Indiana bias crimes bill worrisome without protected classes
Tech community members, at a time when our growth and promise as a major tech hub are great, I’m worried that some members of our Indiana legislature are navigating us again to a place where Indiana’s character is questioned by people who would bring their talents or companies here, and I encourage you to contact your legislators to make sure your voice is heard.
The Indiana Senate approved an amendment to Senate Bill 12 this week that removed protected classifications that would be given protections against bias crimes. Prior to the amendment, the bill would have allowed judges to use the motivation behind a crime – such as a person’s race, religion, color, sex, gender identity, age, disability, national origin, ancestry, and sexual orientation – to impose a tougher sentence within the range already allowed for the crime.
The bill, if approved by the full Senate, would then advance to the House of Representatives where it may be amended again. That means it could be debated for weeks to come, which could mean another round of negative national press attention reminiscent of the 2015 Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) debacle.
Governor Eric Holcomb, who supports the bill with the list of protected classes in it, said there is time to return the bill to a form that would mean Indiana would no longer be one of five states without a hate crime law on its books.
“The version of the bill approved today by the Senate does not get Indiana off the list of states without a bias crime law. We have a long way to go, a lot of work to do, and fortunately the time yet still to do it,” Holcomb said. “I will continue to fight for the right ultimate outcome for our state and citizens this year so we’re not right back here in the same place next year.”
I thank the Governor, Indiana Forward, the Indiana Technology & Innovation Association and many other civic and business organizations for their leadership in calling on state lawmakers to restore the protected classes in SB 12, the bias crime bill. I also thank the legislators — several breaking party rank — who voted against the amendment.
Passing this bias crimes law that includes all of the listed attributes above is not only the right thing for our tech business’s talent needs but the right thing period. It’s an important step toward proving that there’s no room for hate in Hoosier hospitality. If you feel compelled about this issue, now is the time to call on your lawmakers to correct this action.