Jan 15, 2009

SB 237 -- False Informing and DNA Collection

SYNOPSIS: Requires all persons arrested after June 30, 2009, to submit a DNA sample. Makes knowingly providing false information during an official law enforcement investigation a crime. Makes conforming amendments.

STRONGLY OPPOSE: Yikes! This legislation would move us several steps closer to a police state while providing for more and more opportunity for corruption. LPIN rejects the mandatory sampling of DNA for convicted persons. This legislation would be expanded to all persons arrested.

STATUS: Authored by Sen. Merritt, referred to Committee on Corrections, Criminal, and Civil Matters.

HB 1420 -- Teacher Recruitment Program

SYNOPSIS: Establishes the teacher recruitment program and fund: (1) to encourage and promote qualified African American and Hispanic male teachers to pursue a career in teaching in accredited schools in Indiana; (2) to enhance the number of individuals who may serve as role models for African American and Hispanic students in Indiana; and (3) to rectify the shortage of African American and Hispanic male teachers teaching in accredited schools in Indiana. Requires the state student assistance commission to administer the fund.

OPPOSE: Few can deny there's a need for more male teachers in our schools. While this legislation tries to focus on recruitment of African-American and Hispanic male teachers, it falls short on one key aspect -- recruitment. The bill allows for a $4,000 award for a qualifying African-American or Hispanic male teacher in his second full year of teaching. He's already there, already teaching, already serving as a role model. There are more reasons consistent with libertarian views on education to oppose this legislation, but a very basic one is it misses its own mark.

STATUS: Authored by Rep. V. Smith, referred to Committee on Education.

HB 1457 -- Invasive Species

SYNOPSIS: Establishes the invasive species council (council) within the Purdue University College of Agriculture. Establishes the invasive species council fund. Requires the council to establish a cooperative weed management program to protect the diversity of natural areas in Indiana to: (1) promote the creation of cooperative weed management areas; and (2) create partnerships that create opportunities for contiguous landowners to work together in the management of invasive plants that threaten natural lands and native biological diversity. Establishes a project workgroup to recommend cooperative weed management plans to the council. Establishes the cooperative weed management fund. Staggers the initial terms of the appointed council members.

OPPOSE: What? We need legislation to create a partnership that creates opportunities for neighbors to work together in managing their weeds? What? However silly that may sound, the real reason for opposition to this legislation is in the fiscal impact statement. The bill does not specify sources of revenue for the fund. The bill contains no appropriation for the fund. So why create something that can't survive....kind of an invasive species itself, yes?

STATUS: Authored by Rep. Kersey, referred to Committee on Natural Resources.

HB 1493 -- Manufacture of Flags Used in Public Buildings

SYNOPSIS: Provides an absolute purchasing preference for United States and Indiana flags manufactured in the United States. Provides that if there are no flags manufactured in the United States that meet the specifications of the purchasing agent, the purchasing agent may purchase flags manufactured outside the United States.

SUPPORT/NEUTRAL: Why not, right? It is the symbol of our State and Nation, why not require the flags on display in public buildings be manufactured in the United States, or at least require preference be given to those products. It may end up costing a little more, but that's not all bad.

Authored by Representative Bischoff, referred to Committee on Small Business and Economic Development.

HB 1506 -- School Board Members

SYNOPSIS: Provides that a vacancy is created in the governing body of a school corporation when a member moves out of the school district from which the member was elected or appointed.

SUPPORT: It stands to reason that if move away from a district you represent, you should step down from that seat. Unfortunately, our elected officials don't enjoy giving up what little power they've accumulated -- school board members foremost among these officials. While disproving residency is very tricky, the legislation remains a good attempt at keeping representation local.

STATUS: Authored by Rep. GiaQuinta, referred to Committee on Elections and Apportionment.

HB 1512 -- Silver Alert

SYNOPSIS: Creates the silver alert program to inform the public about missing endangered adults. Defines "missing endangered adult" as an individual who is over 65 years of age and has Alzheimer's disease or dementia. Renames the Indiana clearinghouse for information on missing children as the Indiana clearinghouse for information on missing children and missing endangered adults (clearinghouse). Requires the clearinghouse to operate the amber alert program and the silver alert program. Makes conforming changes.

SUPPORT: With few exceptions, the Amber Alert has provided a service to our society and helped in reducing the cost of finding missing children by mobilizing the media and community. While uncommon, there seems to be significant increases in the instances of the elderly with Alzheimer's disease or dementia going missing. Folding the Silver Alert system into the existing Amber program is a service that appears to help families, community and agencies alike.

Authored by Rep. GiaQuinta, referred to Committee on Veterans Affairs and Public Safety.

