Cracker barrel sessions wrap up for the season with a hot topic of hate crimes

As the Cracker barrel sessions come to an end...the topic of hate crimes were constantly in discussion. Citizens shared their concerns for the new bill.

Posted: Apr. 13, 2019 6:35 PM
Updated: Apr. 13, 2019 11:31 PM

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI)- Saturday morning marked the final Cracker barrel session for the season.

These sessions allow citizens to line-up at the podium and express concerns to state legislators.

One of the concerns that was re-introduced from the last session involved a hate crimes bill.

The law is on the books for the Hoosier state but the details of it are still a heavy debate.

Several people at the forum felt disappointed by the final version of the law.

One of those people included Arthur Feinsod, who is the President of the interfaith counsel of the Wabash Valley.

"Get rid of it and replace with with something that has a list because it is a protection bill, it's to protect vulnerable groups," said Feinsod.

In February the state senate approved a modified version of the bill, and that was ultimately passed.

The current law does not specifically protect people based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or race.

Feinsold told us that there shouldn't be a law without those characteristics included.

"If you're doing a bill specifically to fight bias you've got to focus on who are the victims of bias, if you open it up and dilute it, you don't really protect anybody... you're just doing a general thing, it's not useful," said Feinsod. 

State Representative, Tonya Pfaff, was on the same page as Feinsod when it came to the inclusion.

"I voted against the bill because it did not include the list and my problem as a woman, it didn't even have gender on there. There's all kinds of problems in Indiana and as a representative it's our job to protect people that need protection," said Pfaff.

Other citizens that took to the podium such as, Sylvester Edwards, are hopeful that the bill will reappear in the future with a more inclusive list.

"So yes we will press the issue, this is not over. We are going to continue until it does change," said Edwards.

Educators also took to the podium and spoke freely about what they call a lack of funding.

Teachers raised concerns about salaries and the allocation of funds for public schools.

Several teachers and students wore red t-shirts in honor of educators.

Some of those shirts said 'red for ed' and 'my teachers deserve more, I deserve more' to prove a point to legislators.

Lawmakers told the concerned crowd that they are working on an education funding breakdown so that they can continue discussions in the future.

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