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Bill seeks hate-crime protection for law officers

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A House Republican on Wednesday proposed a bill that would increase criminal penalties for people who commit crimes linked to prejudice against police officers, correctional officers, firefighters and other types of first responders.

The bill (HB 309), filed by Rep. Elizabeth Porter, R-Lake City, would add emergency workers to part of an already-existing state law that increases penalties for crimes involving prejudice based on factors such as race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation.

Under the law, for example, the penalty for a first-degree misdemeanor is increased to a third-degree felony.

Porter's proposal to expand the law will be considered during the 2016 legislative session, which starts in January.