With the State Budget behind us and in the Senate, the House turns our attention to the traditional “second half” of the legislative session.
This week was filled with busy committee meetings where a number hearings were held on key legislative issues, and we had a major pro-life victory on the House floor.
First, the House approved a bill that bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy. It was approved by a bi-partisan 84-29 margin. The bill is the “fetal pain” bill – so named because new research shows that babies can feel pain after 20 weeks.
Some of the bill’s supporters also pointed out that the current 24-week threshold was established by the courts decades ago because that was a date when a baby is viable outside the womb. New medical technology has pushed that back. While opponents spent much time on the House floor pretending to be federal judges, the specifics of the bill – written by Rep. Wendy Nanney of Greenville – have not be litigated in a federal court.
Second, a House Judiciary Subcommittee began hearings legislation on our data security privacy act. With so many people owning iPhone and Android smartphones these days, the typical phone is no longer something with just call records on it. Yours includes location information, personal pictures, private emails, sensitive contacts, calendars, and personal records such as your banking information.
You are protected from the government searching such data in your home – a law enforcement agency must secure a warrant – but our antiquated electronic privacy laws do not provide protection for information stored electronically. It has never been easier, or cheaper, for a government to access, record, and retain the seemingly mundane details of our daily lives.
This legislation is a Republican Caucus agenda item, and has the support of a diverse constellation of groups from major tech companies such as Google, to conservative groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council, and even the liberal ACLU. All of them understand that we need these protections. I look forward to a floor debate on this legislation very soon.
Finally, we received more great news on the jobs front as we try to get this wicked winter behind us. Our state’s unemployment rate fell to 6.4 percent – well below the national average, and nearly 6 percent below the peak in 2010. Local economists praised the rate of job growth in our state, which means we’re creating jobs in our state, not losing people from the workforce (which is lowering the rate nationally). South Carolina is on a strong path as we push into 2014, and I hope we see this number continue to fall as we head into the summer and fall. It is our goal that every South Carolinian who wants a job should have a job. It’s a lofty goal, but we’re on the right track.
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.