TEWKSBURY — With a rise in reported hate crimes across both the country and Massachusetts in recent years, state Rep. Tram Nguyen is partnering with Attorney General Maura Healey and state Sen. Adam Hinds to address the issue.

Nguyen, who represents Andover, Boxford, North Andover, and Tewksbury, announced last Monday that she introduced a new bill on Beacon Hill that would reform the state’s hate crime statutes to make it easier to prosecute offenders.

“The crux of this is that we want to give more tools to law enforcement and prosecutors to hold perpetrators accountable and provide better protections for victims,” Nguyen told The Sun.

The bill — HD.1653 — would combine and rework Sections 37 and 39 of the General Laws to clarify what constitutes a hate crime, give clearer guidance on how to enforce the statute and express that such destructive behavior is not protected by the First Amendment, according to Nguyen.

It would also establish different penalties based on the severity of the offense, with the most severe crimes going to Superior Court.

For instance, someone who harasses another person because of their race might at most receive a two and a half year prison sentence, whereas someone who also commits battery while doing so could be sentenced to twice that amount of time, according to Nguyen.

“Right now these crimes have essentially the same or similar penalties,” she said. “Now we’re doing escalating penalties based on the severity.”

Nguyen added that the bill was not introduced because of any specific hate-fueled incident, but rather because of emerging reports over the issue’s growing prevalence.

During her interview with The Sun, the representative referenced a recent NBC News report that analyzed police department statistics from across the country and determined that Anti-Asian hate crimes increased by nearly 150% in 2020.

“Hate crimes are hugely underreported nationally, and the protections in Massachusetts are far weaker than in several other states,” Nguyen said. “If people understand that these crimes will not be tolerated, they will be less likely to commit them.”

Nguyen said that Healey approached her with the idea for the bill in January, as the Attorney General had heard about how she had been working to combat the rise in anti-Asian discrimination since the coronavirus first hit.

“From racist harassment, violence by white supremacists, and attacks against our most vulnerable communities, what we are seeing across the country and in our state is unacceptable,” Healey said in a statement. “This bill will strengthen our existing laws and give our office more tools to better protect victims and hold perpetrators accountable.”

Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan, who also runs the Anti-Hate Anti-Bias Task Force that Nguyen is a member of, threw her support behind the bill as well.

“As we continue our work to combat crimes rooted in hate and bias and intended to intimidate victims, it is critical that we have the right tools in place,” Ryan said in a statement. “These crimes have a profound impact on the individuals who are targeted and the entire community.  I am proud to support this bill which will allow for appropriate enforcement with penalties that reflect the serious nature of these crimes.”