Mourners and well-wishers in Charleston still leave flowers and photos at the foot of Emanuel AME Church. While the blooms wither and the clippings fade, South Carolina leaders have done almost nothing in response to nine lives cut short and a congregation shattered by racist hate six years ago.

Sadly, signs of progress toward equality were especially hard to come by over the past year. Yes, the Calhoun monument was removed in Charleston. But in the months that followed, City Councilman Harry Griffin clumsily goaded a faction of closed-minded conservatives who haunt his inbox, including extremists who brought the Proud Boys to the steps of City Hall. Leaders responded accordingly by booting Griffin off a city committee created to root out institutional racism.

Majority Whip James Clyburn’s bill to close the so-called Charleston loophole passed the U.S. House in March. But progress in the U.S. Senate has been stalled by the threat of a filibuster — a mechanism historically used to slow civil rights reforms. Now, it blocks a reasonable proposal born from white supremacist murders.

Bills to fix the loophole in South Carolina law have not even made that much progress. They sit largely untouched.

Slips and shrugs toward authoritarianism nationwide have emboldened Republicans in South Carolina, now equipped with even-lazier weapons to aid their legislative neglect: “Cancel culture!” “Socialist!” “Woke-ism!”

Other states took steps in the past year to leave just South Carolina and Wyoming as the only states without hate crime laws.

Nonetheless, S.C. conservatives, buoyed by statewide success in the 2020 election, wasted no time putting the brakes on a long-debated hate crime law this year. Desperate proposals to remove LGBTQ protections showed some Republicans draw the line against some hate and discrimination while allowing it to fester elsewhere.

What’s worse, several South Carolina lawmakers hitched their wagons to anti-LGBTQ groups that introduced copycat bills in statehouses nationwide. The bills thankfully went nowhere, but served their intended purposes: drumming up anger among the fundamentalist extremists who control the state Republican Party.

The proposed hate crime law eventually passed the state House, but will face long odds in the Senate next year, where a Republican firewall serves as insurance against attempts at progressivism elsewhere.

Of course, these debates all take place against the backdrop of the Heritage Act, which continues to enshrine Confederate protection in South Carolina law.

Unfortunately, even if conservative culture wars quiet, GOP-controlled redistricting will likely make proposals that move S.C. to the middle even harder in the coming years.

South Carolina leaders must grow up and quit running out the clock on important reforms. This state’s people are desperate for change. What we’ve been doing is not working.

With so little appetite for changes, S.C. leaders should commit to two modest and overdue reforms by next year: Close the Charleston loophole and pass a hate crime law.