Earlier this year, Indiana House Democrats fled the statehouse for five weeks.
However, despite the time away, state legislators participating in the 2011 Indiana General Assembly were still able to get more than 230 bills signed into law by Governor Mitch Daniels.
The following is a brief breakdown of some of the new legislation which will go into effect July 1:
House Bill 1074 states beginning in 2012, school board members will be elected to their positions during General Elections, and begin serving their terms the following Jan. 1. In addition, House Bill 1190, allows candidates for school board positions to continue to be included on the ballot under a nonpartisan title.
Also, Senate Bill 32 states all counties now have the option to establish vote centers, while Senate Bill 80 requires election material related to provisional ballots be made available under the access to public records law in the same manner as other election material.
Senate Bill 1 establishes an annual staff performance evaluation which will categorize teachers as "highly effective," "effective," "improvement necessary" or "ineffective. According to the bill, teachers receiving a rating of "ineffective" or "improvement necessary" may not receive a raise or increment for the following year, and a student may not be instructed two years in a row by two different teachers rated as "ineffective" in the year preceding the student's placement in the class, if avoidable.
In addition, Senate Bill 176 specifies an applicant for an initial teaching license be trained and certified in the use of an automated external defibrillator. Also, those seeking renewal of a teaching license after June 30, 2012, also be trained and certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, removing a foreign body causing an obstruction in an airway as well as the Heimlich maneuver.
Also, Senate Bill 93 provides guidelines regarding concussions and head injuries in student athletes. Prior to the start of practice for a sport, a form acknowledging receipt of such safety information must be filled out. In the event a student athlete sustains a head injury, the player may not return to activity until they have been evaluated and received written clearance from a licensed health care provider trained in evaluating head injuries.
Both Senate Bill 57 and House Bill 1102 establish the definitions for "synthetic cannabinoid" and "Salvia," along with making possessing, dealing in, manufacturing or delivering such substances the equivalent of similar actions with marijuana, hash oil or hashish, including the related penalties.
In November 2010, the Clay County Commissioners passed an ordinance banning the sale of synthetic marijuana, including "K2" and "Spice," within the county.
Use of telecommunications while driving
House Bill 1129 establishes a Class C infraction may be filed on an individual found in violation of utilizing a telecommunications device to type, transmit or read a text or e-mail message while operating a motor vehicle. At the same time, the bill allows an individual to use a hands-free or voice-operated device to transmit such messages. Also, a police officer is prohibited from confiscating such devices for the purpose of determining compliance or to retain it as evidence pending trial for a violation.
Other bills of note going into effect include:
* House Bill 1402 -- Prohibits illegal aliens from paying the resident tuition rate determined by a state educational institution,
* Senate Bill 338 -- Requires a worksite speed limit to be at least 10 miles per hour below the maximum established limit on a respective location on a road or highway. Violations are classified as a Class B infraction, and the Indiana Department of Transportation may use funds collected as judgments on such infractions to hire off-duty police officers to patrol highway work zones, and
* House Bill 1288 -- Provides that a civil taxing unit's maximum property tax levy may not be reduced in the event the unit does not use its entire levy in the preceding year. The terms of the bill also applies to school corporations.
A full digest of bills enacted and signed into law by Daniels in 2011 may be viewed at www.in.gov/legislative/index.htm.