We finished up our 8th week of legislative session in the South Carolina House by passing a final ethics reform package and a bill that shortens the legislative session.
My colleagues and I worked diligently this week to clear the House calendar as we enter into the annual budget debate next week. Unlike Washington, we take time to balance our budget each year. I take a conservative approach to allocating state funds, and I value your input. You can find an online version of the budget here.
Local Government Funds
You have read a lot about our local government funds and how they were not being fully funded since the 2008 recession. This week we also approved a measure updating an antiquated formula instituted 24 years ago used to establish funding to local governments around the state. The outdated structure no longer met many budgetary demands and a compromise plan was reached this week to revise the formula and ensure local governments a more consistent revenue stream.
Last week I mentioned that an omnibus ethics package was introduced in the House with over 100 co-sponsors. H. 3722 combines 12 smaller pieces of specifically focused ethics reform legislation already passed by the House into one comprehensive bill. Among other things, the omnibus bill:
- Provides public employees legal protections and substantially increased financial incentives for reporting unethical behavior when your tax
- dollars are on the line
- Removes loopholes in the existing ethics statutes
- Gives increased clarity to the proper use of political campaign dollars
- Strengthens campaign finance reporting laws
- Streamlines the open government process by improving FOIA laws
We have worked diligently on passing robust ethics reforms this year, and I’m happy to report that we approved the omnibus package 108 – 1. H. 3722 now heads to the Senate.
For the 10th time in the past 20 years we passed legislation in the House that would shorten the legislative work session, saving taxpayer dollars. “There are other legislatures that have much longer sessions than ours, and that’s why they call those full-time legislatures. We call ours a part-time legislature, and we need to act like it. The taxpayers deserve for us to be here less, get more done, and spend less money,” said House Majority Leader Bruce Bannister. Shortening the session by nearly 2 months each year would save South Carolina taxpayers approximately $400,000 annually. Each attempt by House Republicans to shorten the legislative session has been blocked by the Senate.
We passed the bill I sponsored to allow those driving a moped, while under the influence, to be charged with DUI. The House has passed this legislation during the two previous terms, only to have it die in the Senate. It is our hope the Senate will take this seriously this year and send it to the Governor to become law. During a 9 month period last year, the Spartanburg, Greenville and Anderson Hospitals incurred more than $5,000,000 in unpaid debt treating those involved in moped accidents. Additionally there were128 moped related deaths from 2010 – 2013 and of those deaths, 42 were driving with a suspended license for a DUI conviction. We can do better in South Carolina and make our roads safer!