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Hate Crimes bill gets final approval, heads to Utah Governor

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah’s Hate Crimes bill has now reached final approval, with a 22-3 vote on the Senate floor Wednesday morning after a change was made in the House of Representatives.

Now SB 103 includes “political expression” in a list of protected categories of people, including race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity.

“An expression is something that is demonstrated, it is something that is exhibited, it is something that is demonstrable and can be proven in a court of law,” said the sponsor, Senator Daniel Thatcher, R-West Valley City.

He was glad to see Utah’s law changed to include hate crimes, and several state senators spoke on the floor regarding their support of the bill before they voted to pass it.

“Everybody deserves to have an opportunity to learn in school, to succeed at their place of work, and to participate fully in public life,” said Senator Derek Kitchen, D-Salt Lake.

“I think the message that should go to the state of Utah is that bigotry and hatred will not be tolerated,” said Senator Lyle Hillyard, R-Cache.

But Senator Luz Escamilla, D-Salt Lake, said she was frustrated:

“I am disappointed with the amendment that came from the house, and I think it undermines the real problem we are facing. It’s hurtful,” she said. “It’s not what the bill’s intent was.”

Gov. Gary Herbert’s office issued a statement saying the governor expects to sign the bill when it arrives on his desk.