Letter: Restore bias bill

As elected officials and business leaders, we work together to build strong communities across central Indiana that are great places to live and work, to invest and create jobs. To our dismay, this task was made more difficult by the Indiana Senate’s action on bias crimes two weeks ago.

Our cities and towns contribute the majority of the state’s population gains and economic growth. We succeed—and Indiana wins—when we welcome new residents and employers to our largest metropolitan region. In today’s economy, the best way to build a broader tax base and a more dynamic business community is to embrace a diverse workforce.

We support a clear and comprehensive bias crimes law, to protect our constituents and employees. This issue goes beyond the Indy region—all Hoosiers deserve protection from hate, and all companies deserve the confidence to locate, hire and expand in a more inclusive Indiana. Gov. Holcomb took a strong stand on the issue, and public opinion polls show that most Hoosiers agree.

After hours of testimony in support of a specific, comprehensive approach, and a thorough discussion of the merits, the Senate Public Policy Committee passed a solid bill, SB12, authored by Senators Alting and Bohacek. The version that emerged from committee with a 9-1 vote included enumerated characteristics like race, religion, sexual orientation and gender identity, along with law enforcement training provisions.

As has been widely reported, that’s when momentum stalled. Senate Republicans disregarded hours of committee deliberations and stripped out the specifics of SB12.

The result is a bill that won’t get Indiana off the list of states without a hate crimes law. It provides little clarity for the courts and will be ineffective and unenforceable in protecting those most often targeted by bigotry and intolerance.

Instead of settling the issue and doing the right thing by protecting all Hoosiers, it will invite more controversy and negatively impact our economy.

We urge Speaker Brian Bosma and the House of Representatives to get this process back on track and restore the list in SB 12. We urge the General Assembly to listen to Gov. Holcomb and support his efforts.

__________

Mayor Steve Barnett, Franklin

Mayor Jim Brainard, Carmel

Mayor John Ditslear, Noblesville

Mayor Scott Fadness, Fishers

Mayor Chuck Fewell, Greenfield

Mayor Tim Haak, Zionsville

Mayor Joe Hogsett, Indianapolis

Mayor Mark Myers, Greenwood

Bob DuBois, President & CEO, Noblesville Chamber of Commerce

Brad DuBois, President & CEO, Plainfield Chamber of Commerce

Brandon Fishburn, President, Westside Chamber of Commerce

Connie Harris, Executive Director, Speedway Chamber of Commerce

Leonard Hoops, President & CEO, Visit Indy

Michael Huber, President & CEO, Indy Chamber

Christian Maslowski, President & CEO, Greenwood Chamber of Commerce

Mo Merhoff, President & CEO, One Zone (Carmel and Fishers)

Lin Moormann, Executive Director, Zionsville Chamber of Commerce

Diane Schultz, Executive Director, Boone County Chamber

Sherry Seiwert, President, Downtown Indy

Patrick Tamm, President, Indiana Restaurant & Lodging Association

Ryan Vaughn, President, Indiana Sports Corp.

Nick Verhoff, President & CEO, Westfield Chamber of Commerce

Trace Yates, President & CEO, Greater Lawrence Chamber of Commerce

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