Taylor’s bill would allow judges to decide to apply stiffer penalties to those found guilty of committing a hate crime against people who are gay or perceived to be gay as well as transgender. The bill also includes race, gender, national origin and religion.

State Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) has introduced a hate crimes bill every year since the state’s hate crimes bill was deemed “unconstitutionally vague” in 2004 by the State Supreme Court.

Current co-sponsors of Taylor’s bill, all Democrats, are: Reps. Karla Drenner, Simone Bell and Keisha Waites, all who are both openly gay; Tyrone Brooks and Ralph Long.

“I wanted to get the conversation started of what to expect in January [when the General Assembly reconvenes],” Taylor said. “This bill is very similar to Sen. Fort’s except mine gives judicial discretion.

“In January, I’ll be able to reintroduce the bill and I’m also working on a separate bill that will be about training and data collecting. Hopefully in January I’ll have some strong co-sponsors,” Taylor said.

Taylor’s bill, HB 1311, states:

A BILL to be entitled an Act to amend Article 1 of Chapter 10 of Title 17 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to procedure for sentencing and imposition of punishment, so as to repeal certain provisions regarding sentencing of defendants guilty of crimes involving bias or prejudice, circumstances, and parole; to provide for enhanced sentences in any case in which the trier of fact determines beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant intentionally selected any victim or any property of the victim as the object of the offense because of the victim’s race, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or national origin; to provide for certain exceptions; to provide for applicability; to provide an effective date; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

Sen. Fort’s bill, SB 228, was introduced March 4 and co-sponsored this session by Democrats Jason Carter, Emanuel Jones and Robert Brown.

It reads:

A BILL to be entitled an Act to amend Article 1 of Chapter 10 of Title 17 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to procedure for sentencing and imposition of punishment, so as to repeal certain provisions regarding sentencing of defendants guilty of crimes involving bias or prejudice, circumstances, and parole; to provide for sentencing of certain defendants guilty of crimes which target a victim due to the victim’s race, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or national origin, circumstances, and parole; to provide for certain exceptions; to provide for applicability; to provide an effective date; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

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