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NEWS-SENTINEL EDITORIAL: Here are five new state laws taking effect this week we think turned out well

Hundreds of new laws took effect in Indiana this week as a result of the General Assembly’s legislative session earlier this year.

One we are especially pleased about requires all Indiana emergency dispatchers have a year to complete training in telephone CPR. House Enrolled Act 1342 took effect Monday.

At least 10 percent of the nearly 2,400 people working in 911 call centers around the state lack such training, according to state officials. The benefit of CPR training for these emergency dispatchers is that precious time can be saved to help those in crisis situations, especially in rural areas where emergency services would face longer, time-consuming trips.

Ed Reuter, executive director of the Statewide 9-1-1 Board, told The Indianapolis Star, “It’s one thing to perform CPR with your hands . . . It’s also important to know how to describe that and take control of a scene that they can’t even see.”

Starting CPR immediately increases the chances for an individual suffering a heart attack or cardiac arrest to survive. And making sure those on the other end of a 9-1-1 call can talk callers though it can help make that happen.

Here are a few other new laws to be aware of:

* House Enrolled Act 1284 provides that a gun owner with a permit cannot be sued if their use of a permitted gun for self-defense is justified, according to the law.

The law also allows firearms to be carried into churches — even if there is a school on the grounds — unless the owner of the property prohibits it. And while Hoosiers still have to pay for a lifetime license to carry a gun, the short-term carry licenses will be free starting a year from now.

* Indiana State Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, was behind a bill that would have required high school students, in order to graduate, to pass the same basic history and government examination we require all new citizens to pass. While that plan failed, we think the law that eventually passed is a good alternative and can help serve the same purpose. According to Senate Enrolled Act 132, Indiana high schools will have to administer that U.S.naturalization test as part of a mandatory government course.

We have argued, as did Kruse, that if we require those seeking citizenship in the U.S. to know basic information about civics, we need to ensure our students know the same information.

* Senate Enrolled Act 198, the much-discussed bias crimes bill, eventually morphed into a law that makes it an aggravating circumstance if a crime was committed due to the perceived or actual characteristics, traits, beliefs, practices or associations of the victim, including but not limited to color, creed, disability, national origin, race, religion or sexual orientation. A judge would decide at sentencing if it is appropriate to apply this aggravator.

We were pleased that the bill was stripped of the list of specific protected groups because we believe the more general law will cover everyone. While Indiana is one of only five states without all-inclusive hate crimes laws, we argued that we needed to be careful not to discriminate in favor of politically favored victims by enhancing a sentence when a crime is based on bias against a victim because of everything from race and religion to sexual orientation and gender.

* Senate Bill 2 requires school districts to minimize bus stops that make children cross highways in high-speed areas, and it would increase public awareness regarding Indiana’s school bus laws. It also raises penalties for violators who ignore school bus stop arms, and gives schools the option to conduct referendums for funding to pay for stop-arm cameras.

The law was the result of a tragedy in which three siblings were killed and another child was injured in Fulton County in October when a pickup struck them as they crossed the road to board a school bus that had stopped and extended its stop arm.

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