Indiana News

Indiana legislation to enhance penalties for rioting won’t be heard

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A proposed bill before the Indiana legislature says a gathering that turns into a riot could be a felony if seven or more people are involved and someone gets injured, or if property damage totals at least $750.

But Senate Bill 34 won’t get a hearing The chairman of the committee said Thursday that would have heard the bill will not give the bill a hearing.

“SB 34 was made public in late December and assigned to the Corrections committee, which I chair. After reviewing the bill, I decided that I would not put it on the schedule to be heard in committee. The reasoning behind my decision is between the authors of the bill and myself,” state Sen. Mike Young told News 8 in a statement.

State Sen. Jim Tomes is one of the authors of the bill.

“In your comments about what we’ve seen yesterday (at the US Capitol) and what we’ve seen this past summer, I want to see to it that here in Indiana we are not in a position that we experience the misfortune that other parts of the country have endured. That’s all. Nothing more, nothing less,” said Tomes, a Republican from Wadesville.

The proposal also states if a state or local government employee is convicted and sentenced for rioting after July 1, they could be fired from their jobs and lose their pension and some benefits.

Also, the bill would make it a felony if a protester or demonstrator obstructs vehicle traffic, unless that obstruction is authorized by a permit and those permit terms are followed.

Jennifer Drobac is a professor at Indiana University’s McKinney School of Law. She weighed in on the proposal.

“My feeling is it raises concern. Here’s why: We already have laws against looting, vandalism, violence, etc. This law enhances those and adds additional penalties and actually creates some ambiguity that I am extremely concerned about,” Drobac said.