The Indiana House has passed an amendment involving specific hate crimes protections. House Republicans introduced the amendment which adds a list of aggravating factors, but does not include sex, age or gender identity.
Our partners at WFYI report the amendment was introduced without public input.
The amendment adds to a list of aggravating factors that a court can consider when determining a sentence. The new aggravating factor reads, "The person committed the offense with bias due to the victim’s or the group’s real or perceived characteristic, trait, belief, practice, association, or other attribute the court chooses to consider." It also references attributes that are already covered under state law, including national origin, race, religion and sexual orientation, but does not include sex, age or gender identity.
The amendment was presented by Rep. Greg Steuerwald (R-Danville), who said it covered "every form of hate under the sun," according to WFYI. The amendment was approved with a voice vote, which means there is no public record of how each individual state representative voted.
In a statement following the vote, Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody took issue with how the amendment was introduced.
Today, House Republicans undermined the legislative process, blocking citizens from exercising their right to shape public policy. The legislature was not designed to operate from behind closed doors. Until every Hoosier is protected equally under the law, our Party will keep fighting.
Governor Eric Holcomb released a statement supporting the amendment and its passage:
I support and appreciate the action taken by the House today. This measure covers all forms of bias crimes and treats all people equally. Now, we need to make sure we get to the finish line and move Indiana off the list of states without a bias crimes law.
Hate crimes legislation has been one of the biggest talking points of this year’s legislative session. Last month, the Senate passed a hate crimes bill after an amendment removed a list of factors that could be used in determining if a crime was a hate crime, including race, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity.