Susan Stringer Gunter

I’m sorrowed to report the passing of my sister, Susan Stringer Gunter. Her illness was known but a brief five weeks.

After learning from her doctors that she had no viable treatment options, she returned home to the loving embrace of her husband and children.

During the weeks that followed, they celebrated her kind and gentle life quietly lived. Their faith and love for each other in death’s shadow threw wide open a window for God’s grace to shine in.

She will be sorely missed.

SC House GOP Caucus 2017 End of Session Report

Current and Accurate as of 06/06/2017

The following is a summary of various bills that have come before the House this year. This summary was prepared by the SC House Republican caucus.


Ways and Means Committee:

 Infrastructure Reform and Funding Act:

Status: Governor’s Veto Overridden by House and Senate

Governance and Reform

  • Provides real accountability and transparency at the Department of Transportation (public records, mandated meetings, ethical requirements for commissioners)
  • Gives Governor complete control of the Commission with a clear line of authority and at-will removal
  • Requires General Assembly to approve all 9 Highway Commission appointees
  • Highway Commission organized to reflect regional representation with 7 Congressional districts and 2 statewide at-large members appointed by the Governor (adds 1 member to current structure)
  • Strengthens DOT’s control over project authorization and financial decisions by the State Transportation Infrastructure Bank


  • Creates a long-term and sustainable funding stream by increasing the motor fuel user fee by 2 cents/gallon over the next 6 years, not exceeding 12 cents/gallon
  • Safeguards taxpayers from future automatic tax increases by not indexing for inflation
  • Protects SC taxpayers from continuing to solely foot the bill for infrastructure repair by not using General Fund dollars and captures 30% of the motor fuel user fee revenue from out-of-state motorists
  • Creates an Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund to ensure all new revenue collected from the motor fuel user fee is used only for existing infrastructure needs
  • Does not increase or change fees for South Carolina driver’s license applications or renewals
  • Increases funding for County Transportation Committees targeted to repair rural and secondary roads
  • Captures revenue from alternative energy motorists by creating a biennial registration fee for all hybrid and electric vehicles
  • Established a road use fee to capture revenue from out of state truckers
  • Raises the cap on motor vehicle sales tax to $500 and creates a $250 out of state maintenance fee
  • Incentivizes road construction industry to return to SC with responsible infrastructure investment
  • Provides $640 million in new annual revenue for infrastructure maintenance needs when fully implemented

Tax Relief

  • Includes responsible tax relief to offset the user fee increase for South Carolina motorists
  • Offers a refundable income tax credit equal to the motor fuel user fee increase that must be reauthorized prior to 2023
  • Enhances already existing College Tuition Tax Credit for every South Carolina tuition-payer to enhance workforce development
  • Contains a non-refundable Low Income Tax Credit for working families (not federal model)
  • Increases the maximum income tax credit from $210 to $350 for dual income household joint filers
  • Reduces SC manufacturers’ property tax burden by $35 million using a phased-in approach over 6 years

Retirement System Reform Act:

Status: Signed by Governor

  • Increase to the employer contribution rate of 2% in year one
  • State budget pays 1% of increased costs for the first year
  • Place a cap on the employee contribution rate of 9% (9.75% for LEO’s)
  • Reduce the assumed rate of return on investments and put protections in place to oversee changes in future rate adjustments
  • Modify the amortization rate period to reduce unfunded liabilities
  • Implement governance recommendations from the Funston Advisory Services and Legislative Audit Council
  • Require a four-year rotation schedule for fiduciary audits of PEBA and the RSIC (Retirement System Investment Commission 

House Agriculture Committee:

  • 3218 Dams and Reservoirs Safety Act

Status: Passed House, In Senate

A bill to require dam or reservoir owners be responsible for the safe maintenance of their dams or reservoirs.

  • 3517 Hunting and Fishing License Reform

Status: Signed by Governor

A bill waiving all DNR fees, granting terminally ill children free hunting and fishing licenses.

  • 3619 Updating Animal Cruelty Laws

Status: Passed House, In Senate

A bill to protect animals by prohibiting the tattooing or piercing of residential pets.

  • 3719 Fire Safety Act

Status: Signed by Governor

A bill allowing the state forester to direct at any time, when deemed necessary in the interest of public safety, that certain recreational fires be prohibited.


3M Committee:

  • 3438 Expanding Access to Generic Drugs

Status: Signed by Governor

A bill allowing doctors and pharmacists to prescribe additional forms of affordable generic drugs, such as pharmaceutical biologics, to patients. This new law expands access to affordable healthcare throughout our state.

