Lawmakers finished a short session at the Statehouse last week, after approving laws that affect schools, roads and taxes.
Some proposals never made it beyond specialized committees of lawmakers, and others were tweaked or rewritten altogether. Other ideas could come back in future legislative sessions.
What it will mean for you could include a smoother commute to work as state highways get a new coat of pavement or other repairs, or a change in how your children learn. Here is a look at what was approved:
What was approved: Last year the state planned to put $400 million in road funding into a savings account, but Gov. Mike Pence asked to use that money for road projects on highways and interstates now. Lawmakers compromised by agreeing to spend $200 million now. The state budget committee would decide whether to release the other half.
How it impacts you: None of that money is being given to local governments for road repairs. Instead, the money will be spent to repair and expand interstates 65, 69 and 70.
What was approved: Indiana is set to drop the standards teachers in Indiana and 45 other states have been using to build lessons.
How it impacts you: State officials are working to create a new set of standards. Teachers will have to evaluate the lessons they’ve been creating and using in language arts, math and other essential skills to see whether they meet the new criteria. Indiana also has to decide how the state will test students, since this was supposed to be the last year for ISTEP.
Guns in school parking lots
What was approved: Starting July 1, licensed gun owners can keep firearms in cars parked on school property, as long as cars are locked and the firearms are out of sight.
How it impacts you: Before the change, anyone who had a gun in their car parked at a school could be charged with a felony. A person who has a gun in their car that’s in plain sight can be charged with a misdemeanor, and guns are still prohibited from school buildings and buses. Officials from school districts including Clark-Pleasant and Franklin schools opposed the bill, preferring to keep guns as far away from schools as possible. The law does not allow school districts to create their own policies banning firearms from their parking lots.
What was approved: City councils will review redevelopment commission spending, must approve any sale or transfer of property and must approve any new loans that will last more than three years and total more than $5 million. Tax-increment financing, or TIF, districts formed before 1999 without expiration dates will now expire at the end of 2015. The state also will study TIF districts, what they’re being used for and how much money they generate.
How it affects you: City council members, who are elected by voters, will have more control over how redevelopment commissions spend money and use property. For example, under the new law, Franklin City Council members would have to approve the city redevelopment commission selling the former city hall building to a new business. Elected officials also will have to approve new debt that is paid back with tax dollars, although neither Greenwood nor Franklin anticipates any new projects topping $5 million. Greenwood has already approved spending $10 million in TIF funds on a new city pool.
What was approved: Central Indiana counties can vote on whether to pay a 0.1 percent income tax, 10 cents for every $100 earned, which would then go toward mass transit improvements, such as rapid transit bus lines to downtown Indianapolis or more frequent IndyGo bus service. A proposal to fund a light rail line from Indianapolis to northeast suburbs was cut.
How it affects you: County council members will decide whether to put the tax increase on the ballot, possibly as soon as this fall. Residents would then vote on whether they want to pay the tax increase. If two adjacent townships both approve the tax increase, workers who live in those areas would be charged the tax.
For example, White River and Pleasant township residents could pay the increase if they both approve the tax, while no other townships would be charged. Or, another possibility is that no one in Johnson County would pay the tax, said Sen. Brent Waltz, who helped write the new law.
“I think that is certainly a possibility, and I would be satisfied if that’s what citizens choose,” Waltz said.
What was approved: Drivers will have to register mopeds with the state, buy license plates and take driver’s tests to drive the motorized bikes starting next year. The bill also increases the maximum speed limit for mopeds from 25 mph to 35 mph.
How this impacts you: In the past, anyone in Indiana age 15 or older could legally drive a moped, as long as they had a photo identification card, without registering the bikes or putting license plates on them. Starting in January, you will have to pass a driver’s test and register your bike with the bureau of motor vehicles to drive it legally. The tests should help make moped drivers more responsible, Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox said. Requiring license plates also should make it easier to track stolen mopeds or report moped drivers who are breaking traffic rules.