Dear Friends and Neighbors,
We ended our first year of our two year legislative term last week. We will return next week to discuss a few matters including the Budget. I will outline these in my End of Session Legislative Update next month. In the meantime, I've listed below the bills that have passed the House since my last update.
As your Representative at the State House, I think it is important that you know more about specific issues that I have worked diligently on, passed both the House and Senate, and will become effective upon the Governor's signature:
The "Teen Vaping Prevention Act," which amends the Youth Access to Tobacco Prevention Act of 2006, makes it more difficult for teens under the age of 18 to gain access to vaping products. Adolescents’ use of these products have reached epidemic levels as per the US Surgeon General, and we are hopeful that this legislation will help curb their use of these addictive and dangerous products. Governor McMaster signed the bill on April 26, 2019.
The "Samantha Josephson Ridesharing Safety Act" was amended in its entirety to adopt legislation that I have authored, which would make it a criminal offense to impersonate a ridesharing driver. This will give law enforcement the tools they need to take these sick predators off the streets especially in light of the terrible incident in Five Points just a few months ago with the tragic death of USC student, Samantha Josephson.
As always, I am interested in hearing your thoughts and concerns on the issues.
I am grateful for the opportunity to serve you and our community at the State House.
WEEK OF MARCH 18, 2019
The House of Representatives concurred in Senate amendments to H.3449 and enrolled the legislation for ratification. The bill enacts the “SOUTH CAROLINA HEMP FARMING ACT” to promote the cultivation and processing of hemp, expand the state’s hemp industry, open new commercial markets for farmers and businesses through the sale of hemp products, and encourage research into hemp growth and hemp products at state institutions of higher education and in the private sector.
The House amended and gave second reading approval to H.3145, a bill addressing ELECTRIC COOPERATIVES OVERSIGHT AND TRANSPARENCY. The legislation vests the Office of Regulatory Staff with authority and jurisdiction to make inspections, audits and examinations of electric cooperatives.
The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3821, a bill revising the medical acts that ADVANCE PRACTICE REGISTERED NURSES are authorized to perform. The legislation allows an APRN to execute a do not resuscitate order. Act”.
The House committed H.3355, a bill addressing DRIVING WHILE USING AN ELECTRONIC DEVICE, to the Judiciary Committee.
WEEK OF MARCH 25, 2019
The House of Representatives approved and sent the Senate H.4243, a bill addressing PROFESSIONAL SPORTS TEAM INVESTMENTS. The legislation revises job tax credit provisions to allow a professional sports team to be eligible for the tax credits for jobs created.
The House amended and gave second reading approval to H.4260, the “SOUTH CAROLINA RATEPAYER PROTECTION ACT OF 2019”. The legislation draws upon the work of the special House Utility Ratepayer Protection Committee which was appointed by the Speaker of the House following the announcement from Santee Cooper and SCANA’s South Carolina Electric and Gas that construction on the V.C. Summer nuclear reactors in Fairfield County was being abandoned after billions of dollars in fees had been collected from South Carolina’s ratepayers under the Base Load Review Act to support the failed nuclear power project.
The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3602, a bill expanding THOSE WHO ARE AUTHORIZED TO MAKE HEALTH CARE DECISIONS FOR PATIENTS WHO CANNOT PROVIDE CONSENT. The legislation adds a category of individuals who can make healthcare decisions for patients who are unable to consent so that the statutory list includes someone who has established special care and concern for a patient and who is not a paid caregiver or other type of paid healthcare provider.
WEEK OF APRIL 1, 2019
The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate on H.4287, legislation establishing a protocol for EVALUATING PROPOSALS FOR THE SALE OF SANTEE COOPER OR OTHER ARRANGEMENTSin order to protect the individual and corporate ratepayers of Santee Cooper and the electric cooperatives of this state who receive electric power from this state-owned electric utility from rising electric power rates due to grossly excessive debt and costs incurred in the construction of the two abandoned nuclear reactors at Jenkinsville, South Carolina.
The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4261, a bill providing REFORM FOR SOUTH CAROLINA’S PUBLIC SERVICE AUTHORITY which governs the operations of the state-owned electric utility Santee Cooper.
The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3438, a bill making provisions for the DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS within the executive branch of government, and enrolled the legislation for ratification.
The House approved S.214, a bill addressing SALES AND USE TAX LIABILITY in light of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling regarding state tax collections on Internet retail sales, and enrolled the legislation for ratification. The legislation reaffirms state tax policy regarding market facilitators and other matters and makes explicit provisions that Internet marketplaces where a person sells tangible personal property at retail by listing or advertising, or allowing the listing or advertising of, another person’s products on an online marketplace and collects or processes the payment from the customer are retailers required to remit the sales and use tax on such retail sales under the provisions of South Carolina sales and use tax law.
