Vermont lawmakers consider racial bias bill

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) Vermont lawmakers are considering a bill that would target hate crimes and bias-motivated incidents.

The Times Argus reports the state Senate Judiciary Committee has reviewed the bill presented by state Attorney General T.J. Donovan.

The bill would require training for law enforcement for hate crimes and bias incidents. It also would create a group to establish a system of reporting bias-motivated incidents.

The bill would allow the attorney general's office to investigate incidents, and fine the accused of up to $5,000.

Democratic Sen. Dick Sears said Tuesday legislators need to be aware of constitutionally protected free speech.

He says he doesn't want the state to turn into "the thought police."

The bill was introduced shortly after Donovan's office investigated racial harassment against former Rep. Kiah Morris.

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