LEGISLATIVE UPDATE : January 23 – February 3, 2017
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU — We believe that two-way communication is vital to the foundation of representative government. Thomas Jefferson observed that the government closest to the people is one that serves them best. We want to hear what issues are most important to you — take the SC Senate Republican Caucus survey today!
On The Floor:
MOPED SAFETY ACT — Mopeds can create dangerous environments for motorists traveling every day. This week the Senate gave passed S.197 that requires moped be registered and licensed. It also restricts operation of mopeds on a road with a speed limit posted greater than 55 mph. Senator Greg Hembree explains in this video what has been three years of work on moped safety legislation that will save motorist lives if passed by the House and signed by the governor.
CONSISTENT, QUALIFIED LEADERSHIP FOR EDUCATION DEPARTMENT — One of Governor Haley’s key initiatives in her most recent State of the State Address was having the governor appoint the Superintendent of Education. Likewise, Governor McMaster supports the need for clear accountability of statewide education policy. The Senate passed S.27, one of the steps in making the Superintendent of Education truly a cabinet agency by setting specific qualifications of the superintendent — currently there are no education related requirements of the office. The Senate version of this bill requires a master’s degree and broad-based experience in the public education field or operation and financial management. Candidates would be screened, and would require advice and consent of the Senate prior to approval. If approved, the measure would go to a ballot referendum for the voters approval during the 2018 General Election.
NEW JUDGES IN SOUTH CAROLINA — The General Assembly held judicial elections for 8 court vacancies on Wednesday. The Senate and the House meet in a joint session to consider judicial races. The following seats were filled from the session:
- Supreme Court, Seat 5: George C. James Jr., Sumter.
- Court of Appeals, Seat 9: David Garrison (Gary) Hill, Greenville.
- Circuit Court 7th Judicial Circuit, Seat 2: Grace Gilchrist Knie, Campobello.
- Circuit Court At-Large, Seat 1: George Marion McFaddin Jr., Gable.
- Family Court 8th Judicial Circuit, Seat 2: Mindy Westbrook Zimmerman, Newberry.
- Family Court At-Large Seat 7: Thomas (Tommy) Tredway Hodges, Greenville.
- Family Court At-Large, Seat 8: Rosalyn W. Frierson, Columbia.
- Administrative Law Court, Seat 2: Milton G. Kimpson, Columbia.
IRS TAX CONFORMITY — Every year the General Assembly addresses federal changes to the tax code and conforms South Carolina’s tax code to reflect the federal changes. The Senate approved the annual conformity and sent it to the House.
COMMEMORATING A TIGER CHAMPIONSHIP — The Senate has taken the first step to allow drivers commemorate Clemson University’s 2016 National Championship victory by placing a special license plate to their vehicle. The bill, proposed by Senator Harvey Peeler and other members of the “Senate Clemson Caucus” allows the SCDMV issue special license tags for South Carolina vehicles.
PROTECTING PRISONS FROM THE AIR — 2.5 million aerial drones were commercially sold last year and 7 million may be sold in 2017. While drones have value to law abiding citizens who use them every day, the threat to our prison system is a serious concern. The Senate gave a 43-0 second reading vote to a bipartisan, pro-law enforcement measure that limits the range a drone can fly within a correctional facility and detention center. Senator Katrina Shealy recently wrote an article in The State Newspaper that addresses the proactive 21st century legislation.
HIGHEST CIVILIAN HONOR — The Senate welcomed a great South Carolinian and recognized the accomplishments of Major Robert “Bob” Wilson Sr. for our state. Major Wilson was awarded the Order of the Palmetto — our state’s the highest civilian honor for service. He is a Silver Star recipient who served in WWII and the Korean Conflict, as well as being a fine artist with a number of paintings in the State House. Read more about the honor here.
COMMITTEE CHANGES — A number of committee changes occurred this week as a result of former Republican Senator Kevin Bryant’s ascension to the Lieutenant Governor position. Senator Katrina Shealy is now the Chairwoman of the Senate General Committee primarily involved in the Department of Social Services legislation, as well as the refugee program. Senator Greg Hembree moved from the Senate Judiciary Committee to the Senate Finance Committee — giving an Horry Country resident Senator representation for the first time since 2012, as well as moving from the Senate General Committee to Agriculture and Natural Resources. Additionally Senators Tom Corbin and Mike Gambrell have switched committee membership from General Committee to Fish, Game and Forestry respectively.
STATE OF THE SCDOT — The Senate Transportation Committee chaired by Senator Larry Grooms met Thursday, February 1, to hear the State of the SC Department of Transportation from Secretary Christy Hall. The Committee heard testimony on the critical infrastructure needs of South Carolina and solutions to better our state’s roads.
BEACH RENOURISHMENT — Chairman of the Senate Medical Affairs Committee Harvey Peeler held a meeting on Tuesday, January 31, requesting input from stakeholders on how to address the issue of preserving our beaches. Senators Greg Hembree and Luke Rankin offered testimony on status of the state’s coastline and importance of the beaches for state tourism.
DSS OVERSIGHT — The Senate General DSS Oversight Subcommittee convened Thursday, February 1, to hear an update from the Department of Social Services Director Susan Alford and other child services representatives. DSS provided a status of the child support system. The DSS Oversight Subcommittee is chaired by Senator Tom Young. The Committee has added three new members: Senators Wes Climer, Scott Talley and Rex Rice.
Around The State:
UNEMPLOYMENT HITS 16 YEAR LOW — The S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce announced South Carolina’s jobless rate falling to 4.3%, the lowest unemployment level since 2001. This is great news for growing state, and hopefully just the beginning of what’s to come.
NEW JOBS FOR DORCHESTER COUNTY — KION North America, one of the world’s largest makers of forklifts, pallet jacks and other industrial trucks, announced a $5.7 million investment to expand operations in Summerville creating 50 new jobs. Read more about the expansion here.
PARENTS KNOW BEST — Educators, parents, and legislatures from all over the United States celebrated National School Week from January 23-27. High-quality education has a tremendous impact on our growing workforce. Educational opportunities should not depend on economic status or geography. Senator Larry Grooms shares the importance parents have on education in this video.