Feb. 3 was the third reading deadline ending the first half of the 2020 legislative session, according to state Rep. Randy Frye. Beginning Feb. 4, Senate and House bills that passed in the first half head to the Senate to begin the committee process again. To date 94 bills have passed the House, all with bipartisan support.

Frye detailed four of the proposed bills:

• HB 1070 – Distracted Driving passed the House 86-10. In 2018, there were 10,466 collisions in Indiana caused by distracted driving. In 2017, there were 3,166 people killed nationwide in distracted driving accidents. The estimated costs of crashes caused by distracted driving was $231 million. The bill provides that a person may not hold or use a telecommunications device in the driver’s seat of a vehicle while it is in motion unless the device is used in conjunction with hands free or voice-operated technology or used to call 911 to report a bona fide emergency.Hoosier drivers will still be able to use a telecommunications device using their hands if the vehicle they are driving is not moving, such as when it is stopped at a traffic light or parked on the side of the street.

• HB 1120 – Educational Credit Time passed the House 94-0. The bill better aligns Indiana’s educational credit time system for inmates to House Republicans’ long-standing goal of reforming the state’s criminal code system in an effort to reduce recidivism and providing more productive pathways for incarcerated Hoosiers to return to society. It creates individualized educational credit plans for Indiana Department of Correction inmates. Inmates who participate in an educational program while incarcerated are 43% less likely to re-offend and return to prison and are more likely to find jobs upon release. The existing system incentivized inmates to pursue programs that provided the maximum amount of sentence reduction rather than the programs that would offer the opportunity for the most self-improvement.

• HB 1189 – Use of Firearm Foam Containing PFAS passed the House 98-0. This bill would implement a commonsense requirement limiting the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals in firefighter training that will help protect the health of Hoosiers, as well as firefighters in training, and will continue to ensure the vibrancy of Indiana’s environment by preventing PFAS chemicals from entering and remaining in Indiana’s ecosystem. PFAS chemicals are often referred to as “forever chemicals” as they do not break down naturally when they enter the environment or the human body. Exposure to PFAS chemicals increase the risk of cancer and can harm the development of a fetus. PFAS chemicals have been found in water supplies throughout the United States, including Indianapolis and Cincinnati. The bill prohibits the use of Class B firefighting foam containing an intentionally added PFAS chemical for training and testing purposes, unless the testing facility has implemented appropriate measures to prevent foam releases into the environment.

• HB 1004 – Balance Billing for Medical Care passed the House 99-0. It would prohibit hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers and physicians providing medical services at these facilities from billing a patient for amounts that exceed the in-network rates paid by the patient’s insurance plus any deductibles, copayments and coinsurance amounts. It allows a patient to consent to receiving out-of-network care as well as the corresponding charges, as long as the patient signs a form that provides a good faith estimate of the procedure’s cost. This maintains Hoosiers’ choice and ability to elect to receive out-of-network care, and any increased charges, should they prefer to continue receiving care from a specific provider.

Recommended for you