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Office of the Indiana Attorney General

Attorney General > Office Initiatives > Legislative Agenda > 2011 Legislative Agenda 2011 Legislative Agenda

In the 2011 session of the Indiana General Assembly, Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller proposed or supported consumer-friendly legislation. The Attorney General’s legislative team attended committee hearings and floor votes of the Indiana House of Representatives and Indiana Senate. The team testified at hearings and worked to inform legislators about the impact on consumers that bills would have if they became law. Deputy Attorney General David Miller led the legislative team.

Consumer Protection: Cell Phones and Do Not Call List – House Bill 1273

Bill Status: HB 1273 passed 9-0 in the House Judiciary Committee January 18, advanced on second reading January 24 and passed the full Indiana House 95-0 January 31 and moved to the Senate. HB 1273 passed 7-1 in the Senate Commerce and Economic Development Committee March 7; and passed on third reading 48-0 in the full Senate on April 7. Conference committee report approved 50-0 in the Senate and 93-0 in the House April 29. Signed into law by the Governor May 13.

Telephone privacy is enforced by the Indiana Attorney General’s Office. Implemented under former Attorney General Steve Carter, the popular Do Not Call law protects Hoosier consumers from annoying, unwanted telemarketing calls. More than 1.8 million residential phone numbers now are registered on the Do Not Call list. Telephone solicitors who violate the law and call those numbers can face lawsuits from the Attorney General’s Office and financial penalties.

Because many Hoosiers now use cell phones only and do not have landlines at home, Attorney General Zoeller supported revising state law. The legislation clarified the statute, allowing Hoosiers to register their cell phone numbers, prepaid wireless calling and interconnected VOIP service on the Do Not Call list if the number serves as their residential phone number. The bill will impose the same penalties on telemarketers who call a registered cell phone number.

Consumer Protection: Enforcement Assistance Fund - House Bill 1182

Bill Status: Assigned to House Judiciary Committee, passed 9-0 January 24, passed the full Indiana House 99-0 February 21, moved to the Indiana Senate. Assigned to the Senate Commerce and Economic Development Committee, passed 9-0 April 11, approved 48-0 in the Senate o third reading April 19. The House concurred in Senate amendments 90-0 April 26. Signed into law by the Governor May 9.

During the foreclosure crisis, many homeowners were victimized by foreclosure-rescue fraud or by deceptive credit-services or home-loan practices. Many in turn filed consumer complaints with the Attorney General’s Office. But if a company committing a fraud or scam went out of business, there might be no assets with which to pay restitution or damages to the victims.

Attorney General Zoeller supports legislation to create an Enforcement Assistance Fund, so that victims who report wrongdoing to the state could receive up to $3,000 in compensation in certain cases. The assistance would be funded through civil penalties recovered from companies sued by the Attorney General for violating certain consumer protection laws. The fund would be modeled on a $125,000 restitution fund the 2010 Legislature created to reimburse victims of the American Escrow fraud.

Background Checks for Health Care Professionals – Senate Bill 363

Bill Status: Assigned to Senate Health and Provider Services Committee, passed 8-0 January 26, passed in the Indiana Senate 49-0, moved to the Indiana House for consideration. Assigned to House Public Health Committee, passed 7-0 April 12, amended in the Indiana House April 18; passed in the House on third reading April 19. Passed on concurrence 95-0 in the House and 46-4 in the Senate April 29. Signed into law by the Governor May 10.

To screen out individuals with criminal records from working around the vulnerable elderly, Zoeller supports legislation to require licensed health professionals – such as nurses and administrators – to undergo criminal background checks when they apply for a new license. Paid for at licensees’ expense, the background checks would be sent to the Indiana Professional Licensing Agency (IPLA), which oversees licensing applications for nurses and administrators.

Public Safety and Law Enforcement – Senate Bill 215

Bill Status: Assigned to Senate Judiciary Committee, passed as amended 7-0 February 11, passed in the Indiana Senate 49-0 February 22, moved to the Indiana House. Passed as amended 10-1 in the House Judiciary Committee April 1, passed on third readin 91-2 in the full Indiana House April 12. Conference committee report approved 53-43 in the House and 45-5 in the Senate April 29. Vetoed by the Governor May 13.

On May 12, 2010, the Attorney General’s Office issued an official legal opinion about criminal and civil forfeitures, a court process through which prosecutors can seek to seize assets of drug-trafficking suspects. Attorney General Zoeller supports legislation that would clarify how much in forfeited funds could be used for law enforcement and how much could be used for the Indiana Common School Fund so the distribution of forfeited assets is uniform and easily calculated - and so that law enforcement investigations are properly funded. Zoeller also supports the limits the legislation places on using outside counsel.

Transparency in Gaming Revenue – Senate Bill 325

Bill Status: Assigned to Senate Public Policy Committee, passed as amended 7-0 February 11; passed on third reading in the Senate 43-7 February 18, now moves to the Indiana House for consideration. Passed in the House Public Policy Committee March 31 by a vote of 9-0; amended in the full House and passed 87-0 April 8; passed by the Senate 48-0 on a concurrence vote April 19; signed into law by the Governor April 28.

If riverboat casino dollars flow into a development company’s coffers, that company should be required to disclose to the state how it spends the money, under legislation Attorney General Zoeller supports. The legislation would require disclosure by any for-profit or nonprofit corporation that receives casino revenue through a Local Development Agreement or LDA.

