Legislative Wrap: Open Door Law, public records among dozens of bills monitored by HSPA during session

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In the May 2019 issue of The Indiana Publisher, we reviewed the ten public notice advertising bills that the Hoosier State Press Association worked during the 2019 Indiana General Assembly. We don’t want you to think that’s the only subject HSPA covers so here are the other 45 bills that had our close attention:

Open Door Law

H.E.A. 1116 – Rep. Mike Karickhoff, R-Kokomo, reached out to HSPA prior to the legislative session to see if we could agree to a change that would allow governing bodies to meet in executive sessions to discuss strategy concerning the sale or lease of publicly-owned property.

HSPA was originally concerned that the concept would open the door for a secret meeting, followed by a public meeting where a local landmark or treasured park was sold before residents had a chance to voice their opposition. HSPA worked with Rep. Karickhoff and Accelerate Indiana Municipalities (AIM) to make sure that the process would afford public comment before any property could be sold or leased to another party.

The agreed upon language preserves existing processes in Indiana Code that requires on open process before a government unit can sell or lease property it owns. The new language was inserted into Karickhoff’s bill during its House Government and Regulatory Reform Committee hearing, chaired by Rep. Kevin Mahan, R-Hartford City. The committee voted for the bill, 12-0. H.E.A 1116 was then passed by the House 98-0. Reps. Mahan and Cherrish Pryor, D-Indianapolis, became co-authors.

The sponsor was Sen. John Ruckelshaus, R-Indianapolis. The bill was passed out of the Senate Local Government Committee, chaired by Sen. Jim Buck, R-Kokomo, with an 8-0 vote. The Senate then passed it 47-1. Karickhoff concurred with Senate changes to other parts of H.E.A. 116 and the House passed it again, 87-0. Co-sponsors were Sens. David Niezgodski, D-South Bend, and Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago.
Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the bill on May 1.

H.B. 1325 – Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany, hoped to eliminate state statutes that stigmatize Hoosiers who are HIV-positive. HSPA raised the concern with a provision that would seal criminal cases where someone is accused of trying to intentionally infect another person with a communicable disease through their bodily fluids. Rep. Clere agreed to work with HSPA on the issue.

The bill was amended during its House Public Health Committee hearing, chaired by Rep. Cindy Hirchhofer, R-Beech Grove. The change addressed access to case records, but still made court proceedings closed to the public. The committee approved H.B. 1325 with a 13-0 vote. The House passed the bill, 99-0. Co-authors were Reps. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, Robin Shackleford, D-Indianapolis, and Tony Cook, R-Cicero.

HSPA continued to work with Clere on changing the bill. The Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council also voiced its opposition to secret criminal proceedings. Clere pledged to remove the secrecy provisions from his bill.

The bill was assigned to the Senate Health and Provider Services Committee, chaired by Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, where the bill died. Sponsors were Sen. Vaneta Becker, R-Evansville, and Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis.

H.B. 1369 – This bill, authored by Rep. Sean Eberhart, R-Shelbyville, concerned assisted reproduction and gestational surrogacy. It included the ability to have lawsuits filed over surrogacy contracts, but made those cases sealed from public view. The bill was passed by the House Judiciary Committee, chaired by Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel, with a 9-1 vote. The House passed the bill 78-18.

HSPA raised its opposition to secret lawsuits to Rep. Eberhart and co-author Rep. Ryan Hatfield, D-Evansville. They agreed to work on an amendment once they realized HSPA was not trying to open up access to patient information.

H.B. 1369 died in the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport. Sen. Vaneta Becker, R-Evansville, was the sponsor. The other co-authors were Reps. Wendy McNamara, R-Evansville, and Bob Heaton, R-Terre Haute.

S.E.A. 472 – HSPA was concerned about language in this bill eliminating rate hearings by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission for small utility entities. The bill’s author, Sen. Eric Koch, R-Bedford, assured HSPA that hearings are still available – just not automatic.

Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, was the bill sponsor. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Holcomb on May 5.

