Bias crimes law hits the right note for our state

<p>There is no perfect legislation, particularly when the topic at hand drives the passions of so many diverse hearts and minds.</p><p>But the Indiana Legislature made a good faith effort and produced a bias crimes bill that is far better than nothing and paints the Hoosier state in a more welcoming light.</p><p>Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the bill into law, and that’s a victory for our state.</p><p>Passions run high — and rightly so — when discussing the presence and effect of hate and bias on crimes against people.</p><p>Those passions — and the fact Indiana was one of the only states without a bias crimes law on the books — drove the effort toward such a law in the ongoing legislative session.</p><p>The Legislature responded, even if some critics don’t believe the bill goes far enough.</p><p>The measure makes it an aggravating factor, for which a judge can impose more prison time, if a crime is committed &quot;with bias due to the victim’s or the group’s real or perceived characteristic, trait, belief, practice, association or other attribute the court chooses to consider, including but not limited to an attribute described in (Indiana Code).&quot;</p><p>That code specifically lists &quot;color, creed, disability, national origin, race, religion and sexual orientation&quot; as specific potential traits of bias crime victims.</p><p>Those opposed to the law in its adopted form argue it intentionally omits age, ancestry, gender and gender identity from the list of aggravating factors.</p><p>But the bill and its list actually are quite inclusive and create flexibility for judges to consider factors that may not be listed at all.</p><p>&quot;This bill provides an excellent solution, and it covers all Hoosiers equally,&quot; House Speaker Brian Bosma said. &quot;You cannot name a characteristic or trait not covered under this bill.&quot;</p><p>We agree.</p><p>And now, when prospective Hoosier residents or companies looking to locate here seek a state with welcoming credentials, Indiana will have them.</p><p>The Indiana Chamber of Commerce, which championed a push for a bias crimes law for this very reason, called the adopted bill &quot;a big step in the right direction.&quot;</p><p>&quot;Though the list is not as comprehensive as we had advocated for, what the Legislature has passed is still a meaningful hate crimes bill,&quot; Chamber CEO Kevin Brinegar said.</p><p>&quot;It’s more inclusive than some states’ laws and on par with others. Not to mention, it’s far better than having no law at all.&quot;</p><p>Compromise rules the day. It’s the way our system of government is supposed to work.</p>