Here in Southwestern Indiana supporters of the proposed hate crimes legislation say they’re optimistic the bill will pass this session.
Indiana state representative Ryan Hatfield co-sponsored one of the three hate crime bill considered in this year’s General Assembly, and House Bill 1093 seems to be getting the most traction.
Different groups in Evansville say it’s not the perfect hate crimes Bill, but agree it’s a step in the right direction.
Indiana is one of five states in the U.S. Without a hate crimes law, but legislators and groups in the Hoosier state are pushing to change that.
“I do think that is an embarrassment. So every time there is a Swastika that is put on a temple, or our local temple had someone shoot a bullet through one of the windows. That is something that could be considered that this happens locally, and it happens in Indiana,” says Tri-State Alliance President Wally Paynter.
A bias crimes bill authored by Representative Gregory Steuerwald, and co-sponsored by Indiana Representatives Wendy Mcnamara and Ryan Hatfield doesn’t include any specific group.
“We didn’t want anyone to be excluded. This includes every identity that exists now and in the future,” says Rep. Hatfield.
Hatfield says this is the only Bill that can pass the legislative session.
“This Bill includes everybody. Its the most comprehensive, strongest language that the legislature has before it, and I think that it will pass. I hope that it will pass, and I am a proud co-author of it.”
“I do believe this is the best hate crimes Bill that can pass the General Assembly and I do hope our local delegation will support this Bill,” says Paynter.
Different groups in Evansville say House Bill 1093 is a start in protecting groups in Indiana.
“Once we drill down into that and we see that then perhaps we can support him in this effort, and I believe that Representative Hatfield has it in his heart to make sure that everybody is considered in this Bill regardless of their race, creed, color, or sexual orientation,” says Evansville NAACP President Reverend Gerald Arnold.
“I believe that we are included, and I do believe that it is an effective Bill that would be a good first step in passing a hate crimes Bill in Indiana,” says Paynter.
House Bill 1093 would instruct judges to aggravate a sentence when they find bias in a crime which would prolong a sentence.
Hatfield says this Bill would ensure the state doesn’t have to amend the Bill each year to add different groups.