New laws going into effect for Indiana on July 1

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INDIANAPOLIS – The smoking age, the use of cell phones in cars and teacher evaluations are among the changes Hoosiers need to know about when new laws go into effect on July 1.

One new law set to go into effect has been stopped by a preliminary injunction.

Here’s a look at some of the new regulations.

Hands-free phone use

Starting July 1, the handheld use of cell phones is prohibited for drivers in Indiana.

House Bill 1070 allows for the use of a phone through hands-free technology or to call 911 in the event of an emergency.

An existing law from 2011 bans texting while driving, but police have found it difficult to enforce.

Violating the new law could result in a fine of up to $500. Starting July 1, 2021, the Indiana BMV can add points to your license if you’ve broken the law. Accumulating too many points could result in a license suspension.

From the digest of the bill:

Provides that, except in certain circumstances, a person may not hold or use a telecommunications device while operating a moving motor vehicle. Removes prohibitions on typing, transmitting, or reading a text message or an electronic mail message while operating a moving motor vehicle. Provides that the bureau may not assess points under the point system for a violation occurring before July 1, 2021.

Learn more here and here.

Increase in smoking and vaping age

Senate Bill 1 brings Indiana in line with a federal law that bans people under 21 from buying or possessing tobacco, e-cigarettes or e-liquids.

The bill makes selling products to underage customers a Class C infraction punishable by a $400 fine, double the original penalty of $200. Additional violations of the law will lead to larger fines.

Learn more here.

Panhandling restrictions — on hold

Starting July 1, people would no longer be able to panhandle within 50 feet of a bank, ATM, restaurant, business or place where a financial transaction takes place (including parking garages and parking meters). The law would also prohibit panhandling within 50 feet of a public monument.

However, the ACLU of Indiana filed a lawsuit over the law, calling it an overreach. The group argued that the law would effectively make it unfeasible to panhandle in downtown Indianapolis.

On June 30–the day before the law was supposed to go into effect–a U.S. District Court issued a preliminary injunction.

The previous law prohibited panhandling within 20 feet of designated locations.

Learn more here.

Test scores no longer part of teacher evaluations

Under House Bill 1002, students’ test scores will no longer be a required component of teacher evaluations. Before the change, those scores were a significant part of the evaluation process. From the digest of the bill:

“Removes the requirement that a school corporation’s annual performance evaluation plan must be based, in part, on objective measures of student achievement.”

The Indiana State Teachers Association supported the change, saying test scores can’t adequately measure a teacher’s effectiveness in the classroom.

Learn more here.

Medical billing

Under this law, patients who see an out-of-network medical practitioner at an in-network facility can’t be charged more than the in-network price.

There is a caveat: patients can be charged at a higher rate if their provider provides an estimated cost at least five days before the appointment and the patient consents to the higher cost.

Learn more here.

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