New state laws now in effect

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Dozens of new Indiana laws went into effect Monday, and they could impact you.

For the past several months, Indiana lawmakers have sent hundreds of bills to Governor Eric Holcomb’s desk to be signed.

The topics they cover range greatly, but a few stand out.

Education took a front seat in this year’s legislative session. Of the more than 250 bills and measures signed by Governor Holcomb, close to 30 of them involved education.

School safety was a specific focus for lawmakers. Several bills call for schools to take action to ensure the safety of students in a variety of ways.

One way they hope to do that is by making changes to school bus safety, following several crashes involving buses and bus stops. One of those crashes killed three siblings and critically hurt another child in Mentone.

School buses are now required to display black reflective tape on certain areas. Bus drivers also have to leave the marker lights on at all times while transporting students.

Punishments for people who commit school bus stop arm violations are now more severe as well. Offenders can have their driving privileges revoked for various amounts of time, depending on the severity of their offense. Drivers whose actions result in injury can be charged with a level 6 felony, and drivers who cause a death in similar situations can face a level 5 felony.

Another education-related law involves the U.S. naturalization test. All Indiana high school students will now be required to take the test given to immigrants hoping to become U.S. citizens.

Students will take the test as part of the mandatory government course, but passing the exam is not a graduation requirement, despite some lawmakers’ initial hopes.

On the agricultural side of things, hemp is coming to Indiana. Hoosier farmers are now allowed to grow and produce the plant for industrial use and restricted consumption. Recreational and medicinal marijuana use is still illegal in Indiana though.

Lawmakers took aim at criminals with several bills this year. One law makes revenge porn illegal in the state. People who share intimate photos from a former significant other without consent could have to pay a $10,000 penalty. The first offense would also be a Class A misdemeanor. If someone is convicted of the crime a second time, it’s a level 6 felony.

New laws also target animal abusers and increases restrictions and punishments for them. People convicted of animal abuse will no longer be able to own, keep, or train a dog or cat for the duration of their probation or parole. They can also now face felony charges if they hurt or maim an animal.

But some individuals in prison are getting relief thanks to a new law. It allows people who are wrongfully incarcerated to be eligible to receive $50,000 for each year spent behind bars. Those people would receive the payments once a conviction is vacated due to innocence.

Other topics covered in Indiana’s new laws include sports betting, opioid treatment, the Department of Child Services, and electrical foot scooters, among others.

For a full list of the new laws, and to read detailed overviews of each one, CLICK HERE.

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