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.