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Zoeller thanked State Rep. Linda Lawson, D-Hammond, State Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, State Rep. Charlie Brown, D-Gary, State Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, State Sen. Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago, State Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary, and State Sen. Sue Landske, R-Cedar Lake, for supporting public safety and consumer protection during the Legislature’s 2013 session.
“Lawmakers of both parties and both houses worked collaboratively to tackle complex issues facing Hoosiers: providing for the safety of our children, protecting consumers and confronting the abuse of prescription drugs. Before session my office made recommendations about new laws needed to protect the public; and we are grateful that legislators worked so diligently to consider, refine and pass these bills that will serve the needs of constituents,” Zoeller said.
SEA 1: School Resource Officers
Zoeller thanked legislators for their passing Senate Enrolled Act 1, which allows schools to voluntarily apply for state matching grants of up to $50,000 to create or expand School Resource Officer positions. School Resource Officers or SROs are career police officers from local public safety agencies who have received special training in interaction with students, and who are assigned to schools to provide safety.
Originally proposed by Zoeller and Sen. Pete Miller, R-Avon, in January, SEA 1 was based on a needs assessment study the AG’s Office conducted last fall – before the Newtown tragedy. The study found that school administrators and law enforcement officials would be interested in expanding School Resource Officer programs if funding were available. Under SEA 1, signed into law May 7 by Gov. Pence, a state board will be set up to review grant applications from schools and distribute funds. Application criteria are expected to be announced this summer. Sen. Charbonneau was the Senate second author of SEA 1, Sen. Randoph was a co-author and Rep. Lawson was House co-sponsor of SEA 1. Sen. Charbonneau and Rep. Lawson also served on the conference committee that advanced the final version of the bill.
“The School Resource Officer grant program will further develop the existing working relationships schools already have with their local law enforcement agencies. The daily presence of highly-trained, career police officers and sheriff’s deputies in schools can serve to increase respect for the law by students and also deter the problems in schools of bullying and drug abuse that occur in schools every day. We are appreciative that legislators took the original Senate approach to the bill that gives schools the flexibility to decide whether to apply for SRO grants or not, in keeping with local control, and I am pleased that the Governor signed it,” Zoeller said.
SEA 589: Licensing Enforcement and Consumer Protection
The Attorney General's Office enforces licensing laws against healthcare professionals such as physicians and nurses and other non-health related licensed professionals such as contractors, plumbers and architects. If the licensing rules are violated, then the Attorney General's Office can file a disciplinary action against the individual before one of the licensing boards, which conducts a hearing as to the licensee's status and ability to practice. If someone is practicing a profession without a license, a licensing board can issue a cease and desist order. Senate Enrolled Act 589 enhances that authority by allowing licensing boards to order unlicensed individuals to pay restitution to consumers who are victims of their actions. SEA 589 makes changes to funeral licensing, and prohibits individuals who sell pre-paid funeral plans from falsely claiming that the funeral service and merchandise is covered by Medicaid if it is not. Rep. Brown was House co-sponsor of SEA 589 and the Governor signed it into law.
“Senate Enrolled Act 589, which I co-sponsored, makes changes on various occupational licensing issues,” Rep. Brown said. “The new law will protect professionals in those occupations as well as consumers who use their services. Consumer protection is essential to establishing consumer confidence, which in turn spurs greater economic growth.”
SEA 246: Prescription Drugs and ‘Pill Mills’
The Indiana Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force, which Zoeller chairs, examined the problem of pain-management clinics that dispense addictive controlled substances with little oversight.
“The epidemic of prescription drug abuse is fueled by the irresponsible overprescribing of addictive painkillers to patients which leads to drug dependency, easy access for abuse and accidental overdoses, all with terrible consequences. The Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force determined that the state’s efforts to curb these harmful practices by ‘pill mills’ would be enhanced with new state laws, and I am grateful to the legislators who have invested long hours into crafting effective new statutes to help address the epidemic in Indiana,” Zoeller said.
