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Hern Only Okla. Delegation Member To Oppose New Hate Crime Law

Rep. Kevin Hern
Rep. Kevin Hern (R-Okla.) speaks at a Republican Study Committee meeting on May 13, 2021.

Oklahoma Republican Rep. Kevin Hern was the only member of the state's all-GOP delegation to oppose new legislation signed into law by President Biden on Thursday that seeks to address an increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans.

The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act passed the House 364-62 on Tuesday, with all votes in opposition coming from Republicans.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) voted against the bill Tuesday, but his office said Wednesday he had done so in error and noted he had corrected his vote in the Congressional Record.

The legislation provides grants to states to implement hate crime hotlines and other reporting mechanisms and instructs the federal Department of Justice to issue guidance and resources for dealing with hate crime incidents, among other things.

Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.), who voted in favor, told Public Radio Tulsa in a statement: "The rise in all hate crimes is concerning and I believe it’s something the Department of Justice should move quickly to investigate. Hate and violence of any sort have absolutely no place in our country."

Supporter Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) provided the following statement: "“Crimes motived by bias against race, ethnicity, or any other characteristic cannot be tolerated. We all have a role in restoring civil discourse in our conversations and raising the bar of civility in our actions towards our neighbors and those with different backgrounds from ourselves.”

The office of Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-Okla.) did not return a request for comment on her vote in support of the bill.

Hern's office did not respond to multiple requests for comment on his vote against the legislation.

Chris joined Public Radio Tulsa as a news anchor and reporter in April 2020. He’s a graduate of Hunter College and the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, both at the City University of New York.
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