Lawmakers are attempting to broaden the definition of hate crimes to include those based on gender or gender identity

Hate crimes are on the rise, members of the Broward County delegation learned on Wednesday, but the law doesn’t recognize a category that’s been growing in popularity lately: crimes based on sex or gender identity.

And delegation members say they want that fixed.

prosecutor Harold Pryor and Broward County Supervisor of Elections joe scott were among those addressing lawmakers on Wednesday. The delegation begins setting legislative priorities for the upcoming session, which starts on March 7th.

Sen. Rosalind Osgood said she will work with Pryor to work on legislation that would increase penalties for those who commit crimes based on sex and gender identity and amend the state’s hate crimes statute. At the moment, Florida Statute 775,085 increases Penalties for any felony or misdemeanor if it can be proven to have occurred because of the victim’s race, color, ancestry, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, homelessness or advanced age.

Osgood said that was a loophole in the law.

“If someone attacks you because of your gender, the hate crime statute doesn’t allow its application,” Osgood said.

Pryor also discussed so-called “Glock switches,” which can turn an ordinary handgun into a semi-automatic pistol. It’s already illegal under federal law, but apparently they’re still made on 3-D printers.

“I’ll have to look at what we can do to be a little more rigorous about this,” Rep said. Christine Hunschofsky of Parkland, which will also reintroduce its bills allowing out-of-state psychologists in an interstate pact to practice telepsychology or practice temporarily in Florida, the effects of sea level rise, legalizing fentanyl test strips, and strengthening laws on Rape Reporting.

The delegation members who appeared on Wednesday are all Democrats, and the delegation leader said this year promises new challenges. Voters elected a supermajority of Republicans, giving them the power to shut Democrats out of the debate entirely.

“In order for us to get anything done now, we have to stand firm and hold on because we have so few numbers in Tallahassee,” Rep said. Patricia Hawkins Williams, leading the Broward delegation. “So it’s going to be very, very important that we all work together to get things done for Broward County and the state of Florida in general.”


Lawmakers also heard from residents on Wednesday pleading for a solution to the situation where many homes are being rented out through online platforms like Airbnb and VRBO, destroying the quiet enjoyment of their homes. Human trafficking and next year’s election rules were also discussed.

Election chief Scott called on lawmakers to educate voters on how anyone who votes by mail must specifically request a mail-in ballot. According to the law, the new registration will require new identifiers to be provided, he told them. Beginning next year, mail-in voters will be required to provide either their Florida driver’s license number or the last four digits of their social security number.

Osgood said it will be a tough sale.

“People have been told their entire lives that this is information that is being kept private,” Osgood said.

Only 10 delegation members attended Wednesday’s meeting – no quorum – so some of the items were postponed to the next scheduled meeting next month.

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Callan Tansill

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