Indicates Matter Stricken
Indicates New Matter
The Senate assembled at 11:00 A.M., the hour to which it stood adjourned, and was called to order by the ACTING PRESIDENT, Senator HARPOOTLIAN.
The following remarks by Senator KEVIN JOHNSON were ordered printed in the Journal of February 17, 2022:
Members, as I walked over here from the Gressette building a little while ago Senator BRIGHT-MATTHEWS and I were talking about how busy we are and how we have not been getting a lot of rest. I told her, "Because of you I didn't get any sleep last night," and she asked what I was talking about. I told her for some reason I tossed and turned all night thinking about the words she spoke before we adjourned yesterday in reference to House Bill 3620. During her debate, she stated that she was not going to beg anybody, but as I tossed and turned I thought of something. You know the Temptations had a song back in the day titled, "Ain't Too Proud To Beg". Well, I am not too proud to beg if that is what it takes. I am not trying to change anybody's mind -- as far as how they feel -- but I would like to change some of your minds so we can at least debate this Bill and the merits of it. This is a Bill that has passed in 48 out of 50 states. I do not know everything that we have in common with Wyoming but I do know that we have this Bill in common. We debated a Bill yesterday brought up by Senator YOUNG and I support his Bill as it relates to handheld devices, texting, and talking on the phone while driving. He mentioned that 24 states have passed that Bill. We debated a Medical Marijuana Bill for three or four weeks and he mentioned that over 30 other states have passed that Bill. So now, I'm talking about a Bill today that was passed in 48 states, and not only that, it passed our House of Representatives in a bipartisan fashion with a vote of 70 something to 30 something, and here in the Senate, we can't even get the Bill up for debate. So I thought about it. I know there's a part of the Bill named after our esteemed, distinguished, and late colleague Senator Pinckney but this Bill is about more than what happened at Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston. We have a colleague that was killed because of hate. He was not in the House of Representatives nor in the other 48 states that passed this Bill. He served with us. I remember the last day that Senator Pinckney served, I remember being in a Senate Democratic Caucus meeting, and as long as I've known Clementa Pinckney, for whatever reason, I paid more attention to him that day than I had at any other time. I remember sitting across from him in the conference meeting. He had on a sharp black suit and a very nice crisp white shirt, and he looked more distinguished than ever. The Senate Democratic Caucus asked for donations for the custodians that day, so he reached in his pocket and pulled out his part, which was more than what we were asked to donate. They tried to give him the change back and he said, "No, no I want them to have that." He later told us that he had to rush to Charleston because he had a church meeting and Bible study. That was the last time I saw him alive. I know that I have been here for a little while now, not as long as some others, but I have been a member of this Body probably longer than about half of the Senate. During my time here, I do not think I have ever seen a Bill that was objected to by so many members as I have with this Bill. I got up around two or three o'clock this morning, read over the Bill, and said I must be missing something. Senator Pinckney left here that day and went to Charleston. He did not die as a result of a tragic automobile accident, as often as that is the case on I-26. He did not have a massive heart attack or some other type of sudden medical emergency. He died because of hate, just hate, and evilness. You do not have to take my word for it, because the person that committed that tragic crime said so himself. He said he did it because he wanted to start a race war. The church invited that same person in for Bible study. Senator Pinckney was studying the word of God and the word of God is about love. This was an evil hateful act. At least 48 states and the South Carolina House sees that, and those of us who served with Senator Pinckney see that. I looked at the list of us that objected to this Bill, and I think over half of the members that objected were not here as a member of the Senate when this awful act happened. I will tell you, and remind others, that on the first day we came back in session after that awful incident there were some comments made. The Chamber was crowded, with members and staff, and there was not one dry eye in this Chamber because we realized not only did we lose a good member, friend, and brother but also we lost him because of hate in the heart of others. This Bill does not say that every time someone commits a crime it adds this extra punishment. Think about the Ahmaud Arbery case in Brunswick, Georgia, which was clearly a crime of hate and the people that committed the crime were found guilty and they will now go on to another step, which will be a hate trial. This Bill just adds five more years of punishment because the crime was based on hate in the heart and over the last several years throughout this country, hate has become more and more visible. It does not say that everything you do is a hate crime. Senator McELVEEN gave a good example with an incident we had in Sumter County, where a young white male somehow got access to a contractor-owned traffic sign that was altered to read, "Honk if you hate Niggers." He used the word hate, and I was told that several people were passing by honking their horns; however, that incident would not fall under this legislation. As I told you, I tossed and turned last night. I just want you to know that all this Bill says is that if you burn a church down, which we've had in Clarendon and Sumter Counties, or you commit a murder like the one we had in Charleston County, then you may be charged. I know that we members know, but for the TV listening audience, this Bill does not only address hate crimes when the victims are black, Jewish, or gay. This Bill will addresses all crimes of hate, yet 22% of this Body will not allow us to debate this Bill. As I said earlier, I could not sleep last night. I feel passionate about this issue, and I just wanted you to know how I feel. Thank you.
The following remarks by Senator HARPOOTLIAN were ordered printed in the Journal of March 8, 2022:
The following remarks by Senator HARPOOTLIAN were ordered printed in the Journal of March 15, 2022:
At 11:05 A.M., on motion of Senator JACKSON, the Senate adjourned to meet next Tuesday, March 22, 2022, at 12:00 Noon.
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