Weekly Statehouse Update: Hate Crimes Bill Signed, Two Anti-Abortion Bills Approved

Apr 5, 2019

Gov. Eric Holcomb signed hate crimes legislation into law. Two anti-abortion bills are headed to the governor’s desk. And the Senate approved a measure allowing pregnant minors to make their own health care decisions.

Here’s what you might have missed this week at the Statehouse.

Hate Crimes Bill Signed

Governor Holcomb quietly signed into law a bill that aims to create hate crimes protections – one day after the Senate gave final approval to the language sharply criticized by many hate crimes measure advocates as inadequate.

The new law allows judges to enact harsher penalties for crimes committed because of bias and references a list of victim characteristics.

But that list falls short of what advocates had long pushed for – it leaves out sex, age and gender identity.

Anti-Abortion Legislation

The Senate gave final approval to two anti-abortion measures. One allows pharmacists, nurses, and physician assistants to refuse to provide abortion services. Doctors and hospital employees already have that ability.

The other bill largely bans dilation and evacuation abortions, second trimester procedures known as D&Es. Anti-abortion activists call them “barbaric.” Many doctors say they’re the safest way to end a pregnancy at that stage.

Pregnancy Care For Minors

Senate lawmakers approved a bill Tuesday allowing 16- and 17-year-olds to make their own decisions about pregnancy care.

Indiana law generally doesn’t let minors make their own health care decisions without a parent’s consent. That includes 16- and 17-year-olds who are pregnant. 

But the Senate voted down such a bill earlier this year in part because of concerns the girl’s parents were entirely left out. The new version requires physicians to try to contact the pregnant teen’s parents.

School Safety Referenda

A proposal moving forward at the statehouse would allow school districts to ask voters for a property tax increase specifically to pay for school safety projects.

School corporations can ask voters to approve two types of referenda, to fund construction projects or, general operations.

Many districts have included school safety improvements as part of the reason for their referendum proposals, along with other expenses like teacher pay, but the House Ways and Means Committee approved a bill this week to let schools ask for tax hikes for safety costs alone.

Volunteer Coach Discipline

Senate lawmakers approved legislation Thursday that ensures Indiana law deals with how volunteer coaches at high schools are disciplined.

State law already governs how coaches who are employees of a high school are treated when fired for criminal acts or misconduct. But the law didn’t contemplate volunteers.

The bill applies to public, charter and private schools. The Senate approved the measure unanimously. The House could vote to send it to the governor as early as next week.

House Rejects Rental Fee Cap Increase

The Indiana House rejected an attempt Monday to raise the cap on rental fees cities can charge to landlords.

Current law says municipalities can’t charge landlords an inspection fee of more than $5 per unit. Those charges are often passed on to renters.

An amendment would have raised the cap for all cities to $150 per unit. It failed, 21 to 73.