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Expanding Hate Crime Law, Florida Lawmakers Look To Revive 'Blue Lives Matter Act'

MGN Online

Florida lawmakers in both chambers are looking to revive legislation to expand the state’s definition of a hate crime to include first responders.

If someone commits an offense targeting a judge, correctional officer, or first responder, they could be charged with a hate crime—under a bill filed by Rep. Elizabeth Porter (D-Lake City).

Sen. Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala) is considering filing similar legislation—mirrored after Louisiana’s so-called “Blue Lives Matter” law. And, Baxley says he feels the name is important.

“So, I think we need to step forward and not just let our first responders know that we’re not just for them, we’re with them and we’re going to strengthen penalties of action and let that be another tool in the toolbox for our State Attorneys to deal with these kinds of attacks,” said Baxley. “I just don’t think you should be a target of attacks, simply because of who you are in serving the public.”

But, Senate President Joe Negron (R-Stuart) may not totally be on board.

“My view is that we ought to treat all crimes of violence against any person regardless of their profession, regardless of their background should all be treated as unacceptable, and not something that we allow and should be something that’s prohibited equally across the board,” said Negron, speaking recently to reporters.

The legislation is also a priority for the Florida Police Benevolent Association.

For more news updates, follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter: @SaschaCordner.

Sascha Cordner has more than ten years of public radio experience. It includes working at NPR member station WUFT-FM in Gainesville for several years. She's worked in both radio and TV, serving in various capacities as a reporter, producer and anchor. She's also a graduate of the University of Florida with a bachelor's degree in telecommunications. She is the recipient of 15 awards from the Associated Press, Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), and Edward R. Murrow. Her award-winning stories include her coverage on the infamous “Dozier School for Boys” and a feature titled "Male Breast Cancer: Lost in the Sea of Pink." Currently, Sascha serves as the host and producer of local and state news content for the afternoon news program "All Things Considered" at WFSU. Sascha primarily covers criminal justice and social services issues. When she's not reporting, Sascha likes catching up on her favorite TV shows, singing and reading. Follow Sascha Cordner on Twitter:@SaschaCordner.