CROWN POINT — Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez Jr. will continue to be armed, and prepared to engage in law enforcement activities, notwithstanding a new state law taking effect Friday that bars Martinez from carrying a handgun in public.
The sheriff said his team has identified other firearms Martinez still may legally carry in public places, and Martinez said he will have one of those weapons on him "during special overnight joint operations and any other critical incident situation."
"The restriction deals with handguns only," Martinez said. "I will be capable of defending myself and the public from any potential threats which may arise."
House Enrolled Act 1296, which authorizes all adult Hoosiers age 18 and older to carry a handgun in public without needing to obtain a state permit, ironically bars Lake County’s chief law enforcement officer from doing the same because Martinez was indicted in January on a felony charge of resisting law enforcement and misdemeanor reckless driving.
Martinez is accused of failing to stop while driving an unmarked, county-owned Jeep TrackHawk at up to 50 mph over the posted speed limit on Taft and Main streets in Crown Point and Merrillville in September as two Crown Point police officers chased him with their lights and sirens activated, records show.
The Democratic sheriff has pleaded not guilty to the charges. His trial tentatively is scheduled for August, though it likely will be delayed while the
Indiana Court of Appeals considers tossing Martinez's criminal indictment.
Indiana's new permitless carry law denies the right to carry a handgun in public to individuals, like Martinez, under indictment; convicted felons; fugitives; some non-citizens; a person convicted of domestic violence, domestic battery or criminal stalking; a person under a restraining order; a person formally deemed dangerous or mentally defective; or a person dishonorably discharged from military service.
Previously, county sheriffs and other law enforcement personnel automatically were exempt from the state's handgun permit requirement.
But that exemption was deleted from the Indiana Code by the Republican-controlled General Assembly in March because no Hoosier adult now needs a permit to carry a handgun in public.
Martinez said he expects the new law will have little impact on most aspects of his job, including administration of the sheriff's department, operation of the county jail and care for its inmates, and executing civil process, among other responsibilities.
"What is unique in my situation is that I wear the uniform and equipment of a sworn police officer, which is how the public is accustomed to seeing me. I am a proactive sheriff who does not lead from behind a desk," Martinez said.
Martinez isn't the only Indiana sheriff set to be disarmed Friday. Clinton County Sheriff Rich Kelly, a Republican, was indicted in March, accused of official misconduct and conflict of interest for his alleged mishandling of hundreds of thousands of dollars of jail commissary and other funds.
An unknown number of local police officers throughout the state with misdemeanor domestic violence convictions also will lose their ability to carry a handgun in public under the law.
As Martinez noted, the restriction only applies to prohibited persons carrying a handgun in public.
Both before and after Friday any person in Indiana legally entitled to own a long gun or rifle, including the AR-15 and other rifles previously classified as assault weapons, may carry it in public with few restrictions.
Under Indiana law, handguns and rifles remain prohibited at school buildings and court houses. In addition, businesses and homeowners retain the right to bar customers or guests from bringing a firearm into a building on their property.
Here are the new Indiana laws to know that took effect July 1
The owner of a lion, tiger, leopard, snow leopard, jaguar, mountain lion or bear must prevent all direct physical contact between the animal and a member of the general public, no matter the age of the animal. Violations are subject to a $1,000 fine for each person who comes into contact with the animal. (
House Enrolled Act 1248)
The owner of a lion, tiger, leopard, snow leopard, jaguar, mountain lion or bear must prevent all direct physical contact between the animal and a member of the general public, no matter the age of the animal. Violations are subject to a $1,000 fine for each person who comes into contact with the animal. (House Enrolled Act 1248)
The Aberdeen subdivision may seek to officially become part of Valparaiso, even though the neighborhood is not currently contiguous to the city. A pre-annexation financial study must be completed so Aberdeen residents know the fiscal impact of being voluntarily annexed by Valparaiso. (
House Enrolled Act 1110)
Counties, cities or towns can designate agricultural zones as Economic Revitalization Areas (ERA) on the same basis as outdated business districts or distressed residential neighborhoods. New farm equipment or new agricultural improvements located in an ERA are eligible for a property tax abatement for up to five years. The exemption does not apply to farmland. (
Senate Enrolled Act 119)
The Indiana Department of Health is authorized to establish and promote a bone marrow donor recruitment program to find eligible Hoosiers willing to donate bone marrow to individuals fighting leukemia, lymphoma and other blood cell conditions. (
Senate Enrolled Act 398)
