INDIANAPOLIS | Several legislative proposals sponsored by Northwest Indiana lawmakers, and other measures set to affect the region, received final approval Wednesday by the Republican-controlled General Assembly.
They now go to Republican Gov. Mike Pence for his signature or veto, including:
Political campaigns — House Enrolled Act 1134, sponsored by state Rep. Shelli VanDenburgh, D-Crown Point, and state Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, prohibits homeowners associations, including gated communities, from enacting or enforcing any rule that blocks a political candidate, his or her spouse or any campaign volunteers from entering the neighborhood for political purposes.
"There are homeowners associations that have overstepped their legal rights, in my opinion, by keeping voters from their elected officials and candidates for office," VanDenburgh said.
State Rep. Hal Slager, R-Schererville, and state Rep. Rick Niemeyer, R-Lowell, voted against the measure. Slager said he believes it infringes on the liberty of homeowners associations to keep out unwanted visitors.
"If you're choosing to live in a gated community where you want to control who gets in, you ought to have that right," Slager said.
The House voted 62-19 to accept a minor Senate change to the proposal.
Student transfers — House Enrolled Act 1079, sponsored by state Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso; state Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond; and Slager, allows school corporations that last year barred new, out-of-district transfer students to now enroll siblings of current transfer students, so long as they also permit out-of-district students who attended an in-district private school last year to enroll. It passed 76-12.
State Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon, D-Munster, voted no. She said schools shouldn't be forced to take even more transfer students just to help the parents of current students get all their children at one school.
"If you want to go to Munster schools, you should pay the additional taxes," she said.
Annexation — House Enrolled Act 1099, sponsored by Niemeyer and state Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, enables Lowell, Winfield and similarly situated communities to annex their existing out-of-town water or wastewater treatment facilities, or a police station, without annexing the land between.
However, once annexed to their owning municipalities any expansion of those facilities onto adjacent land would require approval by the county council.
Similar legislation cleared the House last year but died in the Senate. The House voted 84-4 to concur with the Senate-approved version of this year's proposal.
Turnaround schools — Senate Enrolled Act 205, sponsored by state Sen. Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago, and state Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, gives the State Board of Education three options for ending the takeover of a low-rated school: return the school to the school corporation, turn it into a charter school or begin a new turnaround. It passed 48-0.
Gary's Roosevelt College and Career Academy is in its third year of a turnaround under EdisonLearning. The Indiana Code doesn't currently specify what should happen when a turnaround contract expires after five years.
Miscarried remains — House Enrolled Act 1190, sponsored by Slager and Charbonneau, requires a pregnant woman who miscarries at a medical facility be advised of her right to the remains, information on disposition options and the availability of counseling.
The Senate changed the measure to declare that state burial laws apply if the woman decides to inter a miscarried fetus that had reached 20 weeks gestation. The House voted 89-1 Tuesday to accept the change.
Road funding study — House Enrolled Act 1104, sponsored by Soliday and state Sen. Jim Arnold, D-LaPorte, directs the Indiana Department of Transportation to contract for a study of whether per-mile charges, or other new funding mechanisms, could replace the gasoline tax in paying for future road and bridge construction. It passed 86-0.
Recycling goal — House Enrolled Act 1183, sponsored by Charbonneau, sets a state goal of recycling 50 percent of all municipal waste, and asks that a legislative study committee devise ways of meeting that goal. Senate changes were approved 87-0 by the House.
Bus inspection — Senate Enrolled Act 238, sponsored by Arnold and Randolph, mandates the Indiana State Police establish a program to inspect private buses, such as church buses. The inspection must be completed to register a bus with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. It passed 38-11.
Addiction treatment — House Enrolled Act 1360, sponsored by state Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, authorizes psychiatrists and other professionals specializing in addiction treatment to participate in the state's student loan forgiveness program. It passed 86-0.