Speaker Lucas Statement on Debate Over Public Monuments and Buildings

(Columbia, SC) – Today, House Speaker Jay Lucas (District 65-Darlington) issued the following statement to reiterate his position surrounding future debate over public monuments and memorials. In light of the recent tragedy, several South Carolina universities and colleges have formally asked or suggested the General Assembly address changes or exceptions to the South Carolina Heritage Act. This law, which passed in 2000, protects all monuments, historical markers, street names, and buildings named for historical figures or events.

“The South Carolina House of Representatives will not engage in or debate the specifics of public monuments, memorials, state buildings, road names or any other historical markers. The General Assembly, the House in particular, made it abundantly clear during the debate of the confederate flag that the only issue they were willing to discuss was the placement of the battle flag on the north lawn of the State House. We reached a swift resolution last week and in doing so put an end to this discussion. Debate over this issue will not be expanded or entertained throughout the remainder of my time as Speaker.”

A Year of Challenges, and Success

Dear Constituents:
As the 2015 Legislative Session winds down, I would like to recap some of the progress that was made in the South Carolina House of Representatives. During this session, we were able to pass some major legislation. As a reminder, this is the first year of a legislative two-year session, therefore, any bill not passed by the Senate of through a conference committee can be continued when we return January 12, 2016. At that time surely a funding proposal will be agreed upon to repair our state’s roads and bridges.
The SC House of Representatives is paving the way for transparency, pro-business regulation, Veterans assistance and other areas in South Carolina. Here are a few of the major accomplishments from this session:
TRANSPARENCY: The House passed a package of 12 ethics reform bills, in addition to an omnibus package that rolls the reform measures into one bill. Here are the highlights of the House ethics reform package: Income Disclosure, Independent Ethics Investigation, Eliminating Leadership PACs, Publicly Posting Meeting Agendas, Freedom of Information Act Expansion, and Whistleblower Protection.
PRO-BUSINESS RIDE SHARING REGULATION: This bill allows separate licensing for transportation network companies, specifically Uber, to operate legally in South Carolina.
IN-STATE TUITION FOR MILITARY: This bill grants in-state college tuition rates to active duty military and their dependents.
BODY CAMERAS: This law provides for equipping law enforcement officers with body worn cameras that make audio and video recordings.
STRONGER HUMAN TRAFFICKING LEGISLATION: This bill allows prosecutors to engage the grand jury system for human prosecution across county lines and expands publicity of the reporting hotline.
SHORTENING LEGISLATIVE SESSION: This bill saves valuable taxpayer dollars by reducing the session by nearly two months each year.
BALANCED SC BUDGET: The House budget proposal fully funds the necessities of our state while balancing the bottom line.
As your state Representative, I am accountable to you to keep our State strong, solvent, and business-friendly. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to represent you in the Legislature. Please feel free to contact me with any comments, issues, or concerns that you may have.

Sincerely,

Garry R. Smith

2015 House Accomplishments & Sine Die

Sine Die (Latin meaning “without a fixed day”) Adjournment fell on Thursday June 4, 2015 at 5:00pm and marked the end of this year’s general legislative session. For a bill to have become law this year, it would have needed to pass both legislative chambers by Sine Die.

The House and Senate will now work over the next week and a half in “Conference Committee” to reach final agreements on bills that passed both chambers but still need the differences between them consolidated into a final version that is acceptable to each body. At that point both chambers will come back to vote on the conference reports. The Governor will have 5 days to issue any vetoes and my colleagues will meet one last time to sustain or override her vetoes.

Below is an update on the major pieces of legislation we passed this year in the House along with a brief synopsis and where each bill currently stands. In the coming weeks I will send a final report for the end of the year where I will bring you updates on any changes among these bills.

It is an honor to serve you and your family in the General Assembly. If you ever find yourself in need of assistance navigating state government, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with my colleagues in the House, don’t hesitate to contact me at 963-0337 at home or 803-734-3045 at my office in Columbia.

2015 House Accomplishments

Ethics Reform H.3722: The House passed a package of 12 ethics reform bills in addition to an omnibus package (H.3722) that rolls the reform measures into one bill. Below are the highlights of the House ethics reform package.

Status: In Senate

Income Disclosure H.3186: Requires members of the General Assembly to disclose the source and type of all income received from any private entity.

