Legislation Pending in the Senate

The following legislation has been passed by the House but remains pending in the Senate:

Ethics Reform: The house passed a package of 12 ethics reform bills in addition to an omnibus package that rolls the reform measures into one bill. Below are the highlights of the House ethics reform package.

1. Income Disclosure: Requires members of the General Assembly to disclose the source and type of all income received from any private entity.

Status: In Senate

2. Restructuring Ethics Commission: Revamps the makeup of the South Carolina Ethics Commission and turns the Commission into an independent investigative body. The independent commission is given the full resources of the South Carolina law enforcement community and is tasked with investigating ethics complaints made against elected officials. The State Ethics Commission would be comprised of 4 members appointed by the Governor, 4 elected by the Supreme Court, and 2 members elected by each the House and Senate.

Status: In Senate

3. Eliminating Leadership PAC’s: Bans candidate affiliated “Leadership” Political Action Committees (PAC). It even goes one step further and states that elected officials can no longer accept campaign contributions from Leadership PAC’s.

Status: In Senate

4. Exempting Research Professors: Provides certain exemptions to encourage state-funded university employees to develop intellectual property that benefits institutions of higher learning, making South Carolina more competitive in the effort to attract and retain top quality researchers.

Status: In Senate

5. Campaign Finance Laws: Prohibits lobbyist principals from paying for members of the General Assembly to attend American Legislative Exchange Council conferences. This simply removes an existing loophole in the law.

Status: In Senate

6. Primary Run-off Election Finance Law Reform: Clarifies how campaign funds should be attributed to primaries and primary run-off campaigns. Existing law was leading to confusion among some candidates for public office. These changes make clear which funds should be attributed to a campaign run-off election account.

Status: In Senate

7. Creation of Freedom of Information Act Office: Establishes an office specifically designed to handle Freedom of Information Act concerns. The measure also expands the right to access existing electronic transmission of public records, sets a reasonable fee schedule for accessing records, and reduces the turnaround time on obtaining records from 15 to 10 days.

Status: In Senate

8. Whistleblower Protection: Strengthens the existing whistleblower law and provides additional monetary incentives for government employees to report misuse of taxpayer dollars. The hope is that where fraud exists, that this provision empowers state employees to come forward with that information, saving taxpayer dollars.

Status: In Senate

9. Publicly Posting Agendas: Tightens the requirements on all government bodies by requiring them to post a public meeting agenda prior to engaging in official business. This measure sheds sunlight on all government bodies and gives the public a better idea of what their government is doing and when they’re doing it.

Status: In Senate

Small Business Regulatory Sunset Reform Act: This act places a sunset provision on all future regulation laws. Many regulation laws are outdated, and this new measure would give an automatic expiration to regulation laws five years after implementation. This ensures we don’t have cumbersome and outdated regulations hampering business owners.

Status: In Senate

Shortening Legislative Session: For the 10th time in the past 20 years the House has passed legislation that would shorten the legislative work session. Shortening the session by nearly 2 months each year would save valuable taxpayer dollars. Each attempt by House Republicans to shorten the legislative session has been blocked by the Senate.

Status: In Senate

Human Trafficking: A cross-county jurisdictional loophole in the current law was brought to our attention by prosecutors recently. As a result, the House passed a measure that would allow prosecutors to engage the grand jury system for individuals who are trafficking humans over county lines. In an effort to increase reporting from exploited individuals and prosecute their traffickers, a previously established information and reporting hotline would be strengthened by expanding the publicity of the hotline to high public traffic areas.

Status: In Senate

CWP Expansion: The House approved a concealed weapons permit reciprocity agreement with the state of Georgia allowing licensed CWP carriers to cross state lines without any legal ramifications.

Status: In Senate

Ride Sharing Deregulation – Uber: The House addressed issues surrounding the ride sharing industry that specifically impacted Uber and other transportation network companies (TNC). In South Carolina, we’ve always had taxis and they fall under the management of the Public Service Commission (PSC). However, the business model for TNCs, like Uber, wouldn’t be viable if each driver had to pay for a taxi license.

In January, the PSC issued a cease and desist order against Uber effectively shutting them down. In response, this “business positive” bill was drafted to set up a framework that allows TNC’s, specifically Uber, to operate legally. H. 3525 establishes that framework and allows the TNC companies to get one license – allowing all of their drivers to operate under that single license.