Senate Enrolled Act 246 makes important changes regarding clinics that prescribe, dispense or administer controlled substances. If a clinic owner does not otherwise hold an Indiana Controlled Substance Registration (CSR), then the owner must obtain a CSR for each facility they own in Indiana. As part of registration, clinic owners have a responsibility for overseeing the operations in the clinic and ensuring that practitioners prescribe in a way that complies with law. Under SEA 246, through new rulemaking procedures of the Medical Licensing Board, the AG’s Office can move more quickly in taking enforcement action against practitioners who overprescribe and in obtaining records for an investigation. Sen. Charbonneau was Senate second author of SEA 246 and Sen. Randolph was a co-author.
SEA 277: Methamphetamine Vehicles Sales Disclosure
Criminals who produce the dangerous illegal stimulant methamphetamine often attempt to do so in hidden confined spaces, such as in vehicles, sometimes called "rolling meth labs.” Indiana’s Lemon Law protects automobile purchasers by requiring the dealer or seller who knows or reasonably should know that a vehicle is defective to disclose this fact to the purchaser. Because materials contaminated with meth residue can carry health risks to people exposed to them, Senate Enrolled Act 277 updates the private enforcement rights of the Lemon Law to require the vehicle seller to disclose that a vehicle previously had been used in manufacturing methamphetamine. If a vehicle seller fails to disclose a vehicle’s history in meth manufacture, then SEA 277 creates civil penalties, including paying the cost of decontaminating the vehicle or a $10,000 penalty. Rep. Lawson was a House co-sponsor of SEA 277.
HEA 1084: Homeowner Protection Enhancements
The Attorney General’s Homeowner Protection Unit (HPU) within the Consumer Protection Division has filed numerous lawsuits against illegal foreclosure rescue consultants and other predators who defraud homeowners facing foreclosure. House Enrolled Act 1084 amends the foreclosure consultant law to prohibit consultants from misrepresenting themselves as being endorsed, sponsored or affiliated with any government agency or program. HEA 1084 also amends the law governing homeowner associations to create greater transparency and make a homeowner association’s financial records available to its members and to the AG’s Office.
Sen. Randolph was a Senate co-sponsor of HEA 1084.
“I’m pleased that we could pass this law to protect Hoosier homeowners from fraudulent loan practices,” Sen. Randolph said. “And I’m especially grateful for the Attorney General’s involvement in this important measure to ensure residents are given enough time to seek legal restitution.”
SEA 222: Unclaimed Property
By law the Indiana Attorney General’s Office administers the state’s Unclaimed Property program to ensure that abandoned bank accounts, stock dividends, insurance proceeds and other dormant assets are reunited with their rightful owners. In 2012 the Attorney General’s Unclaimed Property Division returned nearly $44.9 million worth of unclaimed property to Hoosiers, and in 2011 paid more than 85,000 in claims Hoosiers submitted. Senate Enrolled Act 222 will allow the AG’s Office to return money to consumers more efficiently and effectively. First, it requires that if property in safe deposit boxes has been abandoned for three years, then a bank must turn over the property to the state so that the AG’s Office can attempt to return it to the owners – reducing the time frame from five years to three. Second, SEA 222 requires institutions holding unclaimed property, such as banks, to electronically notify the state of the property they hold, rather than by filing time-consuming paper notification, so that the AG’s Office can expedite its efforts to return property. Rep. Lawson was a co-sponsor of SEA 222.
“Consumers who search for their unclaimed property online on our web site, www.IndianaUnclaimed.gov, often are pleasantly surprised at the money they find. It’s their money and we want to return it to them and SEA 222 that legislators passed will aid in that process,” Zoeller said.
Zoeller expressed his appreciation to legislators of both parties in the Indiana House and state Senate who passed by wide margins the bills on his 2013 legislative agenda.
NOTE: More information on the Attorney General’s 2013 legislative agenda is available at this link: http://www.in.gov/attorneygeneral/2472.htm
More information about the Attorney General’s Unclaimed Property Division is at this link: www.indianaunclaimed.gov...
Valparaiso Parks Director John Seibert and Valparaiso Mayor Jon Costas
Bike enthusiasts joined Mayor Jon Costas at the Valparaiso Family YMCA this morning for a 'Bike to Work Day” event organized by the Valparaiso Pathways Committee. Mayhor Costas says the event reminds us that “cars aren't the only way of getting from point A to point B”. The bicyclists made their way down to Central Park in downtown Valparaiso from the Y this morning.
The Valparaiso Pathways Committee held a Bike to Work Day event that started at the Valparaiso Family YMCA Pavilion this morning.
