Indiana bills on birth control, speed cameras, military tax exemptions are latest to become law

Dozens of new bills were signed into law Monday by Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb, including those that will allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control, establish a pilot program for speed cameras in road work zones and exempt military members from paying state income taxes.

The 68 bills passed during the 2023 legislative session — which came to a close shortly before 3 a.m. Friday — are the latest to get executive approval. In total, lawmakers passed 252 bills during the four-month session. Holcomb has now signed 161 of those, meaning 91 still need a signature.

Here’s a look at some of Monday’s bills-turned-laws.

More access to birth control

Hoosiers pharmacists will soon be able to prescribe birth control under limited circumstances.

House Enrolled Act 1568 allows pharmacists to prescribe birth control pills, patches and rings to those over 18 without having to see a health care provider first. The law takes effect July 1.

Pharmacists who want to prescribe birth control will be required to complete training, give patients a self-screening risk assessment and refer patients to their primary care providers. The prescriptions are good for up to six months at a time. But patients will need to visit a health care provider to get a prescription for longer than 12 months.

Additionally, pharmacists won’t be required to prescribe a contraceptive and could refuse to do so if it violates their ethical, moral or religious beliefs.

Those in support of the measure said it was especially necessary to help increase access to contraceptives for Hoosiers in rural areas.

Tax exemptions for military

House Enrolled Act 1034 exempts Hoosier military members from paying income taxes starting July 1. 

The final draft of the measure signed by Holcomb increases the active duty military income tax deduction from its current $5,000 cap to a full exemption. 

This follows a 2019 law allowing all retired military income to be tax-exempt.

Supporters argued more military members will reside in Indiana under the bill instead of the 28 other states that exempt service income and 10 states with no income tax.

Utilities granted additional “right of first refusal”

“Incumbent” Indiana utility companies already have a “right of first refusal” to build, own, and operate new transmission lines in their service area. But House Enrolled Act 1420 expands that to inter-regional transmission projects. 

This prevents new projects from being competitively bid on by other energy companies outside of that territory that would then retain an ownership stake.

The newly-enacted legislation does require utilities to use competitive bidding when they subcontract out construction portions of their projects. Utilities will still own and operate the infrastructure, however.

If the incumbent does not want a project, they must notify MISO, the multi-state Midcontinent Independent System Operator, within 90 days, and then a competitive bid process would initiate.

Republican lawmakers who pushed the controversial bill forward maintained its goal is to ensure better cost control for the utility companies and lower rates for customers.

But critics argue that the proposal will stifle innovation, while also increasing costs for Hoosier ratepayers. They said that — without a comprehensive competitive bidding process — certain utilities will have even greater power to restrict competition and raise rates

Work zone cameras seek to reduce speeding

Starting July 1, the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) can use license plate cameras to enforce speed limits in highway work zones.

House Enrolled Act 1015 creates a pilot program for speed cameras. The technology will ticket drivers going more than 11 mph over the speed limit in an active work zone. Only four cameras can be used statewide, and signage must make drivers entering the work zone aware that the technology is in use. 

Construction workers also have to be present under the speed camera pilot.

Drivers will receive a warning for an initial work zone speed limit violation under the new law. Violators then face a $75 fine for a second offense and a $150 fine for a third offense and beyond. 

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