Lawmakers Attempting To Keep Criminal Code Overhaul On Track

Sponsors of the legislation say the key is to avoid amendments that enhance criminal penalties.

Steuerwald and Pierce

Photo: Brandon Smith/IPBS

Rep. Greg Steuerwald (R-Danville) and Rep. Matt Pierce (D-Bloomington) speak about their joint effort at overhauling the state's criminal code.

It’s taken about five years for Indiana’s criminal code overhaul to take shape.

A team of lawyers, criminal justice officials and lawmakers went line-by-line, working to bring proportionality to a code that hadn’t undergone a wholesale makeover since the 1970s.

That reform is near the finish line but its House and Senate sponsors are already thinking about how to make it last.

Rep. Greg Steuerwald, R-Danville, says it’s essential future legislators don’t allow floor amendments that enhance criminal penalties.

“When these bills are brought up on second reading without any discussion and they enhance penalties, it’s virtually impossible for us to vote against and yet they have not been through committee to receive testimony,” Steurwald says.

Bedford Republican Senator Brent Steele says the task will be more difficult in the House than the Senate.

“In the House of Representatives they have the rule that it doesn’t require caucus approval,” Steeke says. “They can bring any second reading amendment that they want to.  Just the opposite in the Senate.”

Steele says leadership has been supportive of enforcing the unofficial legislative policy.

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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