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Indiana legislative, executive and judicial branches updating sexual harassment policies, training

Surrounded in his office by state lawmakers, Gov. Eric Holcomb on Thursday signs into law House Enrolled Act 1309, requiring members of the General Assembly to annually receive at least one hour of sexual harassment training.

INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Eric Holcomb has enacted four new laws aimed at reducing the annual number of Hoosiers addicted to, and killed by, opioids.

The signings were part of the latest batch of proposals advanced to the Republican chief executive following the March 14 conclusion of the 10-week session of the Republican-controlled Indiana General Assembly.

House Enrolled Act 1007 could have the biggest impact. Over the next three years, it increases the number of opioid treatment facilities in the state to 27 from 18, and ensures that no Hoosier is more than an hour's drive from a drug treatment center.

"I commend lawmakers for advancing this bill that will save lives and families," Holcomb said.

At the same time, Holcomb followed through on his promise to increase criminal penalties for dealers or manufacturers of illegal drugs whose products result in a user's death.

House Enrolled Act 1359 sets a term of 20 to 40 years in prison for a person convicted of drug dealing resulting in death. Only murder is punished more severely in Indiana.

"Enforcement plays an important role in decreasing the supply of and demand for these devastating substances, and this bill is a key part of the state’s comprehensive approach to curb the opioid epidemic," Holcomb said.

The other two new opioid laws require more health professionals to check a state database before prescribing a potentially addictive drug (Senate Enrolled Act 221), and direct county coroners to gather more information about suspected drug overdose deaths and report it to the state (Senate Enrolled Act 139).

Holcomb said together the new laws take "big steps" to "attack the epidemic from every angle."

Beyond the opioid measures, the governor last week signed more than two dozen additional new laws recommended by the Legislature. Most take effect July 1.

They included:

South Shore — A process is established for the state to finance the double tracking of the existing South Shore commuter rail line between Gary and Michigan City, as well as the West Lake expansion between Hammond and Dyer. The Indiana Finance Authority, Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority and the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District are designated as the entities responsible for construction, leasing and ownership of the rail projects. (HEA 1374)

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Software — Purchasing, renting, leasing or licensing computer software that is delivered electronically is classified as a service and the transaction is not subject to Indiana's 7 percent sales tax. According to numerous business owners, state law previously was unclear whether software obtained online was an untaxed service or a taxable product. (SEA 257)

DACA — Non-U.S. citizens who are allowed to work in the United States through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program can obtain any required state or local occupational licenses for which they qualify. Holcomb said: "I support removing impediments in state law that keep Indiana's DACA recipients from skilling up and going to work." (SEA 419)

State insect — Say's Firefly, also known as pyractomena angulata, is designated the official state insect. The firefly, which technically is a beetle, is native to Indiana and named for Thomas Say, a 19th-century naturalist who lived and worked in New Harmony, Indiana, and is widely considered the father of American entomology. (SEA 236)

Public records — Governments that maintain public records in an electronic format must provide the record electronically to any person who requests a copy. The requester also can have the electronic record provided on paper. (SEA 392)

Water — A state water infrastructure task force is established to develop a long-term plan for addressing drinking water, wastewater and storm water management needs. It also must create an empirical decision-making tool that enables policymakers to prioritize water infrastructure projects. (HEA 1267)

High school diploma — To comply with federal requirements, Indiana's four current high school diplomas are merged into one diploma with one of four designations: General; Core 40; Core 40 with academic honors; or Core 40 with technical honors. (HEA 1426)

Sex ed — Parents of elementary and high school students must be provided an opportunity to inspect all instructional material concerning human sexuality, and given the option of keeping their child from attending sex education courses. (SEA 65)

Support animals — Apartment complexes and individual landlords who own more than three rental properties cannot charge pet rent or any extra fee to a tenant who has been prescribed an emotional support animal by a licensed medical caregiver. (SEA 240)

Massage — New massage therapists must complete 625 hours of classroom and hands-on instruction, up from 500 hours, to obtain a state license. Massage therapists also must undergo a nationwide criminal history check and carry professional liability insurance to retain their licenses. (HEA 1130)


Other measures Gov. Holcomb has signed into law

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