Senate Passes Amended Hate Crimes Bill

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Indiana is one of five states without a specific hate crimes law. Indiana is one of five states without a specific hate crimes law.

The Indiana Senate has passed a hate crimes bill, which includes a controversial amendment approved Wednesday in committee. The bill, which no longer includes a list of targeted groups, was approved by a vote of 39-10.

The bill now includes a line stating criminal sentences can be lengthened for reasons "including bias."

Senator Aaron Freeman (R-Indianapolis) introduced the amendment that removed a list of factors for which a crime could be considered a hate crime, such as race, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity. Freeman said Wednesday the catchall statement simply cements an Indiana Supreme Court ruling into law.

Our partners at WIBC report among those who voted "no" on the bill is Sen. Ron Alting (R-Lafayette), a co-author of the bill, who said removing the list means the bill is not a hate crime bill at all. Indiana Chamber Chief Executive Officer Kevin Brinegar released the following statement after the bill was passed:

Unfortunately, what passed the Senate today does not meet the all-important criteria of a meaningful bias crimes law. The Indiana Chamber and its members will continue to work with all legislators to do just that. We agree with Gov. Holcomb that the current legislation does not even remove Indiana from the list of five states without a bias crimes statute.

With more than two full months left in this legislative session, there is still time for the House to properly address this issue and for the Senate to act again – this time to pass a comprehensive law. If the General Assembly fails to do so, it will only unnecessarily fuel this controversy.

The bill now heads to the Indiana House for further consideration. You can view the full bill by clicking here.

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