Dear Friends and Neighbors:
Here is my Legislative Update for May. This month, the House overwhelmingly passed an Ethics Bill 110-0, and I was proud to be a co-sponsor of an amendment removing legislators from serving on the Commission. A major solar bill also passed 105-0. I was glad to be a part of a bi-partisan effort in passing a bill providing for the State Election Commission oversight of County Boards of Voter Registration and Election, the biggest election reform measure passed in the last decade!
Last week, Representatives James Smith, Mia McLeod, and I filed a Resolution of ‘No Confidence’ against DSS Director Lillian Koller asking Governor Haley to fire Ms. Koller. This isn’t about politics. This is about innocent children dying under Ms. Koller and the Governor’s leadership.
On May 20, I held my re-election campaign kickoff party! Thank you to all of the hosts and to my friends and supporters who attended. We had a great crowd and very enthusiastic support!
As always, I am interested in hearing your thoughts and concerns on the issues.
Thank you for electing me to serve you and our community at the State House.
HOUSE WEEK IN REVIEW
May 5, 2014
The House of Representatives adopted the conference committee report on H.4482, a bill DESIGNATING THE COLUMBIAN MAMMOTH AS THE OFFICIAL STATE FOSSIL of South Carolina.
The House approved S.908 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation provides for REVISIONS RELATING TO THE REGULATION OF HEALTH INSURERS that are needed for the state’s Department of Insurance to maintain accreditation with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. The legislation revises insurance law provisions that relate to risk-based capital requirements for health insurers and the protocol for regulatory intervention to prevent a health organization from approaching financial insolvency.
The House gave second reading approval to S.900, a joint resolution creating a temporary legislative “STUDY COMMITTEE ON EXPUNGEMENT OF CRIMINAL OFFENSES” to review the state’s criminal laws for the purpose of determining criminal offenses which may be appropriate for expungement after a certain time period and under certain circumstances and to make recommendations to the General Assembly. The study committee’s report is due by October 13, 2014, at which time the committee is set to dissolve.
HOUSE WEEK IN REVIEW
May 12, 2014
The House of Representatives approved S.764 and enrolled the bill for ratification. This legislation CREATES THE VULNERABLE ADULT GUARDIAN AD LITEM PROGRAM IN THE OFFICE ON AGING within the Lieutenant Governor’s Office to serve as a statewide system to recruit, train, and supervise volunteers to serve as court appointed guardians ad litem for vulnerable adults in abuse, neglect, and exploitation proceedings within family court. A guardian ad litem is charged in general with representing the vulnerable adult’s best interests.
The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3098, relating to LONG-TERM CARE FACILITY RESIDENTS, and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation provides that if the residential care resident or the resident’s representative chooses to voluntarily relocate from the resident’s current facility, the resident or the resident’s representative must give written notice of intent to relocate not less than fourteen days before the resident’s relocation becomes effective.
HOUSE WEEK IN REVIEW
May 19, 2014
The House of Representatives amended H.3945, legislation ENHANCING ETHICS ACT REQUIREMENTS, and returned the bill to the Senate. The legislation expands financial disclosure requirements for public officials, candidates, and others who are required to file statements of economic interest, including new requirements for disclosing sources of private funds. The legislation prohibits the use of leadership political action committees which have not been subject to the limitations imposed on contributions made to individual candidates.
The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3893, relating to the ADOPTION OF STATEWIDE EDUCATION STANDARDS AND ASSESSMENTS for use in the state’s K-12 public schools, and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation addresses issues relating to national Common Core academic standards that have become aligned with federal programs and waivers offered through the U.S. Department of Education.
The House concurred in Senate amendments to S.1035, legislation addressing ACCESS TO CANNABIDIOL, A SUBSTANCE DERIVED FROM MARIJUANA, FOR TREATMENT OF SEVERE FORMS OF EPILEPSY, and enrolled the bill for ratification.
The House returned S.815, a bill providing for STATE ELECTION COMMISSION OVERSIGHT OF COUNTY BOARDS OF VOTER REGISTRATION AND ELECTIONS, to the Senate with amendments. The legislation charges the executive director State Election Commission with supervising the conduct of county boards of voter registration and elections and ensuring that those boards and all who are involved in the elections process comply with state voting law requirements and applicable federal law.
The House approved S.779, legislation which provides that CERTAIN SOCIAL CARD AND DICE GAMES ARE NOT UNLAWFUL, and enrolled the bill for ratification. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, this legislation provides that it is not unlawful for persons who are members of a club or other social organization to gather for the purpose of engaging in games of tiles, cards, or dice, including, but not limited to, canasta, mahjong, and bridge, where the games are played among members in a private residence, home, or community clubhouse or similar structure.
