INDIANAPOLIS-State Senator Lonnie M. Randolph (D-East Chicago) proposed several bills during the recently adjourned legislative session that were approved and signed into law by the governor. Among his legislative initiatives this session were bills aimed at helping Hoosiers struggling in this rough economic climate.
Sen. Randolph introduced legislation this session to address the backlog of delinquent property tax cases and to help homeowners keep possession of their properties. This legislation became a part of House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1090, which waives the interest and penalties applied before January 1, 2012 if the taxpayer pays the delinquent taxes before January 1, 2013. The new law is designed to jumpstart tax payment by leveling the playing field for those who have fallen behind. In addition to offering homeowners a one-time break on penalty fees, the new law will allow all counties the option to remove property from tax sales, if the county treasurers and the taxpayer agree to a mutually satisfactory arrangement for the payment of the delinquent taxes.
Home energy costs will be more affordable for low-income families under HEA 1141, sponsored by Sen. Randolph. The legislation dedicates $28.8 million in mortgage foreclosure settlement funds to aid families who rely on assistance from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to pay for high heating and air-conditioning bills. LIHEAP is a federal block grant program that offers financial assistance to qualifying low-income households who require support in paying their home energy bills. The program is administered through local community action agencies. Program funding comes from $145 million that Indiana received from the multi-state legal settlement concerning mortgage foreclosure issues.
Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 193, co-authored by Sen. Randolph, requires that candidates for local offices submit statements of economic interest to the clerk's office when filing a declaration of candidacy, a petition of nomination, a declaration of intent to be a write-in candidate, or a certificate of candidate selection. The same requirements are already in place for state legislators, who submit a statement of economic interest annually to disclose personal or professional ties to businesses. The intention of the required filings is to provide transparency in any dealings with state government as a private citizen and to avoid conflicts of interest in their elected position. The act also requires an individual who fills a vacancy in an elected local or school board office to file a statement of economic interest no later than 60 days after the individual assumes office.
SEA 97, co-authored by Sen. Randolph provides that a person may not be convicted of certain offenses relating to public intoxication unless the person endangers their life, endangers the life of another person, breaches the peace or harasses, annoys, or alarms another person.
Sen. Randolph co-authored SEA 267, also known as "Erin's Law," which requires the Department of Education to work with the Department of Child Services and other organizations to provide the public school system with a curriculum to educate teachers, school personnel and children about child sexual abuse and how to report suspected abuse of students. The Department of Education will provide schools with education materials, response policies and reporting procedures for grades two through five.
SEA 268, co-authored by Sen. Randolph, requires the Indiana Education Roundtable to establish an advisory committee on early education comprised of experts and advocates from around the state to provide input as to the necessary steps that need to be taken to improve educational outcomes for children in Indiana. Under this legislation, members of the committee will provide professional and technical assistance to the Indiana Education Roundtable, a state board of key education, business, community and government leaders charged with ensuring that the state has world class academic standards for student learning.
Sen. Randolph co-authored SEA 274, also coined the "Lifeline Bill," which addresses serious issues related to alcohol consumption on college campuses across the country. In an effort to protect young lives, the act provides immunity to callers seeking emergency assistance for another person, alleviating fear of penalties for alcohol-related offenses for the caller. The legislation specifies that immunity will be provided to callers in instances of public intoxication or underage possession, consumption or transportation of an alcoholic beverage. People that drive under the influence of alcohol, are in possession of drugs or who act disorderly with emergency personnel will not be immune from penalties.
HEA 1033, co-sponsored by Sen. Randolph, will assist individuals who have completed their court-ordered sentence to reenter the workforce. The new law will prohibit employers from asking applicants, employees and contract employees whether a person's criminal record has been sealed or restricted. The act makes this action a Class B infraction. The act also prevents persons or organizations that maintain criminal background information from providing to employers criminal histories that have not been updated within 60 days. In addition, persons with a Class D felony, after three years served, could appeal to the court to have the crime reduced to a Class A misdemeanor under certain circumstances.
SEA 293, co-authored by Sen. Randolph, provides for a nine year phase-out of the state inheritance tax beginning in 2013. It will also increase the exemption for Class A beneficiaries from $100,000 to $250,000.
Most new laws will become effective July 1, 2012.
This is only a sample of Sen. Randolph's legislation set to become law. For a complete list, click here.
For more information on Sen. Randolph, his legislative agenda or other State Senate business call 1-800-382-9467 or visit www.SenateDemocrats.IN.gov.
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