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End of Legislative Session Update

June 7, 2016

 

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

 

We just wrapped up the Legislative session for the year and reconvened yesterday for one last time to resolve various budget vetoes and to vote on bills in conference committees.  Ultimately, we were able to pass several key bills this year.

 

The Senate and House passed the Road Funding and DOT Restructuring bill which the Governor signed into law last week.  This legislation allows for an estimated total of up to $4.5 billion to be devoted to our state’s roads over the next ten years.   While it is not a long-term or complete solution for addressing our infrastructure needs, it is a good first step.

 

I was fortunate to have been appointed by Speaker Lucas as one of only three members of the House to serve on the income disclosure conference committee, one of the two conference committees on ethics.  Last night, after 4 years of hard work and discussion, the Senate and House passed both income disclosure and independent investigation bills.  This is a tremendous victory in making our state government more transparent and accountable and will help restore our trust and confidence in those in elected office.

 

Please see below for more information on these bills and the other legislation we debated over the last couple of weeks.

 

As always, I am interested in hearing your thoughts and concerns on the issues.

I am so grateful you’ve elected me to serve you and our community at the State House.

 

Best,

 

 

 

 

 

 

Legislative Updates

 

Week of May 24th, 2016

 

The House adopted the free conference report on H.3114, the “SOUTH CAROLINA PAIN-CAPABLE UNBORN CHILD PROTECTION ACT”, and, the Senate having already adopted the free conference report, the bill was enrolled for ratification. The legislation establishes a prohibition on the performance of abortions beginning at twenty weeks following fertilization. Exceptions are provided to permit these late term abortions in order to prevent the death or serious physical impairment of the mother as well as in instances where a fetal anomaly is present that is likely to prevent a child’s life from being sustained after birth. The bill includes legislative findings regarding substantial medical evidence indicating that an unborn child has developed sufficiently to be capable of experiencing pain by twenty weeks after fertilization and the state’s interest in protecting the lives of unborn children beginning at the stage at which substantial medical evidence indicates that they are capable of feeling pain. This legislation provides that, except in the case of a medical emergency or fetal anomaly, no abortion must be performed, induced, or attempted unless a physician has first made a determination of the probable post-fertilization age of the unborn child or relied upon such a determination made by another physician. The legislation prohibits abortions from being performed, induced, or attempted when the determination has been made that the probable post-fertilization age is twenty or more weeks except for when there is a profound and irremediable congenital or chromosomal fetal anomaly or when the mother has a condition that so complicates her medical condition as to necessitate the abortion to avert her death or to avert serious risk of substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, not including psychological or emotional conditions. When an abortion must be performed where the probable age of the fetus is twenty or more weeks, the legislation requires the physician to proceed in a manner which provides the best opportunity for the unborn child to survive, unless terminating the pregnancy in this manner would pose a greater risk of either death or substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function, not including psychological or emotional conditions, of the woman than would other available methods.

 

Any physician who intentionally or knowingly fails to conform to these requirements is guilty of a misdemeanor subject to a fine of not less than two thousand dollars nor more than ten thousand dollars and/or imprisonment for not more than three years. No part of the minimum fine may be suspended. For conviction of a third or subsequent offense, the sentence must be imprisonment for not less than sixty days nor more than three years, no part of which may be suspended. Reporting requirements are established for medical facilities that perform abortions at twenty or more weeks under the legislation’s medical emergency and fetal anomaly exceptions that require the facilities to report certain information about these abortions, such as the post-fertilization age, method of abortion, and the age of the patient, to the state registrar, Department of Health and Environmental Control. DHEC is charged with producing an annual public report on the statistics compiled. These required reports are subject to confidentiality provisions and restrictions on the use of information identifying individual patients. Late fees and other penalties are included for facilities that fail to submit reports within required timeframes. The intentional or reckless falsification of a required report is a misdemeanor punishable with imprisonment for up to one year.

 

The House amended Senate amendments to H.3184, a bill establishing enhancements to ethics laws by providing for MORE INDEPENDENT MEANS OF INVESTIGATING ALLEGED MISCONDUCT OF PUBLIC OFFICIALS in the legislative and executive branches of government, and returned the bill to the Senate. The legislation discontinues current practices of the legislative and executive branches of state government each exclusively investigating the alleged ethics violations of their own members, and instead provides for allegations of public misconduct to be investigated by a reconstituted State Ethics Commission made up of members selected by both of these branches of government.