The House approved and sent the Senate to H.3807, the “TEEN SKIN CANCER PREVENTION ACT”. The legislation provides that an individual must be at least eighteen years old in order to use tanning beds and other equipment that induces tanning through ultraviolet radiation in a tanning facility.
The House approved and sent the Senate H.3936, a bill revising eligibility requirements of the merit-based Palmetto Fellows Scholarship by ALLOWING A PALMETTO FELLOWS SCHOLARSHIP TO BE USED AT TWO-YEAR INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING AND TECHNICAL SCHOOLS in addition to four-year colleges and universities.
The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3620, legislation addressing RETIREES RETURNING TO COVERED EMPLOYMENT UNDER STATE PENSIONS. This bill revises provisions governing retirement benefits after returning to covered employment under the South Carolina Retirement System and the Police Officers Retirement System, respectively, so as to establish a protocol that allows retirees to return to covered employment without being subject to the ten thousand dollar earnings limitation.
WEEK OF APRIL 8, 2019
The House of Representatives approved and sent the Senate H.4380, the “SAMANTHA L. JOSEPHSON RIDESHARING SAFETY ACT”. The legislation revises South Carolina’s Transportation Network Company Act, which governs the operations of digital ride hailing companies, to provide new requirements that allow Transportation Network Company vehicles to be more readily distinguished from other vehicles.
The House amended Senate amendments to H.3420, legislation PREVENTING YOUTH ACCESS TO VAPING, CIGARETTES, AND OTHER TOBACCO AND NICOTINE PRODUCTS. The Senate subsequently concurred in those amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation updates the "Youth Access to Tobacco Prevention Act of 2006" to prohibit minors under the age of eighteen from entering retail establishments that primarily sell tobacco products, alternative nicotine products, or both, unless the minor is actively supervised and accompanied by an adult. The legislation provides for a more expansive definition of "alternative nicotine product” that specifically includes vaping. The legislation revises the restrictions governing Internet commerce and other remote sales to provide for the use of a method of mailing, shipping, or delivery that requires the signature of a person at least eighteen years of age before a tobacco product or alternative nicotine product will be released to the purchaser, unless the remote seller employs certain alternative protections to ensure age verification. The legislation requires every local school district in the state to adopt, implement, and enforce a written policy prohibiting at all times the use of any tobacco product or alternative nicotine product by any person in school buildings, in school facilities, on school campuses, and in or on any other school property owned or operated by the local school administrative unit. The policy also must prohibit the use of any tobacco product or alternative nicotine product by anyone attending an off-site school‑sponsored event when in the presence of students or school personnel.
The House approved S.205 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation provides an additional duty for the Department of Aging’s ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE AND RELATED DISORDERS RESOURCE COORDINATION CENTER by charging the center with facilitating the coordination and integration of educational initiatives for health care providers on the importance and value of early detection and timely diagnosis of cognitive impairment, validated cognitive assessment tools, and increasing understanding and awareness of early warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia and how to reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3577, a bill providing authority for ALTERNATIVE PROGRAMS FOR EDUCATOR PREPARATION AND CERTIFICATION as a means of addressing current teacher shortages. The legislation establishes a protocol allowing for the approval of alternative route providers and programs for educator preparation and certification. The legislation establishes criteria that apply to alternative programs housed within an institution of higher education. The State Department of Education is required to provide an annual report on the total number of individuals employed in this state, by district, with certificates issued by institution of higher education alternative programs to the State Board of Education and the General Assembly. The State Board of Education, through the State Department of Education, is charged with developing and implementing a seven-year cyclical evaluation process for all alternative route educator preparation providers and programs.
The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3231, a bill addressing GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE. The legislation revises the ground for divorce of physical cruelty to provide that this ground shall be construed to include willful or other abhorrent conduct or treatment which destroys or tends to destroy the mental and physical wellbeing, happiness, and welfare of the other and renders continued cohabitation unsafe or intolerable.
WEEK OF APRIL 15, 2019 - FURLOUGH WEEK
WEEK OF APRIL 22, 2019
The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3020, the “SOUTH CAROLINA FETAL HEARTBEAT PROTECTION FROM ABORTION ACT”. The legislation establishes a prohibition on the performance of an abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. Felony criminal penalties are established for performing or inducing an abortion in violation of the legislation which carry a fine of ten thousand dollars and/or imprisonment for up to two years. The legislation includes a medical emergency exception that allows a physician to perform an abortion in order to save the life of the pregnant woman or prevent her from suffering substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function. Exceptions are also included to address instances where the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. When any of these exceptions are applied, a physician is required to make written notations in the pregnant woman’s medical records that must be maintained for at least seven years. The legislation establishes a protocol that requires abortion providers to make certain disclosures to pregnant women, perform obstetric ultrasounds and determine whether embryonic or fetal heartbeats are present, and make these available for pregnant women to see and hear. A civil cause of action is also established that allows a woman to recover damages, court costs, and reasonable attorney’s fees should an abortion be performed that violates the legislation’s requirements.
