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Office of the Indiana Attorney General

Attorney General > Office Initiatives > Legislative Agenda > 2009 Legislative Agenda 2009 Legislative Agenda

During the 2009 session of the Indiana General Assembly, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller proposed or supported a number of bills containing consumer-friendly legislation. The Attorney General’s legislative team attends committee hearings and floor votes of the Indiana House of Representatives and Indiana Senate. The team testifies at hearings and works to inform legislators about the impact on consumers that bills would have if they become law. Deputy Attorney General David Miller leads the legislative team. 

Here is a summary of the major bills the Attorney General supported during the 2009 regular session of the Legislature that passed and were signed into law and are now known as “enrolled acts.” Fiscal impact statements were prepared by the Legislative Services Agency:

Mortgage Reform and Foreclosure Prevention

Certain mortgage practices that contributed to a wave of foreclosures across Indiana will be prohibited or curtailed under House Enrolled Act 1176.

Improperly influencing an appraiser to inflate the appraisal of a home – through bribery, collusion or coercion – now will be a crime actionable by local county prosecutors: a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail as well as civil penalties.
For adjustable rate mortgages or ARMs, lenders will be prohibited from imposing prepayment penalties. A frequent complaint was that when low opening or “teaser” rates reset to higher interest rates after a few years and mortgage payments ballooned, lenders’ exorbitant prepayment penalties prevented homeowners from refinancing. The new law forbids such penalties on ARMs.
HEA 1176 took effect July 1, 2009. A related new law, Senate Enrolled Act 492, now extends some of the same new protections to reverse mortgages.

House Enrolled Act 1176

http://www.in.gov/legislative/bills/2009/HE/HE1176.1.html

Fiscal impact statement

http://www.in.gov/legislative/bills/2009/PDF/FISCAL/HB1176.008.pdf

Senate Enrolled Act 492

http://www.in.gov/legislative/bills/2009/SE/SE0492.1.html

Fiscal impact statement

http://www.in.gov/legislative/bills/2009/PDF/FISCAL/SB0492.008.pdf

In a related effort, the Attorney General’s office has partnered with the Indiana Supreme Court to train more than 700 attorneys who can provide pro-bono legal assistance to Hoosiers facing foreclosure. Also, the nonprofit Indiana Foreclosure Prevention Network or IFPN provides free advice to troubled borrowers on options for avoiding foreclosure; the toll-free number to call is 1-877-GET-HOPE.

Identity Theft Protection

Indiana’s new identity-theft protection law, House Enrolled Act 1121, took effect July 1, 2009. The new law boosts protections for consumers and creates new rights for victims, while giving local and state authorities more powerful tools to crack down on identity thieves.

The new law does the following:

Makes it a crime for a parent or guardian to use a child’s personal information to commit identity theft and fraudulently obtain credit. The new crime is a Class C felony, punishable by two to eight years in prison.
Creates the new crime of synthetic identity theft, to specify that combining parts of the identities of several people into a hybrid, fictional person in order to commit fraud also is illegal. It’s a Class D felony, punishable by six months to three years imprisonment.
Creates recovery tools for victims. Identity theft victims often have difficulty establishing new credit or utility service because of damage to their credit histories. HEA 1121 gives Hoosiers the ability to go to court and obtain a declaratory judgment, a legal document that says the person was an innocent victim of identity theft, in order to correct their records.

Increases the penalties for database owners who recklessly discard consumers’ personal information, such as Social Security numbers, in a manner that could subject consumers to identity theft. If a business discards such records without shredding, blacking out or incinerating them first, then the Attorney General’s office could file suit and seek penalties of $5,000 per incident for the violation. Database owners also are now required to notify the attorney general’s office – as well as consumers – if a security breach occurs.

Formally establishes the ID Theft Unit. Created administratively by former Attorney General Steve Carter in January 2008, the ID Theft Unit is a team of attorneys and investigators who use computer forensic techniques to probe complaints and assist victims. HEA 1121 by statute makes the unit a permanent part of the Attorney General’s office as of July 1, 2009.

During its first 18 months of operation, the ID Theft Unit investigated more than 600 cases or referrals and recovered more than $608,000 in refunds for consumers, and its investigations resulted in 13 arrests. Under the new law, the ID Theft Unit now has an expanded role, through public presentations, in educating consumers on how to avoid being victimized and mitigate the damage if identity is stolen.

