, extract or otherwise download information from a cellular telephone or another wireless or cellular communications device possessed by the person unless the officer has probable cause to believe that the cellular telephone or other wireless or cellular communications device has been used in the commission of a crime, the information is extracted or otherwise downloaded under a valid search warrant or otherwise authorized by law.

HEA 1391, co-sponsored by Sen. Stoops, establishes the Living Pilot Program and the eligibility guidelines to participate in this program. Under the act, the Division of Aging must administer, monitor, and provide information on the program. The legislation provides that residential nursing care facilities cannot use health care facility beds as comprehensive care beds, unless the Department of Health recognizes that a facility is over a 90 percent comprehensive care bed occupancy rate.

Sen. Stoops represents Indiana Senate District 40, which includes portions of Monroe County, including the City of Bloomington. For more information on Sen. Stoops, his legislative agenda or other State Senate business call 1-800-382-9467 or visit