Legislative Update: Week 16
I hope everyone had a great spring break and Easter weekend. With two weeks left of session and the crossover deadline behind us, we have a busy few weeks ahead as we begin to take up bills from the Senate.
Heartbeat Bill Passes
The Heartbeat Bill, H. 3020, passed out of the House on Wednesday after many hours of debate on the House floor. The bill bans abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected by a physician. The exceptions to the bill are in the case of a medical emergency, rape, or incest.
South Carolina will be one of a few states to hold the most conservative stance on this issue. I’m proud of this huge step made and I hope the Senate will get on board with the House and the Governor to pass this into law.
“We appreciate the leadership of those elected officials who continue to affirm that life is worth protecting. The South Carolina General Assembly has worked tirelessly for many years on a great deal of affective pro-life pieces of legislation, and we support their continued efforts to extend the God-given right to life for persons within the womb.”
-Joshua Putnam, Palmetto Family
The Senate passed their version of the state’s $9.3 billion budget last week. The House and Senate will meet over the next few weeks to negotiate the differences between the two budgets and come up with a final version. Unlike the federal government, South Carolina has a balanced budget requirement. To see a link to all of the budget information as passed so far by both the Senate and House, go here.
Highlights from the Senate Budget Additions
Ban on Oil Drilling Infrastructure Construction: The Senate added a ban on offshore drilling and construction. This directs that DHEC, local government entities, and special purpose districts may not approve a plan, permit, or license application for the construction of infrastructure or other activities for which the principal purpose is to explore, develop, or produce oil or gas from the territorial waters of South Carolina or in the Atlantic Ocean off the state’s coast.
State Support to Public Schools: The House version of the budget would give $150 million, at no cost to local districts, for teacher pay raises. The Senate added $15 million to the Base Student Cost but requires the local district to match the funds.
Taxpayer Rebate: The Senate changed the $50 tax rebate to per return and not per taxpayer with an income tax liability.
State Employees Raises: The Senate added a $600 one-time bonus for state employees earning less than $70,000 per year on top of the 2 percent across the board pay increase for state employees the House had in the budget.
Farm Aid — Hurricane Devastation: The Senate added $25 million to set-aside for a grant program to assist famers who suffered devastating crop losses as a result of the flooding associated with Hurricanes Michael and Florence in Fall 2018.
Rideshare Safety Update
The Senate has taken recommendations from popular rideshare companies and replaced the House version of the Samantha Josephson Rideshare Safety Act with their own proposal. Instead of light-up signs on Uber and Lyft vehicles, the bill now requires rideshare drivers to display license plate numbers on the front of their cars.
Quote of the Week:
“Abortions in South Carolina have consistently declined since Republicans have been the majority party. I am proud of the bill that passed this week and whether the Senate takes it up this year or next year, every time the House has passed something, we move closer to the goal of protecting life.”
-Rep. Gary Simrill, Majority Leader
It is an honor and a privilege to serve you in Columbia. If you need help navigating state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact me.