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Kansas lawmakers are considering a bill that would toughen punishments for hate crimes.

Democratic Sen. David Haley spoke in favor of the bill, which would double sentences for offenses determined to be hate crimes. Haley said the bill would help protect potential victims from crimes motivated by prejudice.

But Republican Sen. Forrest Knox expressed skepticism of the bill's effectiveness in the hearing. He said it was unclear whether tougher sentences would deter potential criminals. Knox also said it would be difficult to prove that those accused were motivated by prejudice.

Currently there is no Kansas statute that requires stiffer punishment for hate crimes. However, Kansas courts may transfer cases of alleged hate crimes to federal courts, where penalties are increased.