Hate crime, speed limits, gold coins among new SC bills
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Proposals ranging from creating a hate crime law in South Carolina to requiring the state to accept gold and silver coins as legal tender to increasing the fine for vandalizing political signs have all been filed as bills for next year’s legislative session.
House members got their first chance to file bills earlier this month. Of the nearly 100 proposals submitted, few will likely become laws. More than 1,000 bills were filed in 2019 — the first year of the two-year session — and just 113 have been ratified and written into the state code.
Most of the proposed bills have just one sponsor. But a bill to create a hate crime law in South Carolina has support from both Democrats and Republicans.
South Carolina, along with Georgia, Ohio and Arkansas are the only states in the U.S. that don’t increase penalties for violent crimes or harassment if the victim is targeted because of race, religion, sexual orientation or other factors.
South Carolina’s bill filed this month would allow a judge to add up to five years in prison for a violent crime committed because of hate and up to three years for harassment that fit under the hate crime statue. A separate hate crime bill filed last year provides a 2-to-15-year penalty on conviction.
Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof, whose racist attack in 2015 killed nine members of a black church, was sentenced to death after being convicted in federal court in part because a jury determined it was a hate crime.
Another round of bill filings, which includes state senators, happens Dec. 11.
Other proposals among the nearly 100 bills filed by House members on Nov. 20 include:
— A bill prohibiting anyone under 18 from undergoing gender reassignment treatment. Similar bans have been proposed in Texas, Kentucky and Georgia. Opponents said it puts politicians in the way of decisions that should be between transgender youth, their parents and their doctors. Bill sponsor Republican Rep. Stewart Jones of Laurens said it’s too dangerous to allow hormone treatments or other therapies for children under 18.
— A bill adding 10 years to a sentence in a gun killing for each bullet fired. It was filed by Democratic Rep. JA Moore of North Charleston.
— A proposal that would allow a restaurant to donate extra food to a church or charity without facing possible legal liability. The bill was written by Democratic Rep. Wendell Gilliard of Charleston.
— A bill that would raise the maximum fine for someone convicted of vandalizing a political sign from $100 to $300. The proposal sponsored by Gilliard also would allow signs to be placed on public land along roads if they followed rules including a maximum size, not blocking sight lines and a proper distance from the pavement.
— A proposal requiring the state to accept gold or silver coins minted by the U.S. or foreign government as legal tender. Both parties would have to agree before they could be accepted in a private transaction. The bill was filed by Jones, who won his seat in a special election in April.
— A bill raising the minimum speed to 50 mph (80 kph) on an interstate with a speed limit of 70 mph (113 kph). Currently, the minimum speed on those highway is 45 mph (72 kph). The bill was filed by Democratic House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford of Columbia.
— A proposal to create a special license plate honoring police officers killed while working. The plate would join the nearly 150 other specialty plates listed on the state Department of Motor Vehicles website. The sponsor is Republican Rep. Shannon Erickson of Beaufort.
— A bill requiring equipment to charge electric vehicles at all welcome center rest area and allow the state to charge a fee as long as South Carolina gets permission from federal officials. Three Republican House members are sponsors.
Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP.