ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Hate crimes are on the rise in the U.S. and Maryland is no exception.

Now, some lawmakers are asking the General Assembly to crack down on people who use nooses, swastikas and other symbols to threaten or intimidate.

Recent incidents in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore and Howard counties have prompted lawmakers to toughen the law against hate crimes.

“In Maryland, you have to have an underlying crime to then prosecute a hate crime which makes sense, but one of the loopholes people use is they don’t commit a crime in the first place, they just move right to the hateful behavior,” Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Annecolt Leitess said.

This bill closes that loophole.

Anne Arundel County Delegates Mark Chang and Sandy Bartlett propose imposing new penalties.

Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman also supports it.

“Our country has really mobilized and had a call to action which is that we had more hate bias in the state police report than any other county in the state and we’re doing a lot of things to address that,” Pittman said.

Members of the House Judiciary Committee are taking the measure under consideration.

The bill imposes a penalty of a maximum of three years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

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