 

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.4936, a bill designating EDUCATIONAL GOALS FOR ALL SOUTH CAROLINA HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES and the standards and areas of learning by which these goals are measured. The state shall make a reasonable and concerted effort to ensure that graduates have world class knowledge based on rigorous standards in language arts and math for college and career readiness. Students should have the opportunity to learn one of a number of foreign languages, and have offerings in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, arts, and social sciences that afford them the knowledge needed to be successful.

 

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3848, the “SOUTH CAROLINA FOUNDING PRINCIPLES ACT”, and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation requires the State Board of Education and Education Oversight Committee to incorporate instruction on the founding principles that shaped the United States into the required study of the United States Constitution and the South Carolina Social Studies Standards upon the next cyclical review.

 

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.4510, a bill establishing LIMITATIONS ON THE NUMBER OF FOSTER CHILDREN WHO MAY BE PLACED IN A FOSTER HOME, and enrolled the legislation for ratification. The legislation allows a foster home to provide full-time care for up to eight children, with up to five of them being foster children.

 

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3685 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation makes provisions for the ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION OF TRAFFIC TICKETS to bring South Carolina into compliance with federal electronic ticketing provisions.

 

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3133, a bill that establishes a protocol allowing SOMEONE WHO HAS BEEN PLACED IN THE JUVENILE SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY TO PETITION THE FAMILY COURT TO REMOVE THE PERSON’S REQUIREMENT TO REGISTER AS A SEX OFFENDER once the individual has reached twenty-one years of age and has been released from the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice, South Carolina Department of Corrections, or South Carolina Probation, Parole, and Pardon Services.

 

Week of May 31st, 2016

 

The House of Representatives concurred in Senate amendments to S.1258, legislation addressing ROAD FUNDING AND DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION RESTRUCTURING, and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation allows for an estimated total of up to $4.5 billion to be devoted to the state’s roads over the next ten years.  This includes: $950 million to repair or replace all structurally-deficient bridges on Interstate and national highways; $2 billion in widenings and improvements to existing Interstates; and, over $1.4 billion in pavement resurfacing.  The legislation transfers motor vehicle sales tax revenue and the revenue from various Department of Motor Vehicles fines and fees to the Department of Transportation’s State Highway Fund.  Transferred funds may be used for the issuance of bonds through the South Carolina Transportation Infrastructure Bank.  The Infrastructure Bank projects that are financed utilizing these transferred funds do not require a local match.  The legislation’s revenue revisions also allow for existing Department of Transportation funds to be redirected.  Under the legislation, the Department of Transportation is charged with developing and implementing a needs-based weighting methodology to allocate funding within the state funded road resurfacing program, which must include consideration on a county-by-county basis, to ensure that each county in the state is guaranteed funding.

 

The House approved S.484, a bill providing for K-12 PUBLIC SCHOOL MEAL COMPLIANCE WITH FEDERAL NUTRITION REQUIREMENTS, and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation makes provisions for all school food service meals and competitive foods provided in kindergarten through twelfth grade during the academic school year to meet or exceed the nutritional requirements established by the United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service.  School fundraisers are exempted from the requirements.

 

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.5021, the“ADULT STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES EDUCATIONAL RIGHTS CONSENT ACT”, and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation establishes procedures and policies through which adult students who are eligible for special education under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act may delegate authority over their educational program to agents or representatives.  Under this bill, an adult student who is eligible for special education under IDEA and who is not determined to be incapacitated in probate court can delegate his or her right to make educational decisions to an agent or representative on a form prescribed by the Department of Education.  An adult student under IDEA who has not been determined to be incapacitated, but may be identified (by certain medical professionals) as unable to provide informed consent may have an educational representative designated.

 

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.4521, the“TUCKER HIPPS TRANSPARENCY ACT”, legislation named in memory of the Clemson University student who died during a fraternity activity on September 22, 2014, and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation requires the state’s public institutions of higher education, excluding technical colleges, to maintain a report detailing student misconduct investigations related to fraternity and sorority organizations formally affiliated with the institution.

 

The House concurred in Senate amendments to S.1166, a joint resolution ADDRESSING DEBT AND ACADEMIC ACCREDITATION ISSUES AT SOUTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY, and enrolled the legislation for ratification.  The legislation makes provisions for the forgiveness of $12 million in state loans disbursed to South Carolina State University over the course of three years if the university meets specified benchmarks such as maintaining academic accreditation, achieving progress towards a balanced budget and positive net financial position, and meeting student enrollment growth goals.  A revised repayment schedule is provided for the $6 million state loan to SC State that was approved by the Budget and Control Board.  The authority for instituting cost-saving mandatory employee furlough programs at the university is extended through Fiscal Year 2021‑2022.