[Photos by Karl Berner, Radio One Communications]
Saturday's Powerball jackpot is huge: now an estimated 550 million dollars, and growing. Meanwhile, the Mega Millions jackpot has increased to an estimated $190 million. DePaul University Math Professor Jeff Bergen says the odds of winning both are about one in 30 quadrillion. " It's about he same odds your favorite baseball team winning the World Series 11 times in a row, or sitting down today and predicting the winning party - Democrat or Republican - for every presidential election through the year 2228," Bergen said.
Today is National Bike to Work Day, with related events in Northwest Indiana, including La Porte and Valparaiso. The Valparaiso Pathways Committee invited community members to meet at the Valparaiso YMCA pavilion on Cumberland Drive, ready to ride this morning, as participants pedal leisurely downtown, ending at Central Park Plaza where there will be a light snack and water available to the bicyclists. Anyone who pedals to work at any other locations (business group, families, etc.) and wants to have their mileage counted can call the Park Office and record their mileage for Bike to Work Week (May 13-17, 2013). The grand total of reported miles pedaled this week, can then be calculated into gasoline saved, with the Pathways Committee reporting the total at the next Valparaiso City Council meeting on Monday, May 27th.
On the heels of National Bike to Work Day which is today.... wheels will be rolling Saturday for a new event to raise funds for Portage Township Parks... The Friends of Portage Township Foundation is hosting “Trek the Township”, a twenty-mile family bicycling event starting at Haven Hollow Park in South Haven Saturday morning, 8am. Portage Township Trustee Brendan Clancy says the ride follows a scenic route along county roads and the Prairie Duneland Trail. For more info visit www.townshipfriends.org .
Occupants of a special needs school bus from the Lafayette/ Tippecanoe School Corporation, returning from a field trip to the Indianapolis Zoo escaped serious injury after a rollover crash on I-65. Thursday afternoon. Indiana State Police say preliminary investigation and witness accounts revealed a box truck or white box trailer being pulled by a semi tractor reportedly made an abrupt move, and the 55-year-old bus driver of Lafayette, steered into the grass median to avoid a collision. The bus rolled over and came to rest on the wheels in the median. Troopers say the other vehicle, which did not make contact with the bus, did not stop. All 12 passengers, seven adults and 5 children ranging from kindergarten to fourth grade, were transported to St. Vincent’s and Methodists Hospital where they were treated for non-life threatening injuries. All bus passengers were reported to be wearing restraints.
[Photos/Indiana State Police]
(Photo Courtesy of the Cook County Sheriff's Office)
A stop for a traffic violation Tuesday in Harvey, Illinois, led to the recovery of a loaded handgun and the arrest of a 20 year old Sauk Village man. The Cook County Sheriff's Office says they discovered the loaded handgun under the front passenger seat of the vehicle while taking inventory, after officers learned the car's driver had a revoked driver's license. The Sheriff's Office says the gun belonged to one of the three passengers in the vehicle, who did not have a Firearm Owner's Identification, or FOID, card. Sheriff Tom Dart says in the last three months the department's Gun Suppression Team, formed to remove guns from those who possess them illegally and confiscate revoked FOID cards from those who are no longer allowed to have them, have recovered 98 guns, 113 revoked FOID cards, and have resolved 74 FOID cases. The Sheriff says in Cook County alone, nearly four-thousand revoked FOID card holders have not returned their FOID cards to Illinois State Police.
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(Photos Courtesy of the Times)
The Portage Police Department today released two surveillance photos showing two people suspected in a purse theft from a vehicle on May 7th. The Times reports the photos were taken at a Hobart store on May 8th, and also shows the vehicle they were driving. According to the article, a purse was taken from a vehicle in the 61-hundred block of Robbins Road and the woman in photo allegedly used the victim's credit and debit cards at the Hobart store where the photo was taken. Police say the vehicle appears to be a late 1990's model Ford or Toyota. Anyone with information is asked to contact Portage Police.
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The Indiana Farm Bureau today applauded the House Agriculture Committee's approval of the 2013 farm bill Wednesday night. According to a release, the Farm Bureau says they are optimistic that approvals now from both the House and Senate Ag Committee will lead to the passage of a long-term farm bill yet this year. The Farm Bureau says the proposed legislation in both cases provides Hoosier farmers with what they need most: risk management tools that are built around crop insurance, and thanked U-S Senator Joe Donnelly for his work on the Senate Ag Committee in moving its version of a five-year farm bill forward.
