There was lots of activity in the state House this week as we advanced two major pieces of legislation and heard from the Governor in her annual State of the State address.
South Carolinians will see the most significant streamlining of state government in a generation now that the House and Senate gave final approval to the “Department of Administration” legislation.
I wrote about this extensively last week, so I’ll just recap it quickly: This legislation moves the vast majority of the administrative functions of state government under the control of the Governor for the first time. It also effectively eliminates the old Budget and Control Board, which was a quasi-legislative/executive agency that controlled much of state government.
We have fought for this reform for nearly a decade – and approved it six times in the past five years alone. The vision of two Governors, two Speakers, and four House Majority Leaders is now reality, and our state will be better for it.
The House also gave key approval to legislation that will allow people who have Concealed Weapons Permits to carry their weapons into bars or restaurants as long as they do not consume alcohol. Businesses will be allowed to prohibit firearms on their property by posting signs. This is a victory for law-abiding gun owners who want to protect their weapons, and keep them from unwittingly violating the law.
Leaving guns in vehicles is far less secure than keeping them on your person, and Supporters say the bill would allow people licensed to carry concealed weapons to carry while eating dinner in a restaurant, instead of having to leave their gun in a vehicle, where it is less secure.
Both the Department of Administration bill and the restaurant carry bill were approved with wide bi-partisan votes.
On Wednesday night, we heard from Governor Haley in her State of the State address. My Republican colleagues and I were excited to hear the governor’s support for many of our priorities such as ethics reform, infrastructure improvements, and flattening our unwieldy personal income tax structure. She also pledged to continue fighting the massive Medicaid expansion that creates new cycles of dependency on government and eventually bankrupt our state.
Finally, as is typical in January, much of the work was done by House Ways and Means budget subcommittees as they tried to wrap up their work before the budget goes to the full committee next month. We tried to spend as little time as possible on the floor so they could have time to get their work done. Debating and crafting a state budget that wisely spends your hard-earned tax dollars is the most important thing we do each year.
It is an honor and a privilege to serve you in Columbia again this year. 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.