S.B. 611 – This bill included language establishing a governor’s student advisory council. HSPA was puzzled by language that required three meetings a year but contained a limit of two public hearings – creating a possibly mandated secret meeting.

HSPA talked to bill author Sen. John Ruckelshaus, R-Indianapolis, who was amenable to clarifying the language to eliminate any mandated executive session.

The bill died in the Senate Education and Career Development Committee, chaired by Sen. Jeff Raatz, R-Richmond.

Public Records

H.E.A. 1629 – This education bill initially included language that declared emails of public school districts would not be public records subject to the state’s Access to Public Records Act. HSPA executive director and general counsel Steve Key testified against this education bill because of this provision during its hearing in the House Education Committee, chaired by the bill’s author, Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis.

Afterwards, Rep. Behning asked Key to talk to Seamus Boyce, an attorney with Church, Church, Hittle & Antrim in Noblesville. The firm has a large practice representing local government units. Boyce expressed school officials concern with the time and cost of doing records requests concerning emails of school employees.

Key suggested the solution could rest with a search fee for a voluminous records request, but pointed out that efforts to craft a fair proposal with Speaker of the House Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, had resulted in two bills passed in consecutive years by the General Assembly – only to be vetoed by two different governors – Mike Pence and Eric Holcomb.

Boyce volunteered to check with Gov. Holcomb’s office to see if his staff would be willing to accept search fee language for school corporations as a pilot project for the state. Meanwhile, Rep. Behning agreed to amend language into his bill in committee. One change compared to the language that had been passed and vetoed in the past, was an increase in the threshold before a search fee could be charged. Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany, convinced the Republican majority to go with a five-hour, rather than two-hour threshold, and the search fee only applied to records requests for electronic records (emails, word documents, Excel spreadsheets, Adobe pdfs, etc.).

The bill was passed by its House committee, 11-2, and the House, 67-33.

Sen. Jeff Raatz, R-Richmond, was the sponsor and chair of the Senate Education and Career Development Committee that approved the bill, 10-0. The Senate passed it, 48-0. Other parts of the bill resulted in Rep. Behning sending the bill into a conference committee to resolve differences in the Senate and House versions of H.E.A. 1629.

The conference committee version was approved by the House, 67-31, and by the Senate, 47-2.
Gov. Holcomb signed the bill on May 6.

HSPA will monitor how school districts try to apply this search fee, which only applies to the search time, not review for redaction – a point Key attempted to make clear while testifying on the bill in its Senate committee hearing.
H.B. 1375 – This bill focuses on changes to statutes concerning the state Board of Accounts. Included by bill author Rep. Matt Lehman, R-Berne, was language to make it clear the legislature wants local economic development organizations to not be subject to the state’s public access laws based on receiving taxpayer dollars from local government units. It effectively overrules the position that had been taken by the state’s Public Access Counselor Luke Britt.

HSPA acknowledged to Rep. Lehman that was the intent behind local economic development efforts switching from economic development commissions subject to the state’s public access laws to economic development corporations.
The bill was passed out of the House Government and Regulatory Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Kevin Mahan, R-Hartford City, and then the House with a 94-0 vote. The Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee, chaired by Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle, approved the bill and then the Senate did the same with a 46-2 vote. Sen. Jim Buck, R-Kokomo, was the bill’s sponsor.

Lehman concurred with Senate changes and the House again approved the bill, 91-1. H.E.A. 1375 was signed by Gov. Holcomb on May 2.

S.E.A. 551 – This is a bill that focuses on helping victims of criminal acts. HSPA raised a concern to bill author Sen. Mark Messmer, R-Jasper, with a provision that would keep child fatality review teams reports confidential until a criminal investigation or prosecution was completed, which could mean years with appeals.

Sen. Messmer brought David Powell of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council into the discussion. Powell said the intent was to keep the information secret up to the start of a trial if charges had been filed. This was to avoid pre-trial publicity that could force a case to be moved to another county at great expense.