State colleges and universities cannot designate outdoor areas of campus where First Amendment activities are prohibited. Higher education institutions may impose reasonable and content-neutral time, place and manner restrictions on other campus speech that's narrowly tailored to serve a significant interest of the school. (
House Enrolled Act 1190)
An adult relative caring for a child after the child has been removed from a dangerous home situation is entitled to directly participate in court hearings concerning services needed by the child, or terminating the parent-child relationship. Previously, only state-licensed foster parents had a statutory right to intervene in legal proceedings pertaining to abused or neglected children. (
Senate Enrolled Act 410)
A catalytic converter is redefined as a "major component part" of a motor vehicle and only licensed automobile salvage recyclers are permitted to buy or sell used catalytic converters. Automobile salvage recyclers also must keep the same records for catalytic converters as valuable metal dealers and cash payouts for detached catalytic converters are capped at $25 per transaction per day. (
Senate Enrolled Act 293)
A new crime of "coerced abortion" punishes anyone who knowingly or intentionally coerces a pregnant woman to have an abortion with up to 2 1/2 years in prison. State law already required "the voluntary and informed consent of the pregnant woman" prior to obtaining an abortion. (
House Enrolled Act 1217)
Businesses, banks and similar entities that suffer a data breach must notify their customers within 45 days of the breach being discovered, instead of simply providing notification "without unreasonable delay." (
House Enrolled Act 1351)
Home health aides who provide care to individuals with symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or a similar cognitive disorder must complete at least six hours of dementia care training within 60 days of hire. Current home health aides with at least one year of experience must participate in at least three hours of dementia training. (
Senate Enrolled Act 353)
The penalty for fraudulently casting more than one ballot in the same election is set at up to 2½ in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. The penalty does not apply to individuals casting a valid replacement ballot as permitted by law. (
Senate Enrolled Act 328)
Individuals charged with crimes who either are acquitted following a trial or the charges are dismissed will have their court records automatically expunged within 60 days of disposition, unless the county prosecutor requests a one-year expungement delay. Any non-prosecution of criminal charges within 180 days following an arrest must be expunged immediately. (
Senate Enrolled Act 182)
Foreign land purchases
Foreign business entities are barred from purchasing Indiana agricultural or timber land, with certain exceptions. Businesses organized under Russian law or controlled by Russian nationals are prohibited from acquiring any real estate in Indiana. (
Senate Enrolled Act 388)
The Indiana Department of Health no longer is entitled to remove a local health officer on the basis of intemperance. Health officers still may be removed for failing to collect vital statistics, follow rules, keep records, make reports, respond to official inquires or for neglect of official duty. (
House Enrolled Act 1169)
Adults age 18 and up legally entitled to possess a handgun are not obligated to obtain a state permit to carry a handgun in public. Indiana carry permits remain available for out-of-state reciprocity purposes. Handguns continue to be prohibited in schools, courthouses, and any residence or business that chooses to bar handguns. (
House Enrolled Act 1296)
A 13-member Housing Task Force is directed to study issues relating to housing and housing shortages in Indiana. The task force must submit recommendations for policy changes to the General Assembly and the governor no later than Nov. 1. (
House Enrolled Act 1306)
The holder of an archery hunting permit is allowed to use a bow and arrow or a crossbow. Previously, crossbow hunters were required to obtain a separate license. (
Senate Enrolled Act 186)
The in-state rate for telephone calls placed by inmates at Indiana Department of Correction facilities drops to 12 cents per minute from 24 cents per minute. County jail telephone rates are capped at 21 cents per minute statewide, instead of ranging from 22 cents per minute to $4.70 per minute. (
House Enrolled Act 1181)
Beginning Jan. 1, 2023, doctors must offer a blood lead screening test to the parents of children between nine months and six years old if the child has not previously been tested for lead poisoning. Parents are not required to have their children tested for lead. (
House Enrolled Act 1313)
Judges once again may sentence level 6 felony offenders to state prisons operated by the Indiana Department of Correction, replacing a mandate that individuals found guilty of minor felony crimes only serve their six-month to 2 1/2-year sentences in county jails. (
House Enrolled Act 1004)
The town of Lowell is authorized to segregate its recent water utility sale proceeds from other town funds, contract with an investment adviser, and deploy the funds in most kinds of investments offering higher returns than fixed-income securities, except corporate stock and other equity securities. (
House Enrolled Act 1011)
Pregnant individuals whose family incomes are less than 208% of the federal poverty level are entitled to receive low- or no-cost health coverage through Indiana Medicaid for the duration of their pregnancy, and up to 12 months after giving birth. (
