With four weeks left in the legislative session, the race is on to get important legislation finished and to Governor Haley’s desk.
Looking back on the two-year session, the House Republicans have a long list of notable achievements. Since voters gave us control of the House in 1994, most of our state’s major reforms originated as priorities of the House Republican Caucus. This year was no exception.
Here are just a few of the notable bills that we passed and their status:
ELECTION REFORM – This legislation fixed the problems that plagued the 2012 election and made our election system more efficient and streamlined. This legislation has been signed into law.
ID THEFT PROTECTION – In addition to providing ID fraud protection to all South Carolinians, we approved legislation making it easy to put a freeze on your credit report to prevent thieves from stealing your identity to take out loans, apply for credit cards, or anything else that requires a credit check.
OBAMACARE – The House Republicans have fought back more than a dozen attempts by the Democrats to implement Obamacare and radically expand Medicaid spending. We successfully opted-out of the Medicaid expansion, opted-out of the exchanges, and ordered local governments not to join on their own. We’ve worked for two years to fight Obamacare with every tool at our disposal. Most of the legislation is still in the state Senate.
RESTRUCTURING – The House approved the biggest restructuring of our government since Carroll Campbell was governor. That legislation created a Department of Administration and moved nearly all of the day-to-day operations of the state government under the control of the governor and out of the hands of the unaccountable Budget and Control Board, which was eliminated. This bill is now law.
Two other bills awaiting consideration in the Senate include shortening the legislative session (something the House has approved a dozen times since 1994), and legislation allowing voters to decide of the state Adjutant General should be elected or appointed by the governor.
SECOND AMENDMENT – We approved two bills that protected the rights of gun owners that were signed into law. The first allows concealed weapons permit holders to take their weapons into restaurants and bars – provided they do not consume alcohol. The second expands our state background checks to flag people who have been adjudicated mentally ill. That legislation came following the incident at the Ashley Hall school when a mentally ill woman brought a gun to the school and a tragedy was narrowly averted.
EMMA’S LAW – The General Assembly approved, and Governor Haley signed, Emma’s Law, which requires first offense DUI offenders to install ignition interlock devices on their cars if they blow .15 and above. I have written about this bill several times in the past few months.
ETHICS – The House will soon consider our Ethics Reform Act (after the Senate watered the bill down and sent it back to us last month). We approved this legislation last year and the Senate sent it back to us in April. We are committed to getting this legislation to the governor’s desk before the end of the session.
DATA PRIVACY PROTECTION – We approved legislation that prevents the state, or law enforcement, from eavesdropping on your smartphones and/or searching your smartphone without a warrant. These are vital protections that the federal courts have not given us, but are vital now that many of us carry sensitive personal information on our phones. This legislation is pending in the Senate.
BUDGET – The House approved two balanced budgets that prioritized education funding and our infrastructure needs. We have approved balanced budgets in every year that the Republicans have controlled the House.
A few other items of note that are still pending in the Senate as time runs short:
- Legislation requiring people getting unemployment benefits to be drug-tested;
- Legislation allowing the dependents of our service men and women to receive in-state tuition at our public colleges;
- Legislation putting new restrictions on texting while driving;
- Legislation expanding criminal background checks for childcare workers;
- Legislation reauthorizing the First Steps program;
- Numerous smaller pieces of legislation restricting the use campaign funds; and
- Legislation requiring a fiscal impact statement be computed for new regulations.
It been a very busy two years, but as we come to the close of the session, we can hang our hats on a number of significant reforms that will be felt throughout our state in the coming years.
It is always great to have friends and constituents visit the State House. This week, I was privileged to have several good friends visiting. Gia and Pete Dimaduros were here as their daughter, Elee, was introduced to the House as a Miss South Carolina Contestant.