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Georgia lawmakers
kill effort to revive hate-crimes law

Georgia lawmakers
kill effort to revive hate-crimes law

The Georgia state house denied a senate effort on Monday to revive Georgia's defunct hate-crimes law. The measure, sponsored by Democratic senator Vincent Fort of Atlanta, had passed the senate as an amendment tacked onto another piece of legislation, but the house quickly removed it Monday morning.

Republican representative Barry Fleming said the senate's addition did not belong on the legislation he sponsored, which changes the way attorneys must file for speedy trials. "It had nothing to do with the underlying legislation," said Fleming. "That's not the way to pass such a measure." Fleming did not, however, mention that the amendment was the hate-crimes bill.

Georgia's previous hate-crimes law, drafted in 2000, had called for stiffer criminal penalties in crimes where a victim is chosen because of "bias or prejudice." In 2004, the Georgia supreme court threw the law out after ruling it "unconstitutionally vague."

The new bill would have singled out people who commit a crime because of "the victim's race, religion, gender, national origin, or sexual orientation." House lawmakers decided to remove the hate-crimes measure on a 153-2 vote, but Rep. Mike Jacobs said a number of Democrats were seeking to change their vote. He said few realized they were voting to remove the hate-crimes amendment.

The bill now returns to the senate, where lawmakers can choose to insist on their position or agree to the house version. (AP)

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