CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Several state lawmakers are pushing for Hate Crime legislation to pass in the Senate this year. South Carolina is one of only two in the country to not have the law.

With devastating hate crime impacting South Carolinians, State Representative Wendell Gilliard says it’s important this year to make sure the bill passes.

“We owe that to Mother Emanuel, to the people of Charleston, and to the people of South Carolina. This bill must become law,” said Gilliard.

The “Clementa Pinckney Hate Crime Law” is named after the late state senator and pastor who was killed along with eight other people during the Charleston Church Shooting when a white supremacist entered Mother Emanuel during bible study and opened fire.

The shooter was charged federally with a hate crime, but that law does not exist in South Carolina. State Rep. Gilliard says he is pushing to change that.

“They need to spend more time in jail, they need to pay more money, and the message needs to be stronger,” says Gilliard.

In 2021 the bill passed with bipartisan support by the South Carolina House of Representatives but stalled in the state senate.

“With that legislative process going through the house and the senate, by the time we got there, we cut the session. It, fortunately, made it to the Senate calendar,” says Gilliard.

Gilliard believes that the passing of the bill would better equip South Carolina lawmakers to handle these kinds of cases.

“By having a state hate crime bill, we can expedite the cases better,” he says.

Gilliard is hopeful that state lawmakers will come together and pass the legislation to move South Carolina forward.

“We can go ahead and make progress. We can create dialogue and learn to respect anybody’s right as a human being to live on this earth,” he says.

The bill has passed the senate subcommittee, but it must pass a full Senate vote before it can be ratified and signed into law by Governor Henry McMaster.