The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.4871, a bill CLARIFYING THAT CHARTER SCHOOL PROPERTY IS EXEMPT FROM STATE AND LOCAL TAXATION REGARDLESS OF WHETHER IT IS LEASED OR OWNED to ensure that charter schools are afforded the same tax exemptions as other public schools, and enrolled the legislation for ratification.
The House approved S.1036, the “DENTAL SEDATION ACT”, and enrolled the bill for ratification. This legislation establishesrequirements, based on the American Dental Association guidelines, for a dentist to receive a permit from the Board of Dentistry to use sedation in a dental practice.
The House approved S.1076, legislation which pertains to RETIRED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS, and enrolled the bill for ratification. This legislation relates to identification cards issued to and qualification of retired law enforcement officers to carry firearms.
The House returned S.549, which establishes a PROHIBITION ON TEXTING WHILE DRIVING, to the Senate with amendments. The legislation provides that it is unlawful for a person to use a wireless electronic communication device to compose, send, or read a text-based communication while operating a motor vehicle on the public streets and highways of this state.
HOUSE WEEK IN REVIEW
May 26, 2014
The House and Senate adopted the free conference report on H.3512, a bill making REVISIONS RELATING TO ALCOHOL SALES, and enrolled the legislation for ratification. The legislation revises provisions relating to BREWERIES as a means of fostering the craft brewing industry in the state. The legislation includes authorization for breweries to operate on-site dining facilities where their beer can be served and allows breweries to apply for retail on-premises consumption permits for the sale of beer and wine produced by others. The legislation provides that RETAIL LIQUOR SALES ARE ALLOWED ON STATEWIDE ELECTION DAYS BUT ARE PROHIBITED ON CHRISTMAS DAY. The legislation makes REVISIONS TO THE ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGE CONTROL ACT including authorization for a retail dealer to offer discounts through the use of premiums, coupons, or stamps at the register rather than having such discounts redeemed by mail. The legislation provides additional limitations and penalties targeting prohibited retail dealer to retail dealer sales, exchanges, or other transactions that bypass wholesalers.
The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3541, a PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT FOR THE ADJUTANT GENERAL TO BE APPOINTED BY THE GOVERNOR rather than elected, and enrolled the legislation for ratification.
The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.4408 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation revises the membership of the STATE CHILD FATALITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE, which reviews investigations of suspicious child fatalities and performs reporting and public education functions relating to the preventable death of children. The legislation expands the membership of the advisory committee by adding one senator appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, one representative appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Chief Executive Officer of the Children’s Trust of South Carolina.
The House approved S.1219 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation provides AUTHORIZATION FOR SCHOOL DISTRICTS TO UNIFORMLY NEGOTIATE SALARIES BELOW THEIR SALARY SCHEDULES FOR RETIRED TEACHERS returning to employment who are not participants in the Teacher and Employee Retention Incentive (TERI) Program. This authorization extends through the 2019-2020 school year.
The House returned on S.825 to the Senate with amendments. The legislation provides for a MILITARY HOUSING FACILITIES TAX EXEMPTION by exempting from ad valorem taxation any real property located within a military base or installation that is used or owned by the United States Armed Forces and is used as military housing for military affiliated personnel and their families even if the real property is improved, maintained, or leased to a party that would otherwise subject the real property to the tax, so long as there is a contractual agreement requiring the lessee to use the property for military housing. The legislation includes provisions specifically AUTHORIZING HIRING PREFERENCES FOR VETERANS. The legislation provides that it is not an unlawful employment practice for a private employer to give preference in hiring to a veteran. This preference is also extended to the veteran’s spouse if the veteran has a service-connected permanent and total disability.
The legislation enacts the “MILITARY FAMILY QUALITY OF LIFE ENHANCEMENT ACT OF 2014” to establish several initiatives that are geared towards benefiting military service members and their families, encompassing: more expansive provisions for military members and their families to vote by absentee ballot in all elections; a comprehensive annual report on the K-12 educational performance of military-connected children; the elimination of the twelve-month domicile requirement that is currently required for veterans and their dependents to be eligible to receive in-state tuition rates at the state’s colleges and universities; Medicaid waiver status protections for reassigned military families; the creation of a Military-Connected Children’s Welfare Task Force; and authorization for circuit solicitors to establish a veterans treatment court program to address the criminal justice system’s encounters with veterans who have returned from their military service having sustained traumatic brain injuries or suffering from service-related mental health impairments, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety or acute stress.
The House returned S.999 to the Senate with amendments. The legislation allows for a ninety day EXTENSION ON THE EXPIRATION OF DRIVER’S LICENSE FOR A MEMBER OF THE U.S. ARMED FORCES WHO IS DEPLOYED OR REASSIGNED OUTSIDE THE STATE.
The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4520, “UNCLE PRESTON’S LAW”, which revises property tax provisions as a means of accommodating seniors and disabled individuals to remain in home settings rather than moving to nursing homes or other assisted living facilities.