STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Indiana hate crimes bill advances despite conservative foes

A bill aimed at removing Indiana from the list of just five states without a hate crimes law cleared a legislative committee Monday, but not without the continued opposition of conservative groups that have stymied similar proposals for the last several years.

Posted: Feb 18, 2019 5:58 PM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — A bill aimed at removing Indiana from the list of just five states without a hate crimes law cleared a legislative committee Monday, but not without the continued opposition of conservative groups that have stymied similar proposals for the last several years.

The Senate Public Policy Committee voted 9-1 to advance the bill to the full Senate after hearing nearly three hours of public testimony from opponents and supporters. The bill would specifically allow judges to impose additional penalties against those convicted of committing crimes fueled by biases regarding traits such as race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability and age.

The debate in the Republican-dominated Legislature comes in the wake of a controversy over a 2015 Indiana law that critics said allowed gay people to be discriminated against. The law was later changed, but only after a national backlash and threats of a boycott.

This year’s push for a state hate crimes law has the backing of Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, who has said the state is “long overdue” to adopt such a law following the spray-painting of a swastika outside a suburban Indianapolis synagogue last summer

An overwhelming majority of states have hate crime laws, which vary to some degree but generally allow for stiffer sentences to be given to people who are convicted of crimes motivated by hatred or bias. Only Indiana, Georgia, South Carolina, Wyoming and Arkansas do not.

Among the some 40 bill supporters who spoke before the committee were executives of business groups, corporations and universities, along with leaders of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh and Hindu congregations. Hispanic college students, a transgender woman and the mother of a transgender woman all talked about threatening situations in urging adoption of a state hate crimes law.

Pierre Atlas said he another other members of Congregation Shaarey Tefilla in Carmel were victims of last summer’s swastika vandalism that had what he called a “sinister motive” that made it a hate crime.

“It is an attack on that entire group, not just the individual,” Atlas said. “It is intended to terrorize and intimidate that entire group.”

Repeated efforts for an Indiana law have failed amid fierce opposition from conservatives who maintain it would unfairly create specially-protected classes of victims and wrongly restrict free speech. About 10 bill opponents testified Monday, mostly leaders of prominent religious conservative groups in the state.

Curt Smith, president of the Indiana Family Institute, argued that current state law gives judges the authority to consider bias motives in sentencing criminals.

“Some people are on the favored list this year, maybe next year this committee or other tribunals would take them off,” Smith said. ”... When you start creating new rights they inevitably bump up against other things and we have very great concerns about religious liberty should this bill be passed in its current form.”

Hate crimes bill supporters maintain that judges are now reluctant to consider bias factors in sentences since they aren’t specifically identified in state law.

A bill similar to that endorsed Monday cleared the state Senate in 2016, but the House took no action on it. Senate Republican leaders killed another bill last year before a committee voted on it, saying a consensus couldn’t be reached over its wording.

Holcomb has said the new law should follow the state’s employee anti-harassment policy, which has a list that includes sexual orientation and gender identity.

Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma said he and Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray talked with the governor about the issue for about 45 minutes last week and that significant opposition remains among House Republicans on “an expansive list.”

“It is my hope that Senator Bray can thread the needle and get a bill over here that we can work with,” Bosma said.

Trending on AP News
Ohio lawmakers studying error that could ban some guns
Analysis: Shutdown saga offers lesson in divided government
Newspaper calls Kansas Senate leader's lawsuit 'meritless'
by Taboola

Terre Haute
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 50°
Robinson
Clear
53° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 53°
Indianapolis
Clear
47° wxIcon
Hi: 58° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 42°
Rockville
Clear
51° wxIcon
Hi: 60° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 51°
Casey
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 40°
Feels Like: 50°
Brazil
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 50°
Marshall
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 50°
Sunny, but cool.
WTHI Planner
WTHI Temps
WTHI Radar

