The South Carolina House passed the hate crime bill on Wednesday without discussing it, one step closer to joining the state with 47 other states with similar laws already on the books.
Bills passed by the 79-29 vote could be enacted by the end of the year if the Senate is passed.
This law is based on hatred by prosecutors because of a person’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender, country of origin, or physical or mental disability. It explicitly allows you to seek additional penalties for crimes committed in the past.
The bill could impose up to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $ 10,000 for violent crimes such as murder, assault, armed robbery, and criminal sexual misconduct.
Currently, South Carolina does not have its own hate crime method.
If a crime is committed on the basis of hatred, state prosecutors can only prosecute the crime itself. However, federal authorities can choose to intervene and prosecute criminals under federal hate crime law.
The bill has gained widespread support from the business community, law enforcement agencies, and advocates of equality. The University of South Carolina has recently joined dozens of companies that have signed an initiative by the SC Chamber of Commerce to urge lawmakers to pass the Hate Climb Act.
Religious groups opposed the bill at every stage of the legislative process, arguing that it could be used to violate religious freedom.
“Protecting from violent criminal activity motivated by hatred is not a liberal or conservative issue,” he said. Weston Newton, R-Beaufort, said Wednesday. “that is It’s not a black or white issue, it’s not a gay or straight issue. “
Newton said it wouldn’t be one of three states without the hate crime bill, as it is imperative that South Carolina pass the bill. He said the business community had insisted on legislation to make South Carolina more competitive on the domestic and global arena.
“It’s important to signal those we have hatred in our hearts that we don’t tolerate those actions,” Newton said.
The bill has undergone several revisions since it was first introduced.
At the hearing, the House of Representatives is the first Remove protection from the LGBTQ community.. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Chris Murphy, R-Dochester, argued that the LGBTQ community needs to be unprotected in order to pass the hate crime bill by the end of May. ..
On the committee, lawmakers voted for Add sexual orientation and gender-based protection to the bill After receiving backlash from the LGBTQ community.
However, lawmakers voted to remove some of the bills that would allow prosecutors to prosecute criminals on hate crimes for stalking, harassing, and property damage. The original bill raised fines of up to $ 5,000 and three years’imprisonment for stalking or imprisonment, with fines of up to $ 1,000 and an additional year’s imprisonment for malicious injury crimes. There is a possibility of being stalked.
Republicans pushed to remove these sections of the bill after religious groups expressed concern, reiterating that the bill is likely to fail if these provisions are included.
Despite removing the harassment section from the bill, conservative groups are still expressing concern about the hate crime bill.
The conservative Palmetto Family Alliance said in an email that the bill “may erode our religious freedom” by allowing the state government to recognize the classification of sexual orientation and gender identity in state law. It was.
This is a developing story. Will be updated.