SB 453 -- Use of Gold by State and Local Governments

SYNOPSIS: Use of gold by the state and local government. Requires the treasurer of state to designate one or more electronic gold currency payment providers to be a payment provider for the state and political subdivisions. Requires the treasurer of state and fiscal officers of political subdivisions to: (1) maintain one or more electronic gold currency accounts with a designated electronic gold currency payment provider; and (2) conduct all monetary transactions of the state or political subdivisions through electronic gold currency accounts. Provides that an electronic gold currency payment provider must use an electronic gold currency unit that constitutes a monetary unit of account and represents a claim of title to and ownership of a specifically defined, fixed weight of gold held by an independent specie vault. Specifies that a specie exchange with which an electronic gold currency payment provider associates must conduct the business of exchanging gold and silver coin, legal tender of the United States, and the electronic gold currency of the electronic gold currency payment provider. Provides that after December 31, 2009, the state and political subdivisions may not compel or require any person to recognize, receive, pay out, deliver, promise to pay, or otherwise use or employ anything but gold and silver coin (in that form or in the form of a designated electronic gold currency) as media of exchange with respect to certain payments. Provides that after December 31, 2009, a person receiving certain payments from the state or a political subdivision has the option of accepting payment in either legal tender of the United States or in electronic gold currency.

STRONGLY SUPPORT: We liked the idea when LPIN gubernatorial candidate proposed this at an October press conference. We liked it more when he talked about it during the debates. We liked the idea at a national level when Congressman Ron Paul championed this message on the campaign trail. Imagine a currency that has real value and the effect this move would have on stabilizing a very unstable economy.

STATUS: Authored by Sen. Walker, referred to Committee on Tax and Fiscal Policy.

SB 479 -- Regional Transportation Districts

SYNOPSIS: Permits counties to establish a regional transportation district to plan, design, acquire, construct, enlarge, improve, renovate, maintain, equip, finance, operate, and support public transportation systems. Establishes a fee on vehicle registrations, and permits the creation of allocation areas, the establishment of a special allocation of county option income taxes, and the imposition of a food and beverage tax, a county economic development income tax, or a special benefits property tax to provide funding to regional transportation districts. Permits other public transportation agencies to merge into a regional transportation district. Requires the governor to appoint a deputy commissioner for the department of transportation to assist the commissioner with the public transportation responsibilities of the department.

STRONGLY OPPOSE: Regional taxation? Any legislation that creates and allows a government agency to "plan, design, acquire, construct, enlarge, improve, renovate, maintain, equip, finance, operation and support" CANNOT be good for the people. To pay for this, the regional authority would have a hand in COIT, F&B taxes, economic development income tax or a special benefits tax, in addition to a fee on vehicle registrations. No, no, no.

STATUS: Authored by Sen. Lanane, referred to Committee on Homeland Security and Transportation & Veterans Affairs.

SB 511 -- Various Vehicle and Motorboat Laws

SYNOPSIS: Removes vehicles owned or leased and used for official business by certain: (1) rehabilitation centers; (2) community action agencies; (3) area agencies of aging and the aged and county councils on aging that are funded through an area agency; and (4) community mental health centers; from exemption from the payment of vehicle registration fees. Provides that a probationary operator's license expires at midnight of the date the holder becomes 21 years and 30 days of age. (Current law provides that the probationary license expires at midnight of the day of the holder's twenty-first birthday.) Removes the requirement that the bureau of motor vehicles place an identifying symbol on the face of the certain permits, licenses, or identification cards to indicate that the applicant has a medical condition. Provides that certain offenses committed under the law of the United States or in another state that are substantially similar to certain offenses committed in Indiana be counted toward an accumulation of offenses for purposes of an individual being adjudged a habitual violator of traffic laws. Includes motorboats in the category of vehicles for which an individual is prohibited from operating while intoxicated. Provides that after June 30, 2009, the penalties for operating a motorboat while intoxicated are the same as for operating a wheeled vehicle while intoxicated, and repeals current law pertaining to operating a motorboat while intoxicated. Makes corresponding changes. Makes technical corrections.

OPPOSE: This legislation is chockful of annoying tweaks to existing legislation, which is already aggressively adequate.

STATUS: Authored by Senator Charbonneau, referred to Committee on Homeland Security and Transportation & Veterans Affairs.

SB 220 -- Annexation (2)

SYNOPSIS: Provides, with certain exceptions, that when a municipality initiates an annexation, the municipality must file a petition with the court containing the signatures of: (1) at least 75% of the landowners in the territory proposed to be annexed; or (2) the owners of more than 75% in assessed valuation of the land in the annexed territory. Provides that, if the court finds that the petition has a sufficient number of signatures, a hearing will be conducted to review the annexation and fiscal plan. Allows a person to intervene as a party at the hearing to review the annexation and fiscal plan if: (1) the person is an owner of property in the territory; (2) the person, and no other owner of the property have signed the petition filed by the municipality; and (3) the person appeared at the hearing conducted by the municipality on the annexation ordinance or submitted a remonstrance or other document into the record of the hearing. Eliminates a procedure that requires the court to order an annexation not to take place if certain circumstances are shown. Removes provisions allowing a municipality to obtain waivers of a landowner's right to remonstrate against an annexation. Provides that in all circumstances an annexation becomes effective when the ordinance or judgment is filed by the municipal clerk.

SUPPORT: Part two of our annexation legislation for this session also provides some relief. In fact, this legislation puts more of the burden on the municipality attempting to annex the land. In this case, the municipality would be required to obtain 75% of the land owners (or assessed value holders) to sign off on the plan before the effort could move forward. Allowing the people to have a voice is a rather novel idea these days.

STATUS: Authored by Sen. Gard, referred to Committee on Local Government.
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