07/10/12 Did you know that on July 1:

A smoking ban took effect across Indiana?

Laws affecting public intoxication were changed?

There now are tougher restrictions against nepotism in government?

You’re now able to buy a motorcycle on Sundays without breaking the law?

July 1 is the traditional effective date for most of the new state laws passed during a session by the Indiana General Assembly. Let me take a few minutes to talk about some of them.

Of course, most of the attention will be on the new statewide smoking ban, which covers most public places, but does leave some noteworthy exemptions.

Here are some places where you won’t be able to smoke: hotels, motels, nursing homes, health care facilities (including assisted living and mental health centers), bowling alleys, theaters, liquor stores, and most workplaces. You also won’t be able to smoke within eight feet of public entrances of these establishments.

Here are some places that still can allow smoking: bars, taverns, retail tobacco shops, hookah and cigar bars, private fraternal clubs like the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), and gaming facilities like casinos, riverboats and horse tracks.

After July 1, there will be more latitude in handling cases of individuals who are intoxicated in public. A new law says people may not be convicted of public intoxication unless they endanger their own lives or someone else’s life or are likely to disturb the peace, create a disturbance or harass another person. As the law’s author put it, “As long as you’re not bothering anybody, you shouldn’t be a criminal.”

Two new laws are designed to reduce nepotism and conflict of interest in state and local government. Among their provisions are a requirement that a person who works for a unit of government will not be allowed to serve on that unit’s governing board. Employees won’t be allowed to directly supervise family members, and they will be required to disclose if they are doing business with any company run by a family member.

These are all positive steps, but it remains disappointing that this Legislature and the administration chooses not to do anything about reducing the risks of corruption by banning “pay to play” and preventing taxpayer-financed state contracts from going to political contributors.

Service members and their dependents now will be able to receive help from the state’s military family relief fund for three years, instead of just one. The fund is designed to provide assistance with food, housing, utilities, medical services, child care, education and other family support expenses. Another new law will enable disabled veterans to purchase a hunting and fishing license good for 10 years.

You should know that the cutoff age for children receiving child support will be lowered to 19 years of age, effective July 1. This change exempts support for educational expenses that might continue past the age of 19 for some children.

It will become easier for counties to use property taxes for road maintenance.

You will be able to use a crossbow to hunt fish.

And it will no longer be a crime to buy, sell or trade a motorcycle on Sunday. Before July 1, such a deal was classified a Class B misdemeanor in Indiana, which could have meant jail time and a fine if you were found guilty.

My legislative office can provide copies of the digests of all the laws enacted during the 2012 legislative session. If you would like one – or if you have any questions, comments or concerns – here’s how you can stay in touch:

Call my office toll-free at 1-800-382-9842;

Write to me in care of the Indiana House of Representatives, 200 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, IN 46204; or

E-mail me at H17@in.gov.