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Dozens of new Indiana laws passed in 2024 take effect

The Indiana Statehouse.
Lauren Chapman
IPB News
The Indiana General Assembly averaged about 172 new laws in short, non-budget sessions over the last half-decade.

The Indiana General Assembly passed 172 laws during this year’s legislative session. And the vast majority of those laws take effect July 1.

The Indiana General Assembly passed 172 laws during this year’s legislative session. And the vast majority of those laws take effect July 1.

Several centered on various topics in education like reading, religious instruction and cell phones in class.

SEA 1: Reading skills

One of the most controversial education bills will hold back nearly all third graders who fail the state reading exam, IREAD-3.SEA 1 addresses concerns that 1 in 5 third graders can’t read.

Despite some exceptions to the law that will allow certain students to move on to fourth grade without passing the IREAD-3, many educators worry third grade classes will swell if too many students are retained. Some lawmakers also said the law is punitive to students and their families.

However, supporters said students who move on to fourth grade without foundational reading skills will struggle to be successful throughout the rest of their academic careers and lives.

HEA 1137: Release for religious instruction 

Another hotly debated law, HEA 1137, requires schools to release students for up to two hours of off-campus religious instruction per week. Students are already allowed to attend religious instruction with approval from their school, but the new law takes away a school’s ability to deny that instruction.

Critics of HEA 1137 said schools should be able to choose whether to release students, especially since most schools struggle with high rates of chronic absenteeism. The law’s supporters said that decision should be left to parents.

SEA 185: Student use of wireless communication device 

Schools must also adopt new policies that ban students from using cell phones and some other devices during instructional time. SEA 185 applies to cell phones, tablets, laptops and gaming devices that could cause distractions or disruptions during class. The law passed with bipartisan support but could be difficult to enforce.

HEA 1001: Education and higher education matters

Another new law taking effect July 1 expands eligibility for Indiana’s Education Scholarship Account Program for children who have disabilities. HEA 1001 now allows funds to go to those children’s siblings as well.

Some lawmakers spoke out against the measure because there was no additional funding to the ESA program. They said the money will run out faster and some students may not get the support they need. However, the law’s supporters said expanding the program will ease the burden on families by ensuring all their children receive support.

HEA 1383: Wetlands

Three years ago, most of Indiana’s wetlands lost significant legal protections under a law approved by the General Assembly. This year, Republicans, under HEA 1383, significantly reduced the number of wetlands that can belong to the only remaining protected class.

HEA 1047: Sexual offenses

Digitally generating or altering intimate images and videos to make them look like a real person — without their consent — is now a crime due to HEA 1047, classified under the state’s revenge porn statute.

HEA 1426: Long acting reversible contraceptives

Hospitals must now stock and offer subdermal, long-term, reversible contraceptives, or LARCs, to Medicaid members after they’ve given birth under HEA 1426. Other types of LARCs, such as IUDs, were removed from the measure, sparking concerns from reproductive rights advocates.

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HEA 1102: Child care

Home-based child care facilities can care for children longer — six hours a day, up from four — under HEA 1102. The measure also increases the number of children allowed in the homes, from five to seven — not counting any children in the home who are relatives of the owner.

SEA 190: State disaster relief fund 

Individuals with property damage after a disaster can now receive up to $25,000 from the state’s disaster relief fund, up from $10,000. SEA 190 also allows people to access the fund whether or not the federal government has declared an emergency for the area.

HEA 1412: Canine standard of care

Local governments can no longer ban pet stores from selling dogs. HEA 1412 eliminates nearly two dozen such ordinances. It also establishes new care standards and requires pet stores to register with the state in order to sell canines.

SEA 181: Citizenship and immigration status

Republicans hope to make a long-standing ban on so-called “sanctuary cities” enforceable under SEA 181. A group of citizens sued under the original 2011 ban, but the Indiana Supreme Court ruled they couldn’t prove they suffered any injury. The new measure allows the attorney general to sue local governments in order to enforce the ban, something Attorney General Todd Rokita has already threatened.

HEA 1337: HOA regulation of beekeeping

Hoosiers with homeowner’s associations will be allowed to keep bees under a new law. HEA 1337 bars HOAs from stopping people from having beehives on their property as long as they’re actively maintained for honey and placed 100 feet from residents with bee allergies.

HEA 1086: Alcoholic beverage sales 

And happy hour officially returns to Indiana after a decades-long prohibition. Under HEA 1086, bars and restaurants can offer reduced prices for drinks for no more than four hours a day and 15 hours in a week. And those happy hours can’t be between 9 p.m and 3 a.m. Indiana law had banned happy hours since 1985, in a bid to help reduce drunk driving.

Kirsten is our education reporter. Contact her at kadair@wfyi.org or follow her on Twitter at @kirsten_adair. Brandon is our Statehouse bureau chief. Contact him at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.
Copyright 2024 Indiana Public Broadcasting

Kirsten Adair
Brandon Smith

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