Slew of new laws take effect in Indiana on Friday

Staff Writer

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana’s Republican-controlled Legislature approved dozens of new laws during this year’s legislative session and many will take effect on July 1.
    They include measures governing the use of police body cameras and regulating the burgeoning vaping industry.
    Another law that would ban abortions sought for fetal genetic defects may not even go into effect, pending an anticipated ruling this week by a federal judge.
    Here is a look at a handful of laws that go into effect on Friday:

ABORTION
    A divisive new measure signed into law by Republican Gov. Mike Pence that would ban abortions sought because of a fetal genetic defect is in legal limbo pending a ruling that’s expected soon from U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt.   
    Indiana and North Dakota are the only states to approve laws banning abortions sought due to a fetal genetic abnormality, such as Down syndrome, or because of the race, sex or ancestry of a fetus.
    In Indiana, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood sued the state over the constitutionality of the law — which is set to take effect July 1 — and are seeking an injunction that would suspend the law until the court case is decided.  The judge has said she will make a decision ‘‘soon.’’

METH LAWS
    Legislators made Indiana’s meth abuse problem a major focus during the session. Under the new law, pharmacists can limit how much cold medicine customers buy. Lawmakers hope the move will curb the ability of methamphetamine cooks to obtain pseudoephedrine, which is a common ingredient that’s found in some cold medicines.
    The measure lets pharmacy regulars buy medication containing pseudoephedrine normally while allowing pharmacists to limit quantities of the cold medicine sold to unfamiliar customers without a prescription.
 
VAPING
REGULATIONS
    The rise of vaping as a smoking alternative led lawmakers to approve regulations for the emerging industry that produces the liquid that is vaporized in electronic cigarettes. Legislators have said they wanted to make sure that so-called ‘‘e-liquid’’ is safe.
    But in doing so, they imposed regulations that effectively make the Lafayette-based security company Mulhaupt’s Inc. the only firm qualified to conduct a mandatory security certification. Mulhaupt’s has certified only six producers and has refused to take on additional clients, the Indianapolis Star reported. That’s likely to put many e-liquid makers out of the business when the new regulations go into effect.
    According to the Star, critics have filed two lawsuits challenging the law. They claim the rules are intended to stifle competition.

POLICE
BODY CAMERAS
    Police will be allowed to withhold video footage in some circumstances, under a new law that seeks to address the growing use of police body cameras.   
    The law was hailed as a first step toward greater police accountability. Under the law, people depicted in video — or the family of a depicted person who was killed — will be allowed to view a recording at least twice but would not receive a copy.
    Yet despite support from law enforcement groups, at least one southern Indiana police department plans to stop using body cameras because of the new law. Clarksville police Chief Mark Palmer said a provision requiring the department to store footage for at least 180 days will be too costly.

WHAT THEY
DIDN’T DO
    Facing an election year in which half the Senate and every House member is on the ballot, Indiana’s GOP-dominated General Assembly mostly avoided politically risky undertakings during the legislative session that ended in March.
    For example, lawmakers approved stopgap measures to address road funding, while saving bigger plans for next year’s long session.
    And despite pressure from LGBT advocates, lawmakers also did not advance legislation that would add civil rights protections based on gender identity and sexual orientation into state law. Advocates for the state’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community argued the protections were necessary to improve Indiana’s reputation after a divisive religious objections law they viewed as discriminatory toward gay people provoked a national uproar in 2015.
 

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