(TotalConservative.com) – On Tuesday, the Michigan House passed a hate crimes bill that would expand the state’s ethnic intimidation law to include LGBT and senior citizens while giving prosecutors more leeway in prosecuting vandalism at places of worship as well as causing someone to “feel” threatened, CBS News reported.
While Democrat lawmakers claim that the legislation will curb violent extremism, Michigan Republicans believe the measure would threaten free speech.
Republicans argue that the bill is far too vague and unconstitutional, amounting to state-imposed censorship that would allow prosecutors to charge an individual based on the “feelings” of the alleged “victim.”
The bill, which passed the state House 59 to 50, was sponsored by Michigan State Democrat Rep. Noah Arbit.
In defending the measure, Arbit claimed that he was “sick” of looking for a place to hide in a gay bar in case a gunman enters. He said he was “sick” of reading newspaper headlines about churches and mosques getting desecrated.
However, State Rep. Steve Carra, a Republican, believes that Arbit’s bill goes too far since it criminalizes making someone “feel threatened.”
He told CBS News that protecting against actual violence and threats of violence are appropriate, but the state should not be protecting against someone’s “feelings of being frightened.”
Carra urged the Michigan Senate to “scrap this bill,” saying the measure is not what is needed in the state.
However, it is expected that the Senate will approve the legislation.
Michigan Democrat State Rep. Emily Divendorf told CBS News that the State House Democrats are confident that the bill will clear the Senate and will make it to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s desk.
Under the new bill, someone guilty of making an individual “feel threatened” could face a sentence of up to five years and a $10,000 fine.
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