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beaches

A miniature lighthouse overlooks Lake Michigan with the Chicago skyline in the background at Whihala Beach in Whiting.

INDIANAPOLIS — Gov. Eric Holcomb approved a plan to use clean sand dredged from the sides of Lake Michigan structures to replenish Northwest Indiana's badly eroded beaches.

On Tuesday, the Republican signed into law Senate Enrolled Act 178, requiring companies removing sand from the Port of Indiana and industrial water intake pipes to deposit it directly on Region beaches, instead of offshore where the sand may never reach the beach.

"I'm glad our state is making an effort to provide proper care for our beautiful beaches," said state Sen. Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, the sponsor.

"The beaches of Northwest Indiana are an important asset to our state, and I'm thankful the governor acknowledged that by signing this bill."

Holcomb also endorsed House Enrolled Act 1382 directing the Legislature to study the issue of pharmacy deserts, which state Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, contends is a pressing concern — especially in Northwest Indiana.

"There is a huge problem in my district where citizens do not have access to the prescription drugs they need to stay healthy and alive," Brown said. "I know that Gary is not the only town where Hoosiers don’t have access to their medication."

Altogether, Holcomb enacted 27 new laws in his latest batch of bill signings. Other notable new statutes include:

Eyeball tattoos — Starting July 1, it is prohibited to tattoo the whites of a person's eyes. A violation can trigger a $10,000 fine. Indiana is the second state to ban eyeball tattoos; Oklahoma was first. (Senate Enrolled Act 158)

Soft skills — Indiana schools must include employability skills in their curriculum, beginning in the 2019-20 school year. The specific "soft skills" to be taught, such as on-time arrival and ability to take direction, will be decided by the Indiana Department of Education and Department of Workforce Development. (SEA 297)

Suicide — Teachers, school employees and emergency medical technicians must regularly be trained in suicide awareness and prevention. (SEA 230)

DUI — A loophole is closed that previously prevented motorists under age 21 from being convicted of drunk driving resulting in death. (SEA 404)

Safe sleep — Day care providers who take care of children less than 12 months old are required to be trained in safe sleep guidelines. Repeated failure to follow the guidelines can result in fines or loss of operating license. (SEA 187)

Maternal mortality — The State Department of Health is charged with reviewing the deaths of all Indiana women who don't survive childbirth. The agency also must identify ways of reducing maternal mortality. (SEA 142)

Health consent — Adults who are unable to consent to health treatments, and have not appointed a health care representative, will have their care decided by whoever ranks highest in the following priority order: court-appointed guardian; spouse; adult child; parent; adult sibling; grandparent; adult grandchild; nearest other adult relative; or long-established friend. (HEA 1119)

Criminal justice — Individuals charged with certain misdemeanor crimes may have the opportunity to participate in a drug addiction pilot program, similar to the addiction treatment provided to felons. In addition, the Indiana Judicial Center officially becomes the Indiana Office of Judicial Administration. (HEA 1006)

Surplus property — Surplus state property must be sold at auction by a state-licensed auctioneer or through a website operated by an Indiana auctioneer. (SEA 300)

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Statehouse Bureau Chief

Dan has reported on Indiana state government for The Times since 2009. He also covers casinos, campaigns and corruption.