  • 3824 Prescription Drug Monitoring Act

Status: Signed by Governor

Legislation requiring physicians to review a patient’s medical history prior to prescribing a Schedule II controlled substance. The bill is just one more step in the right direction toward curbing prescription drug abuse.


House Education and Public Works Committee

  • 3220 S.C. Education and Economic Development Coordinating Council Act

Status: Signed by Governor

A bill to create a council comprised of educators, school administrators, and business community members for the purpose of advising the department of Education and the Department of Commerce on best practices to strengthen progress toward career pathways and provide for a better prepared workforce and student success in post-secondary education.

  • 3221 Department of Education Fiscal Accountability Act

Status: Signed by Governor

A bill to require the South Carolina Department of Education establish a program for identifying fiscal practices and budgetary conditions that could compromise the fiscal integrity of a school district.

  • 3508 School Year Start Date

Status: Signed by Governor

Grants local school boards increased flexibility by allowing them the option to start school on Thursday, August 17 instead of the third Monday in August as previously mandated.

  • 3969 Uniform School Report Card Act

Status: Passed House, On Governor’s Desk

A bill to simplify the annual performance ratings of individual schools by creating one report card with one overall rating system.

  • 3427 South Carolina Computer Science Education Initiative

Status: Passed House, In Senate

A bill preventing a long-term shortage of needed workers in high-paying skilled jobs requiring technical training. This initiative increases access to computer science experiences for all K-12 students.

  • 3591 First Steps Reauthorization Act

Status: Passed House, In Senate

Permanently authorizes the South Carolina First Steps to School Readiness Program and adds significant new accountability measures within the program

  • 3034 G.I. Bill

Status: Signed by Governor

A bill to meet the updated minimum federal requirements by entitling qualifying veterans and their dependents who use the G.I. Bill and certain other benefits to pay in-state tuition at SC public institutions of higher learning.

  • 3035 Increasing Access to Higher Education for Veterans Act

Status: Passed House, In Senate

This bill waives the 12-month waiting period for honorably discharged veterans to establish residency in order to obtain in-state tuition rates at colleges and universities.

  • 3821 Opioid Prescription Education Act

Status: Passed House, In Senate

A bill to require institutions of higher learning offering healthcare degrees to require coursework programs on the prescription and monitoring of Schedule II, III, and IV controlled substances. This bill serves as part of a package of bills aimed at reducing the sad increase of opioid addiction in our state.

  • 3247 Moped Safety Act

Status: Signed by Governor

A bill closing loopholes thereby subjecting moped operators to the same violations, including DUI, as other motorists. This law increases roadway safety for both vehicle motorists and moped drivers alike.

  • 3358 South Carolina REAL I.D. Act

Status: Signed by Governor

A law to bring South Carolina into compliance with federal REAL I.D. requirements, while also allowing citizens to opt out of REAL I.D. By ensuring compliance with REAL I.D. no activity requiring a REAL I.D. for participation will be interrupted in South Carolina.

  • 4033 Work Zone Safety Act

Status: Signed by Governor

This law strengthens penalties for those who endanger the life of a highway worker. Those working on our roadways must be protected while performing their daily duties.


Oversight Committee:

  • 3440 South Carolina Commission for the Blind Qualifications Update Act

Status: Passed House, In Senate

A bill requiring the governance board of the South Carolina Commission for the Blind to contain at least three members who meet the legal definition of blindness. The bill also allows the commission to employ qualified counselors to assist teachers who are responsible for the teaching of visually handicapped students.

  • 3271 DMV Accounting Practices Reform

Status: Passed House, In Senate

This bill contains 55 various statutory updates and revisions recommended by the House Legislative Oversight Committee as a result of its study of the Comptroller General’s Office, the state’s top accountant. This legislation addresses accounting responsibilities related to the DMV and updates the law in accordance with current accounting practices.

  • 3318 Transfer Illegal Immigration Enforcement Unit

Status: Passed House, In Senate

A bill transferring the illegal immigration enforcement unit from the Department of Public Safety to the State Law Enforcement Division. This bill increases the effectiveness of the Illegal Immigration Enforcement Unit by placing it under the direction of an agency that more closely aligns to its mission.


Judiciary Committee:

  • 3930 Constitutional Carry Act

Status: Passed House, In Senate

A bill providing authorization to carry a handgun in public without a permit. This bill also protects the rights and provisions for those with a Concealed Weapons Permit.

  • 3352 Updating the Freedom of Information Act

Status: Signed by the Governor

This law provides enhancements to our existing Freedom of Information Act.

  • 107 Joint Election of Governor and Lieutenant Governor

Status: Signed by Governor

A bill implementing changes providing for the joint election of the Governor and the Lieutenant Governor.

