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New Indiana laws taking effect on slowpoke drivers, time limits on filing rape charges

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INDIANAPOLIS — The religious objections law that sparked national threats to boycott Indiana is the most high-profile state statute taking effect Wednesday. But several dozen other laws — from enabling charges in older rape cases to targeting slow drivers — also are officially going on the books.

Here's a look at some of those laws:

RAPE CASES

Prosecutors will be allowed to file rape charges after the five-year statute of limitations has expired in some instances, including when authorities find new DNA evidence or the attacker confesses. The change comes after a man admitted in 2013 to raping an Indianapolis college student nine years earlier but couldn't be prosecuted.

The legislation's author, Sen. Mike Crider, said he decided to push for modifying the time limit after hearing the woman's story.

"It's an unfortunate reality that far too many sexual assaults go unreported and unpunished," said the Republican from Greenfield. "I believe this law will give prosecutors tools to bring charges against sexual predators while empowering victims of this terrible crime."

CONSTRUCTION WAGES

The measure that drew the second largest protests to the Statehouse, behind only the religious objections bill, was a Republican-backed proposal to eliminate the boards that set the "common construction wage." The wage is what workers must be paid on most state or local government projects.

Supporters estimate the repeal, also taking effect Wednesday, will reduce project costs by as much as 20 percent by allowing more contractors to pay wages below union scale. Opponents dispute such savings, saying the law will open the door for low-paying, out-of-state contractors.

HIGHWAY DRIVING

All motorists in the left lanes of multi-lane roadways — even those obeying the speed limit — will be required to move over and allow faster vehicles to pass, or risk a $500 fine. The mandate does not apply during traffic congestion or bad weather, or if a driver is exiting on the left, paying a toll or pulling over for an emergency vehicle.

Rep. Dave Ober, R-Albion, sponsored the change. He doesn't agree with critics who say it could encourage speeding while potentially punishing drivers who obey the speed limit.

"Police officers I have talked to say they aren't going to pull someone over in the left lane to let someone (else) drive 90 miles per hour and get a free pass," Ober said.

YOUNG DRIVERS

Some younger drivers will soon be on the road. A new law drops the minimum age to obtain a driver's license to 16 years and three months from 16 years and six months for teenagers who complete a driver-education course. The three-month change was made to encourage teens to take the training courses.

Other law changes affecting young drivers include an extension of the ban on using cellphones while behind the wheel. That new law raises the age on that prohibition from 18 to 21.

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