April's Legislative Update
Dear Friends and Neighbors:
We have been busy this month, especially in these last 2 weeks in order to comply with the May 1st crossover deadline for legislation to go over to the Senate. I am so pleased that we passed an ethics reform bill which represents the most sweeping changes in our ethics laws since Operation Lost Trust. I was fortunate to be able to work with Representatives James Smith, Todd Rutherford, Leon Stavrinakis, Rick Quinn, Kenny Bingham, and Bruce Bannister in implementing a strong, but fair ethics bill. The collaboration and cooperation of both parties paved the way for its passage.
This week in the District, we had a special guest, Lieutenant Governor Glenn McConnell, who gave an informative presentation on the “Faces of Aging in SC.” The event was organized by Senator Joel Lourie and me, and Reverend Ellen Skidmore and Forest Lake Presbyterian church graciously allowed us to use their facility. The turnout was great! If you would like more information on the presentation or on the Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging, please let me know.
Here are all of the legislative highlights from this month. As always, I am interested in hearing your thoughts and concerns on the issues.
Thank you for the honor and privilege of serving you in the South Carolina House of
HOUSE WEEK IN REVIEW April 8, 2013
The House approved and enrolled for ratification S.239, a joint resolution proposing a constitutional amendment to authorize charitable raffles conducted by non-profit organizations. In addition, the House approved and enrolled for ratification a bill, S.213, which would establish the general law and provisions for charitable raffles in the event that the constitution is amended to allow them.
Veterans Treatment Court Program:
A bill, H.3014, which creates a Veterans Treatment Court Program in each Judicial Circuit in South Carolina, was passed favorably out of the Judiciary Committee this week. The bill is coming up for debate on the floor of the House.
Protection Against Theft of Utilities:
The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate a bill, H.3568, which would increase penalties for bypassing utility meters and tampering with utilities. This measure targets practices that are used to provide power, water, or heat for illegal drug manufacturing and growing operations.
Joint Legislative Committee on Economic Development:
The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate a bill, H.3437, which would create a joint legislative committee on economic development. This would be a permanent joint legislative committee to conduct a continuing study of the laws, policies, and procedures of this state affecting economic development.
Safety and Mental Health:
A bill, H.3560, passed out of the Judiciary Committee this week. The bill requires South Carolina to report anyone adjudicated by a court with mental deficiencies to the FBI’s National Instant Background Check System. The bill is coming up for debate on the floor of the House.
Nullification of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act:
A bill, H.3101, which seeks to nullify the Affordable Care Act, was passed out of the Judiciary Committee this week. The bill has no enforcement measure and the public would still be subject to federal penalties for non-compliance. The bill is coming up for debate
HOUSE WEEK IN REVIEW April 15, 2013
Economic Incentives Package for Boeing:
A bill, S.578, which authorizes the issuance of up to $120 million in economic development bonds for the expansion of the Boeing aircraft manufacturing operation in North Charleston, passed the House on Wednesday. The expansion is said to produce over 2,000 jobs. The bill will now to go to the Governor’s desk.
A bill, H.3945, seeks to reform South Carolina ethics law by abolishing the House and Senate Ethics Committee as well as the South Carolina Ethics Commission by establishing a new commission to oversee both the legislative and executive branches of government. The bill also eliminates the “blackout period” in political campaigns and establishes a Public Integrity Unit to investigate potential ethics violations. The bill passed Judiciary Committee and will be debated on the floor of the House next week.
Mental Health and Gun Reform:
A bill, H.3560, passed the House this week. The bill requires South Carolina to report anyone adjudicated by a court with mental deficiencies to the FBI’s National Instant Background Check System. The bill was sent to the Senate.
Creation of a Veterans Treatment Court Program:
A bill, H.3014, which creates a Veterans Treatment Court Program in each Judicial Circuit in South Carolina, passed the House this week. The bill will now go to the Senate.
HOUSE WEEK IN REVIEW April 22, 2013
More Voting Changes:
A bill, H. 3176, which would establish a nine-day early voting period but eliminate the 30-day in-person absentee voting period passed second reading on Thursday. It will be given third reading next week.
A bill, H. 3101, which would make the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, illegal in South Carolina passed second reading on Thursday. It will be given third reading next week.
SC Films Incentives:
A bill, H. 3357, which would provide a tax rebate to motion picture production companies by the South Carolina film commission passed second reading on Wednesday. The bill states that the rebate may not exceed twenty percent of the total aggregate payroll for qualifying persons and not twenty five percent for South Carolina residents. It will be given third reading next week.
The vote on H. 3945, comprehensive ETHICS REFORM legislation, which improves South Carolina ethics law by reforming the House and Senate Ethics Committee, eliminating the “blackout period,” strengthening disclosure requirements for legislators, and restoring criminal penalties for ethics violations, was delayed this week in order for members to review the legislation.
HOUSE WEEK IN REVIEW April 29, 2013
The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3945, comprehensive ETHICS REFORM legislation.
Mental Health and Gun Reform:
The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3560 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation establishes a new statewide MENTAL HEALTH ADJUDICATION AND COMMITMENT REPORTING initiative to compile information that is to be used to preclude firearms purchases and disallow concealed weapons permits for those who have been committed to mental institutions, have been found insane by a criminal court, or have otherwise been officially designated as mentally defective by a court.
More Voting Changes:
The House approved and sent the Senate H.3176, legislation making ELECTION LAW REVISIONS including new EARLY VOTING PROVISIONS.
The House approved and sent the Senate H.3101, legislation PROHIBITING THE ENFORCEMENT OF THE FEDERAL PATIENT PROTECTION AND AFFORDABLE CARE ACT IN THE STATE and declaring that the General Assembly of South Carolina has the sovereign authority to refuse to enforce the provisions this federal health care legislation insofar as its scope exceeds the powers delegated to the federal government under the United States Constitution.
High School Exit Exams:
The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3919, legislation which provides for the ELIMINATION OF THE HIGH SCHOOL EXIT EXAM AS A REQUIREMENT FOR GRADUATION AND CREATION OF THE HIGH SCHOOL ASSESSMENT STUDY COMMITTEE.
The House approved and sent the Senate H.4020, legislation providing for TEMPORARY REAUTHORIZATION OF THE SOUTH CAROLINA FIRST STEPS TO SCHOOL READINESS ACT. This joint resolution provides that Act 99 of 1999, South Carolina First Steps to School Readiness Act, is reauthorized until July 1, 2014.