Arkansas House sends governor stripped-down hate crimes bill

Arkansas News

FILE – In this Monday, Jan. 14, 2019, file photo, House Speaker Matthew Shepherd speaks to reporters at his office in the state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark. Arkansas legislative leaders have introduced on Thursday, April 1, 2021, a drastically scaled-back hate crimes measure that no longer refers to race, sexual orientation or gender identity. “We believe this is a more comprehensive approach and it’s an approach that protects all groups and classes,” said Shepherd, a Republican. (AP Photo/Andrew Demillo, File)

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas lawmakers have sent the governor a stripped down alternative to hate crimes legislation that has been derided by longtime supporters of such laws who say it’s not providing true protections.

The majority-Republican House on Monday approved the “class protection” bill, sending it to GOP Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s desk.

The governor has made enacting a hate crimes law a priority, and has said he supports the proposal.

Unlike an earlier hate crimes bill, the measure does not specifically refer to categories such as race, sexual orientation or gender identity. Arkansas is one of three states without a hate crimes law.

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