HSPA drafted an amendment to satisfy IPAC’s intent, but limit time frame of secrecy for the reports. Messmer and Powell signed off on the amendment, but the amendment was not offered in the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee, chaired by Rep. Wendy McNamara, who also was the bill’s sponsor.

The House went on to pass the bill and Messmer concurred to the House version. The Senate approved his concurrence and Gov. Holcomb signed the bill into law on April 18.

S.E.A. 570 – This bill concerns cyber security of elections. HSPA initially had a conversation wit bill author, Sen. Greg Walker, R-Columbus, to clarify his intent on a hearing to have the notice given via the Open Door Law or through a public notice advertisement. He indicated an Open Door Law notice would be sufficient.

As the bill moved forward, Secretary of State Connie Lawson contacted Steve key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, to discuss an amendment they would offer to the bill that would modify the state Access to Public Records Act to give confidentiality to election and voter registration systems as a protection against hacking.
HSPA did not oppose the concept, but offered a suggested amendment to make it clear certain information would be available in the event a system was compromised. Lawson’s staff believed current state law provisions would address that concern.

The House and Senate passed H.E.A. 570 and Gov. Holcomb signed the bill into law on April 24.

S.E.A. 2 – A school bus safety bill contained language concerning the public availability of video from cameras mounted on buses to record drivers who ignore the extended stop arm while children are loading or unloading from the bus.

HSPA brought its concern with language making the video confidential to bill author Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport, and Rep. Jim Pressel, R-Rolling Prairie, who authored similar language in H.B. 1340.
Sen. Head and Rep. Pressel moved for an amendment making confidential only video taken that didn’t result in a legal action against a driver in the bill’s hearing before the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee, chaired by Rep. Wendy McNamara, R-Evansville.

With the change the House and Senate approved a conference committee version of the bill. Gov. Holcomb signed the legislation on May 1. Rep. Ethan Manning, R-Denver, was the bill sponsor.

H.B. 1340 – This motor vehicle safety bill included language allowing for school bus cameras to record when drivers ignore the stop arm as students are loading or unloading. HSPA talked to bill author Rep. Jim Pressel, R-Rolling Prairie, with a concern over language making the video “not a public record.”

Rep. Pressel said he was willing to fix the language, but that the concept would move in S.B. 2. His bill died in the House Roads and Transportation Committee, chaired by Rep. Holli Sullivan, R-Evansville.

H.E.A. 1405 – This economic development bill concerns data centers. HSPA questioned bill author Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, on a provision that would allow the Indiana Economic Development Corporation to keep secret the names of qualified data centers eligible for tax exemptions.

Rep. Soliday informed HSPA that the IEDC rejected the idea that the information be publicly available. The bill moved forward and was signed by Gov. Holcomb on May 5. Sens. Mark Messmer, R-Jasper, and Travis Holdman, R-Markle, were the bill’s sponsors.

H.E.A. 1344 – This bill would allow Indiana to become part of a multistate licensure compact for the supervision of nurses. HSPA talked to bill author Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany, about confidentiality provisions included.
Rep. Clere was willing to make changes, but it was determined any change could lead to Indiana’s application into compact being rejected. H.E.A. 1344 moved forward and was passed by both the House and Senate and signed into law by Gov. Holcomb on April 29.

S.B. 436 – This was another multistate nurse licensure bill similar to H.E.A. 1344. HSPA talked to bill author Sen. Andy Zay, R-Huntington, about its concern with confidentiality provisions. Sen. Zay asked HSPA to provide a potential amendment.

As was determined with H.E.A. 1344, any change could lead to Indiana’s application into the multistate compact being rejected.

S.B. 436 died without a vote on the House floor as it was determined that H.E.A. 1344 would move forward. The House sponsor was Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany.

H.E.A. 1447 – This bill concerns financial institutions and consumer credit. HSPA questioned bill author Rep. Woody Burton, R-Whiteland, about some information that would be kept confidential in the bill. Rep. Burton connected HSPA with Tom Fite of the state Department of Financial Institutions. Fite explained that the language mirrored current state law.

