More than 200 new pieces of legislation go into effect today . The bills vary in subject from texting while driving and guns to small crimes and kindergarten.
Because of their variety, the new bills impact virtually everyone in some way. Indiana University Political Science and Philanthropic Studies professor Marjorie Hershey said that almost everything the legislature does influences people in ways they don’t realize.
“So many people have the impression that government is so far away and it’s such an alien place,” she said. “In fact it affects everything we do.”
For example, it is no longer just teenagers that need to worry about texting on the road. A new bill prohibits anyone from sending or reading texts and emails while driving. But Indiana University School of Law Clinical Professor Joel Schumm said that law enforcement officers are not allowed to take the driver’s cell phone.
“It is going to make it hard if the case ends up going to court for the police to be able to prove that the person was actually texting versus looking at their GPS or playing Angry Birds or other things that people shouldn’t do on their phones but the law doesn’t explicitly prohibit,” he said.
Handgun owners no longer need a permit to carry a weapon in certain places. Under the new law, a person can have their gun without a license to carry in their cars, homes and public places like shooting ranges and gun shows. In the vehicle, the gun must be unloaded and stored in a case.
Hoosiers having problems getting a job due to a non-violent, non-sexual misdemeanor or D felony conviction can now petition the courts eight years after the end of their sentence to have their record restricted.
This means that a person is allowed to say they have not been convicted on job applications. They must also not have been convicted of any other felony in those eight years.
For parents of young children, the age for kindergarteners is shifting so that kids are now required to start in the fall of the year they turn six years old. Currently, kindergarteners are required to attend the fall of the year they turn seven.
A complete list of the new laws can be found on the General Assembly’s website.