Bills in Indiana lawmakers’ last weeks: Revenge porn, sex abusers, animal abuse

Indiana News

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indiana lawmakers are racing to get their bills to the finish line and on Gov. Eric Holcomb’s desk with about three weeks until this year’s legislative session ends. 

One bill would close a loophole in state law that involves registered sex offenders.

“No one thinks that a convicted child molester, on the registry, should be allowed to watch children or provide day care. It’s appalling that that loophole exists. We’re going to get that closed up,” state Sen. Randy Head, a Republican from Logansport, said Monday.

Head helped write the bill that would make it illegal for sex offenders or violent sexual predators to work in licensed day care centers or to babysit.

The bill would also make it illegal for child sex offenders to live within 1,000 feet of a licensed day care center.

But, what about an offender who already owns a home within that zone, and has for years?

“Right now, the bill doesn’t say,” Head said. “So, that’s an issue, something else we have to tackle. We’ve got to answer those questions and right now, they’re not answered in the bill.” 

Head said the bill, which was scheduled for a concurrence vote Monday, was pulled back so it can be worked on.

“We’re doing everything we can do to make sure our children are safe. We want to keep convicted child molesters away from children,” Head explained.

On another front, lawmakers also want to make sure animals are safe

“Animal abusers are human abusers,” state Rep. Ryan Hatfield, a Democrat from Evansville, said Monday. “We need to crack down on people who hurt other people and who hurt our animals.” 

Hatfield’s bill would increase penalties for animal abuse and deaths. It was scheduled for third reading in the Senate on Monday.

“We’re taking these cases more seriously with more punishments and a broader range of definitions,” Hatfield said. “It will encompass more animals and more cruelty.”

Finally, lawmakers are also trying to address unsettling phenomenon creeping across Indiana, one that could land on your laptop, tablet or inbox: revenge porn. It is technically not a crime right now in Indiana, but, on Monday, lawmakers took a step to change that. 

Maybe you’ve heard of it. You and your partner build that level of trust. You decide to take some pictures … since you trust each other.  Something happens and their relationship turns sour. Then, those pictures get sent to the people closest to you or your boss. All of it done to try to hurt you and damage your credibility. 

The bill that would make revenge porn illegal got a third reading Monday in the House.

“I want to give some power back to the victim and say. ‘I hope you don’t do this.’ If you do, you’re committing a misdemeanor in Indiana,” state Sen. Aaron Freeman, a Republican from Indianapolis, said Monday. “If you do it a second time, you’re committing a felony. Sen. (Mike) Bohacek (a Michiana Shores Republican) and I — I worked with him closely — he has a companion bill that also adds in some civil penalties as well: up to $10,000 and a fine. For people that are going to be kind, sorry, this stupid to do, 1., we should make it a crime, and 2., we should take a lot of their money through a civil process to punish these people for the actions they take.” 

Cyber Civil Rights.org said 43 states have laws against revenge porn.

The revenue porn bill on Monday passed unanimously. It now goes for a concurrence vote. If the bill  passes that last step, it will head to Holcomb’s desk.

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