Indiana Senate Republicans say removing a list of protected classes from a bias crime bill won’t weaken the measure, however, Democrats and bias crimes advocates say it does just that.

The Senate voted 33-16 to remove language in the bias crimes bill that would allow for enhanced sentencing if the crime were motivated by race, religion, sexual orientation, gender and gender identity, age and several other other categories.

Instead, lawmakers replaced it with language which simply allowed for enhanced penalties if “bias” was a factor.

Republicans say the legislation offered the broad protection advocates wanted, without having a list which could exclude some individuals.  Senate Democrats and advocates say the “watered” down version offered basically no protections.

The measure goes up for a full vote later this week.

You can Senate President Pro Tempore Rod Bray, Minority Leader Tim Lanane and Democrat Greg Taylor and Indiana Forward spokesman Michael Leppert in the Leon-Tailored audio above.

Bias crimes legislation has been one of Governor Eric Holcomb’s top priorities.  His office issued the following statement this evening.

“The version of the bill approved today by the Senate does not get Indiana off the list of states without a bias crime law. We have a long way to go, a lot of work to do, and fortunately the time yet still to do it.  I will continue to fight for the right ultimate outcome for our state and citizens this year so we’re not right back here in the same place next year.”