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Law mandates former meth lab transparency 

By Emily Metheny

A new state law should protect Hoosier homebuyers and real estate agents from buying or selling properties contaminated by meth labs.

The law - passed as House Bill 1141 - puts the Indiana State Police in charge of a registry that will list all houses or apartments that have been used to produce meth, until they've been decontaminated.

The list will be open to the public.

"It's a big bill for consumer protection and citizens," said First Sargent Niki Crawford of the Indiana State Police. She said the "brunt of the work" has been done and the links would be working on July 1, the date when the bill goes into effect. The law calls for a house or apartment to be added to the meth lab registry website 180 or more days after it was reported to the police. That gives the owners time to decontaminate the property before it goes on the list. The listing must then be removed within 90 days of decontamination.

One concern of real estate agents is the possibility that the registry will not be kept current which could "unfairly stigmatize" the properties to potential buyers, said Maggie McShane, senior vice president of government affairs for the Indiana Association of Realtors. Even with that concern, McShane said she thinks the law is good.

"It's a great step forward for Hoosiers to have protection," McShane said. The bill also protects Realtors because it allows them to disclose more information about the home to buyers, she said.

McShane said the agents are "really proud to be part of the protection of buyers."

State officials last week warned people against cleaning the contaminated locations themselves due to health dangers and encouraged the use of qualified inspectors for illegal drug lab cleanups. A list of professionals can be found on the Indiana Department of Environmental Management's website.

According to state officials from the IDEM, "entering a property without first assessing the levels of contamination may interfere with the validity of the testing, complicate the cleanup or seriously jeopardize your health."

Emily Metheny is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news service powered by Franklin College journalism students and faculty.

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story included an incorrect spelling of Maggie McShane's name. We strive for accuracy and appreciate it when readers alert us if and when we fall short. Thanks.

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