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Hate Crime Bill Will Serve As 'A Powerful Tool' In The State Of Utah

Utah Governor Gary Herbert says he'll sign the hate crimes bill passed by the legislature.  Herbert tweeted Tuesday night that he looked forward to signing SB103 into law, which he said will serve as a powerful tool in providing critical protections to Utah residents. 

The measure passed the Utah House of Representatives on Tuesday evening on a 64-9 vote, following at times emotional testimony from lawmakers. 

The bill, by Republican Sen. Daniel Thatcher, would allow a judge to enhance the penalties someone faces for committing a crime if they target a victim based on any number of personal attributes including their race, religion, sexual orientation, ancestry, gender identity or ethnicity. Yesterday the House added an additional attribute to that list: "Political Expression."

Clearfield Republican Rep. Karianne Lisonbee spoke in favor of that amendment. She said she has received death threats after making changes to a bill that would have banned so-called conversion therapy in the state of Utah.

Prosecutors have said that Utah’s current hate crimes statute, adopted in 1992, is unusable because it doesn’t list specific groups, but instead talks generally about crimes that deny a person their constitutional rights.

Because the bill was changed in the House on Tuesday it now has to head back to the Senate for final approval.