During the 2020 General Assembly, which lasted from January 6th to March 11th, Indiana passed 167 new laws, a number of which will go into effect this coming Wednesday, July 1st, 2020.
We wanted to help keep our local residents up-to-date on the new laws that will soon affect them and their lives, so we decided to explain some of the most impactful laws for our audience, to help prevent any possible confusion.
Hands-Free Law: The new law that will likely make the biggest impact in the lives of Hoosiers is the hands-free law, which means Hoosiers will no longer be allowed to use their cell phones while behind the wheel of a car, in any way. Of course, texting has been prohibited for drivers for years, but now, starting July 1st, drivers will no longer be able to have phone conversations while holding their phone, either. Drivers can still make and receive calls while driving, but only if they do so via hands-free technology. Some newer cars allow you to sync your phone with your car, which allows you to make phone calls, but drivers can also use technology such as Bluetooth headsets to make calls.
According to Fox 59, people who break this new law could face a fine of up to $500 and possibly even lose their license for repeated offenses. Indiana is now the 22nd state in the nation to pass a hands-free law statewide.
Smoking Age: Another big law taking effect July 1st is a change to the legal smoking age in the state of Indiana. Following nationwide concern regarding teenagers vaping and using e-cigarettes, Indiana has decided that all Hoosiers must be at least 21 in order to purchase any products containing nicotine. The fines for breaking this smoking age law have doubled from past fines, now costing offenders anywhere from $400-$2,000. Retailers also cannot sell nicotine or tobacco products within 1,000 feet of a school.
Price to Use 911: Starting July 1st, all Hoosiers whose phones have the ability to dial 911 for emergency help will see an increase in the fee they pay for that service. Consumers previously paid $1 per month for the ability to contact 911, but that price will now increase to $1.10 per month.
Healthcare Pricing: A new law goes into effect July 1st that will make it mandatory for all Indiana-based healthcare providers to publicly list healthcare prices on their website by March 31, 2021. The Northwest Indiana Times also explains that “The Indiana Department of Insurance is directed to begin the process of creating an all-payer claims database to improve health care pricing transparency.”
Screenings for Cancer: The recommended age for colorectal cancer screenings has been lowered, so insurance companies in Indiana must now cover those screenings starting at the age of 45, instead of the previous recommended age of 50.
Surprise Medical Billing: Starting in July 2020, the state of Indiana will begin encouraging healthcare providers to provide their patients with “good faith estimates” on what suggested or scheduled procedures will cost. It’s suggested that providers begin giving these estimates now, because by July of 2021, they will become mandatory.
Rights Provided to Sexual Assault Victims: Following a sexual assault, victims now have a list of guaranteed rights, which includes a medical exam at zero cost, as well as access to mental health help from a social worker or victim’s advocate during the exam. All Indiana police officers must make victims aware of these rights following the assault.
Indiana Teacher Evaluations: In a victory by Indiana teachers, the state will no longer use students’ test scores on the standardized testing program ILEARN to evaluate the job performance of their teachers. Teachers have been making the argument for years that a single standardized test cannot adequately reflect the learning that goes on in classrooms. This new law also dictates that ILEARN scores can no longer be used in considering an increase in teacher pay.
These are not all of the laws that will go into effect on July 1st, but these are the laws most like to cause wide-ranging impacts across the state of Indiana. For the full list of new laws, you can find them in this article from The Northwest Indiana Times.