A number of Indiana lawmakers, including Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller, came together Aug. 19 to discuss a plan to expand protections for servicemembers with active military status.
The Indiana Servicemembers Civil Relief Act would enforce civil penalties for federal SCRA violations , according to TheStatehouseFile.com. It also includes protections from obligations specific to Indiana that the federal SCRA doesn’t cover. Some of these might include debt collections, evictions, foreclosures, judicial proceedings or cell phone service terminations.
“When Hoosier military members are in the line of duty, they should not have to worry about these complicated, time-consuming and often expensive obligations that could have life-altering consequences,” Zoeller said in a statement. “Expanding the SCRA at the state level will allow our service men and women to devote their full attention to military duties and relieve stress on the family members back home.”
A number of other states also have laws to complement the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. Among these are Illinois and Kentucky, according to the news source. An estimated 550,000 veterans call Indiana home, giving it one of the largest veteran populations in the United States.
“Concerns about repeat deployments of our National Guard troops and Reservists have been brought to our attention,” said Sen. Susan Glick, R-LaGrange. “Those who are deployed time and time again can experience not only physical and mental hardships, but also financial struggles due to extended leaves from their regular deployment. This is an issue that needs to be addressed in order to protect the stability of our service members and their families when they return home.”
Recent litigation against a Georgia company may have helped spur the drive to create a complementary Indiana SCRA law. Zoeller and 12 other attorneys general took action together in July against Rome Finance. The company was offering misleading credit options to servicemembers with active military status, according to The Indy Star.
Rome Finance now must repay about $92 million in debt relief to U.S. servicemembers, according to the news source. The 261 Hoosier servicemembers will get close to $1.5 million of that.
The act will still have to make it through the Indiana General Assembly in January before it becomes law. But such situations demonstrate the seriousness with which state and federal legislators take this law. The Indiana SCRA adds teeth to a bill that already can result in stiff penalties and fines. These types of laws make it even more important to do a military records search before pursuing litigation that might infringe on the SCRA.