  • 3209 Record Expungement Act

Status: Passed House, In Senate

Legislation allowing the expungement of previous offenses that are no longer considered crimes. This measure allows low-level offenders to re-enter the workforce and gives them a second chance in life.

  • 3548 South Carolina Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act

Status: Passed in House, In Senate

This legislation outlaws and creates criminal penalties for the performance of a dismemberment abortion in South Carolina. This bill further protects the right to life for the unborn while banning a gruesome act.


LCI Committee:

  • 3041 Real Estate Agent Background Checks

Status: Signed by Governor

A law mandating that fingerprint background checks are required for all new real estate agents and all agents renewing their licenses. This law ensures dangerous criminals do not have access to the homes of unsuspecting citizens of our state.

  • 3488 Paperless Insurance Act

Status: Signed by Governor

A new law allowing an insurer to deliver, store, or present evidence of insurance coverage electronically if the insured entity so desires. This law allows insurance companies to modernize their record keeping and pass savings on to consumers.

  • 3647 Time Share Industry Regulation Act

Status: Signed by Governor

A law prohibiting an individual from creating a fraudulent company for the purpose of purchasing time shares.

  • 3886 HOA Reform Act

Status: Passed House, In Senate

This bill increases the rights of homeowners and allows homeowners to submit complaints about their HOA to a regulatory authority.




My Sister’s Unvanquished Idealism and A Letter Praising Nixon

Some years after my mother’s passing, I went through a box of faded newspaper clippings, the kind that mothers keep of their children’s successes, no matter how minor. Mixed in with the wedding announcements and school awards was a letter written to the editor of The Greenville News. The letter, penned by my sister in early 1969 when she was a junior at Blue Ridge High School, praised incoming President Richard Nixon for having Rev. Billy Graham pray at his Inauguration and preach at the White House. She went on to encourage Nixon to keep Graham close by for counsel and prayer as our country went through difficult times. She closed by affirming her love of God and country.

My sister’s idealism was not typical of teenagers during the late 1960’s or at least not typical of the drug-fueled kind portrayed later as the Woodstock Generation. While talking with her about the letter, I discovered that her idealism was typical of her classmates at Blue Ridge. She described her lunch table where a student was free to sit only if the student was prepared to discuss the important issues of the day – issues like civil rights, Viet Nam, assassinations or other revolutions of the street. I later found a photo of her in a Blue Ridge High classroom from that same school year. She sat in front of a bulletin board boasting a picture of Hemingway and a list of the Ten Commandments as she talked to the class about some subject not noted on the photo’s proof label – maybe it was a lesson on Nixon and the Ten Commandments. She went on to become an excellent high school English teacher. A career choice that would carry her to teach my future 11th grade class.

Being fourteen years younger than her, my sister profoundly shaped my worldview. She did so by including me in her own interests. I remember watching her create the vivid geometric designs on her abstract paintings, hearing the quiet notes of Beethoven’s Fuer Elise from her piano, flipping through the many books lying about – Thomas Hardy and Jane Austen to name a few favorite writers – that she eventually taught me to read. Playing with the treasures brought back from her recent tour of Europe. A green colored glass dachshund with needle nose and tail, a chalet inspired Swiss music box and a sleek black Venetian gondola comes to mind. I don’t have a Swiss chalet or a gondola, but dachshunds have been my constant companions ever since. Her photos of Switzerland, France, Italy showed me that the Alps are a long way from the Blue Ridge. She opened my mind to vast possibilities.

Later on she would take me to see my first Shakespeare production (we discussed recently whether it was A Midsummer’s Night Dream or Much Ado About Nothing) and my first opera (Faust, we think). Later on I would study Kit Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus in a graduate school Renaissance drama class. Just last year my son had a part in his school’s production of A Midsummer’s Night Dream. With him, my sister’s influence became generational in my own very slender branch of the family tree.

If The Greenville News were to run her Nixon letter today, she would be ridiculed for her seeming naiveté. The online trolls would not understand that she knew Nixon had the same temptations of political greed and ambition common to all men. When my sister praised Nixon, she had already read Macbeth. She understood that the ideal must be stated if only to stand as a beacon when the electorate has to avert their eyes from the bloodstained chalk line of the latest fallen politician.

My sister has been my most stalwart encourager during my time in the South Carolina House. Her continued idealism, not just in politics, but in how to live and treat others frames my thoughts and my votes. Even today as she faces her life’s final battle, her idealism – Christian faith is a better description in this case – remains strong and her treatment of her family, friends, my son and myself filled with heaven bound loving-kindness.