INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana General Assembly (IGA) has discussed many different proposals to start the 2017 legislative session. State Senator Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) has authored multiple initiatives, focusing on the implementation of bias crime legislation, voting location law reform and ethnic history in schools.

Bias crimes

Indiana is one of only five states without bias or hate crime legislation. Senate Bill (SB) 333 would allow the victim of a crime perpetrated because of his or her race, color, creed, disability, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or gender identity to collect compensation, including punitive damages. SB 333 would also require law enforcement officers to receive training in identifying and responding to bias-motivated crimes, as well as establish sentencing procedures.

Counting absentee ballots

Legislation passed by the IGA in 2013 mandates that Marion County absentee ballots must be counted at a central location, as opposed to individual precincts. SB 334 would repeal this statute, allowing individual precincts across the county to count absentee ballots. This is an effort to provide more efficient ballot-counting procedures, as well as reduce the number of temporary employees hired by the Marion County Clerk.  

Satellite voting

The existing protocol for establishing locations for early voting requires that a bipartisan, three-person, county election board unanimously agree to allow satellite voting in the county. SB 335 would allow a county election board to decide on early voting locations by a majority vote of the board’s membership. Currently the City-County Building is the only location in Marion County, the largest county in the state, where voters can cast an in-person ballot before Election Day.

Study of ethnic history

SB 337 requires the study of ethnic and racial groups to be included in Indiana’s high school U.S. history curricula. This bill does not specify an ethnic or racial group to be studied, but leaves that decision to individual school corporations. Sen. Taylor has authored similar bills in previous years.

Employers and expungement

Legislation authored by Sen. Taylor makes it a crime to ask individuals applying for a job, a license, or another right or privilege about expunged records during an interview. SB 338 shields applicants from unlawful questioning after their records have been expunged. Senator Taylor introduced a similar bill in 2016, which passed out of the Senate, but failed to receive a hearing in the House of Representatives.

Access to expunged records

SB 427 builds upon Sen. Taylor’s previous legislation regarding expungement. This legislation provides that law enforcement officers, without a court order, may access expunged information only when acting in an enforcement or investigative capacity.

Open carry of rifles

SB 426 would broaden the statutory definition of both “prohibited weapon” and “openly carries.” It also would provide that a person who openly carries a prohibited weapon in a public place could face up to one year of jail time and a fine of up to $5,000.  

Compulsory attendance age

Early childhood education is pivotal for Indiana students. SB 428 would reduce the age at which children must be registered for a kindergarten program. Currently, students must be enrolled if they are seven years old on August 1. If passed, this proposal would bring the compulsory age for school down to five years old.