Back to School Message, Labor Day and Other updates
Beth Bernstein Leadership Scholarship Award recipients
As a member of the General Assembly Womens Caucus, I provide a $1000 scholarship to a female high school senior(s) who live in my house district and will be attending a SC college or university in the fall. This year's recipients are two outstanding young women, Alicia Sims (r) and Anna Alexander (l). Miss Sims graduated from Spring Valley High School and is attending Clemson University. Miss Alexander graduated from AC Flora High School and is attending Wofford College.
Dear Friends and Neighbors:
August typically brings us a fresh new perspective as we end summer and begin fall with a new school year. Although, no one could forecast that most of our students would be attending school virtually or attending by some other hybrid form of the traditional school setting. While not the most ideal scenario, it is clear that our educators, parents, teachers, administrators and other school staff are coordinated toward one goal -- educating our students as safely as possible and taking every precaution available to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Recognizing this as a temporary situation makes it no less favorable but I am proud of how our community is working together in this effort and appreciate our teachers, administrators, and entire school staffs who are making a difference in the lives of our children.
While COVID-19 has also restricted our ability to convene at the State House, legislators have been busy working on committees and subcommittee hearings. I was honored that House Speaker Lucas appointed me to two (2) important Special committees -- (1) COVID-19 Employment, Workforce, and Business Recovery Committee and (2) Equitable Justice System and Law Enforcement Reform Committee.
One aspect of the latter committee is to recommend and propose hate crime legislation to the full House for consideration. We are one of only 3 states in the nation without hate crime laws. Hate crimes are some of the most heinous acts of violence committed and as a community and state we need to stand up against it. There has been a significant increase in violent attacks based on a victim's perceived race, religion, gender, and/or sexual orientation, and the time is now to do something about it. I will continue to work hard on this issue and am hopeful we can accomplish this in the upcoming session.
We do plan to reconvene during the last two weeks of September to work on our fiscal budget and other outstanding matters including expanding absentee voting for the upcoming election. The Senate recently passed legislation which would allow COVID-19 ("state of emergency") to qualify as a reason to request an absentee ballot in the general election. I anticipate that the House will follow suit which will ensure that you, as a SC voter, will not have to choose between exercising your right to vote and your health.
You may request an absentee ballot by visiting the state election's website at www.scvotes.org. You will have an opportunity to vote by in-person absentee voting starting at the end of September or early October depending on what your local elections office provides. Richland County has announced that it will have 7 satellite locations open in addition to its main office beginning on September 28, 2020. I will continue to update you on this issue as we get closer to the November elections.
Today, as we take the day off to honor the strength and contributions of our nation's workforce, I hope you have a safe and happy Labor Day! Thank you for giving me the honor and privilege of serving you and our community at the State House.