Status: In Senate

Restructuring Ethics Commission H.3184: Revamps the makeup of the South Carolina Ethics Commission and turns the Commission into an independent investigative body. The independent commission is given the full resources of the South Carolina law enforcement community and is tasked with investigating ethics complaints made against elected officials. The State Ethics Commission would be comprised of 4 members appointed by the Governor, 4 elected by the Supreme Court, and 2 members elected by each the House and Senate.

Status: In Senate

Eliminating Leadership PACs H.3188: Bans candidate affiliated “Leadership” Political Action Committees (PAC). It even goes one step further and states that elected officials can no longer accept campaign contributions from Leadership PACs.

Status: In Senate

Exempting Research Professors H.3200: Provides certain exemptions to encourage state-funded university employees to develop intellectual property that benefits institutions of higher learning, making South Carolina more competitive in the effort to attract and retain top quality researchers.

Status: In Senate

Campaign Finance Laws H.3195: Prohibits lobbyist principals from paying for members of the General Assembly to attend American Legislative Exchange Council conferences. This simply removes an existing loophole in the law.

Status: In Senate

Primary Run-off Election Finance Law Reform H.3193: Clarifies how campaign funds should be attributed to primaries and primary run-off campaigns. Existing law was leading to confusion among some candidates for public office. These changes make clear which funds should be attributed to a campaign run-off election account.

Status: In Senate

Creation of Freedom of Information Act Office S.11: Establishes an office specifically designed to handle Freedom of Information Act concerns. The measure also expands the right to access existing electronic transmission of public records, sets a reasonable fee schedule for accessing records, and reduces the turnaround time on obtaining records from 15 to 10 days.

Status: Sent to Governor

Whistleblower Protection H.3202: Strengthens the existing whistleblower law and provides additional monetary incentives for government employees to report misuse of taxpayer dollars. The hope is that where fraud exists, that this provision empowers state employees to come forward with that information, saving taxpayer dollars.

Status: In Senate

Publicly Posting Agendas H.3192: Tightens the requirements on all government bodies by requiring them to post a public meeting agenda prior to engaging in official business. This measure sheds sunlight on all government bodies and gives the public a better idea of what their government is doing and when they’re doing it.

Status: In Senate

Small Business Regulatory Sunset Reform Act H.3006: This act places a sunset provision on all future regulation laws. Many regulation laws are outdated, and this new measure would give an automatic expiration to regulation laws five years after implementation. This ensures we don’t have cumbersome and outdated regulations hampering business owners.

Status: In Senate

Shortening Legislative Session H.3014: For the 10th time in the past 20 years the House has passed legislation that would shorten the legislative work session. Shortening the session by nearly 2 months each year would save valuable taxpayer dollars. Each attempt by House Republicans to shorten the legislative session has been blocked by the Senate.

Status: In Senate

Human Trafficking S.196: A cross-county jurisdictional loophole in the current law was brought to our attention by prosecutors recently. As a result, the House passed a measure that would allow prosecutors to engage the grand jury system for individuals who are trafficking humans over county lines. In an effort to increase reporting from exploited individuals and prosecute their traffickers, a previously established information and reporting hotline would be strengthened by expanding the publicity of the hotline to high public traffic areas.

Status: Signed by Governor

CWP Expansion H.3799: The House approved a concealed weapons permit reciprocity agreement with the state of Georgia allowing licensed CWP carriers to cross state lines without any legal ramifications.

Status: In Senate

Ride Sharing Deregulation – Uber H.3525: The House addressed issues surrounding the ride sharing industry that specifically impacted Uber and other transportation network companies (TNC). In South Carolina, we’ve always had taxis and they fall under the management of the Public Service Commission (PSC). However, the business model for TNCs, like Uber, wouldn’t be viable if each driver had to pay for a taxi license.

In January, the PSC issued a cease and desist order against Uber effectively shutting them down. In response, this “business positive” bill was drafted to set up a framework that allows TNC’s, specifically Uber, to operate legally. H. 3525 establishes that framework and allows the TNC companies to get one license – allowing all of their drivers to operate under that single license.

Status: In Conference

Roads & Infrastructure H.3579: Following 7 months of testimony and hours of debate with much input, the House passed a bill to address the state’s aging infrastructure. The comprehensive measure revamps the existing DOT structure, leadership and funding model. It’s important to note that House Republicans were able to include a provision that also provides income tax relief to South Carolina taxpayers.

