Legislation extensively overhauling Indiana’s criminal code passed its first legislative hurdle without interference, although its sponsors aren’t sure it will continue that way.
Lawmakers and members of the criminal justice system have spent three years working on a bill to comprehensively revise the state’s criminal code. Among other things, it would change sentence lengths and move some crimes from felonies to misdemeanors and vice versa.
The legislation unanimously passed a House committee with only expected changes made by the authors. Bloomington Democratic Representative Matt Pierce (one of the bill’s sponsors) said he hopes those changes are the only ones made from now on.
"There was a lot of give-and-take, a lot of careful balancing and so if you go in and start making adjustments willy-nilly, you’re going to destroy that balance and you’re going to lose support for the bill," said Pierce.
Brookville Republican Representative Jud McMillan, another co-sponsor, said part of the reason the bill passed unanimously through committee was strong, open communication between everyone involved.
"We have set this thing for an effective date of a year down the road. We understand that it’s not in a completed form right now; we’re committed to coming back and continue to work on it," said McMillan. "If people will continue to buy into that message, then I think it can continue to move very smoothly."
Both Pierce and McMillan said presenting the bill to the full House and potentially the Senate will be unpredictable.