Today is the beginning of state governments fiscal year and the traditional date that most state laws take effect. Among them:
: Indiana rightly joins the majority of states that requires retailers to sell only low-ignition cigarettes. The cigarettes are designed to burn themselves out more quickly, greatly reducing the chance of a discarded or dropped cigarette causing a fire. While the law will reduce the risks of careless smoking, the cigarettes do not necessarily help with other health risks; some smokers complain they have to puff more often on the fire-safe cigarettes to keep them from going out.
: Tougher restrictions on the newest drivers take effect in the wake of some high-profile traffic fatalities involving 16-year-olds. The law moves back the date when drivers can get their first license to age 16 and 6 months for students who pass drivers education classes; for those who dont, the new age is 16 and 9 months. The law also has new restrictions on nighttime driving and who can ride as passengers during the first six months a teen driver has a license.
Perhaps the most notable restriction prohibits any driver younger than 18 from using a cell phone unless calling 911 for an emergency. Considering that teens often use their cell phones for distracting text messaging, the ban makes sense.
: Cities and towns now have new power to determine whether, where and under what conditions golf carts can be driven on streets. Smaller cities and towns should consider allowing them on less-used streets with low speed limits; slow-moving-vehicle signs should be required.
: Previous law would allow someone with a criminal background in another state to move to Indiana and teach. The new law rightly expands background checks.
: Lawmakers adopted common-sense rules requiring dog breeders to register with state regulators and abide by basic standards of care.
: While only a few pieces of legislation received the most attention, the General Assembly passed about 180 bills this year. This is an example of one that wont directly affect most Hoosiers: The legislature voted to create a commission to retrace the original 1827 Indiana-Michigan boundary line.