Latest Video

Image

Wednesday: Sunny, cool and breezy. High: 61

Image

All You Need to Know for Wednesday

Image

The Fight For Raises

Image

Gas prices are up; Here's how you can save

Image

Rose-Hulman AD

Image

Bloomfield volleyball

Image

Linton football

Image

Back On Track Clinic

Image

ISU HOMECOMING BUSINESS FOLLOW UP

Image

Olney Park Trail

WTHI Events

 

Illinois Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 7 p.m. CT)

Cases: 1688261

Reported Deaths: 28115
CountyCasesDeaths
Cook63888311249
DuPage1091671385
Will919701133
Lake806751092
Kane68883880
Winnebago41507561
Madison40309602
St. Clair36434602
McHenry35095334
Champaign27178198
Peoria27067370
Sangamon25919287
McLean23203220
Tazewell20751333
Rock Island18988364
Kankakee18036251
Kendall16359115
Macon15402252
LaSalle15119287
Vermilion14564202
Adams13244153
DeKalb12252134
Williamson12126176
Whiteside8351184
Jackson812695
Boone799183
Coles7973128
Ogle763290
Grundy744186
Knox7362169
Franklin7356115
Clinton7149102
Macoupin7035107
Marion6966144
Henry668077
Effingham6678100
Jefferson6604143
Livingston601298
Stephenson592394
Woodford581592
Randolph5578101
Christian538382
Fulton530377
Monroe5278104
Morgan5115100
Logan497375
Montgomery495783
Lee481062
Bureau446291
Saline438169
Perry435975
Fayette434664
Iroquois425577
McDonough378461
Shelby352549
Jersey338553
Lawrence336833
Crawford335330
Douglas330437
Union309448
Wayne307863
White281433
Richland281357
Hancock275135
Clark268040
Cass266931
Pike266458
Edgar261849
Clay261154
Bond258125
Ford247459
Warren245866
Moultrie238733
Carroll237638
Johnson231732
Jo Daviess218429
Massac218151
Wabash217919
Mason214753
Washington213528
De Witt208130
Mercer206437
Greene206040
Piatt204114
Cumberland190726
Menard172913
Jasper162121
Marshall142321
Hamilton134722
Schuyler110210
Brown107110
Pulaski105212
Edwards104218
Stark82128
Gallatin7959
Alexander74512
Scott7146
Henderson71314
Calhoun6952
Hardin61516
Putnam5684
Pope5596
Unassigned1222433
Out of IL190

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

(Widget updates once daily at 8 p.m. ET)

Cases: 1012606

Reported Deaths: 16567
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1360682133
Lake667261170
Allen58341804
Hamilton46545468
St. Joseph44627619
Elkhart36101512
Vanderburgh32358482
Tippecanoe28053261
Johnson25224447
Hendricks23977362
Porter23018367
Madison18848412
Clark18640254
Vigo17562304
Monroe15340199
LaPorte15249252
Delaware15135264
Howard14839292
Kosciusko12433149
Hancock11788177
Bartholomew11712180
Warrick11314188
Floyd11149216
Wayne11036254
Grant10159220
Morgan9512178
Boone8976116
Dubois8291132
Henry8265155
Dearborn824793
Noble8075106
Marshall7995135
Cass7569123
Lawrence7494172
Shelby7236117
Jackson701990
Gibson6621115
Harrison653293
Huntington6456100
Knox6429107
DeKalb6375102
Montgomery6304112
Miami596298
Putnam584879
Clinton579772
Whitley569756
Steuben568677
Jasper537681
Wabash5372104
Jefferson513997
Ripley502587
Adams484876
Daviess4692115
Scott440576
Greene428496
Clay427760
Wells426388
White421365
Decatur4182105
Fayette407587
Jennings390763
Posey377944
LaGrange362779
Washington360551
Randolph348199
Spencer341243
Fountain337060
Sullivan331252
Starke319871
Owen316271
Fulton315868
Orange295564
Jay286446
Franklin266743
Perry265852
Rush264432
Carroll262534
Vermillion260554
Parke232429
Pike229744
Tipton229359
Blackford195143
Pulaski184757
Newton160448
Crawford160226
Benton151417
Brown147547
Martin139819
Switzerland135611
Warren121416
Union107316
Ohio85013
Unassigned0545