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Politics Senators keep South Carolina hate crime bill alive for now

00:30  05 may  2021
00:30  05 may  2021 Source:   msn.com

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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina's effort to become the next-to-last state to pass a hate crimes law survived a challenge from some Republican senators who questioned whether it is necessary to add penalties to violent crimes based on someone's motives.

FILE - In this Thursday, June 18, 2015, file photo, mourners pass by a makeshift memorial on the sidewalk in front of the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting by Dylann Roof in Charleston, S.C. South Carolina is one step closer to becoming the 48th state in the nation to pass a hate crime law. House representatives gave key approval by a 79-29 vote Wednesday, April 7, 2021, on the proposal to allow harsher penalties for certain crimes motivated by hatred. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this Thursday, June 18, 2015, file photo, mourners pass by a makeshift memorial on the sidewalk in front of the Emanuel AME Church following a shooting by Dylann Roof in Charleston, S.C. South Carolina is one step closer to becoming the 48th state in the nation to pass a hate crime law. House representatives gave key approval by a 79-29 vote Wednesday, April 7, 2021, on the proposal to allow harsher penalties for certain crimes motivated by hatred. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, File)

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 13-10 to send the hate crimes bill to the Senate floor. Five Republicans joined Democrats to keep the bill alive in 2021 after they turned aside a motion by a Senate leader to pass it over. If the motion had succeeded, it probably would have doomed the proposal with five days left in the session.

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Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called on his Republican colleagues Tuesday to allow the bill to be taken up, noting that he would add a bipartisan amendment from Connecticut Sen . Richard Blumenthal and Kansas Sen . Republican senators including Chuck Grassley of Iowa, John Cornyn of Texas and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin then indicated they would vote to advance the anti-Asian hate crime bill , which was proposed by Hawaii Sen . Mazie Hirono, so long as they got a chance to amend it.

South Carolina , Arkansas and Wyoming are the only states in the U.S. without a hate crime law. Business leaders in South Carolina have made passing one their top priorities. Republican leaders are juggling the desires of the business community and the fears of some of their more conservative If the other provisions are restored, the bill would add up to three years for stalking or harassment and an extra year behind bars for vandalism. The Judiciary Committee also unanimously agreed to name the bill the “Clementa C. Pinckney Hate Crimes Act" after the state senator who also was the pastor of

The “Clementa C. Pinckney Hate Crimes Act ” allows prosecutors to ask the same jury that convicted someone for extra punishment for a violent crime based on the race, color, religion, sex, gender, national origin, sexual orientation or physical or mental disability of the victim.

The bill is named for Pinckney, a state senator killed along with eight others in a 2015 racist attack on a Bible study at Emanuel AME Church, a historic Charleston church founded in 1817 by slaves. Pinckney was the church pastor.

The killings gave a renewed push for South Carolina to pass a state hate crime law, helped this year by business groups that said the state may no longer be attractive to major and small companies if they don't join the 48 other states with a hate crime law. Arkansas passed a hate crimes law this year, leaving Wyoming as the only other state without one.

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A hate crimes bill in South Carolina no longer protects gay or transgender people after a Republican leader said including them would likely lead members of his party to withdraw their support. A House subcommittee on Thursday passed an amendment removing sexual orientation, creed, gender, age The measure now includes just six protected groups, all of which have long been included in federal law: race, color, religion, sex, national origin and physical or mental disability. Supporters of the bill as originally written questioned the worth of a hate crimes law that doesn't include gay and transgender

A group of South Carolina lawmakers have added back protections for gay or transgender people to a hate crime bill , five days after removing them. Associated Press. If the other provisions are restored, the bill would add up to three years for stalking or harassment and an extra year behind bars for vandalism. The Judiciary Committee also unanimously agreed to name the bill the Clementa C. Pinckney Hate Crimes Act” after the state senator who also was the pastor of Emanuel AME church when Dylann Roof sat through a Bible study class, then killed Pinckney and eight others in a June

South Carolina state Rep. Beth Bernstein, D-Columbia, left, and Rep. Wendell Gillard, D-Charleston, right, listen to a Senate hearing about a hate crime bill they both sponsored, Wednesday, April 21, 2021, in Columbia, S.C. The Senate is considering the hate crime bill passed in April by the House. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins) © Provided by Associated Press South Carolina state Rep. Beth Bernstein, D-Columbia, left, and Rep. Wendell Gillard, D-Charleston, right, listen to a Senate hearing about a hate crime bill they both sponsored, Wednesday, April 21, 2021, in Columbia, S.C. The Senate is considering the hate crime bill passed in April by the House. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

The white gunman in the church shooting was sentenced to death under federal hate crime laws.

“In his manifesto, he made very clear that his impetus in doing what he did was to start a race war and quite frankly that is the conduct that a bill of this sort is design to address,” said Sen. Ronnie Sabb, a Democrat from Greeleyville.

It hasn't been easy for the bill to make it this far. House members first removed protections for sexual orientation, creed, gender, age and ancestry, but then restored them after key supporters said that would gut the proposal.

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A hate crimes bill in South Carolina no longer protects gay or transgender people after a Republican leader said including them would likely lead members of his party to withdraw their support. A House subcommittee on Thursday passed an amendment removing sexual orientation, creed, gender, age and ancestry from the bill . The measure now includes just six protected groups, all of which have long been included in federal law: race, color, religion, sex, national origin and physical or mental disability.

Senators want to introduce a new bill which will essentially treat purposely attacking a police officer as a federal hate crime . The Senate version of the Protect and Serve Act of 2018, introduced by Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), aims to make it a federal crime to knowingly cause or attempt injury because of the “actual or A lone Blue Lives Matter supporter holds a sign outside the Federal Courthouse before the Federal court hearing of former North Charleston police officer Michael Slager in Charleston, South Carolina May 2, 2017. REUTERS/Randall Hill.

The House did pass the bill after removing additional punishments for non-violent crimes such as vandalism and harassment and they have not been restored.

At Tuesday's meeting, several Republicans questioned the need for the additional punishments, saying crimes are crimes, no matter what their motivation.

Sen. Richard Cash wondered if the bill could be expanded to include a sports fan who beats up another fan over a bitter team rivalry or a student who hates their teacher.

"Street gang routinely try to harm each other just because the other person is in a different gang and they hate that gang. And that gang hates them. So should gangs be a protected class?” said Cash, a Republican from Powdersville.

Another Republican Sen. Chip Campsen supported the bill, saying it was narrowly tailored like once recently passed in Georgia. Campsen added that could help the state if another racist crime happens in the current social climate.

“Hopefully it will keep the temperature down a little bit,” said Campsen, a Republican from Isle of Palms.

The bill heads to the Senate floor, where there are five days left in the 2021 General Assembly's session. If it doesn't pass, it will remain on the Senate floor in 2022.

If senators do pass the bill, a conference committee of House members and senators will have until around the end of June to work out the differences and send it back to each chamber for a vote.

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Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP.

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This is interesting!