The House adjourned last week with a number of bills languishing in Senate Purgatory as the session ended.
Several major pieces of conservative legislation – legislation that you told the House you wanted during the 2010 elections – died in the Senate this year. This is a recurring theme at the end of each session.
Couple pieces of killed legislation to note:
Tax Reform: The Senate killed two of the three major tax reform proposals from the House. The first bill that was killed was the flattening and reduction of personal income taxes – a key effort to make our tax code fairer and the put money back in your pocket. The second bill killed was the elimination of two-dozen special interest sales tax exemptions. A final bill, one that would lower income taxes on small businesses and the self-employed, was killed, but we put it in the budget. Senators in the budget conference committee are currently even resisting that tax reduction.
FOIA Expansion: The Senate killed a bill that would eliminate “research” charges for public-records requests and would open the state email accounts of lawmakers to the public. The Senate blocked the bill with one senator saying he “did not know what the bill would do.”
School Choice: School Choice passed the House of Representatives this year. The bill would have given parents a $4,000 tax deduction for private schools, a $2,000 tax deduction for home schooling, and a $1,000 tax deduction for public school choice. The bill also gave businesses and individuals a tax credit for contributing to organizations that provided private school scholarships to low-income or handicapped students.
Angel Investor Act: The Senate killed a bill that would give tax credits to “Angel Investors.” These are private investors who give critical start-up cash to small technology companies. As the mobile Internet expands both the opportunities and the locations available to these start-ups, this bill is critical to helping small tech companies start here in our state – companies that could become the next Facebook, Amazon.com, or Google.
Spending Caps: For the eighth time since 1994, the House approved strict spending caps on the state budget. For the eighth time since 1994, the Senate killed our efforts.
Shortening the Legislative Session: Like the spending caps legislation, the House has tried to shorten the session at least six times since 1994. This year, the Senate blocked a bill that would have only shortened the session by ONE WEEK.
Taxpayer Fairness Act: This legislation expands and updates our state’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights to ensure law-abiding taxpayers are treated with respect and that government agencies enforce tax law in a fair manner.
Regulatory Reform: This legislation requires an automatic vote of the House and the Senate to approve new regulations. Currently agency regulations are automatically approved unless the General Assembly takes specific action.
I’ll write more about what did get passed once the session is officially over in a few weeks, since there are several major reforms still on life support like our massive government restructuring that eliminates the unaccountable Budget and Control Board, and reforming our retirement system. You can always track our major accomplishments at http://www.schousegop.com/record.
As always, thank you for the privilege of serving you in Columbia. If I can ever be of assistance to you, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with the rest of the General Assembly, please don’t hesitate to contact me at 963-0337 at home or 803 734-3045 at my office in Columbia.