This week was “crossover” week in the House – the deadline for the House or Senate to approve legislation and send it to the other chamber. After May 1, it takes a two-thirds vote for the other body to even consider the legislation.
So crossover week is a very busy week in Columbia as legislators work long hours to debate as much legislation as possible before the deadline.
While we debated dozens of pieces of legislation, three pieces in particular stand out to conservatives.
First, we approved a sweeping charter school reform package that aims to make our state’s vibrant charter school movement even stronger.
Charter school reform was another of the Republican Caucus’ top priorities this year, and the Republican Caucus stands for the belief that the best, most conservative way to improve education is to give parents more choices for their child’s education.
The legislation approved Tuesday allows students attending charter schools to participate in their local school’s extra-curricular programs and sports – as is done currently in some school districts. Charter schools would also become eligible for federal and state sponsored leagues, competitions, awards, scholarships and grants, just as in traditional public schools.
The legislation also allows the creation of single-gender charter schools, in addition to the single-gender classrooms allowed under the current law. It also provides for the procedures whereby a private school can dissolve and become a charter school.
Charter schools are public schools, and a critical part of a well-rounded education system. They are innovating and filling important needs in communities across our state and we need to ensure they have all the support they can from the state.
We overrode the governor’s veto of the “Warrantless Search” for parolees legislation that the House and the Senate have both approved. This legislation – which was supported by law enforcement across South Carolina – allows law enforcement to search people on probation and parole without needing a search warrant. People on probation or parole are in the state’s criminal justice system, and if they were still in jail, they could be searched at any time, without warning. People on parole are walking around in our communities based on the mercy of the state.
While I understand the concerns about warrantless searches, my first priority is the protection of my law-abiding constituents. Law enforcement wanted a way to search criminals for contraband to protect the public. I believe this legislation will help police do their jobs and protect the public.
Finally, the House approved legislation that will take away the drivers’ licenses for students under 18 who drop out of school. This is the law in many states, and provides a deterrent for underage students from dropping out of school. We allowed exemptions for students forced to drop out of school to support their families by working. This legislation will now head to the Senate.