Wyoming Lawmakers Pursue 2 Hate Crimes Bills For 2022

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming lawmakers are pursuing two possible hate crimes bills for next year's legislative session.

One bill to be drafted would require law enforcement to report hate crimes. The other would extend protections to more groups.

“I want a starting point to move forward,” state Rep. Mike Yin, D-Jackson, told other members of the Joint Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.

At least 47 states have adopted hate crimes legislation since the murder of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard in 1998, the Casper Star-Tribune reported.

National groups such as the Brennan Center for Justice do not classify Wyoming as having a hate crime law, though the American Civil Liberties Union does.

The statute makes it a misdemeanor to deny anyone “life, liberty, pursuit of happiness or the necessities of life” due to their “race, color, sex, creed or national origin.”

The statute does not require police to report hate crimes and does not protect all vulnerable populations, according to testimony at Tuesday’s hearing.

Wyoming has recorded 13 hate crimes since 2015 but the number is believed under reported.