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. Many floor amendments are expected as we debate this bill, and I will report back to you in subsequent newsletters.
As always, it is a privilege to serve you in the South Carolina House. If you ever need help with state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact me.