INDIANAPOLIS (WPTA21) – In a twist on political norms, Indiana’s Democratic Leader in the House of Representatives said his caucus is prepared to stand with Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb in an effort to pass legislation defining and punishing bias-based crimes.
Rep. Phil GiaQuinta (D-Fort Wayne) issued the following statement on Wednesday:
“Indiana House Democrats agree with Governor Holcomb that we need to pass a meaningful bias crimes law this year. We also agree with the Governor that we will not accept any proposal that doesn’t include a list of specific classes of people that would be protected. He has offered two options – his own administration’s employment policy and federal law – that he believes will put Indiana on the list of states that punishes criminal attacks based on race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, ancestry, age, sexual orientation or gender identity, physical or mental disability, or veteran status. Indiana House Democrats are prepared to add this language back into Senate Bill 12, and we join the Governor in encouraging the people of Indiana to contact their Republican legislators about getting these changes put into the version of the bias crimes bill that will come before the House.”
It follows efforts by Holcomb to resurrect language removed from a bill that is currently under consideration. The original text would have included a list of characteristics — such as religion, sexual orientation and race — in the bias crimes bill.
Critics, including Democrats in the legislature, say the removal of that language by Republican lawmakers strips the measure of any significant value.
Holcomb on Wednesday proposed taking bias crimes language already in federal law and incorporating it into the state’s criminal code.
He believes such a move would be enough to remove what he categorizes as a stigma for Indiana as one of just five states without some sort of specific hate crimes legislation.