Indiana Senate removes list of biases from hate crimes bill

Hate Crime Bill Debate
Hate crime bill amended

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Indiana's state Senate has removed sexual orientation, gender identity, race and a list of other characteristics from a hate crimes bill.

The Republican-majority body voted Tuesday on amendments which would have allowed judges to impose additional penalties against anyone convicted of committing crimes fueled by those and other biases.

The Senate voted to add that judges can consider bias, more generally, as an aggravating circumstance.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb supported the original bill and said the version approved Tuesday "does not get Indiana off the list of states without a bias crime law."

“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. 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.”

But other Republicans disagreed.

"Just saying 'bias' includes everybody, whether it's based on race, religion, sexual orientation, whatever the case may be, that if a crime is committed with bias, then the judge would have the ability to use that as an aggravator," said Sen. Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville).

The changed bill will be voted on by the Senate as early as Thursday before heading to the House.

Georgia, South Carolina, Wyoming and Arkansas also do not have hate crime laws.

Indiana Democratic Party Chairman John Zody criticized Holcomb and said "leaders find a way to bridge the divide and get things done."

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