2019 Bills

SB 103: Increased Criminal Penalties for Discriminating Against Victims

This bill passed the House 64-9 and the Senate 22-3. 

Libertas Institute opposes this bill

Staff review of this legislation finds that it violates our principles and should be opposed.

After a failed attempt by Senator Urquhart three years ago to increase the criminal penalties for so-called “hate crimes,” and after two years of having a similar bill not get voted on, Senator Daniel Thatcher is sponsoring Senate Bill 103 this session to implement a similar approach.

SB 103 would increase misdemeanors by one degree (e.g. a class A misdemeanor becomes a 3rd degree felony) if a criminal offender selects a victim “in whole or in part” because of the offender’s “belief or perception regarding [the victim’s] ancestry, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religion, or sexual orientation…”

This bill seems especially incongruous in light of the recent criminal justice reforms which involved a widespread reclassification and reduction in crimes, in part to keep people out of prison who should not be there.

The motives involved in a crime are not important to the action itself. Whether an assault was instigated by the aggressor’s jealousy, drunkenness, anger, or “in part” due to a discriminatory “perception” about the victim’s personal characteristics is immaterial. Taxpayers should not be required to subsidize higher incarceration rates in pursuit of misnamed “social justice.”