LAFAYETTE – In the days after his successful re-election campaign, state Sen. Ron Alting followed through on his promise, made over the summer, to start the push for a hate crimes bill in Indiana, one of five states without one.
“I said it then, I’ll say it now: ‘Why not, Indiana?’” Alting, a Lafayette Republican, asked. “If you think that way, that Indiana doesn’t need this, you live, I’d respectfully say, a sheltered life. … It kind of makes you look in the mirror and ask, ‘When, Indiana?’”
Alting and state Sen. Mike Bohacek, a Republican from Michiana Shores, this week released a draft of Senate Bill 12, which would give judges latitude to consider whether bias motivated a crime as an aggravating factor when considering a prison sentence.
The bill, aimed for the 2019 General Assembly session that starts in January, picks up where similar bills have failed, including an effort that failed during the 2018 session before it could get a vote in the Indiana House or Senate.
The bill also lands at a time when Gov. Eric Holcomb has thrown his weight behind a hate crimes bill of some sort. Still, in October, a General Assembly interim study committee, assigned to kick start the process, couldn’t come up with a recommendation, with members split over whether an explicit hate crimes law is needed in Indiana.
“I personally don’t rely on any interim study committee,” Alting said. “My study committee is the constituents I serve. I hold that my colleagues in the General Assembly will feel the same way.”
Senate Bill 12 includes a broad range of class protections – more than in federal antidiscrimination guidelines or in past bills considered, and then rejected, by the Indiana General Assembly.