After Burton concurred with Senate changes to the bill, the House re-approved it and Gov. Holcomb signed the bill on May 1.

H.E.A. 1545 – This bill authored by Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer, R-Beech Grove, concerns public health matters. There was a provision that concerned HSPA concerning the availability of vital statistics records (death, birth certificates). Rep. Kirchhofer connected HSPA to Amy Kent of the state Department of Health who assured that the changes only impacted academic researchers, not the public’s ability to obtain copies of birth or death records. HSPA also checked with Michael Maven, the legislative director of the Indiana Genealogical Society, who said the bill’s language was acceptable.

The House and Senate approved the bill and it was signed into law by Gov. Holcomb on April 29. Sen. John Ruckelshaus, R-Indianapolis, was the bill’s sponsor.

H.E.A. 1641 – This bill concerns charter school matters and includes a provision allowing a charter school to create a police department. As private entities, HSPA asked bill author Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, whether the charter school police entities would be subject to the state Access to Public Records Act in the same fashion as police in public schools. The reply was yes. This means charter school police must complete the daily log or record concerning incidents that are reported.

The bill was passed by both the House and Senate and signed into law by Gov. Holcomb on May 5.
H.E.A. 1651 – Rep. Donna Schaibley, R-Carmel, authored this bill that concerns judicial hearings of alleged dangerous individuals to determine whether guns should be confiscated. The original language included reporting on such cases to a state database. HSPA talked to Rep. Schaibley about the level of confidentiality given to some of the to-be-collected information.

After the bill was passed in the House, Rep. Schaibley informed HSPA that all of the reporting language would be removed from the bill, which did happen during its hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport. Sen. Erin Houchin, R-Salem, was the bill’s sponsor. The bill was then passed by the Senate and signed into law by Gov. Holcomb on May 6.

S.E.A. 79 – This bill sets out due process rights of police officers during disciplinary investigations into their conduct. HSPA pointed out an unintended consequence of language that would remove records from an officer’s personnel file to the bill author, Sen. Jack Sandlin, R-Indianapolis, and sponsor, Rep. Mike Speedy, R-Indianapolis. The original language would take records allowed to be kept confidential in a personnel file and make them disclosable public records once removed.

Sen. Sandlin initially disagreed with the HSPA assessment of the situation. Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel explained the situation during the bill’s hearing before the House Veterans Affairs and Public Safety Committee, chaired by Rep. Randy Frye, R-Greensburg. The committee asked Fraternal Order of Police lobbyist Leo Blackwell to review the language. The language was removed from the bill before it was passed by the House, 61-18.
Sandlin concurred with the House changes and the Senate then approved that version of the bill, 43-3. Gov. Holcomb signed the bill on May 6.

S.E.A. 33 – This bill concerns comprehensive addiction recovery centers. The original language made certain information concerning the effectiveness of the centers confidential. HSPA questioned the need for secrecy with the bill’s author, Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis.

While the bill moved forward, HSPA worked with Sen. Merritt, Steve McCaffery of Mental Health America of Indiana and Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer, R-Beech Grove, chair of the House Public Health Committee where S.E.A. 33 was assigned. The amendment was adopted by the committee and the bill went on to have a conference committee version approved by both chambers. Gov. Holcomb signed the legislation on May 1. Rep. Steve Davisson, R-Salem, was the bill’s sponsor.

S.E.A. 278 – This bill allows for the creation of local fetal/infant mortality review teams to review deaths to hopefully find ways to reduce infant mortality rates.

HSPA raised a concern over a blanket provision making information gathered for a report confidential with the bill author Sen. Jean Leising, R-Oldenburg. She removed the offending provision from the bill.

The bill was passed by both the House and Senate and signed into law by Gov. Holcomb on April 18.

