Illegal immigration tops the list of concerns of a majority of Americans who believe our national borders must be secured and those who enter our country illegally must be sent back. Illegal means illegal.
SC and Sanctuary Cities
There won’t be sanctuary cities in SC if the Senate agrees with the amended bill the House sent back to them this past week. The House overwhelmingly passed legislation (H.4496) to enhance current state law banning sanctuary cities in our state. This legislation authorizes the circuit court to determine if a city or county has violated the provisions of this law that prohibit interfering with immigration enforcement. If a city or county is found to be in violation they will be barred from receiving Local Government Fund appropriations for at least three consecutive years.
The House voted to allow a floor debate on legislation involving sentencing reform. The bill (H.5155) aims to grant parole to nonviolent offenders and incentivize good behavior by inmates. Paroling nonviolent offenders will both make it easier for prison guards to control violent inmates and save tax dollars. This bill will not be voted on this legislative session, it is being brought up to give members a look at what will be worked on during the off season.
Prison Riot & Deaths Should Not be a Surprise
The tragic melee at SC’s Lee Correctional Institution which killed seven inmates was the worst loss of life at an American prison since at least 1993. It’s clear that staffing levels at SC’s prisons are not adequate to maintain safety. Around 28-percent of correctional officer jobs are unfilled at Lee Correctional. The current year’s state budget included an additional $5 million for Correctional Officers hiring and the proposed state budget starting in July proposes pay increases for prison workers. Another major contributing factor to the violence is the ability of inmates to obtain and use cell phones. The federal government refuses to allow states to use electronic jamming devices to block cell phone usage in prisons.
Opioid Abuse Prevention
The full House unanimously passed another much-needed opioid abuse prevention bill paving the way for final passage in the Senate. The bill (H.3819) establishes additional requirements related to the prescribing of opioids to minors. Prescribers will be required to examine the minor to assess whether the minor has ever suffered or is currently suffering from a mental health or substance abuse disorder, share the risks of addiction and overdosing when opioids are taken, and obtain consent from an authorized adult, guardian, or parent, among other requirements. The legislation is in response to the opioid abuse epidemic occurring across the nation and across South Carolina.
Senate votes to Slash SCE&G Nuclear Power Rates; Dominion Warns Merger Could be Derailed
The Senate approved a resolution which would temporarily cut SCE&G’s power rates by 13-percent. That’s about 75-percent of what customers are being charged monthly to pay off the ill-fated V.C. Summer nuclear expansion. Senate opponents argued it is unconstitutional to revoke a utility’s rates when that utility is following state law. The move also puts into jeopardy a potential offer from Virginia-based Dominion Energy to buy SCE&G’s parent SCANA. Dominion CEO Tom Farrell has said the deal hinges on the company continuing to collect from ratepayers to recover SCE&G’s nearly $5 billion in debt from the V.C. Summer project. Any rate cut would be temporary until the state Public Service Commission has a chance to make a final ruling later this year. The House previously passed its own version of the resolution which temporarily repeals the entire 18 percent rate hike. It’s interesting to note that SCE&G is currently using the roughly $38 million per month to pay dividends to its investors.
SC has Third-Highest Rate of DUI-A Related Deaths
We are not proud of this rating! A new report by a consumer research group finds SC has the third-worst rate in the country for DUI-Alcohol related deaths. The most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finds a rate of 6.59 DUI deaths per every 100,000 South Carolinians in 2016. That’s more than twice the national average. (View Report)
Distracted Driving is Even More Dangerous!
Experts are now saying that distracted driving (talking & texting top the list) is more dangerous and deadly than driving drunk. If you are a regular reader of this newsletter, you likely know we have been working hard this year to win passage of DUI-E legislation (H.4480) which calls for drivers to put down their cells phones, be hands-free, and talk or text only via a speaker phone or Bluetooth. A similar bill in Georgia is awaiting Governor Deal’s signature and would start enforcement July 1st. Debate on the SC legislation is (finally) slated for this coming Wednesday.
Hall of Fame QB Warns South Carolinians on Dangers of Distracted Driving
Kudo’s to Brett Favre for his words of advice for SC drivers. In public service announcements that will be broadcast across SC, Favre is asking SC drivers to stay off their phones while driving because distracted driving is a rising cause of fatalities. (View PSA)
NTSB Supports DUI-E (Electronics) Bill
The Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board wrote with his advocacy for the distracted driving legislation. Chairman Robert Sunwalt is a resident of SC. He wrote:
“As a resident of South Carolina I’m glad to see South Carolina’s distracted driving law moving in the right direction. I believe a significant number of lives can be saved and injuries avoided by South Carolina expanding and strengthening its law. It is past time to face the fact that distracted driving is a serious safety risk. It’s not just about the safety of distracted drivers – it’s about the safety of everyone else on the road, because no text, no call, no update is ever worth a human life.”
Read the entire letter
Daylight Savings Time Change Legislative Stalls
A proposal which could have ended the semi-annual time change in SC has been tabled for this legislative session, but the discussion is expected to continue into next year. Rep. Alan Clemmons proposed putting the issue up for a referendum to voters in the 2018 election. Florida and North Carolina are considering similar bills. Clemmons says he is seeing similar bills pop up around the country and he suspects there will be a federal bill proposed to allow states to opt in or out of DST as they see fit.
GOOD NEWS! GOOD NEWS!
SC employment and business payrolls reached record levels in March, according to the latest report from the SC Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW). The unemployment rate remained at 4.4% in March with every County seeing a decrease in unemployment. DEW officials say more people are entering the workforce as businesses continue to add a record number of jobs and hire a record number of South Carolinians. This is something to celebrate!
Thank you for the privilege of serving you in Columbia. Your feedback and assistance is critical in ensuring your voice is heard in our state government. If you have ideas on issues you want me to share with the rest of the General Assembly, or if you need assistance in any way, please don’t hesitate to give me a call at 864-529-2860 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, you can go to www.schouse.gov, click on my name and see how I have voted on each and every issue before the house. You can also see any bills that I have sponsored or co-sponsored.