Caucus News – 2016 End of Session Report

The following summary was written by the SC House GOP Caucus.

Roads & Infrastructure S.1258: Following 2 years intensive debate, the House and Senate passed a bill to address the state’s aging infrastructure. The comprehensive measure revamps the existing DOT structure, leadership and funding. Providing $4 billion dollars for road and bridge repairs without raising taxes. For complete summary see separate attachment. Status: Signed by Governor

 Restructuring Ethics Commission H.3184: 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, and 2 members elected by each the House and Senate. Status: Ratified/ to be signed on June 23, 2016

 Income Disclosure H.3186: Requires members of the General Assembly to disclose the source and type of all income received from any private entity. Status: Ratified/ to be signed on June 23, 2016


Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act H.3114: 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: Signed by the Governor

CWP Expansion H.3799: 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: Signed by the Governor

 Shortening Legislative Session S.1336: For the 10th time in the past 20 years the House has passed legislation that would shorten the legislative work session. Shortening the session each year will save valuable taxpayer dollars.  In past years, each attempt by House Republicans to shorten the legislative session has been blocked by the Senate. Finally in 2016, the Senate passed their own version to shorten the legislative session by three weeks, which the House unanimously agreed. Status: Final approval given by House and Senate

Eminent Domain S. 868: This legislation prohibits pipeline companies from using the powers of eminent domain to acquire private property for the three years. Status: Signed by Governor

Veterans Tax Break H.3147: This legislation gives retired veterans a state income tax break. South Carolina will be viewed as more veteran friendly and will be able to compete with neighboring states in attracting retiring vets. Status: Signed by the Governor

In-State Tuition for Military S.391: 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: Signed by the Governor in 2015

South Carolina Farmers H.4717:  This legislation established a $40 million appropriation from the Contingency Reserve Fund in response to the unprecedented damage of the October 2015 floods by assisting farmers in order to prevent the economic collapse of many of the state’s farms which could have caused a severe disruption in the state’s economy and food supply chain. Status: Vetoed by the Governor, Overridden by House and Senate to become law

 South Carolina Founding Principles Act H.3848: Legislation requiring our public school students to study the founding principles that shaped the United States. The required instruction must at least include the Federalist Papers, the structure of government and the role of the separation of powers and the freedoms guaranteed by the Bill of Rights to the US Constitution. Status: Signed by Governor

Abbeville Legislation H.4936, 4938, 4939, 4940: The General Assembly adopted four bills that address the Abbeville lawsuit. The bills will establish educational achievement goals that all high school students should have upon graduation, require the State Department of Education to monitor and assist underperforming school districts and to create an Office of Transformation within the Department of Education to provide technical assistance to underperforming schools and districts. For a breakdown on funding see separate attachment. Status: Signed by Governor

 Domestic Violence Reform S.3: 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: Signed by Governor in 2015

James B. Edwards Civics Education Initiative S.437: 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: Signed by Governor 2015

School Choice Tax Credit H.4537: This legislation allowed an income tax credit for contributions to a scholarship fund organization that provides grants for students to attend certain independent schools. Status: Died in Senate

Judicial Selection Reform H.3979: Reformed 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: Died in Senate

“Castle Doctrine” H.4703: This legislation provided immunity from criminal prosecution and civil action under certain circumstances for the use of deadly force against another person who enter a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle, and provided a procedure for an evidentiary hearing on pretrial motion to dismiss based on the justifiable use of deadly force. Status: Died in Senate

State Retirement System Reform H. 5006, 5007:

  1. 5006 (Retirement Oversight and Investment Management):

This bill made requirements and stipulations regarding conflicts of interest and ethical standards for the Retirement System Investment Commission (RSIC). It clarifies and strengthens the governance of the RSIC and PEBA and creates term limits for members of each board. More qualifications to be appointed to the Investment Commission are established. It also reduces and limits the amount of fees by the commission to purchase investments. An oversight commission called the Review and Oversight Commission on the Retirement System Investment Commission is created and the roles and responsibilities of that commission are specified. Status: Died in Senate

  1. 5007 (Retirement System Investments Assumed Rate of Return):

This bill stated that the assumed rate of return for retirement system funds expires every four years unless the General Assembly amends the rate. If the General Assembly does not take action on the rate, then it is the responsibility of the State Fiscal Accountability Authority to set the rate. The proposed assumed rate of return must be developed in consultation with the board’s actuary. Status: Died in Senate

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