We are in the process of winding down the second year of a two year session. Any bill that does not get passed by June 7, 2012 is dead. If this is an issue that is still important, it will have to be reintroduced in December or when we return to Columbia in January 2013.
Last year, the House Republican Caucus unveiled an ambitious two-year legislative agenda that addressed the issues voters told us were important during the 2010 elections. We worked hard over the past two years and approved 25 conservative reforms. (This caused Democrats to coin the term “Wicked Wednesdays” for the day in the week when we typically approved a new reform.)
These items were front and center for Republican voters: tax reform, illegal immigration reform, tort reform, a state spending limit, voter ID, charter school reforms, and policies to help small businesses secure funding through the private sector.
There are three weeks left in the two-year legislative session, and more than half of these reforms are still in the South Carolina Senate.
We applaud the Senate for taking action on several of these items, including the Born Alive Act, the joint election of the governor and lieutenant governor, Voter ID, illegal immigration, and government restructuring.
Here are some of the items still left in the Senate as time runs out:
H 3779: The Bill Wylie Entrepreneurship Act – This legislation expands tax credits for “Angel Investors”. Angel investors are typically private individuals or companies who give start-up money to small technology, biotech, and similar businesses. Encouraging the creation and expansion of these small businesses are essential to the health of our state’s economy. This bill is in the Senate Finance Committee.
H 3368: State Spending Limit – A reasonable spending limit, one that passed the House along party lines, is something the House has been sending to the senate for a decade. The House sent a spending limit bill to the Senate on March 10, 2011. It is in the Senate Finance Committee.
H 3716: Education Funding Reform – Changing the way we fund our public schools in this state is an important reform that is supported by both parties. This legislation was approved 101-6 in the House back in March 2011 and has been in the Senate Finance Committee for 14 months.
H 3410: Higher Education Efficiency Act – This legislation gives the public unprecedented transparency into how our colleges and universities spend their money. Among other things, this requires colleges to put their financial transactions online for the public to scrutinize. This legislation is also on the Senate Finance Committee.
H 3070: Superintendent of Education Appointed by Governor – This week, the House and Senate agreed on letting the voters decide if the Governor and Lieutenant Governor should run on the same ticket. This bill allows voters to decide if our state Superintendent of Education should also be appointed by the governor. This bill is on the Senate calendar, and has been since last April.
H 4145: Shorten the Legislative Session – Fifteen years of House bills on this have never come to fruition. This year, our legislation had the modest goal of shortening the session by one week. This bill is in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
H 3507: Repeal Amendment – This is a federal constitutional amendment that allows two-thirds of the states to vote and repeal a federal law. This is in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
H 3226: Regulatory Reform – This legislation requires bureaucratic regulations be approved by the House and Senate, rather than becoming law automatically. This is on the Senate calendar.
H 3419: Taxpayer Fairness Act – This reigns in the Department of Revenue from collecting taxes and harassing taxpayers for any taxes that are not explicitly called for by law. In addition, it directs that any ambiguity in tax statutes be decided in favor of the taxpayer, not the state. This is also in the Senate Finance Committee.
H 4652: Right to Work Reform – Our strong right to work laws in South Carolina are one of our strongest job-creating assets. This legislation improves the rights of workers to decide whether they should unionize or not. This legislation is in the Senate Labor, Commerce, and Industry Committee.
This is a quick list of many of the pieces of legislation still on the Senate’s 80-page calendar as time is running low in the session. We hope there is still time for the Senate to send us these bills, or their similar Senate counterparts, before June 7.
PRIMARY ELECTION – Unless there is another change in either candidates or a change of the primary election date, the June 12, 2012 Democratic and Republican primary will proceed as scheduled and with the current slate of candidates. After action taken Thursday by the State Elections Commission, I do not anticipate anyone getting added to the ballot. There was a move by the SCGOP to have a candidate certified and placed on the ballot. The commission rejected adding this person pursuant to the Order of the SC Supreme Court setting the date of May 4 as the deadline for candidate certification.
Voters need to be aware of the following:
The following precincts will not be open for either Democratic or Republican voters as there are no opposed candidates in the precincts’ political districts:
Arrowood Baptist, Carlisle Fosters Grove, Cooley Springs Baptist, Chesnee Senior Center, and Mayo Elementary
Should a voter choose to participate in the Democratic Primary, the only seat opposed and on the ballot is that of U.S. Congressional District 4. All precincts will be open except for the above mentioned 5 precincts.
The Democratic candidates for US Cong Dist 4 are: Deb Morrow or Jimmy Tobias
Should a voter choose to participate in the Republican Primary, the only offices that are opposed and on the ballot are those of SC Senate District 5, SC Senate District 12, SC House District 35 and SC House District 37.
Republican Candidates are:
SC Senate Dist 5 Tom Corbin or Wyatt Miler or Amanda Tieder Somers
SC Senate Dist 12 Lee Bright or John Hawkins
SC House Dist 35 Bill Chumley or Kevin Owens
SC House Dist 37 Steve Parker or Donna Wood
If you do not vote in one of the districts above then there will be no Republican ballot for you to cast your vote.