With all the activity at the Statehouse this session, it's easy to lose track of what laws have actually been created and changed. Here's a small sample of some of what has been accomplished so far in this General Assembly legislative session. Gov. Daniels signed the following bills into law last week: * SEA 484 state police officer survivor health benefit
Requires the state Police Department to offer to provide and pay for health coverage equal to health coverage offered to active state police officers for the surviving spouse and dependent children of certain state police officers who die in the line of duty. Author(s): Allie Craycraft Jr., D-Selma; Tom Wyss, R-Fort Wayne; Brandt Hershman, R-Wheatfield; Robert Meeks, R-LaGrange; Marvin Riegsecker, R-Goshen; R. Michael Young, R-Indianapolis.
* HEA 1653 permit issuance and immunity from liability
Establishes the "shovel ready" site development center within the Indiana development finance authority to: (1) provide comprehensive information on permits required for business activities in Indiana; (2) work with other state government offices, departments and administrative entities in assisting applicants in obtaining timely and efficient permit review and resolving of issues arising from permit review; (3) encourage the participation of federal and local government agencies in permit coordination; and (4) create programs to enable political subdivisions to obtain all or part of any permits to create sites that are ready for economic development. Provides that certain exceptions to liability under the federal Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act are equally applicable to persons under Indiana law concerning hazardous substances. Author(s): David Wolkins, R-Winona Lake; Ryan Dvorak, D-South Bend; Earl Harris, D-East Chicago; Jackie Walorski, R-Lakeville.
* SEA 56 establishes the Department of Homeland Security
Abolishes the State Emergency Management Agency, the Fire and Building Services Department, the Public Safety and Training Board, the Advanced Life Support Subcommittee and the Public Safety Institute. Transfers the functions of these entities to the Department of Homeland Security. Reduces the membership of the Fire Prevention and Building Safety Commission. Requires the governor to appoint members to the commission. Makes several changes relating to emergency medical services dispatch certification. Provides that the definition of "building law" does not include a fire safety law. Transfers statutes and repeals superseded statutes. Requires the legislative services agency to prepare legislation for introduction in the 2006 regular session of the General Assembly to organize and correct statutes affected by the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security. Author(s): Tom Wyss, R-Fort Wayne; Allie Craycraft Jr., D-Selma; Earline Rogers, D-Gary.
* SEA 267 agriculture nuisance actions
Specifies that certain changes to an agriculture operation are not a nuisance. This legislation allows farmers to update their operations and technology. It is only germane to existing farms and expansions on existing farms within certain parameters. This helps the farmer who has an existing operation around which development occurs. In many of these cases, these farmers find themselves being sued by their new neighbors even though they have lived there much longer. Author(s): Robert Jackman, D.V.M., R-Milroy; Brandt Hershman, R-Wheatfield; Vic Heinold, R-Kouts.
Daniels is particularly supportive of SEA 267 and its benefits for Indiana farmers.
"I'm very pleased to sign this bill into law today. Indiana farmers have historically been, and want to continue to be, good neighbors and good environmentalists. While recognizing their continued role as responsible stewards of our environment, this measure is a necessary and common sense step to help farmers expand and grow their existing operations to capitalize on a significant economic development opportunity for our state," said the governor.