S.E.A. 558 – This bill concerns the security of elections. HSPA raised a question about a provision’s impact on the ability of the public to inspect absentee ballot application information when the bill had reached its House Elections and Apportionment Committee hearing, chaired by Rep. Tim Wesco, R-Osceola, who also was the bill’s sponsor.

Rep. Chuck Moseley, D-Portage, offered an amendment to eliminate the provision in questions which the committee approved. The bill then was passed by the committee, 9-0.

The House passed S.E.A. 558 and bill author Sen. Erin Houchin, R-Salem, concurred with the House version, which was then approved by the Senate. Gov. Holcomb signed the bill on May 1.

H.B. 1526 – This bill authored by Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson, attempted to deal with hazing. A provision called for reporting by colleges. HSPA pointed out that what information that is required to be made public differs between law enforcement units representing public and private schools and private hospitals.

Rep. Austin added HSPA’s concern to her list of changes needed for her legislation. The bill was approved by the House Education Committee, chaired by Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, and the House, 85-13.

It was assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport, where the bill died. Senate sponsor was Rep. John Ruckelshaus, R-Indianapolis.

H.B. 1026 – This bill would have required the Indiana Department of Revenue to provide food and beverage tax information to local government units on a monthly basis. HSPA raised a concern with language requiring confidentiality for the names and addresses of retail businesses subject to collecting the tax.
Bill author Rep. Saunders, R-Lewisville, indicated a willingness to work with HSPA, but the bill died early in the House Ways and Means Committee, chaired by Rep. Tim Brown, R-Crawfordsville, and Todd Huston, R-Fishers.

H.B. 1158 – This bill by Rep. Doug Miller, R-Elkhart, addressed competition for public works projects. HSPA raised a concern with language that would allow a bidder to declare certain submitted information confidential. Rep. Miller agreed the language could use some tweaking, but the bill died before any changes could be made in the House Employment, Labor and Pensions Committee, chaired by Rep. Heath VanNatter, R-Kokomo.

S.B. 222 – This bill would have required local health departments or the health and hospital corporation to disclose certain information when a person is prohibited from working in a restaurant because he or she had a communicable or infectious disease.

HSPA raised a question on a provision keeping the person’s name secret to the bill author, Sen. Eric Koch, R-Bedford. Sen. Koch brought the issue to Amy Kent of the state Department of Health. No action was taken as the bill died in the Senate Health and Provider Services Committee, chaired by Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso.

H.B. 1201 – This bill, authored by Rep. Doug Gutwein, R-Francesville, would require the state Board of Accounts to post “pertinent information” on audits performed on its website. HSPA had a concern with information that was going to be considered confidential. The issue became moot when the bill failed to emerge from the House Government and Regulatory Reform Committee, chaired by Rep. Kevin Mahan, R-Hartford City.

H.B. 1180 & H.B. 1196 – Both bills initially would have required a pharmacy benefit manager to obtain a license issued by the Indiana Department of Insurance. HSPA was concerned with a provision in both making certain audit information confidential. Bill author Rep. Martin Carbaugh, R-Fort Wayne, explained that the specific information was considered a trade secret.

The issue became moot when the bills were changed into a request for a study committee on pharmacy benefit managers. Both bills died in conference committee at the end of the session.

H.B. 1252 – Another pharmacy benefit manager bill. HSPA had a similar issue with this bill as it did with H.B. 1180. Rep. Steve Davisson, R-Salem, was the author of this bill, which died in the House Insurance Committee, chaired by Rep. Martin Carbaugh, R-Fort Wayne, as the legislature moved forward with H.B. 1180.

S.B. 253 – This bill would have required state agencies to go through a review process before it could apply or renew a grant from a public or private entity. HSPA had conversations with bill author Sen. John Ruckelshaus, R-Indianapolis on the scope and intent of the bill.

The bill died for lack of a hearing in the Senate Appropriations Committee, chaired by Sen. Ryan Mishler, R-Bremen.

S.B. 157 – Authored by Sen. Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago, this bill would have required recipient of economic development incentives to submit an annual compliance report on the number of jobs created or retained, employee pay, and various other information concerning the use of the incentives. The Indiana Economic Development Corporation would compile this information and include it in the IEDC’s annual report.