Status: In Senate

Balanced Budget H.3701: The Republican Majority in the House voted in unison to pass the 2015-2016 fiscal year budget. Balancing our state budget is something House Republicans take very seriously. The House budget proposal fully funds the necessities of our state while balancing the bottom line without incurring any new debt. Today’s economy requires families and businesses to do more with less money. The House Republican majority sent a clear message that government should be held to that same standard.

Status: In Conference

Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act H.3114: House Republicans once again passed the Pain-Capable Child Protection Act. The legislation provides additional statutory protections for the unborn by shortening the amount of time a woman can abort her child down to a 20-week window.

Status: In Senate

Emergency Preparedness H.3168: The House took preemptive action by approving a bill that would guarantee the State of South Carolina is adequately equipped to deal with emergency situations. Preparation for emergency scenarios is a vital aspect of protecting South Carolinians for decades to come, which we can ensure by giving our state law enforcement agencies the ability to obtain necessary resources in our times of greatest need.

Status: Signed by Governor

Protecting Our Citizens H.3145: Gives certain legal protections to bystanders who rescue those trapped inside sweltering cars and trucks. One of the core functions of a limited government is providing for the safety of our children and otherwise vulnerable adults.

Status: In Senate

Domestic Violence Reform S.3: Reports indicate that South Carolina’s murder rate of women killed by men sits at twice the national average. It’s unacceptable, and this measure gives law enforcement the necessary tools to reverse this pattern of abuse in our state. For 6 months, the House Special Criminal Domestic Violence Ad Hoc Committee studied all aspects of the issue. The committee listened to dozens of hours of testimony from both survivors of domestic violence and from the law enforcement and prosecutors charged with bringing justice to those who perpetrate crimes of domestic violence.

As a result of their findings the committee produced the Domestic Violence Reform Act. This comprehensive legislation:

Significantly enhances penalties for those found guilty of committing acts of domestic violence.
Paves the way for middle school students to receive instruction on how to identify and respond to domestic violence situations.
Creates the Domestic Violence Advisory Committee comprised of citizens, medical doctors, and law enforcement to review instances of death as a result of domestic violence and submit a public annual report.
Currently South Carolina’s domestic violence laws are occurrence based – an approach that has proven insufficient by itself. H 3433 institutes a hybrid model based on the number of occurrences and adds that penalties become more severe depending on the level of injury sustained, also accounting for any aggravating circumstances.

Status: Signed by Governor

James B. Edwards Civics Education Initiative S.437: Currently, immigrants seeking U.S. citizenship must take the US Citizen Civics Test containing 100 basic questions about American history and government. A recent study found that 92% of immigrants pass this test, while only 4% of American high school students could do so. This bill would require the same test to be administered each year to high school juniors throughout the state. Test scores will be compiled by the Education Oversight Committee to ensure our students are armed with the basic facts they need to be the informed and active citizens our state and nation needs.

Status: Signed by Governor

Judicial Selection Reform H.3979: Reforms the process used to select our state’s judges. Currently, judicial candidates are screened through a panel that is limited to selecting 3 individuals for any given judicial election. This bill would remove the cap and allow anyone who is deemed qualified to run for the bench. By doing so, we open up the process and allow everyone to participate, not just a select few.

Status: In Senate

In-State Tuition for Military S.391: Grants in-state tuition rates to active duty military and their dependents. Currently, active duty military personnel who have been stationed in South Carolina do not receive in-state tuition rates. This bill grants them that privilege and allows them and their dependents to continue receiving an in-state tuition rate as long as they remain continuously enrolled.

Status: Signed by Governor

Certificate of Need H.3250: This bill revises and streamlines the Certificate of Need process and repeals it completely in 2018. The House overwhelmingly supported this measure which helps to limit the regulation of healthcare providers around the state.

Status: In Senate

Patent Infringement H.3582: Patent trolls hinder private development projects and stifle innovative research from the private sector. This measure ensures that South Carolina innovators receive added legal protections for their unique ideas. By creating a safe haven for innovation, we increase our marketability to research institutions and aid our economic progress.

