Oregon House unanimously passes bill strengthening hate crime protections

Oregon House unanimously passes bill strengthening hate crime protections
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The Oregon House on Wednesday unanimously passed a bill to strengthen hate crime protections, making the offense a felony and adding gender identity as a protected class.

The Oregonian reports that the state House passed the legislation 59-0 after it passed the state Senate with strong bipartisan support last week. The bill now heads to Gov. Kate Brown’s (D) desk for her signature.

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The legislation changes the name of the charge from “intimidation” to "bias crime" and requires all reported incidents of a hate crime receive documentation.

The move updates Oregon’s intimidation statute that has been on the books since 1981 with no major changes.

The legislation comes after Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum last year created a task force to explore possible updates and identify where investigations into hate crimes were lacking.

As part of the legislation, district attorneys' offices will be required to track all their hate crime cases and report to the state who is prosecuted, convicted and the sentences that are issued. It will also require local police departments to better document reports of alleged hate crimes regardless of whether they result in arrests.