SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – When Georgia lawmakers resume the legislative session next week, a coalition of major businesses is urging them to pass a bill, not about taxes or the economy, but hate crimes.
Up to 200 businesses, including Comcast, Georgia Power, UPS, Coca-Cola, Delta, AT&T, Home Depot, Cox Enterprises and Microsoft, have signed a letter sent to legislative leaders asking them to “support, approve and sign into law a comprehensive, specific and clear bill against hate crimes.”
House Bill 426, also known as the Georgia Hate Crimes Act, was passed by the Georgia House last year but has yet to be given consideration in the Senate. There’s speculation that Senate leaders won’t take up the bill before the session ends this year.
State Rep. Carl Gilliard, a Democrat from Garden City, is hoping that won’t be the case, citing the fact that House members were on board with a hate crimes bill last year. Now, he says the recent cases of Ahamaud Arbery in Brunswick and the nationwide attention received on the George Floyd case out of Minneapolis will hopefully prompt action.
“We’ve got about 170 some state representatives and there are only 50 some senators,” he said. “Now you tell me why this bill is not passed.”
In addition to signing the letter, the group of companies is launching a website, passhatecrimesga.com to help others encourage Georgia lawmakers to pass the bill.
The website houses talking points about the legislation, ways for people to contact their local senators or state representatives, and information on how other companies can join the coalition, Georgia Power says.
Read the full letter sent by the coalition of Georgia businesses below.
We, the undersigned organizations, stand committed to building a better basis for peace and prosperity across our state and our country, founded on justice for all. We are all employers in Georgia who value diversity, fairness and inclusion.
Georgia businesses employ millions of citizens from all walks of life. They represent our state’s rich tapestry of diversity. Georgia is annually hailed as one of the “Best places to do business,” and in order to maintain that reputation, and encourage prospective companies to locate here and workers to live here, we must also be in the business of advancing policies that support the positive change and social impact our communities need in order to build a more just and inclusive world.
As the General Assembly goes back into session, we write to urge you to support, approve and sign into law a comprehensive, specific and clear bill against hate crimes. We must all stand strong and united against targeted violence and bigotry. Diversity extends to a wide range of issues from race and ethnicity, to gender, sexual orientation, religion and physical ability, among other important characteristics that make each of us different but also deserving of protection from any attack that is motivated by hatred for the victim due to bias or prejudice.
We must come together, engage in tough conversations, and find solutions to make our communities and our country a place of hope and not despair, where diversity is celebrated and justice is assured. Georgia’s economic future and the dignity of our citizens depend on it.
We stand ready to provide you any assistance or support you may need to pass a hate crimes bill in Georgia and affirm that hate has no place in Georgia.