In the lead-up to the 2019 Indiana General Assembly session, the board of directors of our organization established a policy position calling for a meaningful bias crimes bill – with the top priority of removing Indiana from the list of five states without such legislation.
That position has not changed. The need to pass a bias crimes law because it is the right thing to do has not changed.
What does have more clarity today is what it will take to exit the likely shrinking list of five. That requirement is an enumerated list of protected categories, which is missing from the bill the Senate passed or the proposal the House majority caucus had previously indicated it prefers.
The Anti-Defamation League, the NAACP and other organizations that evaluate the state laws have made it clear in a recently published letter that neither of those efforts will get the job done. Gov. Eric Holcomb has stated the same and strongly expressed his preference for an inclusive outline of protected categories.
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Georgia, one of the four states aligned with Indiana, has passed comprehensive legislation through its House. South Carolina is also working to escape the negative attention that comes with its status. Utah, not on the list of five, has nevertheless strengthened its existing law with a bill expected to be signed by its governor.
In this situation, doing nothing further perpetuates a false perception about our state being unwelcoming. That unfortunate assessment of Indiana does keep talented individuals from relocating here at a time of our greatest workforce challenges. Indiana Chamber members and the broader business community are suffering the consequences in stifled economic growth.
We strongly encourage the General Assembly members to do what is necessary to get Indiana off the list. They have the support of our organization and the overwhelming majority of Hoosiers.
Members of the executive committee of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce: Devin Anderson, E&A Companies, Indianapolis; Charles B. Baldwin, Ogletree Deakins, Indianapolis; Michael Bosway, Stifel Nicolaus & Co., Indianapolis; Phillip Bounsall, Knall Cohen Pence Group, Indianapolis; JoAnn Brouillette, Demeter LP, Fowler; Daniel Evans, Indianapolis; Gretchen Gutman, Cook Group, Bloomington; Tim Haffner, Faegre Baker Daniels, Fort Wayne; Rob Hillman, Anthem Blue Cross & Blue Shield, Indianapolis; Phil Johnson, Eli Lilly & Co., Indianapolis; James Marcuccilli, STAR Financial Bank, Fort Wayne; Jean Neel, Haynes International, Kokomo; Paul Perkins, Amatrol, Jeffersonville; Melissa Proffitt, Ice Miller, Indianapolis; Sam Schlosser, Plymouth Foundry, Plymouth; Brad Skillman, The Skillman Corp., Indianapolis; Bill Soards, AT&T Indiana, Indianapolis; Brenda Stallings, Matrix Integration, Jasper; John Thompson, First Electric Supply, Indianapolis; Paul Thrift, Thompson Thrift, Terre Haute (board chairman)