South Carolina companies call on state’s general assembly to pass hate crime bill

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MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – South Carolina businesses say the state’s lawmakers need to step up and pass hate crime legislation. South Carolina is among just three states without a law in place.

Leaders from more than 30 companies including Walmart, IBM, UPS, AARP, and more are making renewed calls for hate crime legislation to be passed immediately in South Carolina.

Those leaders say it’s a critical step to not only combat intolerance but to strengthen the state’s economy and attract new businesses to South Carolina.

“We need to pass this bill today” says Lou Kennedy who serves as CEO of Nephron Pharmaceutical in West Columbia.

“Duke Energy supports passage of this legislation,” says Tiger Wells, Director of State Government Affairs for Duke Energy.

“And now we’re asking the South Carolina General Assembly to deliver what matters as well,” says Jeff Wofford, a spokesperson with UPS in South Carolina.

Some leaders even referenced the 2015 shooting at Mother Emanuel in Charleston, saying it was a prime example of why this bill is needed.

“The community has spoken for years about this,” says State Representative J.A. Moore who represents voters in both Berkeley and Charleston Counties. “People have spoken for years about this and now the business community is speaking loud and clear.”

South Carolina, Arkansas and Wyoming are the only three states currently without hate crime legislation. Business leaders say it’s time to get South Carolina’s name off of that list.

“We have to demonstrate to the world that hate will not be tolerated here,” says South Carolina Chamber of Commerce Chair Tim Arnold. “Passing a hate crimes bill is one important step in achieving that goal.”

More than 30 corporations joined the state Chamber of Commerce to call on elected officials to pass legislation now. Those calls are aimed at a more inclusive environment for their employees and customers.

“The diverse people working in our organization and living in the state need to feel very valued,” says Brooke Mueller with Walmart.

Calls in across South Carolina for legislation became louder after the 2015 shooting at Mother Emanuel that left nine parishioners dead.

“This June will mark six years since that day, and we still have not passed a law that will condemn crimes motivated by hate,” says Kim Overbay, an executive with IBM.

For State Representative J.A. Moore, he says those calls won’t go unheard. He’s now calling on his colleagues to step up to the plate and pass the legislation.

“We must pass this hate crime legislation, we must pass it this year,” says Representative Moore.

Representative Moore says much of the state’s legislature has been focused on COVID-19 response so far this year. He says he will continue to make the push but says there’s no current time table for action.

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