Legislation to amend hate crimes law introduced

By | 2016-09-15T09:00:00-04:00 September 15th, 2016|Michigan, News|

LANSING – The legislation was promptly referred to Senate Government Operations Committee ‘Where bills go to die.’
A Senate bill to amend Michigan’s Ethnic Intimidation Act to include bias crimes perpetrated against the LGBT community has been sent to the Government Operations Committee.
“Normally, that’s the committee where things go to die,” said Sen. Steve Bieda (D-Warren), who introduced the legislation. “Leadership has told me it normally sends hate crimes legislation to that committee and that it doesn’t mean it’s dead. But history says otherwise.”
Bieda, along with Republican Sen. Rick Jones of Grand Ledge, introduced the legislation in June. Sens. Curtis Hertel Jr. (D-Meridian Township) and Tory Rocca (R-Sterling Heights) also co-sponsored the bill. Bieda, Jones and Rocca all serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee – with Jones serving as the Committee’s chair.
In June, senators thought the bill would be referred to Judiciary. That committee generally handles legislation dealing with new criminal laws and reforming such laws. Jones was also expecting legislation to make deliberately targeting a law enforcement officer a form of a hate crime. That legislation has been proposed, but not yet introduced, by Sen. Mike Kowall (R-White Lake). Kowall also serves as Senate Majority Leader.
“Disappointed,” said Jones about the referral to a different Committee. “I would have preferred to have had both hate crime bills be referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. They would have had a hearing on the same day.”
Jones, who has opposed such legislation in the past, became a lead co-sponsor in June after details of a series of anti-gay assaults in the Lansing area in November became public. At least eight men were targeted through Craigslist by two men – Adrian James Tupper and Christopher Aaron Spyker. Both men enter guilty pleas earlier this year and were each sentenced to 17 to 55 years in prison.
In addition to this series of attacks, Jones said the assault and shooting spree at Pulse nightclub in Orlando – he calls it “a tragedy” – played a role in his change of mind on the laws.
For Hertel, the Senator representing most of Ingham County, the referral was “disappointing, but not surprising.”
He said it was indicative of the “GOP leaderships” refusal to do anything to “expand the rights of the LGBT community.”
Bieda and Jones said that if the bill dies in Committee this session, they will re-introduce the legislation next year.
“I am hopeful that sometime in the near future we’ll have a hearing,” Bieda said, “and it will land on the governor’s desk.”

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