The Matthew Shephard Act is back, minus the name.
Currently, North Carolina only outlaws hate crimes based on ethnicity, although attacks motivated by prejudice can still be prosecuted as regular crimes.
After the killing of University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard in 1998, some North Carolina legislators tried to add sexual orientation to the hate crimes law unsuccessfully.
The new bill is simply titled the "Safer Communities Act" and makes no mention of Shepard, but the Greensboro Democrat said that she was particularly concerned about the high rate of hate crimes against gays and lesbians.
She said she understood the argument that there shouldn't be a special law against hate crimes, but as long as there is it should be complete.
"It's our feeling that if we have a hate crimes law, we ought to be covering all of the hate crimes," she said.
Previous versions of the bill have not made it out of committee, but Harrison said she was optimistic since Congress may take similar action this year.