In communities with riverboat casinos, state law now requires setting up an LDA so a portion of casino revenue is set aside and directed to fund local economic development projects to boost tourism. A for-profit company that received $16 million from the East Chicago casino over 10 years never has publicly disclosed how it spent the casino revenue, however, and the Attorney General’s Office is pursuing ongoing litigation to require transparency.

Legislation Zoeller supports to require disclosure would apply to any organization that receives casino revenue through an LDA: a for-profit corporation, a nonprofit such as a community foundation, or a charitable trust. Results of an accounting would be provided to the Attorney General’s Office.

Prescription Drug Disposal Sites – House Bill 1121

Bill Status: Assigned to House Public Health Committee, passed 11-0 January 26, passed 95-1 on third reading February 7 in the Indiana House and moved to the Indiana Senate for consideration. Assigned to the Senate Health and Provider Services Committee and passed 6-0 on April 6; approved 48-0 on third reading in the Senate. Conference committee report passed 96-0 in the House and 48-0 in the Senate April 25. Signed into law by the Governor May 9. 

Abuse of prescription drugs – often stolen from medicine cabinets by teenagers – is a problem in Indiana. Attorney General Zoeller supports legislation that would make it easier for Hoosiers to safely dispose of their unused or expired prescription medicines so the drugs are not diverted or discarded into waterways.

In some other states, pharmacies can provide disposal bins where consumers can safely discard unneeded or unwanted prescription pills, tablets and liquids. Indiana has conducted drug “take back” events where consumers could drop off prescription drugs at collection points, but law enforcement officers, by law, had to stand by and supervise. To make the process more practical, Zoeller supports changing state law and pharmacy regulations so that pharmacies and other health care facilities can voluntarily offer their customers drug disposal sites, without the need for a police presence.

Do Not Sue - Senate Bill 495

Bill Status: Assigned to Senate Education Committee, passed 6-2 February 9, passed in the Indiana Senate 33-17 February 17; moved to the Indiana House for consideration. Assigned to the House Education Committee and passed 11-0 on April 6; passed 67-26 on third reading in the Indiana House April 12, signed into law by the Governor April 26.

The Attorney General’s Office is currently defending a state statute, the school funding formula, from a legal challenge filed by three school corporations. Attorney General Zoeller respects the legal right of school systems to file lawsuits, but objects to school plaintiffs using the tax dollars they receive from the state to pay for their litigation against the state. Such lawsuits should be funded through non-state dollars, he contends. Zoeller supports legislation that would prohibit school corporations from using state funds to file or join in any lawsuit against the state.

Homeowners Associations – House Bill 1058

Bill Status: Assigned to House Judiciary Committee, passed 8-0 January 24, passed 90-8 in the full Indiana House January 31; now moves to Senate. Passed in the Senate Committee on Corrections, Criminal and Civil Matters by a vote of 7-0 March 29, passed without amendments in the full Senate 49-0 April 7; signed into law by the Governor April 20.

Under state law, the Attorney General’s Office has a regulatory role over charitable and nonprofit organizations to ensure they spend donations as intended; and it can seek legal remedies such as an injunction or board reform if a nonprofit has engaged in illegal or fraudulent activity.

Attorney General Zoeller supports legislation to extend the legal safeguards on nonprofits to homeowners associations as well. The legislation would allow the Attorney General to bring a lawsuit against a homeowners association or its board and seek injunctions against illegal conduct, or seek restitution or civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation.

Mortgage Foreclosure Best Practices - Senate Bill 582

Bill Status: Assigned to Senate Judiciary Committee, passed as amended 6-0 February 11; passed in the Senate 50-0, moved to the Indiana House for consideration. Passed in the House Financial Institutions Committee March 31; passed 89-0 on third reading by the full House April 8; approved 47-1 in the Senate on concurrence April 19. Signed into law by the Governor May 10.

The Indiana Attorney General's Office is participating in the 50-state investigation of "robo-signing" - the practice by mortgage lenders of improperly signing and filing foreclosure documents in court without authenticating them, leading to erroneous foreclosure actions. A foreclosure prevention task force developed a list of guidelines called "Mortgage Foreclosure Best Practices" that Attorney General Zoeller filed in the Indiana Supreme Court and recommended the court implement statewide.

Separately, Senate Bill 582, if passed, would make some of the Mortgage Foreclosure Best Practices part of state statute. It would require courts to scheduel settlement conferences between lenders and borrowers, and judges would not take final action on foreclosures until settlement conferences could take plce. Courts could impose monetary civil penalties on lenders who failed to comply with the new requirements, under the bill. 

Human Trafficking and Child Solicitation Study - House Bill 1083

Bill Status: Assigned to the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee, passed 11-0 January 26; passed in the Indiana House 96-0 February 7 and moved to the Senate. Assigned to the Senate Committee on Corrections, Criminal and Civil Matters; passed 10-0 March 29, approved 50-0 on third reading in the full Senate April 21. Conference committee report passed 93-1 in the House and 50-0 in the Senate April 29. Signed into law by the Governor May 10.

Many law enforcement agencies are worried about the growing problem of human trafficking that forces vulnerable minors into lives of child prostitution and underage sexual exploitation. House Bill 1083 would create a summer study committee to examine whether Indiana's criminal penalty for child solicitation should be revised, or if a new criminal offense of child trafficking should be added to the Indiana code. The study committee's recommendations then would be considered by the 2012 Legislature.

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