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Criminal Code Overhaul Passes House Committee

The bill passed unanimously but is expected to face greater obstacles when it is heard on the House floor.

House of representatives

Photo: Dan Goldblatt/WFIU-WTIU News

Legislators in the Indiana House of Representatives talk before the session comes to order on Jan. 17, 2013.

Legislation extensively overhauling Indiana’s criminal code passed its first legislative hurdle without interference. That could change in coming weeks.

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, says 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,” he says.

Brookville Republican Representative Jud McMillan, another co-sponsor, says 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,” McMillan says. “We understand that it’s not in a completed form right now; we’re committed to coming back and continue to work on it.  If people will continue to buy into that message, then I think it can continue to move very smoothly.”

Both Pierce and McMillan say presenting the bill to the full House and potentially the Senate will be unpredictable.

Brandon Smith, IPBS

Brandon Smith, IPBS has previously worked as a reporter and anchor for KBIA Radio in Columbia, MO, and at WSPY Radio in Plano, IL as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.

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