Governor Eric Holcomb is urging state lawmakers to change the hate crimes bill being considered.
The Hoosier state is currently one of only five without a hate crimes law, something the first-term Republican governor was hoping would change this year. If one passes, it would allow stricter sentencing for those who commit crimes fueled by biases.
However, in passing Senate Bill 12 last week, the GOP-controlled Indiana Senate removed protected characteristics from the hate crime bill, including race, sexual orientation and gender identity. Southeastern Indiana senators Chip Perfect (R-Lawrenceburg), Jean Leising (R-Oldenburg), and Jeff Raatz (R-Richmond) were among those voting for the amended bill.
Holcomb said Wednesday the state law should use the same protected characteristics list that the federal government uses.
“There are folks who want to do nothing, that think what we have suffices. I disagree respectfully. There are folks who are just against a list. I disagree respectfully,” he said.
He additionally urged Hoosiers to contact their legislators and ask them to pass a hate crimes law with a specific list of protected traits.
“They need to contact the legislators that vote, their legislator, and respectfully appeal to their hearts and minds why this is important not to just to them, but to the life of our state and the future of our state. This is about now, but also where we’re going to be in five, 10, 15 years,” said Holcomb.
Along with Democrats in the state legislature, the Indiana Forward campaign has been lobbying for a hate crimes law with specific protections. The organization’s co-chairs, Mindi Goodpaster, VP of Public Policy, United Way of Central Indiana, and David Sklar, Assistant Director, Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council, released a joint statement praising Holcomb’s continued backing of the hate crimes bill despite push back from his own party.
“Once again, in his mid-session press conference today, Governor Eric Holcomb reiterated his strong support for passing comprehensive bias crimes legislation in 2019. The Indiana Forward campaign is proud to stand with Gov. Holcomb in urging members of the House to produce a real bias crimes bill that includes a comprehensive list of enumerated characteristics. We applaud Gov. Holcomb for his continued leadership on this issue, and for his commitment to ensuring that Indiana gets its bias crimes law right. As we enter the second half of the legislative session, we look forward to working with the Governor on our shared goal: not only getting Indiana off the short list of states without a bias crimes law, but also passing a bill that’s effective, enforceable and leaves no Hoosier behind,” the joint statement read.
SB 12 is now under consideration in the Indiana House of Representatives.