- Associated Press - Thursday, March 24, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Bills that would have sheltered private college police departments from many state public-records law requirements and restricted the authority of the state’s environmental agency were vetoed Thursday by Gov. Mike Pence.

It was the Republican’s final day to take action on measures approved by the General Assembly during its session that ended two weeks ago. Among measures that Pence signed into law were bills boosting a planned development at Indiana Dunes State Park and streamlining the fees charged by the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles.

Here’s a look at the governor’s actions:

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PRIVATE COLLEGE POLICE

The bill would have required less disclosure of crime records by the 11 private college police agencies around Indiana, which have the same arrest authority as state, county, city and public university police departments.

The University of Notre Dame is a court fight with ESPN after the school refused a request for records of crime investigations involving student-athletes. While the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled last week in favor of ESPN, saying the Notre Dame police are subject to the state public records law, the school plans to appeal that decision to the state Supreme Court.

“Limiting access to police records in a situation where private university police departments perform a government function is a disservice to the public and an unnecessary barrier to transparency,” Pence said Thursday in a veto statement.

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INDIANA DUNES PROJECT

An embattled privatization deal that would bring restaurants, a rooftop bar and a banquet center to Indiana Dunes State Park will get a boost under a bill signed by Pence. The measure will allow politically connected developer Chuck Williams of Valparaiso to sell alcohol at the planned development along the Lake Michigan beachfront.

It circumvents county and state alcohol boards, which both denied Williams a permit. Opponents have argued that Williams received favorable lease terms from the state parks system.

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AUTO LICENSE FEES

Pence signed into law a measure aimed at reducing the complexity of the Bureau of Motor Vehicles’ fee structure, which came after an audit last year found the agency had overcharged motorists more than $60 million since 2013.

Steps included in the bill include paring down the BMV’s current 191 classifications for registering vehicles to about two dozen. The bill also reduces or eliminates 163 fees. The changes will go into effect in January.

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ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATIONS

The governor rejected a bill that would have required the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to report to the Legislature before implementing new pollution or waste management regulations. It was a diluted version of a proposal that would have banned IDEM from creating environmental rules that were more stringent than federal regulations and blocked most new rules from taking effect until a legislative session had occurred, giving lawmakers a chance to intervene.

Pence cited the public concerns over lead contamination of tap water in Flint, Michigan, as a factor in his veto decision, saying the bill imposed “unnecessary delay” in the rulemaking process.

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FANTASY SPORTS

Pence signed a bill giving the Indiana Gaming Commission authority to regulate daily fantasy sports companies. The bill includes requirements that players be at least 18 years old, prohibits contests based on college or high school sports and sets an initial licensing fee of $50,000 for companies. About 20 states are considering bills to regulate the industry, in which players pay to compete online for cash prizes by picking teams of real-life athletes and racking up “fantasy” points based on how they perform.

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MEDICAL MALPRACTICE

Medical malpractice victims will be eligible for more compensation as Pence signed into law a bill increasing the payment cap for the first time since the 1990s. The cap would increase from the current $1.25 million limit to $1.65 million next year and then to $1.8 million in 2019.

Supporters say the increase was needed to protect the cap from court challenges since it hasn’t been raised for so long. Some medical groups opposed the size of the cap increase, saying doctors would not be able to absorb jumps in malpractice insurance premiums.

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