South Carolina companies to lawmakers: Pass hate crimes bill

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FILE – In this June 18, 2015, file photo, a group of women pray at a makeshift memorial on the sidewalk in front of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. One big change happened in conservative South Carolina after a racist gunman killed nine black people during a Bible study five years ago, the Confederate flag came down. But since then, hundreds of other monuments and buildings named for Civil War figures, virulent racists and even a gynecologist who did painful, disfiguring medical experiments on African American women remain. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton, File)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Nearly 100 businesses in South Carolina have announced they want the state to join 47 other states across the U.S. and pass a hate crime law.

The proposal to allow harsher penalties for killings, assaults, stalking, vandalism and other crimes motivated by hatred for someone’s race, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, or disability hasn’t come up for a hearing six weeks into the General Assembly’s session.

Some of the state’s largest employers —- Walmart, IBM, UPS, Duke Energy, pharmaceutical maker Nephron — joined the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce to put pressure on lawmakers to pass the bill Monday.

South Carolina, Arkansas and Wyoming are the only states without a hate crimes bill.

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