Panel of SC Senators vote to send hate crimes bill to Senate floor

South Carolina News

Police officers are the only people seen at the South Carolina Statehouse on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, in Columbia, South Carolina. The capitol was closed for safety concerns for President Joe Biden’s inauguration. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — A state ‘hate crime bill’ could still become law in South Carolina in 2021.

Tuesday afternoon, the full Senate Judiciary Committee voted 13-10 to send an amended version of the hate crimes bill to the Senate floor.

The bill’s chances of becoming law this year are slim as there are just five days left in the legislative session.

The bill would enhance penalties for violent crimes fueled by hate. Protections include race, color, religion, sex, gender, national origin, sexual orientation or disability.

Right now, South Carolina is one of two states without a ‘hate crime law’ on the books. Arkansas’ Governor signed a bill into law in April.

The business community and others have backed the legislation.

Critics said they are worried the bill would criminalize free speech in the state.

The bill got bipartisan support in the House and received a 79-29 vote back in April.

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