INDIANAPOLIS | Gov. Mike Pence has agreed to loan the Indianapolis Motor Speedway $100 million in state funds to pay for renovations, video boards and other improvements to the home of the Indianapolis 500 auto race.
The Republican governor signed House Enrolled Act 1544 into law Friday. The measure does not require the speedway's owners directly repay the loan; instead, race fans will be charged a new ticket fee and any increases in state sales or income tax revenue recorded at the speedway will be credited against the debt.
The new law also creates a $5 million revolving loan fund to support other motorsports businesses in Indiana.
Pence said the law is a signal that Indiana is willing to support one of its most important industries.
"The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has contributed to the life of our state for more than a century, enhancing the global reputation of Indiana," Pence said. "The legislation I signed today makes a state investment that will further economic development in the motorsports industry while also protecting the interests of Hoosier taxpayers."
The first-year governor also signed into law a proposal reducing state taxes on some casino activities and making it easier to bet on horse races.
Senate Enrolled Act 528 permits casinos to deduct up to $5 million a year in promotional free play from their receipts subject to tax. It also allows horse racing bets to be placed using an iPad-like device while a person is at a horse track or off-track betting facility.
Other measures approved by the Republican-controlled General Assembly that Pence signed into law this week include:
— Cash for gold: House Enrolled Act 1188 treats cash-for-gold shops similar to pawn shops by requiring them to verify the identity of sellers, photograph purchases, report purchases to police and not melt down purchases for at least 10 days. The sponsor, state Rep. Tom Dermody, R-LaPorte, expects the regulations will stop criminals from selling stolen goods to cash for gold shops. The new law also was sponsored by state Sens. Jim Arnold, D-LaPorte, Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, and Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago.
— Tele-health: Senate Enrolled Act 554 permits health care providers to consult, evaluate and treat Medicaid patients using videoconferencing, provided they are more than 20 miles apart. The law was sponsored by Charbonneau, Randolph, state Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, and state Sens. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, and Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek.
— Blood donations: House Enrolled Act 1038, sponsored by Brown, requires blood donation centers obtain a donor's Social Security number if he or she is paid for donating. It also permits the use of unscreened blood in a medical emergency when a patient is in imminent danger of death, told the donated blood has not been tested and no other blood is available.
— Sex offenders: House Enrolled Act 1053, sponsored by Dermody, Arnold, Randolph and state Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, compels registered sex offenders to report the vehicle identification number of any vehicle they regularly operate, as well as update police in-person within 72 hours of any other changes to their registration information. The law also requires persons no longer obligated to register and dead sex offenders be removed from the registry.
— School equipment: House Enrolled Act 1159, sponsored by Tallian and state Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary, provides public and charter schools immunity from civil lawsuits if the schools make their fitness equipment or facilities available to the public and a user is injured or killed.
— E.C. School Board: House Enrolled Act 1157, sponsored by Tallian and state Sen. Sue Landske, R-Cedar Lake, allows candidates for the East Chicago School Board to begin filing nominating petitions 104 days before an election. Before the change, the law did not specify a start date, only the filing deadline of 74 days before an election.
— Historic buildings: Senate Enrolled Act 4, sponsored by Arnold and Dermody, creates a process for owners of homes designated "historic" to remove the designation. De-designation requires approval by the local historic preservation commission and the city/town council.
— Scrap metal: House Enrolled Act 1441, sponsored by Randolph and state Rep. Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, mandates employees of metal scrapyards verify that any person bringing a vehicle or air conditioning unit to be scrapped actually owns the item.
— Write-in candidates: House Enrolled Act 1112 prohibits write-in candidates for elected office from claiming affiliation with either the Republican, Democratic or Libertarian parties.