HSPA would have supported this bill, but it died without a hearing in the Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee, chaired by Sen. Travis Holdman, R-Markle.

H.B. 1456 – This bill would have established a procedure for a court to order the deletion of certain criminal records. HSPA monitored the bill because it would oppose the deletion, rather than expungement of records detailing government activity.

The bill authored by Rep. John Young, R-Franklin, died without a hearing in the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee, chaired by Rep. Wendy McNamara, R-Evansville.

H.B. 1541 – This bill would require expunged criminal records be destroyed or permanently deleted, rather than be sealed. HSPA monitored the bill because it would oppose the deletion of the court and police records.

The bill authored by Rep. Ragen Hatcher, D-Gary, died without a hearing in the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee, chaired by Rep. Wendy McNamara, R-Evansville.

First Amendment

H.B. 1213 – This bill would provide freedom of speech/press protections for middle school, high school, and collegiate journalists. Students in public schools and universities would be free from censorship if they were practicing sound journalistic principles and ethics.

The bill’s author was Rep. Ed Clere, R-New Albany. Co-author was Rep. Ed Delaney, D-Indianapolis. H.B. 1213 died for lack of a hearing in the House Education Committee, chaired by Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis.
Rep. Clere has authored this legislation in three sessions. HSPA, along with the Indiana High School Press Association and Indiana Collegiate Press Association have supported this effort to block censorship of student journalists.

H.E.A. 1358 – This bill sets parameters for the use of drones by law enforcement agencies. The initial language would have put media outlets who were using a drone to gather news footage at risk of unintentionally breaking the law.
Indiana Broadcasters Association lobbyist Rick Cockrum brought this concern to the attention of bill author Rep. Bob Morris, R-Fort Wayne. During the bill’s hearing before the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee, chaired by Rep. Wendy McNamara, R-Evansville, an amendment was passed that eliminated the obstruction of police language that was the concern.

HSPA then suggested that Rep. Morris consider a change to include drone video to current law concerning public access to police body camera and cruiser camera video. Drone video currently isn’t under the sections of the Access to Public Records Act that address public access. Morris was agreeable if associations representing sheriffs and police chiefs didn’t object. Steve Key, executive director and general counsel for HSPA, got an OK from both law enforcement groups on a suggested amendment.

Morris said he was leaving it to bill sponsor Sen. Liz Brown, R-Fort Wayne, to insert the amendment in the Senate, but the change was not made. The House concurred with the Senate version of the bill. Gov. Holcomb signed the bill on April 29.

S.E.A. 240 – This bill deals with terrorism. There originally was a section that could put a reporter/editor/publisher in danger of committing a criminal act in the course of working on a story that would put a public official in a bad light.
HSPA talked to bill author Aaron Freeman, R-Indianapolis, about the concern. The Reporter’s Committee of Freedom of the Press and American Civil Liberties Union-Indiana confirmed that the language was problematic. HSPA also talked to Sen. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis, who chairs the Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee, which S.E.A. 240 was assigned.

Sen. Freeman agreed to work with HSPA on an amendment. The language was fixed before the bill emerged from its committee. The House and Senate passed S.E.A. 240 and it was signed into law by Gov. Holcomb on April 24. The bill’s sponsor was Rep. Wendy McNamara, R-Evansville.

S.E.A. 192 – This bill deals with nonconsensual pornography (for example, situations where intimate pictures of individuals are shared by old boyfriends on the Internet or through social media).

The original language raised a concern over newspapers’ use of images to report news being interpreted as a violation of this new law. Bart Giesler, lobbyist for the Motion Picture Association, was able to get an amendment through the bill’s author, Sen. Mike Bohacek, R-Michigan City, that resolved the issue.
The bill went on to be passed by both chambers. Gov. Holcomb signed the bill into law on April 18. The bill’s sponsor was Rep. Sharon Negele, R-Attica.

