INDIANAPOLIS | State lawmakers this summer will review possible expansion plans for the South Shore Line and consider changes to the membership of its operating board, under a measure signed into law last week by Republican Gov. Mike Pence.
House Enrolled Act 1450 requires the General Assembly's transportation and infrastructure study committee take an in-depth look at South Shore funding and potentially expanding into south Lake County.
The panel also will consider whether Lake County should have a majority of the membership of the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District board, since Lake County riders outnumber all others.
State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster, was House sponsor of the new law. It was sponsored in the Senate by state Sens. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso; Sue Landske, R-Cedar Lake; and Earline Rogers, D-Gary.
The South Shore proposal was among 17 new laws Pence signed last week. He's now signed 76 measures approved by the Republican-controlled House and Senate into law and vetoed zero.
Other laws signed last week that were primarily sponsored by Northwest Indiana legislators include:
- Emergency assistance: House Enrolled Act 1111 allows trained police, paramedics or emergency medical technicians to provide tactical emergency medicine, in the field instead of at a hospital, following a civil disturbance or natural disaster. House Enrolled Act 1325 authorizes the state to pay local governments to temporarily replace employees serving in a mobile support unit for disaster relief.
Both new laws were sponsored by state Sen. Jim Arnold, D-LaPorte, a former LaPorte County sheriff. Charbonneau and state Sen. Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago, co-sponsored the tactical emergency medicine law.
- Government retirement: House Enrolled Act 1148, sponsored by state Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, reduces the number of years of state or local government employment needed to qualify for the employee contribution retirement plan to five years from 10, and sets a normal retirement age of 62 with at least five years of service.
- State police death benefit: House Enrolled Act 1028, sponsored by Arnold and Randolph, increases the supplemental death benefit paid to the families of deceased state police officers to $20,000 from $14,500.
- Toxicology fees: House Enrolled Act 1458 empowers the state Department of Toxicology to raise the fees it charges local governments for certification, maintenance and training on breath-testing equipment. Randolph and state Rep. Chuck Moseley, D-Portage, sponsored the law.
- Locomotive bells: House Enrolled Act 1310, sponsored by Landske, eliminates the requirement a train engineer hand-flag every railroad crossing if a locomotive's bell stops operating. The new law allows the locomotive to rely on other crossing warnings so long as its whistle still works.
-Consumer lawsuits: House Enrolled Act 1558, sponsored by Moseley and Randolph, requires lawmakers study the issue of consumer lawsuit lending and the ability to sell the future benefits of successful consumer lawsuits.