Status: In Senate

SC State Resolution H.3663: The House took forceful and necessary action to solve the well-publicized troubles at SC State University. The House unanimously passed a joint resolution to put SC State back on track that:

Removes the current SC State board members.
Gives authority to newly appointed interim board members.
Allows the interim Board of Trustees to remove the current President if they deem that action necessary.
Status: Signed by Governor

Read to Succeed Act S.364: Focuses on early intervention in literacy. Provides for reading coaches and summer reading camps with the goal of having every child in SC reading on grade level before they leave the third grade.

Status: Signed by Governor

Adjutant General S.8: The House has passed this bill many s and the Senate finally agreed this year to allow the next Adjutant General to be an appointee rather than elected. This new form of origination allows politics to be removed from the duties of the state’s top military officer, very similar to the national model.

Status: Signed by Governor

Overseas Military Voters H.3154: This measure ensures each ballot cast by overseas military personnel is not only counted, but streamlines the process while enhancing their access to voter registration.

Status: Sent to Governor

Senate Inaction, Supreme Court Chief Justice & College Savings Plan

The final week of the legislative session is upon us, and with most of the House’s major work complete, all eyes were trained on the Senate.

Budget: The Senate recently completed its budget debate. After my colleagues and I made some changes this week, we sent it back to the Senate in order to move the final budget to a House-Senate conference committee. However, because it took the Senate so long to finish the budget the first time, we will most likely have to return to Columbia after the final day of session to complete it.

Grassroots Success: Thank you to all of those who responded to our “Finish the Job” campaign and contacted your senators. Thanks to weeks of effort from so many in the grassroots, the Senate finally passed H.3114, the pro-life Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. There are many important reforms and pieces of legislation passed by the House that are stuck in the Senate. Don’t let up now. For a detailed description of other items stuck in the Senate, click here.

Senate Filibustering: Based on the filibustering going on in the Senate as of late, we took the responsible steps of passing a continuing resolution to make sure that if the Senate can’t pass a budget, government would not shut down.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Election: This week the House met with the Senate in a joint assembly to elect our state’s next Supreme Court Chief Justice. In a unanimous decision, members of both chambers selected Justice Costa Pleicones to lead the high court. This marks the first new Supreme Court Chief Justice in 15 years.

College Savings: If you or someone you know had a baby on May 29, that person is eligible for a grant of $529 to start a 529 college savings plan. The privately funded grant is available to anyone opening an account for their child by August 30. Contact the State Treasurer’s Office for more information.

June 4th is “Sine Die”–the official end of the session. I’ll update you next week on when the House will have to return to session to consider the budget, any outstanding conference committee reports, or governor’s vetoes.

It is an honor to serve you and your family in the General Assembly. If you ever find yourself in need of assistance navigating state government, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with my colleagues in the House, don’t hesitate to contact me at 963-0337 at home or 803 734-3045 at my office in Columbia.

Criminal Domestic Violence & Pro Life Update

With two weeks remaining in the regular legislative session for 2015, my House colleagues and I reached an agreement this week with our Senate counterparts to give substantial reform to our state’s domestic violence laws.

South Carolina is 2nd in the nation for number of women killed by men in a domestic dispute with 36,000 annual reports of domestic violence. Last year a task force was created in the House chaired by my colleague Rep. Shannon Erickson to develop legislation to end this cycle of abuse in our state. The Committee developed a comprehensive approach which passed the House in April. The Senate sent us their version, and we’ve reached a compromise.

Provisions Included in the Compromise:

Changes the current penalty occurrence-based model to a hybrid approach that considers degree of injury, number of occurrences, and possible aggravating circumstances. New categories: Domestic Violence High and Aggravated Nature (DVHAN), 1st Degree, 2nd Degree, and 3rd Degree.
Amends the definition of “moderate bodily injury” to create a more understandable and useable definition for prosecutors.
Extends time period for a bond hearing to ensure a judge has all necessary information.
Creates a Domestic Violence Advisory Committee to study domestic violence cases. This Committee would make recommendations to the General Assembly. The Committee is made up of many directors of state agencies.
Batterer’s Treatment Programs would be selected and approved by the prosecuting agency, as opposed to the current model with the Department of Social Services (DSS) approving the programs.
Expands domestic violence education from only high schools to also include middle schools.
Allows judges to proceed with the case without the presence of the victim.
Permits DSS to study a voucher system for child care to accommodate care for children while victims appear in court.

