Judiciary Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

HB-5743

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING HATE CRIMES.

Vote Date:

4/3/2017

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/27/2017

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Judiciary Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

Sen. Martin Looney and Rep. William Tong brought this matter to the attention of the committee stating that it is completely unacceptable that in recent months Connecticut has seen many incidents of intimidation and threatening based on bigotry or bias.

PROPOSED SUBSTITUTE:

Sec 1(c) adds, “and with the intent of intimidating any person or group of persons”.

Sec 2(a) deletes the crime education program in statute and replaces with “or diversity awareness program or participate in a program of community service designed to remedy damage caused by the commission of a bias crime or otherwise relate to the defendant's violation.

Sec 9 Replaces the hotlines within the Division of State Police to the hotline provided by the Commissioner of Emergency Services who directs the calls to the proper law enforcement agency. The Commissioner shall insure the hotline is accessible to persons with limited English proficiency.

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

State Victim Advocate, Natasha M. Pierre, Esq,: Supports this bill with the recommended amendment that the proposal be amended to include the State Victim Advocate among the membership of the Council.

Commission on Human Rights and Opportunitites, Tanya Hughes, Executive Director: Supports this bill. As the State's civil rights agency, the CHRO has a strong interest in protecting the right of those living within our borders to be free from hate crimes. We therefore, fully support the intent of this bill, but believe that putting the amended language of Section 1 in CGS 46a-58 is misplaced. The main reason is that the CHRO does not have the authority to enforce Connecticut's criminal laws. With it being unclear who could enforce this provision, the law runs the risk of not fulfilling its promise.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

State Senator, Martin M. Looney: Supports this bill. I firmly believe that we need not only to strengthen our laws against hate crimes and plug every gap in the law, but also that we need to send a message to our constituents that as policymakers we will stop at nothing to protect their rights to live peacefully in Connecticut without being subjected to intimidation, threats, assault or fear based on hate and bigotry. We also need to send a message to potential perpetrators that we will punish them as strongly as anywhere in the country.

Jewish Federation Association of Connecticut: Supports this bill:

Nationwide the rise in anti-Semitism and bomb threats against the Jewish community have caused stress, angst and fear in the Jewish community. These threats are real and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.

Connecticut Women's Education and Legal Fund: Supports this bill. This bill would strengthen our state's existing laws to include hate crimes based on gender or sex. Current Connecticut law protects gender identity or expression, but does not protect gender or sex. It is anachronistic for Connecticut not to include women in the protection afforded in the state's hate crime law, particularly considering that federal law already does so.

Theda Lambert, New Fairfield: Supports this bill. I have seen confederate flags on vehicles, heard hateful chants by our youth, seen students in black face, neo nazi wannabe's and more on social media posts. Of course these actions are, for the most part, protected speech. However, they are examples of how our country is NOT great again, but rather bending backwards on the arc of justice. I support this bill because we need leadership that loudly and firmly says, we do not tolerate hate crimes in Connecticut.

Jennifer Kleindienst, Middletown: Supports this bill. Increasing penalties for hate crimes and expanding protection to people of all genders, as well as houses of worship, religious community centers and religious day care centers will increase protection for these minoritized people.

Analis Quintman, Hamden Supports this bill. I am very worried about the hate crimes that have increased in the past months. I do not want my daughter to grow up in a world where it is normal to see headlines of Jewish cemeteries desecrated, mosques burned, racist graffiti on bridges and think that this is the way it is. Connecticut has a diverse population who must all feel welcome here, this is one of the things that is so great about this country, the welcoming nature. Connecticut must lead the way and do whatever it can to make this a safe state for everyone.

Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence, Kaitlyn Fydenkevez, Esq. Director of Policy and Public Relations: Supports this bill. Many of the victims that the Alliance serves annually make their first contact through one of our two statewide 24-7 crisis hotlines. The hot line proposed in this bill can help tackle the unfortunately growing problem of hate crimes in our state.

Connecticut Together Action, Valerie Horsley: Supports this bill. I am concerned about the rising number of hate crimes in the United States. Given the diverse religious and national community in Ct., our residents are particularly vulnerable to these types of crimes. I urge support of this bill.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Henry J. Martocchio, South Windsor: Expressed his strong opposition to this bill.

Reported by: George Marinelli

April 19, 2017