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Senate passes hate crimes bill despite Democrats' objections

Posted at 5:14 PM, Apr 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-02 20:34:05-04

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana lawmakers finally have their hate crimes bill - just not in the form everybody originally thought.

After changes and deliberation, Indiana senators approved a bill that includes aggravated sentencing for bias crimes, but there are still opponents to the process and the final version of the bill.

How we got here:

  • A Senate committee approved SB 12, a bill that included an enumerated list of characteristics.
  • SB 12 was amended by the full Senate to remove the list. Senate Democrats fought against the changes.
  • Instead of hearing SB 12 in the House, the chamber instead amended a current bill, SB 198, to include aggravated sentencing for hate crimes.
  • SB 198 went back to the Senate, which approved the changes made in the House on Tuesday.

But activists and Senate Democrats also fought against this bill, because it doesn't explicitly cover age, sex or gender identity. Instead, the bill refers to Indiana's reporting statute that mentions color, creed, disability, national origin, race, religion and sexual orientation.

SB 198 would allow judges to impose longer sentences for crimes motivated by bias.

It will head to Gov. Eric Holcomb's desk. He is expected to sign it.

Statement from Gov. Holcomb:

Today, finally, Senate Bill 198, accomplished that goal and I will sign it into law as soon as it gets to my desk.
Those targeted for crimes because of color, creed, disability, national origin, race, religion or sexual orientation are protected. But this new law goes further. It also will cover bias crimes committed because of other traits and characteristics, such as gender, or gender identity, or sex, or age, and other commonly targeted groups.
Our new law will allow judges to enhance sentences based on listed and non-listed categories. Criminals who attempt to instill fear by attacking others based, for example, on who someone loves, who they are, how they identify, how they pray, should know their sentences can, and I believe should, be enhanced to the fullest extent of the law.”