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INDIANAPOLIS - A final vote on a hate crimes law could come Tuesday.
Senate Republicans gutted their first attempt at a hate crime bill in favor of a general reference to bias. The House-passed bill goes a little further. It cross-references the list of victim groups in an existing law requiring state police to keep an official count of hate crimes. Senate President Pro Tem Rod Bray says Republicans are discussing whether to just accept that version and take a final vote on Tuesday.
Some Republicans have objected to the idea of a law which sets one group of victims above another when judges consider sentences. The House bill seeks to give them a fig leaf by not including a list directly -- you have to follow a link to the other law to find it.
Supporters of a law argue crimes targeting a person's race or religion have the effect of intimidating an entire group and deserve harsher punishment. And Republican Governor Eric Holcomb, who has made the bill one of his priorities, argues Indiana's status as one of five states without a hate crime law is a handicap in economic development talks.
Senate Minority Leader Tim Lanane wants a more specific list and is urging Republicans to go back to the drawing board. He complains the law as written doesn't cover age, gender or gender identity. House Speaker Brian Bosma argues it does, because it says judges aren't limited to the groups mentioned by name.
Of the 45 states with hate crime laws, 30 include gender, but just 16 mention gender identity, and only 15 cover age.