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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, March 07, 2018 1:00 am

General Assembly

Senate OKs change to diplomas

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – A bill to alter Indiana's diploma system passed the Senate unanimously Tuesday.

House Bill 1426 had minor changes, and the House is likely to send it to the governor after one final vote.

Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, said that because of a federal interpretation of Indiana's diploma system, the state was going to see a 12 percent drop in its graduation rate.

So instead of having four types of diplomas, Indiana will now have one, with distinctions or stickers that can be earned for achieving Core 40, academic and technical honors.

The bill also contains another big change. Instead of high school students having to pass a graduation test or end-of-course assessments, they will have to take either the ACT or SAT. The college prep tests essentially would become the state assessment for high school juniors.

Kruse said students don't have to meet a certain score on the test to graduate because other pathways exist to earn the diploma. But they must take it.

Short-term rentals

Local units of government could impose limited regulations on short-term rentals under a bill given final approval by the House on Tuesday. House Bill 1035 passed 73-18 and now heads to the governor for his signature.

Last year, lawmakers tried to preempt local bans or limitations on short-term rentals such as Airbnb. But this year's bill is more measured, giving locals some powers.

Laura Spanjian, Midwest policy director for Airbnb, applauded the bill and said Indianapolis is the top trending U.S. city, with cities like Fort Wayne, South Bend and Bloomington also seeing home-sharing boosts.

“We believe this law will serve as a model for other states looking to take full economic advantage of the sharing economy,” she said.

The bill grandfathers in ordinances that local governments passed before Jan. 1. Some lakeside communities had long ago banned short-term rentals.

The legislation allows local governments to require those who rent rooms or homes using an online platform to register and pay a fee. It also distinguishes between owner-occupied homes and secondary homes used as an investment property.

The latter type could require a local variance or exemption.

Citations are allowed for noise, maintenance, nuisance and public safety reasons. Multiple citations can result in loss of a permit.

“This legislation reflects the perfect balance of individual property rights and government oversight,” said Rep. Matt Lehman, R-Berne, who authored the bill. “I look forward to the governor signing this bill into law and making a national statement that Indiana is open for business.”

Opioid tracking

The Senate gave final approval Tuesday to a bill requiring doctors to more closely monitor a person's prescriptions for addictive painkillers.

Senate Bill 221 passed unanimously and now heads to the governor for his signature.

The bill requires doctors to check a patient's prescription history on the state's INSPECT system before prescribing opioids. It will be phased it first with emergency departments and pain clinics in 2019; then hospitals in 2020 and all practitioners in 2021.

For patients who are subject to a pain management contract, doctor are required to obtain the information only once every 90 days.

nkelly@jg.net