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Wyoming shelves hate crime law decades after Shepard’s death

March 12, 2021 GMT
FILE - In this May 15, 2020 file photo few legislators sit in a nearly empty House chamber during a special legislative session inside the state Capitol in downtown Cheyenne, Wyo., during the coronavirus pandemic. Wyoming lawmakers have again decided not to adopt a hate crimes law in the state where gay college student Matthew Shepard was killed more than 20 years ago. Wyoming is one of just three states that haven't enacted hate crimes legislation since Shepard was beaten and left for dead in Laramie in 1998. (Michael Cummo/The Wyoming Tribune Eagle via AP, File)
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FILE - In this May 15, 2020 file photo few legislators sit in a nearly empty House chamber during a special legislative session inside the state Capitol in downtown Cheyenne, Wyo., during the coronavirus pandemic. Wyoming lawmakers have again decided not to adopt a hate crimes law in the state where gay college student Matthew Shepard was killed more than 20 years ago. Wyoming is one of just three states that haven't enacted hate crimes legislation since Shepard was beaten and left for dead in Laramie in 1998. (Michael Cummo/The Wyoming Tribune Eagle via AP, File)
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FILE - In this May 15, 2020 file photo few legislators sit in a nearly empty House chamber during a special legislative session inside the state Capitol in downtown Cheyenne, Wyo., during the coronavirus pandemic. Wyoming lawmakers have again decided not to adopt a hate crimes law in the state where gay college student Matthew Shepard was killed more than 20 years ago. Wyoming is one of just three states that haven't enacted hate crimes legislation since Shepard was beaten and left for dead in Laramie in 1998. (Michael Cummo/The Wyoming Tribune Eagle via AP, File)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Lawmakers in Wyoming, where gay college student Matthew Shepard was killed more than 20 years ago, again decided not to adopt a hate crimes law.

Wyoming is one of just three states that haven’t enacted hate crimes legislation since Shepard was beaten and left for dead in Laramie in 1998. The killing of the University of Wyoming student inspired those laws in other states and at the federal level.

A measure tabled Thursday by the Wyoming House Judiciary Committee would have allowed prosecutors to consider a criminal’s biases against race, sex, gender, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, ethnicity or disabilities when seeking punishment for crimes.

The legislation sponsored by Republican Rep. Pat Sweeney of Casper also would have provided for anti-bias training for law enforcement officers to help them identify and respond to hate crimes.

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Most public testimony Thursday was in support of the bill, the Casper Star-Tribune reported. Others said the bill went too far or not far enough to discourage hate crimes.

Arkansas and South Carolina are considering hate crimes legislation this year, though lawmakers removed protections for gay or transgender people from the South Carolina bill Thursday.

Several previous attempts in Wyoming to enact a hate crime law have failed.