Provisions affect public access to information

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The 2013 General Assem­bly passed several bills that will impact the state’s public access laws. A summary of the legislation follows:

S.E.A. 162

Authored by state Sen. Mike Delph, R-Carmel, the act had a goal of greater transparency for the Indiana Economic Develop­ment Corp. The Senate Tax and Fiscal Policy Committee, chaired by state Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek, approved the bill 12-0.

Unfortunately, a committee amendment limited the amount of information that must be included in yearly compliance reports. HSPA testified in favor of S.B. 162.

Delph drafted a second-reading amendment to strengthen the bill but lacked support, so the amendment was not offered. The Senate passed the bill, 49-1. Co-authors were state Sens. Jim Banks, R-Columbia City; Vaneta Becker, R-Evansville; John Broden, D-South Bend; Mike Young, R-Indianapolis; Frank Mrvan, D-Hammond; Jean Breaux, D-Indianapolis; and Mark Stoops, D-Bloomington.

State Rep. Woody Burton, R-Greenwood, was the bill’s spon­sor. HSPA talked to him about strengthening the bill with Delph’s language. Burton said Republican leadership wanted to keep the language as it left the Senate. Co-sponsors were state Reps. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel; Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City; and Justin Moed, D-Indianapolis.

With an 11-0 vote, the House Commerce, Small Business and Economic Development Committee chaired by State Rep. Mark Messmer, R-Jasper, approved the bill. The House then passed S.E.A. 162, 98-0. Gov. Mike Pence signed it into law May 8.

H.E.A. 1102

Authored by State Rep. Steve Davisson, R-Salem, the bill initially would have allowed executive sessions any time to hear an attorney explain the liability of actions considered by the governing body. It also expanded the litigation provision for an executive session under the Open Door Law.

HSPA expressed its concern with the broadness of the attorney consultation language with State Rep. Davisson and testified before the House Government and Regulatory Committee, chaired by State Rep. Kevin Mahan, R-Hartford City, about the concerns. Mahan held the bill to give Davisson time to work with HSPA on an amendment.

The amendment eliminated the attorney consultant language and tweaked the litigation definition to make it clear that administrative law proceedings would be considered litigation.

The bill also added language suggested by State Rep. Jeff Thompson, R-Lizton, to allow a school board to directly negotiate collective bargaining agreements without triggering the Open Door Law. HSPA worked with Thompson on the language.

The amendment was approved in committee, which then passed the bill 11-0. The House approved the bill, 98-0. State Reps. Thompson and Mara Candaleria Reardon, D-Munster, were co-authors.

State Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, sponsored the bill. H.E.A. 1102 was approved 9-0 by the State Senate Public Policy Committee, chaired by Merritt, and the full Senate, 48-2.

State Sen. Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago, co-sponsored the bill. Pence signed the legislation April 29.

S.E.A. 369

State Sen. Tom Wyss, R-Fort Wayne, is the author of the act creating a criminal intelligence exception to the Access to Public Records Act and allows law enforcement to neither confirm nor deny the existence of investigatory records to protect an ongoing investigation or public safety.

HSPA worked with Wyss, the Indiana State Police and Indiana’s Homeland Security Department on an amendment to limit the scope of the changes sought.

The amended bill passed 8-0 in the Senate Homeland Security, Trans­portation and Veterans Affairs Committee chaired by Wyss. HSPA testified in favor of the new language.

Later it passed the Senate 47-1. State Sen. Jim Arnold, D-LaPorte, co-authored.

State Rep. Randy Frye, R-Greensburg, was the bill’s sponsor. It was approved 11-0 by the House Veterans Affairs and Public Safety Committee, chaired by Frye. The House approved the bill, 94-0.

Co-sponsors were state Reps. Kevin Mahan, R-Hartford City; Chuck Moseley, D-Portage; and Ed Delaney, D-Indianapolis. The Senate concurred on House changes, 48-0. Pence signed the bill into law May 11.

S.E.A. 243

State Sen. Tom Wyss, R-Fort Wayne, authored the act allowing lists of the home contact information of first responders to be kept confidential to protect against terrorism. HSPA worked with Wyss, the Indiana State Police and Indiana’s Homeland Security Department on an amendment to limit the amount of secrecy.

The amended bill passed 9-0 in the Senate Homeland Security, Trans­portation and Veterans Affairs Committee, chaired by Wyss. HSPA testified in favor of the new language. It then passed in the Senate 47-1. Co-author was State Sen. Jim Arnold, D-LaPorte.

State Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, was the sponsor. The bill was approved 12-0 by the Senate Local Government Committee, chaired by state Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport, and by the Senate, 94-0. Co-sponsors were State Reps. Dan Forestal, D-Indianapolis, and Randy Frye, R-Greensburg. Pence signed the bill May 7.

H.E.A. 1219

Authored by State Rep. Mike Karickhoff, R-Kokomo, the bill originally would allow law enforcement officers to request that county government redact their home addresses from records posted on the county’s website. (The language did not impact access to records requested from a county office.)

HSPA and the Association of Indiana Counties raised concerns about the practical application of the language and where the exemptions would end as other groups sought the same privilege.

The bill passed 8-1 (state Rep. Tom Saunders, R-Lewisville, was the lone dissenting vote) by the House Local Government Committee, chaired by State Rep. Tim Neese, R-Elkhart, and the House, 96-4. State Reps. Neese, Jud McMillan, R-Brookville; and Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, co-authored the bill.

State Sen. Michael Crider, R-Greenfield, authored the bill. Karickhoff and Crider worked with the Association of Indiana Counties and HSPA to craft an amendment making the language optional at the county level with a fee allowed to cover the redaction costs.

As amended, it was passed 6-0 by the Senate Local Government Committee, chaired by state Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport, and the Senate 47-0. State Sens. Tom Wyss, R-Fort Wayne, and Jim Buck, R-Kokomo, co-sponsored.

The House approved Karickhoff’s concurrence with the Senate changes, 93-0, and Pence signed the bill into law April 29.

H.E.A. 1116

Authored by state Rep. Dan Leonard, R-Huntington, this bill concerning the administration of property taxes.

It includes a provision eliminating local government finance hearings on a government unit’s budget unless a citizen requests such a public hearing.

HSPA talked to the author and testified at both committee hearings about the policy ramification of putting the burden on citizens to know their right to a hearing and onus of making that request.

Leonard said the bill was requested by the Department of Local Government Finance. HSPA’s testimony did not resonate with any of the committee members.

The House Government and Regulatory Reform Committee, chaired by state Rep. Kevin Mahan, R-Hartford City, and the House approved the bill, 87-8.

The Senate Committee on Appropriations, chaired by state Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, and the Senate passed the bill 41-8. State Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport, sponsored the bill.

Leonard filed a dissent on the Senate changes, which lead to a conference committee on H.E.A. 116. The committee report was passed by both the House and Senate, and Pence signed the bill May 9.

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