ST. PAUL - A Minnesota Senate committee has passed a bill that would increase penalties for certain hate crimes.

The Judiciary Committee on Friday approved the measure to stiffen penalties for felony assaults motivated by bias.

Sen. Ron Latz brought the bill in response to an incident in which a Somali woman was allegedly attacked for not speaking English at a restaurant. Asma Jama says she was attacked by a fellow patron at a Coon Rapids Applebee's restaurant on in October because she was speaking Swahili.

Latz says prosecutors charged the alleged attacker with felony third-degree assault and not a hate crime because the maximum penalty for hate crimes is only a gross misdemeanor.

The bill would increase the maximum penalties for felony assaults by 25 percent if they're motivated by bias.