(INDIANAPOLIS) – Governor Holcomb says he’s “disappointed” at criticism of a House-passed hate crime bill by a key national watchdog group.
The Anti-Defamation League is one of two groups considered authoritative in maintaining a list of states with hate crime laws and what they cover. Indiana Forward, a coalition of groups leading the push to get Indiana off the list of five states without a law, announced last week the ADL considers the House bill insufficient.
Holcomb says he’s still lobbying for a more comprehensive bill. But he says the House bill meets criteria the ADL spelled out before the session, calling for a specific list of victim groups. The bill would allow judges to use the targeting of victims as grounds for longer sentences.
The House bill piggybacks on an existing law requiring state police to keep track of crimes targeting people for their race, religion, ethnicity or sexual orientation.
The ADL says language aimed at catching anyone the list overlooks is too vague. Other critics, including Indiana Forward and legislative Democrats, complain the list leaves out age, gender, and gender identity.
The Indiana Chamber denounced a Senate bill which stripped the list entirely in favor of a catchall reference to “bias.” But the Chamber has endorsed the House-passed bill, saying it’s not perfect, but notes it goes further than most states. Only 16 states’ hate crime laws address transgender residents, and only 15 include age. The Chamber says it believes House Speaker Brian Bosma’s warning that the House version is the most that’s politically realistic.
Holcomb notes hate crime laws have been proposed in Indiana for a quarter-century without going anywhere. He says the House bill would be “a ginormous step forward,” and says he believes it would accomplish his goal of covering all Hoosiers.
Senate Republicans have signaled they’ll make clear on Tuesday whether they’ll vote on a House-passed bill or call for negotiations to make more changes, which would then face votes in both the Senate and House. The Chamber says it’s concerned that could leave supporters empty-handed.
Gov. Eric Holcomb (Photo: Eric Berman/WIBC)