Santee Cooper Reform Bill, Increased Prison Sentencing For Terrorism, & New Red Drum Fishing Standards
The House overwhelmingly passed a Santee Cooper reform bill this week in order to protect ratepayers and prevent another failure like the V.C. Summer nuclear project from happening again. The three-pronged approach (1) provides a new governance structure to hold the Santee Cooper Board of Directors accountable, (2) increases ratepayer protections by creating the Santee Cooper Rate Reduction and Stabilization Fund, and (3) creates the Santee Cooper Joint Evaluation and Recommendation Committee (SCJERC) that will determine whether a sale is in the best interest of ratepayers and taxpayers and puts a transparent process in place to vet potential buyers. The bill creates the Santee Cooper Rate Reduction and Stabilization Fund and requires it to be explicitly used for rate relief. Funds include: Toshiba settlement money, any gains made from the sale or salvage of V.C. Summer assets, and cost savings from governance. The legislation also authorizes the governor to remove at-will all current Santee Cooper board members and shortens the terms from seven years to four years.
The full House passed a bill to increase penalties for acts of terrorism on Wednesday. The bill’s original proponent is Speaker Pro Tempore Tommy Pope of York County. The legislation was crafted after a failed attack on U.S. troops by a York County teenager, Zakaryia Abdin, three years ago. The teen had pledged himself to the terrorist group ISIS, which has declared war on the United States and is responsible for brutal mass killings and human trafficking overseas. Due to the current law, Zakaryia was sentenced to only three years in juvenile jail and then was released on parole after serving just one year of that sentence. The newly-passed bill mandates prison sentences of 10 years or more for individuals who plan an act of terrorism and a minimum of five years in prison for anyone who supports an act of terrorism, including financial assistance. The bill passed by a resounding vote of 111-0 in the House and will now head to the Senate for final legislative approval.
The South Carolina House took steps to preserve the dwindling population of red drum fish this week. In recent years, the spawning potential ratio (SPR) has not reached the ideal 40% due to overfishing. In order for the red drum population to be sustained, the legislature voted to change the current “bag” limit of three per day to two per day. Also, it is illegal to gig for red drum under current law from December 1 until the last day of February; the newly passed legislation makes it illegal to gig for the red drum at any time of year. Experts believe these modest changes, among others, will lead to a stabilization of the species.
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.