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February 19, 2014

Indiana lawmakers debate meth lab disclosure

Sen. Head asks for delay to address concerns.

INDIANAPOLIS — Houses where methamphetamine labs are found would be listed in an online registry under a proposal being considered by Indiana lawmakers.

The state Senate Civil Law Committee discussed the measure Monday. The bill also would transfer control of the reporting website from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute to the state police.

Properties could be taken off the list 90 days after they are cleaned and declared habitable.

The proposal earlier passed the Indiana House unanimously.

State police say about 1,800 meth labs were found across Indiana last year. The Indiana Department of Environmental Management reports contaminated homes pose health hazards, particularly for children.

The Criminal Justice Institute currently has the authority to create the online registry but never received funding from the state to follow through with the measure, said Indiana State Police First Sgt. Niki Crawford, commander of the methamphetamine suppression section of the Indiana State Police.

Indiana State Police already has a database of meth lab seizures, Crawford said. Police now plan to begin formatting the information to move online.

“The new disclosure part allows a purchaser to know what they’re getting into,” Crawford said. “It’s simply a public safety tool.”

Current law allows property owners time to decontaminate a residence after a meth lab is found before the property is listed on a registry.

The new legislation would require properties be listed immediately, which raised concerns from members of the Indiana Apartment Association.

“We wanted to keep that in law, because it’s worked well,” association President Lynne Petersen said of current timelines for cleanup.

Sponsor Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport, asked to delay the vote until next week to address those issues.

Approval from the full Senate and governor is needed before it can become law.

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