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House Skips Senate Bills in Tussle Over Hate Crime Penalties

Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, File

A top lieutenant of Georgia’s House speaker is signalling that the lower chamber may block Senate bills unless the Senate acts on a bill to increase state criminal penalties on hate crimes. House Rules Chairman Richard Smith abruptly adjourned Tuesday’s rules committee without putting any bills before the full House to consider.

The Columbus Republican says it's “becoming an embarrassment to the state that a Senate committee has not yet taken up a bill the House passed in March 2019. The move comes a day after House Speaker David Ralston called February's slaying of Ahmaud Arbery ”an act of evil that defied belief," redoubling his push for the hate crimes bill.

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