There are two legislative weeks left before the “Crossover” deadline – the date when legislation must reach the Senate to be considered in the normal course of business. That means April is always a busy month in the General Assembly and this week was no exception.
GOOD NEWS: The unemployment Rate in Spartanburg County in February was 4.9%. This is fantastic news for our County.
GOOD NEWS: SC taxpayers paid about 8.3% of their income on state and local taxes and only 8 states pay less according to the nonprofit, nonpartisan Tax Foundation. The Republicans took control of the House in 1995 and the rate has come down from the 9.5% in 1990 to 8.3% in 2011.
Here is a quick breakdown of this week’s major activity:
EMMA’S LAW – The House approved a strong anti-DUI law that we hope will keep repeat DUI offenders off the roads. “Emma’s Law” was named for Emma Longstreet, a 6-year-old girl from Lexington County who was killed by a repeat offender drunk driver two years ago. The law requires some DUI offenders to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicles and closes loopholes that made it easier for those convicted of a DUI to get back on the road without having to use an ignition interlock device. Ignition interlock devices require a driver to breathe into the device before starting the car. If the driver has been drinking, the car won’t start. Expanding the use of these interlock devices is a critical step in making our roads safer. This bill will now go to a House-Senate Conference Committee to finalize language before going to the Governor for her signature.
ETHICS REFORM – A special House subcommittee began re-writing our Ethics Reform Act that the Senate loaded up by doubling the size of the bill. As I wrote last week, the primary reason for sending it to subcommittee is to write our own provisions into the legislation so we can work with the Senate in a conference committee. Our goal is to get this back out quickly so we can send a strong Ethics Reform Act to Governor Haley. The subcommittee held a meeting today and will meet again next Tuesday.
“CBD” and CHILDREN’S SEIZURES – The House approved an extremely limited use of a non-psychoactive cannabidiol, known as CBD oil which is extracted from the marijuana plant. This is to be used for children with severe epilepsy. A similar bill passed the Senate last week without an opposing vote. The Senate bill allowed for clinical trials at the Medical University of South Carolina, the House bill took the law a step further and allowed the parents to possess the CBD oil. This extract has given hope to parents who have children with extreme cases of epilepsy. This bill will also head to a conference committee. I agreed with the Senate in allowing the Medical University of SC to conduct clinical trials.
NATIONAL REPUBLICAN VISITS – The House Republican Caucus was honored to have former Congressman and MSNBC “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough here to speak to us on Tuesday. He signed copies of his book and spoke to the Caucus about national political issues. As we move forward into 2015, please take the time to seek out these prominent Republicans when they visit our state. One of the biggest benefits of having the First in the South Presidential Primary is that we all get to meet, hear, and shake hands with national conservative figures between now and February 2016.