Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, on April 25, lauded the House passage of HB 3711, a measure significantly expanding the state's hate crimes legislation by addressing the use of technology in harassment and expanding the possibility for civil action on behalf of victims.
The bill passed in the House, where it was sponsored by state Rep. Litesa Wallace ( D-Rockford ), with a vote of 89-22. It now goes to the state Senate, where it is sponsored by state Sen. Omar Aquino ( D-Chicago ).
Madigan initiated the bill after convening a hate crimes summit in February with advocates and community leaders. She said in a statement that both the bill and the summit were inspired by a national spike in hate-crimes across the nation.
"The rise in hate crimes around the country is deeply disturbing and does not reflect the founding principles of our country," she said. "A threat against any person based on hate is a threat to our communities. Strengthening our law will enhance all people's safety."
"Illinois is a rich and diverse state, and we must take a stand against those who seek to divide us based on where we are from, who we love or how we worship," added Wallace. "I am proud to join with Attorney General Madigan in condemning hate in Illinois, and I encourage members of the Senate to join us."
Tenets of HB 3711 include expanding hate crimes laws to include harassment using cybertechnology, and adding provisions allowing hate-crimes victims to sue for civil remedies. The attorney general's office would also be allowed to pursue civil penalties. Judges could impose fines of up to $25,000 for each violation.