Legislative Update from Rep. Tommy Pope
May 2, 2013
Statehouse Report Week 16
May 21, 2013
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Statehouse Report Week 15

A Record of Achievement and a Shorter Session

The House of Representatives adjourned for a week after finishing a successful “crossover week” and getting important House legislation moved to the Senate. We’ve nearly completed our agenda with more than a month left in the session.

Once again, the House Republican Caucus has worked hard to get important conservative legislation debated, approved, and moved so the Senate has plenty of time to consider it.

The House has approved election reform and ethics reform, new legislation protecting private data in the hands of the state, and fought Democrat attempts to radically expand Medicaid and force the state to accept Obamacare. In addition, we approved an infrastructure package for 2,000 new Boeing jobs, restructured some of our Constitutional officers, expanded pro-gun legislation, added mental health to our state’s firearms background checks, and passed legislation that will increase access to capital for small high-growth businesses.

But this gets me back to an issue that has been on Republican Caucus agendas since you gave us the House majority in 1994. This year, we also approved legislation that would shorten the session by nearly two months. That legislation is also in the Senate and we hope our colleagues will take swift action on it.

All of this was achieved by May 1 while still taking a month of furlough time.

Here are a couple of the major items we approved this week:

• Ethics Reform: I’ve written about this several times, but the House approved the biggest change to our ethics laws in a quarter of a century and sent the bill to the Senate. This legislation expands the requirements that lobbyists register at the local level, expands income disclosure for elected officials, and ends the practice of House members and Senators policing themselves.
• The “Boland” Bill: This bill expands restrictions to gun access for the mentally ill following the near-tragedy at the Ashley Hall school in Charleston. As Republicans, we stand solidly in support of our Second Amendment rights, but there are people who should not own guns. I’m proud the NRA supported us in this effort.
• Early Voting. We approved the state’s first early voting period, opening the polls to people for nine days (Sundays excluded) before an election.

The only major piece of legislation from the 2013 Caucus Agenda that has not passed is S. 22, the “Department of Administration” restructuring bill. The House began debate on it this week, but debate was postponed by procedural motions by the Democratic leadership. Since this is a Senate bill, it did not need to be approved before the May 1 “crossover” deadline.

The House of Representatives has a solid record of achievement through the first 14 weeks of session. The House proved this week: It’s time to shorten our legislative session.