There are three weeks left in the 2013 legislative session, so the House worked on getting some Senate legislation through for a vote and tying up loose ends.
The biggest issue we dealt with this week was how to prevent last year’s unprecedented data security breach at the Department of Revenue. House Ways and Means Committee debated legislation this week that would enhance cyber security across all state agencies.
Last fall, international computer hackers broke into the computers at the Department of Revenue and stole personal information – including Social Security Numbers, bank account numbers, and credit card numbers – for more than 3.6 million people. This hacking included taxpayers, dependents, and minor children. The hacking also included hundreds of thousands of business Federal Tax ID numbers for small businesses.
This was far and away South Carolina’s biggest and most serious cyber theft of private data, but not the only one. The House approved $20 million in money to provide credit monitoring and credit insurance for people who had their identity stolen. Experts told a House committee late last year that a pre-emptive fix would have cost $25,000.
Since the hacking incident became public last October, it has obviously been a major issue with our constituents across the state. Improving data security and implementing procedures to keep this from happening again was a top Republican agenda item for 2013. The people of our state have no choice but to offer up this personal information when filing taxes with the Department of Revenue, so it is the government’s responsibility to protect that information adequately.
A House amendment debated this week provides more years of credit protection for the public, or provides a tax deduction for people who choose not to participate in whichever plan the state chooses and does not sunset.
We also will consolidate information technology and security for state government under one entity – so security measures for critical information are uniformly strong across agencies.
One last item of note. A House Judiciary subcommittee approved legislation to allow concealed weapons permit holders to carry their weapons in restaurants and bars that serve alcohol. The NRA praised the subcommittee’s action in removing “arbitrary restrictions” that were imposed by the Senate.
The purpose of the bill is simple: It allows responsible gun owners to carry guns into restaurants instead of being forced to leave their weapons in their vehicles. Gun owners would not be able to consume alcohol while carrying their weapon, and the law allows business owners to post signs banning guns.