House Enrolled Act 1121

http://www.in.gov/legislative/bills/2009/HE/HE1121.1.html

Fiscal impact statement

http://www.in.gov/legislative/bills/2009/PDF/FISCAL/HB1121.009.pdf

The Attorney General’s web site,For more information about preventing identity theft and the details of the new law, consumers can visit 

Commercial Dog Breeding Operations

State and local authorities will have new tools to enforce animal-cruelty and tax-evasion laws on commercial dog-breeding businesses. House Enrolled Act 1468 is aimed at ending animal cruelty and neglect in large-scale commercial dog-breeding operations and also enforcing compliance with state sales-tax laws in the brokering and sale of dogs at so-called “puppy mills.” Its provisions include:

Registration. Commercial dog breeders and brokers will have to register annually with the State Board of Animal Health. They will be required to provide information on puppy sales and the amount of sales tax they remit to the state.

Enforcement. The legislation directs the Attorney General’s office to file lawsuits against dog-breeding operations to recover unpaid registration fees, obtain injunctions and seek civil penalties against dog-breeders on behalf of the Board of Animal Health.

Animal Cruelty Definitions. HEA 1468 also enhances animal-neglect and animal-cruelty laws to give prosecutors more tools to address abusive practices. It closes a loophole that had made injuring someone’s pet a crime but was silent on killing the animal without the owner’s permission. The legislation also prohibits wire flooring in cages and requires that confined dogs be allowed out daily for exercise.

The animal-cruelty provisions took effect July 1, 2009, while the registration and enforcement provisions will take effect Jan. 1, 2010.

House Enrolled Act 1468

http://www.in.gov/legislative/bills/2009/HE/HE1468.1.html

Fiscal impact statement

http://www.in.gov/legislative/bills/2009/PDF/FISCAL/HB1468.008.pdf

Teacher Protection and School Discipline

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller supported the new Teacher Protection Act along with Gov. Mitch Daniels and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett.

House Enrolled Act 1462, passed by the Indiana General Assembly and signed by the Governor, took effect July 1. Among other education provisions, the new law creates a stronger legal defense for teachers if they are sued over school-discipline disputes.

The legislation was filed in response to incidents around the state where schoolteachers said they were reluctant to discipline students who were disruptive in class, for fear of being sued. 

The Office of the Indiana Attorney General has the legal authority under a previous law to provide legal representation to teachers.  House Enrolled Act 1462 now extends that protection by giving teachers qualified legal immunity from lawsuits, if their actions to maintain school discipline were reasonable under the school’s policy and taken in good faith.

So that teachers will be empowered to appropriately and reasonably enforce school discipline at the start of the fall semester, House Enrolled Act 1462 says that by Aug. 15 of each year, the state Superintendent of Public Instruction will send teachers an official notice - drafted by the Attorney General – that they will be provided with legal counsel regarding their qualified immunity and legal rights.

Teachers who have been served with notice regarding potential litigation can contact the Attorney General’s constituent-services number at (317) 232-6310.  They will be referred to a deputy attorney general in the Litigation Division who will evaluate their case.

House Enrolled Act 1462

http://www.in.gov/legislative/bills/2009/HE/HE1462.1.html

Fiscal impact statement

http://www.in.gov/legislative/bills/2009/PDF/FISCAL/HB1462.009.pdf

Attorney General’s Letter to Indiana Teachers

House Enrolled Act 1514

http://www.in.gov/legislative/bills/2009/HE/HE1514.1.html

Fiscal impact statement

http://www.in.gov/legislative/bills/2009/PDF/FISCAL/HB1514.010.pdf

Cemetery Trusts

After a few incidents around the state where the administrators of cemetery trust funds embezzled funds that consumers had paid for funeral expenses, the Indiana General Assembly acted to curtail such illegal practices by passing a new law, creating stronger penalties and greater oversight.

House Enrolled Act 1287

http://www.in.gov/legislative/bills/2009/HE/HE1287.1.html

Fiscal impact statement

http://www.in.gov/legislative/bills/2009/PDF/FISCAL/HB1287.008.pdf

Licensed Professional: Restitution

Numerous professions in Indiana are licensed, such as contractors, plumbers and architects. Previously, the licensing boards who regulate those professions could not order practitioners to pay restitution to consumers who had suffered damages. Among other changes, House Enrolled Act 1573 now allows the licensing boards to require restitution to the consumer as part of a disciplinary sanction against the licenseholder.

House Enrolled Act 1573

http://www.in.gov/legislative/bills/2009/HE/HE1573.1.html

Fiscal impact statement

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