Georgia’s legislators sent a hate crime bill to Gov. Brian Kemp’s desk after a series of votes Tuesday, June 23.
“Governor Kemp commends the General Assembly’s bipartisan work and will sign House Bill 426 pending legal review,” the governor’s office said in a statement.
House Bill 426 passed in the state House of Representatives in March 2019 by a vote of 96-64.
The Senate Committee on Rules offered a substitute that was voted through on a 29-22 margin Tuesday.
The House of Representatives passed the Senate substitute to House Bill 426 on a 127-38 vote before 4 p.m. Tuesday, June 23.
The bill would increase punishments when it is proven in court “beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intentionally selected any victim or group of victims or any property as the object of the offense because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender, mental disability, or physical disability of such victim or group of victims.”
There are five “designated misdemeanors” of simple assault, simple battery, battery, criminal trespass and theft by taking.
How Hall legislators voted
Rep. Timothy Barr: No
Rep: Matt Dubnik: Yes
Rep. Emory Dunahoo: No
Rep. Lee Hawkins: Yes
Sen. Butch Miller: Yes
Sen. John Wilkinson: Yes
If the person is convicted of one of these “designated misdemeanors,” then the punishment will be a minimum six months imprisonment and a maximum fine of $5,000.
Misdemeanors are punishable by a maximum 12 months in prison.
A felony offense would carry a minimum sentence of two years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000.
The bill also establishes a “bias crime report” for officers to file when investigating these types of incidents. Police departments will then be required to report all incidents under this section to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
The GBI would then compile the statistics for annual publication in the Georgia Uniform Crime Reports.
President Pro Tempore Sen. Butch Miller of Gainesville said: “It became increasingly apparent that Georgia must enact hate crimes legislation. The families of the individuals who have lost their lives at the hands of hate deserve nothing but sweeping justice. To the thousands of Georgians who have called, emailed, marched, protested and made their voices heard at the Capitol, I applaud your commitment to fulfilling social justice. ... Hate has no place in Georgia.”