The following update is the official weekly report of the Republican House Caucus –
The major event of the week was the four-hour, sometimes-contentious debate on the Voter ID legislation.
The goal of this legislation is to protect the integrity of the election system of our state. A strong electoral system, where the integrity of each vote is beyond reproach, is what makes our democracy strong. Similar Voter ID laws in Georgia and Indiana have been upheld by the Department of Justice and the United States Supreme Court. Voter ID now moves to the Senate, where a similar bill is already on the calendar.
Voter ID joins Roll Call Voting as our second agenda item approved in the first three weeks of session.
The House Education Committee sent to the floor H. 3185 – the Higher Education Transparency Bill. Under the provisions of the bill, state colleges and universities will be required to post online a monthly registry of all expenditures and dollar amounts – prominently displayed on their official websites for the public to see.
House Education and Public Works Committee Chairman, Phil Owens said when the bill was filed: “This is yet another step the House is taking to make your state government more transparent and accountable. Every dollar the government spends should be accounted for, and the Higher Education Transparency Act’s online registry is an important step forward.”
We believe that holding our public colleges and universities accountable for all of their spending will not only improve transparency. It will also make these institutions think harder about the tax dollars (and tuition) they do spend. That will improve education.
The third agenda item that moved in the House this week was our Tort Reform legislation – a key pro-business bill that we believe will help create jobs.
Tort Reform has been touted by many business organizations as one of the most effective economic improvement issues before the General Assembly. The legislation will lower the cost of doing business in South Carolina, and make our state more competitive, by reducing frivolous lawsuits and limiting punitive damages to realistic levels. All of this will make South Carolina more competitive, which is vitally important after neighboring states enacted similar laws.
As the General Assembly faces a major budget shortfall again this year, it is imperative that we search for ways to get government out of business’s way. This will allow the true job creators – private companies – to get to work.