An effort to pass hate crimes legislation in Indiana has taken a step forward. The Indiana Senate Public Policy Committee today voted 9-1 to move a bill allowing for stronger sentences for bias-based crimes to the full Senate. Supporters argued the measure would provide protections for Hoosiers throughout the state and make Indiana more attractive to businesses and talent, while some critics suggested the bill could limit free expression and that current law already provides protections.
Among those testifying against the bill were attorney Jim Bopp, who said Indiana Supreme Court precedent already allows for longer sentences for bias-based crimes, and former Indiana Representative Cindy Noe, who argued the bill comes down to "whether government should make ideas a crime." Supporters included representatives from the Pacers, Colts and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, who said they wanted their athletes and fans to feel welcome in the state, as well as leaders from companies including Evansville-based Old National Bancorp. and Columbus-based Cummins Inc. (NYSE: CMI), who argued, in the battle for talent, not having a hate crimes law creates an additional hurdle.
Indiana is one of five states without a specific hate crimes law, and Governor Eric Holcomb is among those who says he wants that to change. Debate remains on what specific characteristics a bill should include. The current measure, authored by Senators Ron Alting (R-Lafayette) and Mike Bohacek (R-Michiana Shores), includes race, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and more.
Republican Phil Boots (R-Crawfordsville) was the only no vote.
You can see the full bill by clicking here.
Noe, who spoke in opposition of the bill, believes it’s about “whether government should make ideas a crime.”
Old National Bancorp Chief Executive Officer Bob Jones says hate crimes legislation is the right thing to do and “good business.”