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The Lt. Governor will be in the region tomorrow, the second time this month. Lt. Governor Sue Ellspermann is scheduled to meet with elected officials and local business leaders at the Hoosier Bat Company in Valparaiso tomorrow afternoon, at 3pm, to discuss her day of activities in Porter County as part of her “Listen and Learn” tour. Ellspermann visited Lake County on May 3rd, for a roundtable meeting with county business leaders and business owners at Merrillville's Albanese Confectionery, in an attempt to understand the needs and concerns of local economic development. Ellspermann says the tour, with stops in all 92 counties, is an opportunity for the Governor's Office and local government and economic-development teams to get on the same page.
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Porter County, Indiana – The Recycling and Waste Reduction District of Porter County will help Porter County residents with their spring cleaning by providing a One Stop
Drop collection event that will accept old and unwanted appliances, electronics, tires and household hazardous waste.
The event is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at the Porter County Expo Center/Fair Grounds, 215 E. Division Road, Valparaiso. Restrictions or fees may apply. For more information, call the Recycling and Waste Reduction District of Porter County, 465-3694, or visit www.ItMeansTheWorld.org to
The Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission will be at the event to present new environmentally friendly 2.5-gallon gas cans to residents who bring their old gas cans in for disposal at the collection. Limit one new gas can per vehicle/family, while supplies last.
The One Stop Drop is an opportunity for residents to properly discard materials that are harmful to the environment. Appliances accepted include refrigerators, stoves, dish and clothes washers, dryers, water heaters, air conditioners, freezers, humidifiers and dehumidifiers, furnaces, and just about anything metal. Water softener holding tanks will not be accepted.
Not only do old appliances contain hazardous components, including used oil, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and mercury, they are much less energy-efficient. Additionally, the refrigerant used in refrigerators, freezers, dehumidifiers, water coolers and air conditioners is extremely harmful to the environment and must be extracted safely.
Many companies certified to remove refrigerants from appliances often charge for the removal of this toxic substance, leaving residents to dispose of the remaining appliances. Once old appliances are brought to the One Stop Drop, the refrigerant is extracted and properly discarded. The appliances will ultimately be taken apart and recycled.
According to Indiana law, households can no longer mix unwanted computer monitors, computers, televisions, printers, computer peripherals (such as keyboards and mice),
DVD players, video cassette recorders, or fax machines with trash that is intended for disposal at a landfill or intended for disposal by burning or incineration.
Electronics can contain lead and other toxic materials that pose serious threats to human health. Porter County residents can bring their old electronic devices to the May 18 event for safe disposal. Accepted items include anything with electrical cords or run by batteries.
Porter County residents also can drop off electronics at the Valparaiso and Boone Grove compost sites any time during their hours of operation. Additionally, Porter County residents can drop off their electronics at the following locations: Portage Street Department: 2302 Hamstrom Road, 762-4564; Valparaiso Public Works: 406 Don Hovey Drive, 462-4612; Porter Street Department: 550 Beam Street, 926-2771. Residents should call the departments to determine hours of operation. Visit www.ItMeansTheWorld.org for more information, or call 465-3694.
Leftover household products that contain corrosive, toxic, ignitable or reactive ingredients are considered to be “household hazardous waste” or “HHW,” and require special care when they are discarded.
Improper disposal of household hazardous wastes can include pouring them down the drain, on the ground, into storm sewers, or in some cases putting them out with the trash, which can pollute the environment and pose a threat to human health.
HHW items accepted at One Stop Drop include aerosols; anti-freeze; oil; batteries (household and automotive); corrosives; mercury containing products (fluorescent tubes, CFLs, thermometers, thermostats, etc.); oil-based paint, thinners and solvents; pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, insecticides and other poisons; diesel fuel, gasoline, kerosene, other flammable liquids; ammunition and expired medications.
Explosives, commercial hazardous waste and radioactive materials (like smoke detectors) will not be accepted. Old smoke detectors should be sent back to the manufacturers for recycling. Though latex paint is not considered household hazardous waste, it will be accepted at the collection thanks to the district’s intergovernmental agreement with the City of Hobart for paint recycling.
Approximately 300 million used automobile and truck tires are discarded by Americans annually. At landfills, tires take up large amounts of space and have been known to damage landfill linings. Around town, discarded tires become prime breeding grounds for mosquitoes and rodents that carry diseases such as West Nile virus and encephalitis.
Tire storage piles pose fire hazards that are extremely difficult to extinguish. Burning tires release toxic gases into the air and leave behind a hazardous oily residue that pollutes streams and ground water. Once recycled, the rubber in tires can be used for paving material, fuel, mulch, floor mats, drain pipes, and more!
Porter County residents can dispose of their first four tires up to 20 inches for free at the One Stop Drop. The disposal fee for each additional tire up to 20 inches is $3. Residents can dispose of tires from 20 to 25 inches for $5 each, and tires over 25 inches for $15 each.
The event is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, May 18, at the Porter County Expo Center/Fair Grounds, 215 E. Division Road, Valparaiso. Restrictions or fees may apply. For more information, call the Recycling and Waste Reduction District of Porter County, 465-3694, or visit www.ItMeansTheWorld.org to learn more.
Hear more about Saturday's event at News Audio On Demand at: http://www.regionnewsteam.com
(Photo Courtesy of the Recycling & Waste Reduction Dist of Porter County)
The Recycling and Waste Reduction District of Porter County is a government agency dedicated to improving the environment and quality of life for Porter County residents by providing convenient, voluntary waste reduction services. Visit www.ItMeansTheWorld.org for more information or call 465-3694.
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INDIANAPOLIS—The Indiana State Department of Health has named Gayla Hutsell Guignard as the director for the Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Education, set to open July 1, 2013. She currently works as a contractor for the State Health Department as the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program Director.
“We are very pleased and excited to have Ms. Guignard as the director for the Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Education,” said State Health Commissioner William VanNess, M.D. “Her extensive experience, education and proven track record of success make her the ideal choice to lead the Center. Of course, the Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Education would not be opening if it were not for the coordinated efforts of many people and organizations. I would like to thank Senator Pete Miller, former Representative Cindy Noe and Secretary Connie Lawson for working to establish the Center, as well as each member of the transition team for providing expertise and guidance.”
Ms.Guignard has a Bachelor of Science in Audiology and Speech Sciences from Purdue University and Masters Degrees in both Audiology and Speech Language Pathology from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. She has 13 years of experience as an instructor of speech-language pathology, audiology and deaf education at UT-Knoxville and served for nearly four years as the Chief Programs Director for the Alexander Graham Bell Association for Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Washington, D. C. She has worked as a contractor for the Indiana State Department of Health for the past five years. Over the course of her career, she has served on numerous related national-level committees.
“I am truly honored to accept the position as the director of the Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Education,” said Gayla Hutsell Guignard. “Every child is a unique being whose own life and that of his or her family is impacted in various ways because of being deaf or hard of hearing. I am dedicated to ensuring that families receive clear, comprehensive information about all options available to them and that schools around the state receive the support they need to best educate deaf and hard of hearing students.”
The Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Education was established in 2012 by House Enrolled Act 1367 and will be housed within the Indiana State Department of Health. The Center’s central office will be located on the campus of the Indiana School for the Deaf in Indianapolis. The Center will also have a presence across the state through the establishment of regional locations.
The Center will be responsible for the educational needs of all deaf and hard of hearing children in the state, including:
· tracking and monitoring individual child progress from birth through school exit
· coordination with the various state agencies involved in providing services to deaf and hard of hearing children
· training and support for both professionals and parents/guardians about all communication options
· assessment services and support of schools in meeting the needs of the children in their districts
The State Health Department will be forming a committee of stakeholders to provide guidance as the Center is created.
Each year, approximately 225 to 250 babies are born with hearing loss in Indiana; more than 90 percent of those children are born to hearing parents. The Center will act as an unbiased resource for parents/guardians to educate them about their child’s language options, including American Sign Language, Listening and Spoken Language, Signed English, Cued Speech and combinations of these options to assist families in meeting their child’s individual needs.
For more information about the Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Education, visit www.IN.gov/omb.
To visit the Indiana State Department of Health’s website, go to www.StateHealth.in.gov.
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Eastbound South Shore Train 9 is running 15-20 minutes late due to mechanical problems.
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