INDIANAPOLIS-State Senator Frank Mrvan (D-Hammond) proposed several bills during the recently adjourned legislative session that were approved and signed into law by the governor. Included in his legislative initiatives this session were bills aimed at increasing transparency at all levels of government.
House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1005 aims to deter nepotism and conflicts of interest in local government. Co-sponsored by Sen. Mrvan, the act will prohibit public workers from hiring family members. In addition, the proposal will prevent firefighters, police officers, park officials and other municipal employees from serving in an elected position on a county council or board of commissioners that sets agency budgets and salaries. The act stipulates that upon election, public officers must resign their employed position to serve in the elected office.
HEA 1003 permits governing bodies to allow public access to state agency meetings that are conducted by electronic communication. The act includes language from legislation introduced by Sen. Mrvan that will strengthen both the Public Records Law and the Open Door Law. A provision specifies that a governing body may adopt a policy that allows the public to attend meetings conducted by electronic communication at a public place.
Senate Enrolled Act (SEA) 4 strengthens the state's human trafficking laws by eliminating loopholes and making it easier to prosecute offenders with the removal of a requirement to prove force or fraud. The legislation, co-authored by Sen. Mrvan, increases penalties with new language stating that any person who recruits, harbors, or transports a child less than 16 years of age with the intent of engaging the child in forced labor, involuntary servitude, prostitution or sexual conduct commits promotion of human trafficking of a minor, a Class B felony punishable by six to 20 years in prison. Further, the new law makes it illegal for any adult to sell or transfer custody of a child for sexual activity, expanding old law that only applied to a child's parent, guardian or custodian.
HEA 1264, sponsored by Sen. Mrvan, addresses the flooding issues on the Little Calumet River by establishing a funding mechanism for needed repairs along the river basin. Repairs will be overseen by a new Little Calumet River Basin Project Advisory Board. Under the new law property owners in the boundary area will contribute to the repair and maintenance funding through an annual special assessment based on the property classification for all parcels of land within the Little Calumet River and Burns Waterway watershed in Lake County. For residential properties, the assessment will be $45 per year. The repairs and improvements will help curtail rising flood insurance costs for property owners and spur economic development in the area by minimizing risk of future flooding.
HEA 1237, co-sponsored by Sen. Mrvan, provides additional protections for consumers of home improvement supplies and sets rules for home improvement contracts to better protect consumers from scams. The act targets storm chasers, who often come into a state and give quotes for repair work without following required insurance procedures.
Most new laws will become effective July 1, 2012. This is only a sample of Sen. Mrvan's legislation set to become law. For a complete list, click here.
For more information on Sen. Mrvan, his legislative agenda or other State Senate business call 1-800-382-9467 or visit www.SenateDemocrats.IN.gov.
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