House Enrolled Act 1140)
The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission is directed to adopt rules by July 1, 2023, permitting small modular nuclear reactors to be used to generate electricity in the Hoosier State. The law does not mandate any utilities switch to nuclear power but opens the door by putting in place the regulations that would guide its development and use. (
Senate Enrolled Act 271)
Restraints used on a prison inmate in her second or third trimester of pregnancy need to be the least restrictive restraints necessary. A pregnant inmate must be unrestrained while in labor, delivering a baby and during the immediate post-delivery period, unless she is an immediate danger to herself or others, or a substantial flight risk. (
House Enrolled Act 1294)
The $3,000 property tax deduction for mortgaged property is eliminated beginning Jan. 1, 2023, and the homestead deduction is increased to $48,000 from $45,000. The senior citizen tax deduction may be claimed on homes worth up to $240,000, instead of a maximum of $200,000. (
House Enrolled Act 1260)
School boards must allow any person physically present at a school board meeting to address the board if the person is interested in doing so in accordance with the board’s public comment rules, including any time limits. Boards still can take "reasonable steps to maintain order in a meeting," including "removal of any person who is willfully disruptive of the meeting." (
House Enrolled Act 1130)
The definition of rape is expanded to include a person who disregards the other person's attempts to physically, verbally, or by other visible conduct refuse the person's sexual acts. Rape in Indiana also consists of the use of force, or imminent threat of force, to compel sexual conduct; sex with a person unaware sexual conduct is occurring; or sex with a person unable to consent to sex due to mental disability. (
House Enrolled Act 1079)
A 23-member commission is established to organize events and commemorations across the state celebrating the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 2026. (
Senate Enrolled Act 12)
Simulated child porn
The production, distribution, possession or viewing of a video or image depicting obscene sexual conduct involving a person who appears to be less than 18 years old — even if the person is over 18, or doesn’t exist — is the legal equivalent of child exploitation, possession of child pornography and similar felony crimes. (
House Enrolled Act 1363)
The mastodon is designated as the official fossil of Indiana. Dozens of mastodon fossils have been found throughout Indiana, including the bones of at least five mastodons now held by the Indiana State Museum that were discovered in 2005 by workers digging a pond in the Porter County town of Hebron. (
House Enrolled Act 1013)
The utility receipts tax, a 1.46% charge paid by businesses and consumers on a portion of their electricity, natural gas, water, steam, sewage and telephone bills, is eliminated July 1. Beginning Jan. 1, 2023, the state income tax rate drops to 3.15% from 3.23%, with the possibility of future reductions to 2.9%. (
House Enrolled Act 1002)
The definition of "agritourism" is expanded beyond agricultural activities to include camping, canoeing, kayaking, river tubing and winter sports activities. An agritourism participant release form may be signed electronically, instead of only on paper. (
Senate Enrolled Act 343)
A township trustee who fails to perform the duties of his or her office is subject to removal by court order if the removal is endorsed by the township board, county commissioners and county council, and other conditions are met. (
Senate Enrolled Act 304)
All children assigned male at birth are barred from participating in any elementary, middle or high school athletics designated as a "girls" or "female" sport — no matter the child's gender identity or physical characteristics. (
House Enrolled Act 1041)
Tribal law enforcement
A police officer employed by the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi in South Bend may exercise law enforcement authority anywhere in the state, so long as the officer meets the standards of the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy and the tribe consents to statewide police powers. (
Senate Enrolled Act 347)
A mandate that drivers signal all turns or lane changes at least 200 feet ahead of time, or 300 feet if the vehicle is traveling in excess of 50 mph, is deleted on Jan. 1, 2023, in favor of a requirement that motorists signal all turns and lane changes "a reasonable time" before completing them. (
House Enrolled Act 1167)
Public and private colleges and universities in Indiana must report to the state, and disclose on their website, all gifts from foreign entities that already must be reported to the federal government upon receipt. (
Senate Enrolled Act 388)
A tax of 15% is imposed on the wholesale price of closed system cartridges used for vaping. Under a 2021 law, the tax rate was scheduled to be 25%. An additional tax of 40 cents per ounce is assessed on alternative nicotine products, such as electronic cigarettes. (
Senate Enrolled Act 382)
Public schools may only hold up to three student-directed virtual instruction days during the 180-day school year absent extraordinary circumstances and a waiver approved by the Indiana Department of Education. (
House Enrolled Act 1093)
A public school or school corporation may purchase up to $10,000 in food each year from a youth agricultural program, up from the former annual maximum of $7,500. (
House Enrolled Act 1320)