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Hate Crimes Bill Dies on Capitol Hill

Hate Crimes Bill Dies on Capitol Hill

Posted - Mar. 3, 2003 at 9:54 p.m.



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News Specialist John Daley reportingThe much-debated hate crimes bill died a quiet death on Utah's Capitol Hill.

Last week the hate crimes bill was the subject of heated debate and two razor-thin votes. But tonight, the bill's sponsor pulled the bill rather than see it lose again.

"Utah remains one of the only states in the country that doesn't have an enforceable law that protects everybody against those who personally, and as organized hate groups, who believe it's okay to commit crimes against people because they're different," said Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.

You could file this under, "Maybe next year." Long-suffering backers of hate crimes legislation have made some significant strides in winning new support this session. But tonight marked the final chapter for this bill for yet another year.

Just before 8:00 pm, with only two days left in the session and a full plate of bills yet to digest, one of the sponsors of the hate crimes bill rises with a surprise annoucement.

After House lawmakers passed the bill last week and then reversed course and put it on hold, Democrat David Litvack proposes the bill be put on hold.

"I thank you for the honesty in which we addressed this, the civility. Thank you very much," he said.

One of the measure's strongest Republican supporters speaks with a simple message: Let's get to know one another.

Polls show most Utahns support a strong hate crimes bill, but its passage faced a fierce backlash last week from those who believe it gives some groups special treament.

In the end, the bill's backers didn't have the votes, but draw consolation from coming close.

Rep. Litvack says, "The fact that we got it to committee, got it out of committee, and in my books we passed this floor."

The general feeling from both this bill's supporters and its opponents is that it's getting late in the session. There are a lot of other issues to address, and no one seemed in the mood for more lengthy debate on such a heated issue.

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