Senate gives final approval to hate crimes legislation, sending the issue to the House

Utah Capitol 03

The Utah Senate gave final approval to the so-called “hate crimes” bill on Tuesday morning, sending the proposal to the House.

SB104 from Sen. Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City, increases the penalty for a crime only after a conviction is won in court. Following that conviction, prosecutors can attempt to prove the crime was motivated by bias toward any number of characteristics, such as race or sexual orientation, which would then increase the penalty.

Thatcher said too many people are focusing on the term “hate crimes,” instead of the underlying policy.

“If we could take that term away, we wouldn’t have the difficulty we’re having,” he said. “Most of the objections we’re hearing are centered around whether we’re punishing thoughts or feelings. That would be bad policy, but that’s not what we’re doing. We should rely on good policy.”

The bill passed after very little debate by an 18-11 vote. It now heads to the House.