MICHIGAN CITY — The City Council approved $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to help create a quiet zone along the South Shore Line route through the city.
Engineers will still sound their horns if they see anything dangerous, Councilwoman Tracie Tillman, D-5th, said.
Resident Tommy Kulavik, a frequent South Shore rider, warned against creating the quiet zone. “I think with quiet zones we’re going to see an increase in accidents,” he said.
South Shore Double Track Project celebration
With City Council action to create a quiet zone, and Federal Railroad Administration approval, improvements will be made at grade crossings to deter vehicles from crossing the tracks when a train is coming. Those can include a raised median between lanes and crossarms that extend all the way across the road. Closing a crossing is an option, too.
“We can only go so far as far as the guardrail can be,” Tillman said. Each crossing is evaluated separately to determine the best way to handle vehicle traffic.
Resident Rodney McCormick advised against closing crossings. “As public servants, shouldn’t you listen to the public?” he asked. “These people vote for you.”
“This is not closing down Holliday Street,” Councilman Bryant Dabney, D-1st, said. “The crossings are going to be safe so they can be quiet zones.”
“You cannot take your car and jump over the median to get around the rail,” he added.
The Double Track NWI project includes improvements at grade crossings to qualify for a quiet zone on the western side of the city. The council’s recent 6-0 vote means the remaining crossings, outside the project’s boundaries, will also be improved.
In other action, Council Vice President Don Przybylinski, D-at large, blasted Mayor Duane Parry for not attending the council’s latest meeting to provide an update on the status of street and sidewalk repairs.
“At least show the council some respect to come and discuss the item” as Przybylinski requested, he said.
Other cities have already begun that work, Przybylinski observed. “To me, the city’s behind the 8-ball in this whole thing.”
At the city’s Fourth of July parade, Przybylinski noticed sidewalks in poor condition. “That’s our downtown area that’s going to explode with 50,000 people moving in,” he said.
Washington Park needs attention as well. “Some of those sidewalks are in horrendous shape,” Przybylinski said.
“A good sidewalk is a friend to everyone,” he said.
Council President Angie Deuitch, D-at large, expressed dismay over mass shootings, including the recent one at Highland Park, Illinois. “These mass shootings are happening more and more often, and we’re becoming almost immune to some of them,” she said.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed a new law that allows Hoosiers 18 and older to carry a handgun without a permit, despite testimony from police officers who objected to the legislation. They said the law would make their job more difficult by limiting their ability to question people carrying a weapon in public.
Fire Chief Doug LeGault said he is working with the county EMS director to get information on overdoses in the city. There have been more than 145 drug overdoses in LaPorte County this year. LeGault believes 76 of them were in Michigan City, but getting that information requires checking each report, a tedious process.
Przybylinski had requested that data and hopes it can become available monthly.
That’s about one every three days, Councilman Sean Fitzpatrick, D-4th, said.
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)