JCRC — “Indiana Governor: Citizens Contact Legislators To Pass Specific Hate Crimes Law”

Mike Perleberg and Benjamin Yount, Eagle Country 99.3, February 28 2019
Governor Eric Holcomb wants the hate crimes bill in the Indiana legislature to include specific protected human characteristics, including religion, race, sexual orientation and gender identity.

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. 

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JCRC — DespiteEven as Indiana lawmakers from both parties continue to echo Gov. Eric Holcomb’s call for hate crime legislation, the deep divisions that foiled previous attempts to pass a bias-motivated crime bill appear to still be entrenched.  Monday, Holcomb announced his intention to get a hate crime bill through the Statehouse during the 2019 General Assembly session. He said he would be meeting with legislators, corporate leaders and citizens to find consensus so Indiana can join the 45 other states that have statutes regarding crimes motived by hate or bias.  “No law can stop evil,” Holcomb said, “but we should be clear that our state stands with the victims and their voices will not be silenced.”  Holcomb made his public statement of support for hate crime legislation following an act of vandalism at a Carmel synagogue over the weekend. An outbuilding at the Congregation Shaarey Tefilla was spray-painted with Nazi symbols.  Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature have since issued statements reiterating the governor’s view. But Democrats noted that while they have proposed and supported hate crime measures, their colleagues across the aisle have resisted and failed to take action in getting a bill passed.  “(The Democrats) have persistently pursued bias-motivated crime legislation in the Indiana Senate, and each year our legislation is ignored by the majority party with promises of future consideration,” said Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson.  Incoming Senate president Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville, said he is pleased to collaborate with Holcomb and the House of Representatives to continue the work of crafting “legislation that mirrors our Hoosier hospitality.”  Conversely, House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, voiced support for the victims but was noncommittal about passing a law.  “This summer, the Interim Study Committee on Corrections and Criminal Code will take another look at the issue of bias-motivated crimes and identify opportunities for legislative consensus,” Bosma said. “Indiana Judges already have the ability to enhance sentences based on a criminal’s motivation when presented with evidence of bias, but perhaps more needs to be done to clarify and highlight this existing provision.”  Also Monday, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill released a 761-word op-ed also calling for the Legislature to pass a law that “criminalizes hateful conduct.”  However, his position mirrors the opposition to hate crime bills that these measures carve out special protections for select groups. The list of protected classes often included in the proposed legislation is seen as excluding individuals who are part of a majority.  “My proposal differs from many other so-called hate-crimes proposals in that it avoids entirely the exercise of separating ‘protected groups’ from ‘non-protected,’” Hill wrote. “Why should some groups receive greater protection from hateful conduct than others?”  For community organizations pushing for a bias-motivated crime bill, the removal of the specific protected groups would be unacceptable. David Sklar, director of government affairs for the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council, called it a non-starter.  Hate crime bills that have been introduced in the Indiana Legislature in the past have included a list of characteristics identifying the protected classes. The bills specify that individuals or groups could have their sentences enhanced if they commit a criminal act that targets others because of their religion, race, gender and ethnicity. Holcomb’s support, hate crimes bill lacks unity

JCRC — DespiteEven as Indiana lawmakers from both parties continue to echo Gov. Eric Holcomb’s call for hate crime legislation, the deep divisions that foiled previous attempts to pass a bias-motivated crime bill appear to still be entrenched. Monday, Holcomb announced his intention to get a hate crime bill through the Statehouse during the 2019 General Assembly session. He said he would be meeting with legislators, corporate leaders and citizens to find consensus so Indiana can join the 45 other states that have statutes regarding crimes motived by hate or bias. “No law can stop evil,” Holcomb said, “but we should be clear that our state stands with the victims and their voices will not be silenced.” Holcomb made his public statement of support for hate crime legislation following an act of vandalism at a Carmel synagogue over the weekend. An outbuilding at the Congregation Shaarey Tefilla was spray-painted with Nazi symbols. Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature have since issued statements reiterating the governor’s view. But Democrats noted that while they have proposed and supported hate crime measures, their colleagues across the aisle have resisted and failed to take action in getting a bill passed. “(The Democrats) have persistently pursued bias-motivated crime legislation in the Indiana Senate, and each year our legislation is ignored by the majority party with promises of future consideration,” said Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson. Incoming Senate president Rodric Bray, R-Martinsville, said he is pleased to collaborate with Holcomb and the House of Representatives to continue the work of crafting “legislation that mirrors our Hoosier hospitality.” Conversely, House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, voiced support for the victims but was noncommittal about passing a law. “This summer, the Interim Study Committee on Corrections and Criminal Code will take another look at the issue of bias-motivated crimes and identify opportunities for legislative consensus,” Bosma said. “Indiana Judges already have the ability to enhance sentences based on a criminal’s motivation when presented with evidence of bias, but perhaps more needs to be done to clarify and highlight this existing provision.” Also Monday, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill released a 761-word op-ed also calling for the Legislature to pass a law that “criminalizes hateful conduct.” However, his position mirrors the opposition to hate crime bills that these measures carve out special protections for select groups. The list of protected classes often included in the proposed legislation is seen as excluding individuals who are part of a majority. “My proposal differs from many other so-called hate-crimes proposals in that it avoids entirely the exercise of separating ‘protected groups’ from ‘non-protected,’” Hill wrote. “Why should some groups receive greater protection from hateful conduct than others?” For community organizations pushing for a bias-motivated crime bill, the removal of the specific protected groups would be unacceptable. David Sklar, director of government affairs for the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council, called it a non-starter. Hate crime bills that have been introduced in the Indiana Legislature in the past have included a list of characteristics identifying the protected classes. The bills specify that individuals or groups could have their sentences enhanced if they commit a criminal act that targets others because of their religion, race, gender and ethnicity. Holcomb’s support, hate crimes bill lacks unity

For community organizations pushing for a bias-motivated crime bill, the removal of the specific protected groups would be unacceptable. David Sklar, director of government affairs for the Indianapolis Jewish Community Relations Council, called it a non-starter.