Last week I sent you a list of bills stalled in the Senate. Many of you took action. Thank you to all those who acted, there’s no question the Senate and the Governor are hearing your voices. Thanks to you, this week the Senate moved one step closer to passing our Pain-Capable Pro-Life bill. That’s a great start, but I still need your help. Among the items we have already passed that still remain stalled in the Senate are:

H3184 – Ethics Reform
H3006 – Pro Business Regulatory Reform
H3014 – Shortening Legislative Session
H3799 – Concealed Weapons Permit Expansion
H3523 – Pro Business Ride Sharing Deregulation
H3145 – Protecting Vulnerable Citizens
For a more detailed description of ethics reform and other issues, click here.

Please take a moment to call or email your Senator and the Governor and ask them to take action on these important matters facing our state.

It is an honor to serve you and your family in the General Assembly. If you ever find yourself in need of assistance navigating state government, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with my colleagues in the House, don’t hesitate to contact me at 963-0337 at home or 803 734-3045 at my office in Columbia.

Police Body Cameras & Mental Health

Receiving the House Legislator of the Year Award from SC Habitat for Humanity

Receiving the House Legislator of the Year Award from SC Habitat for Humanity

There are three weeks left in the 2015 legislative session, so the House worked on getting some Senate legislation through for a vote and tying up loose ends.

The biggest issue we dealt with this week was how to appropriately move forward on requiring law enforcement officers to wear body cameras. In recent newsletters, I have kept you apprised on the movements of this bill through the committee process, and after a debate on the House floor this week the S47 passed with bi-partisan support.

Once enacted, the House version would:

Charge the South Carolina Law Enforcement Training Council (SCLETC) with studying the use, implementation procedures, and costs for body cameras. This first phase would last 180 days upon initial ratification.
In the second 180 day phase, the SCLETC creates the guidelines for initial implementation.
Throughout this process local law enforcement are given opportunities to voice any concerns they may have as they also study the impacts of implementation.
The report must include a footage retention policy, detailed privacy policy, and a fiscal impact study.
Once completed, the Training Council must report their findings to the General Assembly at which time my colleagues and I will be able to make the best informed decision possible about our state’s use of body cameras.

It’s important that we also consider the unintended associated costs–seen recently in communities around the country–of not having these cameras: potential expense of lawless behavior and injuries to person or property, out-of-control investigation/litigation cost, and damage to South Carolina’s reputation as a tourist destination. Weighed against those factors, the implementation of body cameras could represent a massive potential savings for taxpayers.

Mental health issues continue to make headlines, and this week we took additional steps to address the growing needs of those who suffer from mental illness. Currently our court systems experience backlog in part due to an increasing number of mental health cases. This provision, originating in the Senate, would allow elected solicitors to set up mental health courts to divert non-violent mental health cases. This solution allows our state to save taxpayer resources in addition to getting treatment for those who suffer from mental illness.

Looking forward, House and Senate leaders have also come to a point of agreement on Domestic Violence reform legislation. I expect the House to debate the matter on the floor next week.

While my House colleagues and I continue to work diligently the same cannot be said about the Senate. We’ve passed numerous milestone pieces of legislation while the Senate continues to stall. Among the items we have already passed, yet have stalled in the Senate are:

H3184 – Ethics Reform Act
H3006 – Pro Business Regulatory Reform
H3014 – Shortening Legislative Session
H3799 – Concealed Weapons Permit Expansion
H3114 – Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act
H3523 – Pro Business Ride Sharing Deregulation
H3145 – Protecting Vulnerable Citizens

We have begun a campaign called “Finish the Job” in order to get this legislation passed.

Lastly, this week I was honored to receive the House Legislator of the Year award from South Carolina Habitat for Humanity. The recognition is for my work on a bill that has passed the House, and is currently waiting action in the Senate Finance Committee after receiving a favorably report from the Senate subcommittee last week. The bill would give non-profits that build homes for qualified citizens in need a break on the sales tax they pay for the purchase of materials to build the homes.

It is an honor to serve you and your family in the General Assembly. If you ever find yourself in need of assistance navigating state government, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with my colleagues in the House, don’t hesitate to contact me at 963-0337 at home or 803 734-3045 at my office in Columbia.

