Amended bias crimes bill passes through State Senate

Supporters of the amended bill said this makes sure everyone is included. Those against the amended bill said this waters down the bill and makes it less effective.

Posted: Feb 21, 2019 6:00 PM
Updated: Feb 21, 2019 6:08 PM

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (WLFI) - The amended bias crimes bill passed the Indiana Senate on Thursday.

The amendment removed a list of characteristics that judges could sentence a bias crime on. That list inlcuded race, religion, color, sex, gender identity, disability, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation and age. The amendment takes all these words out and instead replaces it simply with "bias."

Supporters of the amended bill said this makes sure everyone is included. Those against the amended bill said this waters down the bill and makes it less effective.

State Senator Tim Lanane, (D) District 25 did not vote for the amended bill. He said on the Senate floor on Thursday, "it's not the same to spray paint on a house "Yankees fans suck" as it is tp spray a swastika on a synagogue."

State Senator Ron Alting, who co-authored the bill, was not one of the 39 senators who voted "yes" on the revised bill.

"You'll never have another bill in front of you that will have such a positive effect on the citizens of Indiana," he said. "With this bill, you'll be on the right side of history and on the right side of helping all Hoosiers."

He said he has heard that judges want to have specific language in a bias crimes bill. He emphasized that the original bill was constitutionally sound and that the list of characteristics came from the FBI.

"The judges prefer to have the list because they have it in code all the specifics that they can put their finger on when it comes to the sentencing part and it has teeth in it," he said. "Without the list, it usually doesn't go anywhere."

He said 44 out of the 45 states that do have a bias crimes law do have a specific list of characteristics.

Governor Eric Holcomb has vocalized that he is in favor of the bill having specifications for bias. He said in a tweet on Tuesday that "The version of the bill approved today by the Senate does not get Indiana off the list of states without a bias crime law. We have a long way to go, a lot of work to do, and fortunately the time yet still to do it. I will continue to fight for the right ultimate outcome for our state and citizens this year so we’re not right back here in the same place next year.

Senator Alting said he still has faith in the democratic system that's preventing his bill from moving on as intended.

"As much disappointment that I have, I respect this great institution. It will be here long after I'm gone, its been here 200 years and it works," he said. "We'll just continue to work on the bill as it goes through the process."

The bill will now head to the House of Representatives.

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