Dear Friends and Neighbors:
As a new member of the General Assembly, it’s hard to believe that I’ve completed my first session as your Representative. While we were unable to pass a comprehensive ethics reform plan this year, I feel confident that we will do so in January, and I pledge to continue to work hard in getting this accomplished.
This month, we approved a final budget, dealt with Governor Haley’s vetoes, and have now adjourned until January 14, 2014.
Over the last month, I also had the privilege to congratulate and recognize on the House floor many of our Midland area schools for their sports accomplishments — AC Flora High School – Class 3A State Champions in both Baseball and Golf; Cardinal Newman High School – SCISA State Champions in Soccer; and Hammond – SCISA State Champions in Baseball. Congratulations also go to Shannon Hall and Jordanne Harpster, two Spring Valley High School graduates who are this year’s recipients of the ‘Beth Bernstein Leadership Scholarship’ award.
Here are all of the highlights for the 2013 legislative session.
I hope you have a safe and happy 4th of July as we remember the freedoms provided to us by our forefathers and the brave individuals, past and present, who have worked so hard to preserve them.
Thank you for the opportunity and privilege to serve our community and state.
By approving H.3710, the House of Representatives sent the Senate its Fiscal Year 2013-2014 State Government budget totaling $22.7 billion, which includes $6.3 billion in recurring state general funds and $113 million in capital reserve funds.
We have more money for roads. This is the most significant step the State has taken toward fixing our ailing road system: $50 million to borrow up to $500 million for state’s interstates and bridges; $41 million collected from half of the state sales tax on motor vehicles for state secondary roads, and $50 million in one-time surplus money for bridge replacement and rehabilitation.
No Medicaid expansion. Taking $800 million in federal money to expand the program would have provided 320,000 people with health insurance.
$26 million to expand the state’s 4-year-old kindergarten program for children living in poverty to 17 additional school districts. The program now runs in 36 poor, rural school districts.
Funding for public charter schools is increased by $12.1 million.
The state’s colleges and universities receive nearly $12 million in General Fund increases and $10 million in one-time funding.
Increased costs for operating the state’s health insurance plan are addressed through a 6.8% increase in employer premiums and no increase in the premiums paid by employees, but an increase in co-payments and deductibles of up to 20%. The State Budget and Control Board is prohibited from making unauthorized adjustments to State Health Plan premiums.
$5 million is provided to the Election Commission for a new statewide voting system.
$23.5 million for school buses, which includes $17 million from unclaimed lottery money and other revenue that may or may not materialize.
The House approved H.3236, the “CERVICAL CANCER PREVENTION ACT”, and sent the bill to the Senate. Beginning with the 2013-2014 school year, the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) may offer the cervical cancer vaccination series for adolescent students enrolling in the seventh grade in any school, public or private, in this state. No student is required to have the cervical cancer vaccination series before enrolling in or attending school.
The House of Representatives returned S.22, the “SOUTH CAROLINA RESTRUCTURING ACT OF 2013”, to the Senate with amendments. The bill provides for comprehensive changes to the organization and oversight of state government. The legislation abolishes the State Budget and Control Board and transfers the majority of the board’s functions, including facilities management, property services, fleet management, procurement, and human resources responsibilities, to a new Department of Administration that is established in the executive branch and headed by a director who is appointed by the Governor upon the advice and consent of the Senate.
The House of Representatives approved S.578, a bill authorizing the state to issue up to $120 million in economic development bonds for the expansion of The Boeing Company, bringing an additional investment of at least $400 million and at least four hundred new jobs, and for an enhanced economic development project with an investment of at least $1.1 billion and creating at least two thousand new jobs. Site preparation and infrastructure improvements funded through such economic development bonds would facilitate the Boeing Company’s proposal to expand its aircraft manufacturing operations in North Charleston and establish operations that support its manufacturing in South Carolina, such as research and development functions.
The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3945, comprehensive ETHICS REFORM legislation. The legislation replaces the current system where the House and Senate have exclusive authority over disciplining their own members and, instead, referring such matters to a new bipartisan Joint Ethics Committee, composed of not only of Senators and House Members but also non-legislators selected from the general public.
The bill creates a Public Integrity Unit to maximize existing resources, expertise, and available information to coordinate investigations of alleged government corruption, unethical conduct, and violations of the public trust.
The legislation eliminates the “blackout period,” so that during the 20 day period prior to an election, a candidate, committee or ballot committee must electronically report a information about a contribution of more than $250. This electronic report must be made within forty-eight hours after receipt. The legislation also discontinues the use of leadership PACs by prohibiting contributions from such political action committees.
The bill stalled in the Senate, and will be taken up for continued debate in January.
The House of Representatives approved S.239 and enrolled the joint resolution for ratification. Currently, only the state is allowed to operate a lottery under the terms of South Carolina’s Constitution, and raffles are considered a lottery. This joint resolution proposes to amend the State Constitution so as to provide that a raffle is not a prohibited lottery if provided for by general law and conducted by a nonprofit organization for charitable, religious, fraternal, educational, or other eleemosynary purposes.
Handgun-Background Check for Mental Health Issues
With bi-partisan support, South Carolina joins most other states in allowing judges to add the name of a mentally unstable person to the federal background check registry for gun purchases.
Shortening the Legislative Session
For the 10th time since 1994, the House approved this Constitutional Amendment to shorten the session. It awaits Senate action.
If you have a comment or opinion concerning the matters discussed in this report, or if I may be of assistance to you at any time, please feel free to call my legislative office at 803-212-6940; my law office at 803-799-7900; or write me at 1019 Assembly Street, Columbia, SC 29201. If you would like additional information on any of this legislation, feel free to visit the House website at www.scstatehouse.gov.