SC State & Legislative Oversight Committee

The House wrapped up the week with House negotiators having resolved the serious issues surrounding SC State University. This plan closely resembles the previous House plan I wrote about a number of weeks ago. Under this proposal the Governor, Treasurer, Chairman of Senate Finance, Chairman of House Ways and Means and State Superintendent of Education all designate one appointee to the newly created SC State board of trustees. The other two members will be appointments of the chairmen from the House Ways and Means Higher Education Subcommittee and the Senate Finance Higher Education Subcommittee. These 7 members will serve as the only voting members, while the student body president and president of the alumni association will both serve as non-voting members. The new board establishes a fresh start in the effort to eliminate waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars at SC State University.

The House Legislative Oversight Committee is continuing their diligent efforts to improve our state government. The committee is currently conducting studies on the following agencies:

South Carolina Comptroller General’s Office
South Carolina Department of Transportation
South Carolina First Steps to School Readiness
South Carolina Department of Social Services
South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice

By keeping informed about what’s being done in the legislature, you’ve proven to be a citizen that’s concerned with the advancement of your state. The House Oversight Committee needs opinions like yours. Please take the survey as part of the effort to make government more efficient and effective.

You have the option to complete all or some questions, but survey responses must be received by May 31, 2015.

Survey Link: https://www.research.net/s/HouseLegislativeOversightCommitte1

It is an honor to serve you and your family in the General Assembly. If you ever find yourself in need of assistance navigating state government, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with my colleagues in the House, don’t hesitate to contact me at 963-0337 at home or 803 734-3045 at my office in Columbia.

Crossover Success – A Record of Achievement

The House of Representatives adjourned for the week after finishing a successful “crossover” period and getting important House legislation moved to the Senate. We’ve nearly completed our agenda with more than a month left in the session.

The House has approved an ethics reform package that increases transparency, accountability and independent oversight, passed new comprehensive legislation aimed at reforming the DOT, and fought Democrats’ attempts to kill income tax relief. In addition, we approved a measure that would force deregulation and remove government red tape from small business owners, expanded pro-gun legislation and passed the pro-life Pain-Capable bill.

But this gets me back to an issue that has been on Republican Caucus agendas since we achieved the House majority in 1994. This year, we also approved legislation that would shorten the session by nearly two months. That legislation is also in the Senate and we hope our colleagues will take swift action on it.

The House passed nearly 50 pieces of legislation this week. Here are a few of the major items we approved this week:

Environmental Regulation Reform: H3910 reduces the amount of time given to regulators to enforce certain environmental regulations.
Sunset Certificate of Need: This bill revises and streamlines the Certificate of Need process and repeals it completely in 2018. The House overwhelmingly supported this measure which helps to limit the regulation of healthcare providers around the state.
Pro-Gun Provision: H3799 approves a concealed weapons permit reciprocity agreement with the state of Georgia allowing licensed CWP carriers to cross state lines without any legal ramifications.
The House of Representatives has a solid record of achievement through the first 15 weeks of session. The House proved this week: It’s time to shorten our legislative session and save taxpayer dollars.

It is an honor to serve you and your family in the General Assembly. If you ever find yourself in need of assistance navigating state government, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with my colleagues in the House, don’t hesitate to contact me at 963-0337 at home or 803 734-3045 at my office in Columbia.

Preparing for Crossover, Body Cameras, Supporting Our Military & Teacher of the Year

The South Carolina House of Representatives finished up an extensive amount of committee work in preparation for Crossover Week. Each year, lawmakers spend roughly 4 months hearing testimony and crafting legislation. The end of that 4-month period concludes with the beginning of the crossover period which lands on May 1st for 2015. The crossover period simply demands that no more legislation can be considered by House or Senate, forcing each body to act on the legislation passed by the other body instead of new items in the remaining days of the session. In short, if a bill is going to be passed this year, it has to make it out of at least one chamber prior to this deadline.

If there is a particular piece of legislation you’re concerned about that hasn’t been passed leading up to crossover date, I hope you’ll contact me about it.

House Committees passed numerous pieces of legislation, some of which I have listed below:

House Ways and Means Committee

Certificate of Need H3250

Needy Children’s Clothing Tax Exemption H3062

Giving Back to Our Veterans Act H3147

Capitol Police Force H3022

Wetlands Conservation Act H3868

Property Tax Grace Period for Deployed Military H3149

House Judiciary Committee

Body Cameras for Law Enforcement H3997

Overdose Prevention H3083

Protecting Homeowners H3248

Humane Methods of Animal Euthanasia H3343

Patent Infringement Act H3682

Uniform Interstate Family Support Act H3766

House Education Committee

In-State Tuition Rates for Military Personnel and Their Dependents H3037

Pilot Program for GED Camps H3353

Jurisdiction of State Board of Technical and Comprehensive Education H3170

Sign Language Interpreters H3390

Snow Days H3512

Hearing Officers for Teacher Dismissal H3560

The bills listed above along with many others head to the House Floor next week where a whirlwind of debate will occur. I’ve highlighted two of these.