Status: In Senate

Roads & Infrastructure: Following 7 months of testimony and hours of debate with much input, the House passed a bill to address the state’s aging infrastructure. The comprehensive measure revamps the existing DOT structure, leadership and funding model. It’s important to note that House Republicans were able to include a provision that also provides income tax relief to South Carolina taxpayers

Status: In Senate

Balanced Budget: The Republican Majority in the House voted in unison to pass the 2015-2016 fiscal year budget. Balancing our state budget is something House Republicans take very seriously. The House budget proposal fully funds the necessities of our state while balancing the bottom line without incurring any new debt. Today’s economy requires families and businesses to do more with less money. The House Republican majority sent a clear message that government should be held to that same standard.

Status: In Senate

Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act: House Republicans once again passed the Pain-Capable Child Protection Act. The legislation provides additional statutory protections for the unborn by shortening the amount of time a woman can abort her child down to a 20-week window.

Status: In Senate

Emergency Preparedness: The House took preemptive action by approving a bill that would guarantee the State of South Carolina is adequately equipped to deal with emergency situations. Preparation for emergency scenarios is a vital aspect of protecting South Carolinians for decades to come, which we can ensure by giving our state law enforcement agencies the ability to obtain necessary resources in our times of greatest need.

Status: In Senate

Protecting Our Citizens: Gives certain legal protections to bystanders who rescue those trapped inside sweltering cars and trucks. One of the core functions of a limited government is providing for the safety of our children and otherwise vulnerable adults.

Status: In Senate

Domestic Violence Reform: Reports indicate that South Carolina’s murder rate of women killed by men sits at twice the national average. It’s unacceptable, and this measure gives law enforcement the necessary tools to reverse this pattern of abuse in our state. For 6 months, the House Special Criminal Domestic Violence Ad Hoc Committee studied all aspects of the issue. The committee listened to dozens of hours of testimony from both survivors of domestic violence and from the law enforcement and prosecutors charged with bringing justice to those who perpetrate crimes of domestic violence.

As a result of their findings the committee produced the Domestic Violence Reform Act. This comprehensive legislation:

Significantly enhances penalties for those found guilty of committing acts of domestic violence. Paves the way for middle school students to receive instruction on how to identify and respond to domestic violence situations. Creates the Domestic Violence Advisory Committee comprised of citizens, medical doctors, and law enforcement to review instances of death as a result of domestic violence and submit a public annual report.
Currently South Carolina’s domestic violence laws are occurrence based – an approach that has proven insufficient by itself. H 3433 institutes a hybrid model based on the number of occurrences and adds that penalties become more severe depending on the level of injury sustained, also accounting for any aggravating circumstances.

Status: In Senate

James B. Edwards Civics Education Initiative: Currently, immigrants seeking U.S. citizenship must take the US Citizen Civics Test containing 100 basic questions about American history and government. A recent study found that 92% of immigrants pass this test, while only 4% of American high school students could do so. This bill would require the same test to be administered each year to high school juniors throughout the state. Test scores will be compiled by the Education Oversight Committee to ensure our students are armed with the basic facts they need to be the informed and active citizens our state and nation needs.

Status: In Senate

Judicial Selection Reform: Reforms the process used to select our state’s judges. Currently, judicial candidates are screened through a panel that is limited to selecting 3 individuals for any given judicial election. This bill would remove the cap and allow anyone who is deemed qualified to run for the bench. By doing so, we open up the process and allow everyone to participate, not just a select few.

Status: In Senate

In-State Tuition for Military: Grants in-state tuition rates to active duty military and their dependents. Currently, active duty military personnel who have been stationed in South Carolina do not receive in-state tuition rates. This bill grants them that privilege and allows them and their dependents to continue receiving an in-state tuition rate as long as they remain continuously enrolled.

Status: In Senate

Certificate of Need: This bill revises and streamlines the Certificate of Need process and repeals it completely in 2018. The House overwhelmingly supported this measure which helps to limit the regulation of healthcare providers around the state.

Status: In Senate
Patent Infringement: Patent trolls hinder private development projects and stifle innovative research from the private sector. This measure ensures that South Carolina innovators receive added legal protections for their unique ideas. By creating a safe haven for innovation, we increase our marketability to research institutions and aid our economic progress.

Status: In Senate

Ratified Legislation Originating in House:

SC State Resolution: The House took forceful and necessary action to solve the well-publicized troubles at SC State University. The House unanimously passed a joint resolution to put SC State back on track that:

Removes the current SC State board members.
Gives authority to newly appointed interim board members.
Allows the interim Board of Trustees to remove the current President if they deem that action necessary.

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Tommy Stringer