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Hate crime bills advance out of House committee

Colin Jackson
State Representative Noah Arbit

Legislation to toughen Michigan’s laws against harassment based on factors like race or religion made it out of a House committee today.

The bills would turn Michigan’s law against “ethnic intimidation” into one against “hate crimes.” They would expand it to apply to violence or intimidation against protected classes like age and sexual orientation.

Democratic Representative Noah Arbit says the current decades-old statute needs an update.

“Right now in the State of Michigan, hate crimes targeting LGBTQ+ people, people with disabilities, and the elderly cannot be prosecuted in this state and so it’s incredibly important that we are not only expanding the law, strengthening the law, boosting penalties, and making sure that it actually has teeth.”

Opponents are raising free speech concerns with the bills.

A vote on them before the full House could come next week.

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