 

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.4387, a bill PROHIBITING LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES FROM REQUIRING OFFICERS TO MEET A QUOTA FOR THE NUMBER OF CITATIONS ISSUED, and enrolled the legislation for ratification.  The legislation provides that law enforcement agencies, departments, or divisions, including municipal police departments, sheriff departments, the Highway Patrol, SLED, and other agencies that enforce state and local laws, may not require their law enforcement officers to issue a specific amount or meet a quota for the number of citations issued during a designated period of time.   Law enforcement officers’ job performance reviews may be based on their points of contact that involve their interaction with citizens and businesses and participation in community‑oriented initiatives.  An employee of a law enforcement agency, department, or division who files a report with an appropriate authority alleging a violation of these provisions is protected by the state’s “Whistle Blower Act”.

 

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3147 and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation provides for aSOUTH CAROLINA INDIVIDUAL INCOME TAX DEDUCTION FOR MILITARY RETIREMENT BENEFITS in an amount of up to
thirty thousand dollars each year for those who are at least sixty‑five years old and up to seventeen thousand five hundred dollars each year for younger taxpayers.

 

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.5193, a bill ENHANCING THE “SOUTH CAROLINA OVERDOSE PREVENTION ACT” by making provisions for more expansive dispensation of opioid antidotes to individuals who may be at risk of an opioid drug overdose, and enrolled the bill for ratification.

 

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.4773 and enrolled the bill for ratification.  Designated as “MARGY’S LAW”, the legislation expands South Carolina’s Emergency Medical Services Do Not Resuscitate Order Act by including provisions for a DO NOT RESUSCITATE BRACELET that may be worn by someone with a terminal condition to signify to health care providers and EMS personnel that they are to withhold resuscitative treatment in keeping with a “do not resuscitate” order.

 

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3440, a bill making comprehensive statutory revisions regarding MOPEDS, and enrolled the legislation for ratification.  The legislation establishes new requirements for registering and licensing mopeds with the Department of Motor Vehicles.  New safety requirements are established for mopeds including requirements for moped operators and passengers to wear reflective vests at night.  The legislation provides that it is unlawful for a person to operate a moped on the public roads in this state that have a speed limit of greater than fifty‑five miles per hour.  A moped, while traveling along a multi‑lane highway, must be operated in the farthest right lane except when making a left turn.  No person may operate a moped at a speed in excess of thirty‑five miles an hour.  As with motorcycles, a person under the age of twenty‑one may not operate or ride upon a moped unless he wears a protective helmet.  Mopeds are exempted from ignition interlock device requirements of DUI provisions.

 

The House approved S.932, a bill providing a DEADLINE EXTENSION FOR RECEIVING CERTAIN ARMED FORCES PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENT RATIOS, and enrolled the legislation for ratification.  This bill revises provisions relating to property tax assessment ratios, so as to revise an application deadline for certain property owned by certain members of the armed forces.

 

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3999, a bill REVISING PROVISIONS FOR THOSE WHO MAY MAKE HEALTH CARE DECISIONS FOR PATIENTS WHO ARE UNABLE TO PROVIDE CONSENT.  The legislation revises the prioritized list of those who are authorized to make health care decisions for patients who are unable to provide consent so as to give higher priority to adult children over parents, give higher priority to adult siblings over grandparents and adult grandchildren, and specify that a majority of relatives makes the decision when there are multiple relatives of equal priority.  Documentation of efforts to locate a decision maker on the prioritized list must be recorded in the patient’s medical record.

 

The House concurred in Senate amendments to S.778, the“SOUTH CAROLINA UNIFORM POWER OF ATTORNEY ACT”, and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation sets out the duties and requirements for valid durable powers of attorney in South Carolina and establishes uniform definitions and procedures for signing these documents.

 

The House approved S.908, the “SOUTH CAROLINA UNIFORM FIDUCIARY ACCESS TO DIGITAL ASSETS ACT”, and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation establishes procedures for how someone who is authorized to handle the affairs of a deceased or incapacitated individual obtains access to the individual’s digital assets, such as e-mails and electronic records stored in online accounts.

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