Rant: Georgia passes ‘hate crimes’ bill — in silence? Plus today’s other headlines.

Rant: Georgia passes ‘hate crimes’ bill — in silence? Plus today’s other headlines.

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Today’s top headlines:
  • State’s ‘Hate Crime’ bill needs only Kemp’s signature to become law after passage Tuesday by House, Senate.
  • Business: Two hotels nearing completion in Cartersville — with a pair also due in Calhoun this year.
  • Positive tests: 53 more in 24 hours in NW Georgia; now 1,613 locally; statewide, 67,678 and climbing by more than 1,000 a day.
  • Wade Hoyt III resigns as Floyd County attorney, cites personal reasons. Virginia Harman named interim county attorney.
  • Ware Mechanical Weather Center: Half inch of rain Tuesday, a bit more possible today. High of 84 degrees.
  • Truett’s Chick-Fil-A Sports Report: GHSA OK’s phased used of 30-second shot clock for basketball. Dr. Glenn White re-elected president of GHSA.

RANT OF THE DAY: Pssst –the hate crimes bill passed.

Just before dinner on Tuesday evening, this release arrived from state Rep. Vernon Jones, a Democrat from Lithonia which is way away from Northwest Georgia. It was his take on the passage of House Bill 426.

“The Georgia House of Representatives voted 127-38 for the hate crimes bill today. It was a good step forward in the right direction although my amendment, which would have included political ideology, party affiliation and freedom of speech as protected classes, was not included in the final version of House Bill 426. I was still proud to support and vote ‘yes’ for this hate crimes legislation.”

That was followed by a Tweet — and nothing more — from Gov. Brian Kemp’s press team that reads:

“@GovKemp commends the General Assembly’s bipartisan work and will sign House Bill 426 pending legal review.”

Twelve hours later, at 7 a.m. Wednesday, that is the collective response we’ve received on state lawmakers finally stepping up and joining most of the other 50 states in putting a “hate crimes” bill on the books — again, pending Kemp’s signature. The final push in the pandemic-delayed General Assembly after two senseless killings of young black men so far this year.

How white of them.

And even then, given local, state and national headlines, you’d think something as vital as this would pass without a no vote. Two Bartow County lawmakers voted no; Mitchell Scoggins’ district includes parts of Floyd County as well as Bartow County. Two Gordon County representatives said no thanks. A retiring state senator who’s district includes parts of Northwest Georgia likewise was in the no column. All from our area of the state, by the way.

For whatever reasons were behind their votes, they didn’t matter. Both the House and Senate overwhelmingly passed HB 426 on Tuesday. It was supported by the majority of the Rome delegation — representatives Katie Dempsey, Trey Kelley and Eddie Lumsden as well as Sen. Chuck Hufstetler.

Perhaps those voting no found differing parts of the bill unsuitable. These days, you’d get a debate about the contents of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich so who knows.

It doesn’t matter now, though, as the bill is clear of the General Assembly and en route to Kemp’s desk. We expect very little in terms of no vote ramifications, especially since Scoggins and Matt Gambill both face no Democratic opposition in November.

Which brings us back to the real disturbing thing: The sounds of silence.

Again, no major press conference from the governor or anyone else for that matter on the vote. Maybe Kemp’s saving it for the signing ceremony. He’s certainly not camera shy even though the weekly coronavirus updates — which appear to have stopped. That, too, is odd as case numbers are surging and hospitalizations are picking up again — and we have schools starting in under six weeks.

Add to that none of the normal sweep of emails where the politicians pat themselves on the back with wonderful sound-bite quotes in hopes those of us in today’s lazy media perform our latest job skill: Cut and paste.

Georgia made history on Tuesday and the state is an ink pen away from doing what should have been done decades ago. We repeat that only because the normal chorus has seemingly taken the day off from emails and social media and YouTube and such.

Perhaps they’re all busy. Let’s just hope they’re still not searching for ways to make further proposed cuts to the education budget — or stifling state Department of Public Health spending amid a rising pandemic.


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