WEEK OF APRIL 29, 2019
The House of Representatives amended and gave second reading approval to H.3757, a bill establishing the WORKFORCE AND EDUCATION DATA OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE to support the mission of the Coordinating Council for Workforce Development by collecting data from various state government agencies and institutions and analyzing the compiled data to improve the effectiveness of the state’s educational delivery system in providing economic opportunities.
The House returned S.455, the “ARMED SERVICE MEMBERS AND SPOUSES PROFESSIONAL AND OCCUPATIONAL LICENSING ACT”, to the Senate with amendments. The legislation establishes a protocol that allows the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation to expedite the issuance of professional and occupational licenses to spouses of military personnel transferred to South Carolina when the spouse holds a professional or occupational license issued by another state that has similar requirements.
The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3915, legislation clarifying the ROLE OF DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES LEGAL REPRESENTATIVES. The legislation revises provisions relating to DSS legal representation to provide that Department of Social Services legal representatives must ensure that the child’s welfare and safety are the predominant basis of all department recommendations and decisions pertaining to abuse and neglect proceedings
WEEK OF MAY 6, 2019
The House approved S.401, a bill addressing TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENT PROJECT COSTS, and enrolled the legislation for ratification. This bill relates to construction in the state highway system and provides that an entity undertaking a transportation improvement project shall bear the costs related to relocating water and sewer lines within the Department of Transportation’s right‑of‑way.
WEEK OF MAY 13, 2019 - LAST WEEK OF SESSION - BILLS RATIFIED
The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3659 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The bill is legislation furthering voluntary programs that make use of RENEWABLE ENERGY generation resources, such as solar power, and establishing ELECTRICAL POWER CUSTOMER CONSUMER PROTECTIONS in order to: shield customers from rising utility costs; provide opportunities for customer measures to reduce or manage consumption from electrical utilities in a manner that contributes to reductions in utility peak electrical demand and other drivers of electrical utility costs; and, equip customers with the information and ability to manage their electric bills.
The House returned H.3145, a bill addressing ELECTRIC COOPERATIVES OVERSIGHT AND TRANSPARENCY, to the Senate with amendments. The Senate subsequently concurred in those amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification.
The House returned H.4380, a bill establishing RIDER SAFETY PROVISIONS FOR TRANSPORTATION NETWORK COMPANIES, to the Senate with amendments. The Senate subsequently concurred in those amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation revises South Carolina’s Transportation Network Company Act, which governs the operations of digital ride hailing companies, to establish a new provision that allows Transportation Network Company vehicles to be more readily distinguished from other vehicles by requiring a TNC vehicle to display its license plate number on the front of the vehicle when picking up a passenger. A misdemeanor criminal penalty is established for those who misrepresent themselves as authorized TNC drivers, which is subject to a fine of up to five hundred dollars and/or imprisonment for not more than thirty days. A misdemeanor criminal penalty is also established to address the use of a Transportation Network Company to further criminal activity, which is subject to a fine of up to one thousand dollars and/or imprisonment for not more than two years.
The House approved S.196, a bill REPEALING THE PREGNANCY EXCEPTION THAT ALLOWS THE ISSUANCE OF MARRIAGE LICENSES TO MINORS, and enrolled the legislation for ratification. The legislation eliminates a provision that allows the issuance of marriage licenses to those who are under eighteen years of age when the female is pregnant or has borne a child. While the legislation eliminates this provision for marrying the putative father of a child, which has allowed marriages for some young minors who were several years from attaining the age of eighteen, South Carolina law continues to allow comparatively older minors, aged sixteen and seventeen, to obtain marriage licenses with parental consent. The legislation implements a recommendation from the South Carolina Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children.
The House concurred in Senate amendments to S.21, a bill that provides for ADDING PUTATIVE FATHERS TO AMENDED BIRTH CERTIFICATES, and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation establishes a protocol which, after appropriate courts determine that putative fathers are bona fide fathers, makes provisions for children's birth certificates to be amended accordingly. The legislation also revises Maternal Morbidity and Mortality Review Committee data collection provisions so that South Carolina can be eligible for federal grant assistance.
The House approved S.132, legislation revising the scope of practice for a PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT (PA), and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation provides revisions to the scope of practice for physician assistants that are comparable to the expansions and greater flexibility that lawmakers recently approved for advanced practice registered nurses. The legislation increases the total number of PA’s a physician may supervise from three to six.
The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3243, a bill REVISING FILING AND RECORDING FEES CHARGED BY THE REGISTER OF DEEDS AND CLERKS OF COURT to make provisions for charging certain flat fees, rather than fees determined by the number of pages in a document, and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation updates 30‑year-old fee schedules set for filing and registering a list of legal documents, including deeds and mortgages. Fees for filing a power of attorney are waived for military personnel deployed to combat zones.