Legislative Update: Week 8
This week started with the General Assembly honoring the Clemson Tigers winning the 2018 national football championship and an inspiring speech by head football Coach Dabo Swinney on the importance (and effectiveness) of unity in order to get things done. It was a good reminder this week as my colleagues and I continue to debate the transformational education reform bill that’s moving through the House, and as we begin discussions regarding this year’s budget.
Education Reform Bill is on the Move
Momentum continues to build in support of the S.C. Career Opportunity and Access for All Act (H.3759). I am proudly one of 96 co-sponsors in the House – a true bipartisan coalition that’s continuing to push for passing this bill. This week the bill reported out of the full education committee 15-1 and is expected to be debated on the House floor next week. We have received input from teachers, parents, students, and the business community. Because of this expansive participation, we have a stronger, better bill with the foundations of bold reform. This goes to show we can all agree that education needs fundamental reforms like raising teacher pay, teaching our children to read, testing less and teaching more, consolidating small school districts so they run more efficiently, and creating accountability for school boards. These important reforms form the foundation for our bill. South Carolina ranks 24th in per pupil spending, yet we are last in student achievement.
Want to hear more? K-12 Education Subcommittee Chairwoman, Rep. Raye Felder, joined WRHI’s Straight Talk to discuss the education bill.
Tax Reform Update
The Tax Committee, a bipartisan committee appointed by the Speaker last year, met again this week to continue discussions on a reform bill. The committee is preparing to report a bold plan that will reduce income taxes and broaden the base of sales taxes resulting in much fairer tax rates across the board for all South Carolinians.
Other Legislative News
I was proud to support a bill that will aid in the ability fight against the opioid epidemic in S.C. We are hopeful that the Senate will pass, and Gov. McMaster will soon sign into law the requirement that coroners and medical examiners be given expanded career education so that they can better identify deaths that are caused by opioid overdoses.
Civil Asset Forfeiture
Legislation that would change the way civil forfeiture cases are handled is making its way through the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Laws. Right now, law enforcement can seize property from residents, sometimes without charging or convicting them of a crime, and then profit from the proceeds. I look forward to supporting this bill when it gets to the full House to help ensure that no person can lose their property unless/until they are convicted of a crime.
Serving SC Veterans
I was proud to support legislation that will improve the chain of command in the Division of Veteran Affairs. Just last week, Gov. Henry McMaster was joined by veterans, members of the General Assembly, and S.C. Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Van McCarty in supporting our effort to make the South Carolina Division of Veterans Affairs a standalone cabinet agency. (Currently, the Division of Veterans Affairs is housed under the Department of Administration.)
This week, I supported efforts to simplify our hunting laws in S.C., specifically the rules governing the S.C. Hunting License and a Big Game permit. Currently, permits allow three unrestricted individual antlered deer tags and eight date-specific individual antlerless deer tags which are valid only on specified days. This bill provides, instead, that a resident receives, in addition to the three antlered deer tags, two antlerless deer tags that are not date-specific with the purchase of a hunting license and permit. As a result, the bill eliminates any reference to the minimum number of days for the taking of antlerless deer in Game Zones 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Good News for SC Tourism
For the sixth consecutive year tourism in SC has shown record growth. 2017 generated a record economic impact of $22.6 billion, an increase of $1.4 billion from 2016. Tourism growth in the state has increased 50% increase since 2010, according to the SC Parks & Recreation Division.
Fact of the Week
South Carolina is currently one of only fourteen states with a AAA credit rating according to Moody’s. Our debt level is 0.39% of state revenues which is 92% lower than our constitutionally set limit of 5%.
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.