State House Report Week 12 – Protecting Life, School Choice & HOA Reform

Only three legislative days remain until the crossover deadline. In order for a bill to have a chance of becoming law this year under normal circumstances, it must receive initial passage in at least one legislative chamber (House or Senate) by the end of next week. This week my House colleagues and I worked extended hours to clear time on the calendar so even more legislation can clear the cutoff date. I’ve provided some highlights below:

Anti-Dismemberment Abortion Act

I’m very pleased to report the House of Representatives passed the Anti-Dismemberment Abortion Act this week. We fought a group of about 20 liberal democratic legislators on the floor this week in order to get it done and ultimately prevailed after lengthy debate. This law restricts the immoral procedure of dismemberment and imposes appropriate penalties for any abortion provider that is found guilty of engaging in the gruesome practice.

School Choice Progress

South Carolina’s Educational Credits for Exceptional Needs Children (ECENC) helps students with special needs attend credentialed independent schools. Parents can choose either tuition tax credits or scholarships funded by Exceptional SC, which relies on tax-credited donations from individuals and corporations. Legislation introduced by members of the SC House today would enshrine the popular program in permanent law.

Established in 2013, the ENENC was re-booted in 2016 through consolidation of competing scholarship providers into a single statewide nonprofit, Exceptional SC, governed by a collation of private school associations and regulated by the SC Department of Revenue.

HOA Reform

HOA reform is long overdue, and this week the House voted unanimously in a bipartisan manner to ensure HOA’s operate with added transparency, accountability and fairness. Under this new proposal, home sellers must tell home buyers at the time of sale if a property is regulated by an HOA. Additionally, this bill adds homeowner protections by allowing more disputes to be settled in lower courts, avoiding the need for expensive legal bills in some cases. Finally, the bill requires any HOA to give public notice prior to raising any yearly fees on association membership.

It is an honor to serve you and your family in the General Assembly. If you ever find yourself in need of assistance navigating state government, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with my colleagues in the House, please don’t hesitate to contact me at Tommy@tommystringer.com.

State House Report Week 11 – Advancing Pro-Life, Pro-Gun & Pro-Military Initiatives

In this 11th week of the legislative session, we made important movement on bills to advance the cause of the unborn, enhance rights for gun owners, and increase affordable access to higher education for our veterans. Committees worked extra-long hours this week to give final hearings on pending legislative priorities, and are expected to do the same next week.

For more than two decades, South Carolina House Republicans have led the way on pro-life reforms aimed at protecting the innocent lives of the unborn who cannot advocate for their own life. This year is no different. The South Carolina Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act sponsored by Rep. Lin Bennett (R-Charleston) cleared a second and final committee vote this week. The bill passed out of the House Judiciary Committee and now heads to the floor for a full vote of the entire House.

Also clearing an important and final second vote in the House Judiciary Committee is a pro-gun bill backed by the National Rifle Association. The legislation would allow law-abiding adults to carry a weapon openly without a permit, essentially eliminating the need to get a concealed weapons permit to carry a firearm in our state. However, this bill would also protect the existing CWP reciprocity agreements already in place with many other states for those gun owners who wish to conceal their firearm. It now heads to the full House for a vote.

Finally this week, the House gave final approval to a measure granting in-state tuition rates to veterans living in South Carolina. Those who serve our nation deserve our very best in return, and it’s important we honor their commitment to our safety wherever and whenever we can. This bill does exactly that by making it easier and more affordable for veterans to enroll in our institutions of higher learning.

It is an honor to serve you and your family in the General Assembly. If you ever find yourself in need of assistance navigating state government, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with my colleagues in the House, please don’t hesitate to contact me at Tommy@tommystringer.com.

State House Report Week 10 – Budget Week

The House debated the state budget this week and passed H. 3720, the General Appropriations Bill for FY2017/2018, and H. 3721, the Capitol Reserve Fund Appropriations Bill. My Republican colleagues and I voted on a final budget that fully funds the necessities of our state while balancing the bottom line without debt.

In a release to the media, following Wednesday night’s vote, Speaker Jay Lucas (R-Darlington) and House Majority Leader Gary Simrill (R-Rock Hill) had the following to say regarding the budget:

House Speaker Jay Lucas said, “Although new revenue is scarce in comparison to years past, the House successfully appropriated additional educational resources for South Carolina students, provided a pathway to solvency for our state’s retirement system, and assisted struggling families with Hurricane Matthew recovery. Ways and Means Chairman Brian White (R-Anderson) and the subcommittee chairman worked tremendously hard on this budget package and I am proud of the product this body has adopted as the financial blueprint for the next fiscal year.”

House Majority Leader Gary Simrill said, “Each year the South Carolina House of Representatives fulfills its constitutional responsibility to originate and pass a statewide budget plan. This year was no different, and I applaud the strong leadership from House Speaker Jay Lucas and House Ways & Means Chairman Brian White for crafting a conservative budget. Unlike Washington, D.C., we balance our budget each year and do not engage in building deficits. House Republicans again delivered a budget package that reins in government spending, and stretches taxpayer dollars without raising income taxes.”

I agree with their sentiments because much like a family budget, we prioritized needs over wants while finding a proper balance for long-term investments in the future of our state. Every dollar was scrutinized, and every penny accounted for.

Over the past three months the House Ways and Means Committee listened to testimony from dozens of government agencies and appropriated state dollars to fund the operations of state government. Some big-ticket items of note include:

  • Desperately needed funding for workforce training, allowing South Carolinians to compete in the growing technologically innovative international economy.
  • Addressing the building and maintenance needs of our state’s struggling rural school districts with $100 million for capital improvements of K-12 schools.
  • $82 million in cleanup funds to cover costs incurred following Hurricane Matthew.

Our state’s conservative approach to budgeting is one reason we enjoy an outstanding AAA credit rating. The budget now heads to the Senate for further consideration.

It is an honor to serve you and your family in the General Assembly. If you ever find yourself in need of assistance navigating state government, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with my colleagues in the House, please don’t hesitate to contact me at Tommy@tommystringer.com.

Tommy Stringer