COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - South Carolina is one of four states in the country that do not have state hate crime legislation.
Some lawmakers said they want to see this changed.
Representative Seth Rose (D-Richland) is a co-sponsor of H.3063 filed by Rep. Wendell Gilliard (D-Charleston) earlier this year. The bill would create penalties for those convicted a crime with the intent to assault, intimidate, or threaten a person because of race, religion, color, sex age, national origin or sexual orientation.
“I think it sends a message to our citizens in South Carolina that conduct such as that and things that incite hate crimes and acts of hatred will be criminalized,” Rep. Rose said.
Rep. Micah Caskey (R-Lexington) said he doesn’t believe a law like this would make a difference since there are already federal hate crime laws.
“I’m comforted that we have the ability to prosecute people on the federal level and use hate crime legislation there,” Rep. Caskey said. “But at the same time on the state level, I don’t think it will help us.”
Rep. Todd Rutherford (D-Richland) is also a co-sponsor of the bill.
“You can never stop people from hating,” he said. “What we’re doing is providing a penalty. It’s adding the element of action.”
With the incident involving the Cardinal Newman student, Rep. Rutherford said you can expect to see amendments added to the legislation.
“South Carolina has had its share of wake-up calls,” Rep. Chip Huggins (R-Lexington) said. “People have to be taken seriously in this day and age and where we’re at.”
We asked the Governor’s office Friday if he would sign a hate crime bill into law if it made it to his desk. His office said they will be closely following this legislation as it moves through the legislative process. However, without knowing what the final bill would look like, they cannot comment on whether he would sign it.
H.3063 is in committee in the House.