South Carolina House passes bill that would enhance penalties for violent hate crimes

State - Regional

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) — The South Carolina House passed a bill Thursday that would enhance penalties for violent crimes motivated by race, religion, sex, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, or disability.

South Carolina is one of three states without a state hate crime law on the books.

The bill’s sponsor Representative Wendell Gilliard (D-District 111) said he has filed his first piece of crime legislation in 2009. He said, “My passion grew even stronger after the church shooting of the Mother Emanuel 9 in 2015.”

The Clementa C. Pinckney Hate Crimes Act received third reading Thursday in the House. The bill was backed by South Carolina’s business community, the University of South Carolina and others.

Rep. Gilliard said, “It is time we created this united voice on violent hate crimes and let our state move forward with healing. Uniting and protecting our country. Taking steps to show we are all in this together.”

The bill received bipartisan support from Republican leadership and other members. It got a 79-29 vote for second reading Wednesday.

Speaker of the House Jay Lucas wrote on Twitter, “This legislation is a monumental step forward as SC joins 47 other states in ensuring that heinous, violent crimes committed and motivated by hate are justly prosecuted.”

The legislation is now headed to the State Senate.

While still in the House Judiciary Committee, lawmakers removed stalking, harassment and property damage from the bill.

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