OLYMPIA – Legislation to update the state’s hate crime law to include defacement of public property passed the Washington State Senate on a 35-14 bipartisan vote on Friday.

Sen. Andy Billig (D-Spokane) introduced Senate Bill 5917 in response to vandalism of Spokane LGBTQ+ landmarks in October. The legislation closes a loophole in current law by redefining the state’s hate crime statute to include destruction and vandalism targeting public property like Spokane Pride’s crosswalk.

“Our state has passed important laws to protect people targeted for what they look like, who they love, or how they pray,” said Billig. “This legislation strengthens our hate crime laws to include our shared public spaces and symbols of inclusion while sending a strong message of unity against these heinous attacks.”

Under the legislation, destruction of public property motivated by bias would be covered under the state’s hate crimes statute. To be found guilty under the statute, a person must act maliciously and intentionally based on a person’s race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, or mental, physical, or sensory disability.

The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.