Body Cameras for Law Enforcement H3997

Recent events have prompted many to look at the viability of body cameras for law enforcement officers. This week the House Judiciary Committee approved a measure developing a pilot program administered by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Training Council to study the use of body cameras on law enforcement officers. The program would span 3 counties and 6 municipalities on an opt-in basis. The Training Council will report their findings to the General Assembly after a 6 month period. Both civil liberties organizations and the law enforcement community support this pilot program and the bill moves to the House floor for debate next week.

In-State Tuition Rates for Military Personnel H3037

Rep. Joe Daning (R-Berkeley) sponsored H3037 which grants in-state tuition rates to active duty military and their dependents. Currently, active duty military personnel who have been stationed in South Carolina do not receive in-state tuition rates. This bill grants them that privilege and allows them and their dependents to continue receiving an in-state tuition rate as long as they remain continuously enrolled. I’m look forward to supporting this measure on the House floor next week.

Each year we recognize a Teacher of the Year. I’d like to give my congratulations to this year’s recipient, Suzanne Koty of Sumter High School, along with my sincere appreciation for each of our educators in South Carolina.

It is an honor to serve you and your family in the General Assembly. If you ever find yourself in need of assistance navigating state government, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with my colleagues in the House, don’t hesitate to contact me at 963-0337 at home or 803 734-3045 at my office in Columbia.

Human Trafficking, Uber & Movement on Roads

This week we took additional steps to combat human trafficking, passed a reform measure to assist the ride-sharing industry, and consolidated road improvement and tax reform proposals.

Cracking down on human trafficking in South Carolina has been, and continues to be, a priority for us. A cross-county jurisdictional loophole in the current law was brought to our attention by prosecutors recently. As a result, we have passed a measure that would allow prosecutors to engage the grand jury system for individuals who are trafficking humans over county lines. In an effort to increase reporting from exploited individuals and prosecute their traffickers a previously established information and reporting hotline would be strengthened by expanding the publicity of the hotline to high public traffic areas. The measure now heads to the Senate and upon passage will go to the Governor’s desk for her signature.

We also addressed issues surrounding the ride sharing industry that specifically impacted Uber and other transportation network companies (TNC). In South Carolina, we’ve always had taxis and they fall under the management of the Public Service Commission (PSC). However, the business model for TNCs, like Uber, wouldn’t be viable if each driver had to pay for a taxi license.

In January, the PSC issued a cease and desist order against Uber effectively shutting them down. As a conservative who opposes over-regulation strangling business innovation, I was disheartened by that action. In response, this bill was drafted to set up a framework that allows TNC’s, specifically Uber, to operate legally. H. 3525 establishes that framework and allows the TNC companies to get one license – allowing all of their drivers to operate under that single license. This bill was rated as “business positive” by a leading business advocacy organization, and I am glad to have innovative companies like Uber in South Carolina. I will continue my work to keep them here.

The full House Judiciary Committee gave final approval to the domestic violence act I discussed in last week’s email. I remain committed to using my office and my vote to crack down on violent domestic offenders and advocate survivors. I want to thank those who have spent an enormous amount of time on this project – it’s one I plan to see through.

This week the process of repairing roads and infrastructure took the next necessary legislative step as the House Ways and Means Committee combined the two bills related to roads and income tax. The bill now moves to the whole House under H. 3579. During the next two weeks, I would like to have your input via email, phone call, or social media on this important legislation. I also invite you to participate in the House Republican Caucus online poll by clicking here. http://schousegop.org/roads-poll/ Many floor amendments are expected as we debate this bill, and I will report back to you in subsequent newsletters.

It is an honor to serve you and your family in the General Assembly. If you ever find yourself in need of assistance navigating state government, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with my colleagues in the House, don’t hesitate to contact me at 803 734-3045 at my office in Columbia, and 963-0337 at home.