SALEM, Ore. (AP) – Oregon will substantially overhaul its hate crime laws for the first time since the early 1980s.
The House unanimously voted Wednesday to send the governor a measure strengthening the definition of bias crimes and adding “gender identity” as a protected class. The move responds to an uptick in reported hate crimes in the past few years. FBI data shows that hate crimes have increased in Oregon by 40% from 2016 to 2017. But arrests and convictions for those crimes have gone down.
The proposal encourages more accurate data collection of bias crimes. It also closes a loophole in state law that defined hate crimes as only a misdemeanor if a perpetrator acted alone.
A spokesperson for Gov. Kate Brown says the governor plans to sign the bill into law.