The Wyoming state house judiciary committee has killed a proposed bias crimes bill. The committee voted 6-3 Monday against the bill. Proponents said the legislation is overdue in Wyoming. Opponents argued that HB185 would violate equal protection and free speech rights. At least one bias crime bill has been introduced in the legislature each year since the Matthew Shepard murder in 1998. But none has made it out of the legislature.
The bill would have provided up to double the prison time and/or fine for any misdemeanor committed wholly or in part due to the perpetrator's "belief or perception regarding the race, religion, color, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, or ancestry" of the victim. But opponents voiced concern about how the proposal hinged on the intent of the perpetrator and about creating special rights for certain groups. Another version of the bill is in the state senate's rules committee.