S.E.A. 243 – This bill also focuses on nonconsensual pornography. As in S.E.A. 192, it originally posed a news reporting problem. HSPA worked with the Motion Picture Association and Indiana Broadcasters Association to seek an amendment with bill author Sen. Aaron Freeman, R-Indianapolis.

Language was changed to meet the concern. Both chambers passed the bill and it was signed into law by Gov. Holcomb on May 2. The bill’s sponsor was Rep. Mike Speedy, R-Indianapolis.

H.B. 1481 – This bill concerned performances harmful to minors. HSPA monitored the bill due to First Amendment issues the bill raised. The author of the bill was Rep. Bruce Borders, R-Jasonville. The bill died for lack of a hearing in the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee, chaired by Rep. Wendy McNamara, R-Evansville.

S.E.A. 471 – This bill attempts to protect Critical Infrastructure, such as power plants, from damage by protesters by creating criminal offenses. HSPA expressed a concern with bill author Sen. Eric Koch, R-Bedford, that the language could put newspapers into a position of criminal liability while covering a protest if the reporter/photographer followed protesters onto private property (a power plant, for example) to report on the event.

Sen. Koch indicated he had no desire to interfere with press freedom to gather news while David Powell of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council said journalists would be arrested with the protesters if they were trespassing under this bill.

Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, polled editors on HSPA’s Freedom of Information Committee to see what direction they would give a journalist covering a protest that moved onto private party. The editors unanimously said they would instruct their writers and photographers not to cross over onto the private party in an attempt to cover the escalating protest. Key then told Koch the HSPA would not attempt to amend the bill.
Both chambers passed S.E.A. 471 and it was signed by Gov. Holcomb on May 6.

S.B. 78 – This bill would have allowed police to arrest protesters for wearing a mask to conceal their identities. HSPA monitored this bill due to First Amendment concerns it raised. A concern shared by the American Civil Liberties Union-Indiana.

The bill, authored by Sen. Jack Sandlin, R-Indianapolis, died for lack of a hearing before the Senate Corrections and Criminal Law Committee, chaired by Sen. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis.

Advertising

H.E.A. 1014 – This bill included language that effectively eliminated advertising by attorneys or people seeking to help with adoption of children. HSPA approached bill author Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel, to point out our concern.

Rep. Torr worked with HSPA and adoption attorney Steve Kirsch to change the bill. A satisfactory change was made to preserve an advertising option to reach mothers who are considering giving up their child for adoption.
The bill was approved by both the House and Senate and signed into law by Gov. Holcomb on May 1. Sen. Aaron Freeman, R-Indianapolis, was the bill’s sponsor.

S.B. 236 – This bill also focused on advertising surrounding adoptions. HSPA reached out to bill author Sen. Aaron Freeman, R-Indianapolis, to determine what issue had prompted the bill. Sen. Freeman’s concern with the use of Facebook to set up adoptions. He also said he was working with Rep. Torr on the issue and that H.E.A. 104 would be the bill that moved forward.

The bill died in the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport.

Labor

S.B. 231 – This bill excludes direct sellers from the definition of “employee” for purposes of the minimum wage law. HSPA approached bill author Sen. Mark Messmer, R-Jasper, to discuss its impact on newspaper direct.

Sen. Messmer agreed to work with HSPA on an amendment to deal with carriers who work as independent delivery agents, but don’t actually sell the newspaper. The amendment was not accepted by the Senate Pensions and Labor Committee, chaired by Phil Boots, R-Crawfordsville. Messmer told HSPA that the committee wanted a general bill and the carrier language was too specific.

Both chambers passed S.E.A. 231 and Gov. Holcomb signed the bill on April 3. The bill’s sponsor was Rep. Matt Lehman, R-Berne.

Messmer indicated Rep. Heath VanNatter, R-Kokomo, who chairs the House Employment, Labor and Pensions Committee, was not opposed to the HSPA language and that the issue could be addressed in the future.