INDIANAPOLIS — And then there were four.

Gov. Eric Holcomb signed into law Indiana's bias crime statute Wednesday, leaving Arkansas, Georgia, South Carolina and Wyoming as the only states that do not more harshly punish crimes motivated by hate or bias.

"Our goal was to achieve a comprehensive law that protects those who are the targets of bias crimes, and we have accomplished just that," said Holcomb, a Republican. "We have made progress and taken a strong stand against targeted violence."

Senate Enrolled Act 198 makes it an aggravating factor, for which a judge can impose more than the advisory prison term, if a crime is committed "with bias due to the victim's or the group's real or perceived characteristic, trait, belief, practice, association, or other attribute the court chooses to consider."

Holcomb said, "I am confident our judges will increase punishment for those who commit crimes motivated by bias under this law."

The measure was approved 57-39 in the Republican-controlled House, and 34-14 in the Republican-controlled Senate.

No Democrat in either chamber supported the proposal, largely because it lacks a broad list of protected classes that includes gender identity.

"The Republican supermajority showed their true colors this session in regards to their feelings towards our minority communities in this state. It is cowardly to not specify an all-inclusive list," said Senate Democratic Leader Tim Lanane, D-Anderson.

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