INDIANAPOLIS – The Indiana General Assembly has discussed several proposals to start the 2015 legislative session. State Senator Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) has authored a number of initiatives, focusing on issues related to ethics, criminal behavior and bias motivated offenses.

Study of ethnic history

Ethnic history courses compare the racialization in America with a focus on the history, literature and politics of Asian Americans, Latinos, Native American Indians and African Americans. This type of course would be a requirement in school corporations and accredited nonpublic schools elementary and high school social studies curriculum under SB 495.

Recidivism reduction pilot project

The Department of Correction (DOC) would have to identify the 10 counties, not including Marion County, that have the greatest number of offenders that have been admitted to the Department, and would permit these counties to participate in the three-year Major Sentencing County Recidivism Reduction Pilot Project under SB 300. The proposal would establish criteria and permit the DOC to award financial assistance to a county participating in the Pilot Project. An individual participating in the pilot project would also be eligible for benefits under the federal SNAP and TANF programs.

Bias motivated offenses

A bias motivated crime would be defined as an offense where the person intentionally poses harm to an individual’s self or property due to the person’s color, creed, disability, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender or gender identity under SB 180. The penalties for battery, strangulation, kidnapping, burglary, aggravated battery, criminal confinement, robbery, arson, criminal mischief, theft, residential entry, intimidation, harassment, and stalking would be enhanced by one level. The proposal would require law enforcement officers to receive training in identifying, responding to and reporting bias-motivated crimes that would have to be collected and reported by law enforcement agencies. The proposal would also allow an individual who suffers a personal injury or property damage to bring a civil action to recover damages from a bias motivated crime.

Age for compulsory school attendance

Currently, students must enroll in a kindergarten program no later than the fall term of the school year at seven years of age.  SB 301 would lower that requirement to five years of age to ensure an earlier educational start for children.

Early voting

Currently a resolution to establish satellite voting locations must be adopted unanimously by a county election board. Under SB 179, Sen. Taylor calls to allow the election board to adopt a resolution by the majority vote.

Vehicle clearance when overtaking a bicycle

Under SB 250, a driver who did not allow at least three feet of clearance between their vehicle and a bicycle and did not wait to return to the original lane until safely clear of the bicycle would be issued a Class C infraction. The proposal would also revise the definition of “bicycle” for purpose of the motor vehicle code.

School discipline
To increase transparency and accountability, SB 299 would require charter schools and nonpublic schools that accept Choice Scholarships to adopt written discipline rules in the same manner as school corporations. It would remove a good faith effort exception to the requirement of giving general publicity to the written discipline rules.

Alternative schools and expelled students

An expelled student would violate Indiana’s compulsory school attendance unless the student attends an alternative school or education program under SB 494. This would mean that a school corporation would not be able to expel a student unless it is able to find an alternative school or education program a student can attend and agrees to accept the student.

School corporation annual reports

Student information in a school corporation’s annual performance report is not currently separated by demographics. SB 544 would require it to be disaggregated by grade, gender, race, free and reduced price lunch status, and eligibility for special education.

Taylor represents Senate District 33 which includes portions of Wayne, Pike, Washington and Center townships in Marion County. For more information on Sen. Taylor, his legislative agenda or other State Senate business call 1-800-382-9467 or visit