We are now half-way through the 2017 legislative session. We have completed 9 weeks and have 9 weeks left. Here are the highlights from last week in the Senate:
AUTOMATIC STAY OF APPEALS FROM ADMINISTRATIVE DECISIONS – The Senate passed S. 105, a bill that would limit automatic stays of state agency decisions. Under current law, when an agency issues a permit, interested persons have the opportunity to appeal the issuance of that permit to the Administrative Law Court.
Once the appeal is filed, the agency’s decision to issue the permit is stayed until the Court makes a final decision on the permit, often more than a year later. Many businesses and industries across the state have expressed frustration with that process, whereas environmental groups staunchly defend it.
The Senate reached a compromise to allow for an automatic stay for up to 90 days. After that period, either party could move to lift the stay. The court would lift the stay unless the party who wants to maintain the stay presents sufficient proof to maintain it. The House of Representatives will now consider the bill.
ROADS AND BRIDGES – Last week, a Senate Finance subcommittee approved an amended version of H. 3516, a bill to provide additional funding for infrastructure maintenance. As passed by the House of Representatives, the bill would raise about $600 million annually for repairs to South Carolina’s roads and bridges.
The Finance subcommittee increased that amount to around $800 million annually and removed the House’s proposal to ensure the governor controls the SCDOT Commission. The full Finance committee will consider the bill on Tuesday morning. I expect the full Senate to begin debate on the bill next week.
NIGHT HUNTING – The Senate passed S. 443, a bill that would allow for night hunting of feral hogs, coyotes, and armadillos on certain registered property and provide penalties for hunting other animals at night. The House will now consider the bill.
ELECTRONIC NOTIFICATION OF INSURANCE DOCUMENTS – The Senate passed H. 3488, a bill that would allow insurance companies to deliver documents to customers electronically if the customer agrees to electronic delivery.
MOTORCYCLE LICENSES – The Senate passed S. 456, a bill that would require a person who holds a motorcycle beginner’s permit to take a motorcycle safety course before receiving a motorcycle license if the person fails the licensing driving test three times. The bill now goes to the House.
EXCLUDING FIREARMS FROM JUDGMENTS AND BANKRUPTCIES – I have received a few hundred emails over the past week in support of H. 3429, a bill that would exempt up to $10,000 worth of firearms from property that could be seized to satisfy a judgment or bankruptcy.
I am a strong 2nd Amendment supporter, but I’m not sold on this one yet because I think it is important that people pay their bills and satisfy their debts. I appreciate the emails I have received, as I expect the Senate will be considering this legislation in the next several weeks.
Last Week’s Meetings
On Monday afternoon, I spoke with our state’s circuit court judges at their annual meeting to provide a legislative update.
Wednesday was the SC Firefighters Association’s day at the statehouse. I joined many firefighters from our area and around the state for lunch and was honored to be recognized with the 2017 Society of the Maltese Cross Award as their legislator of the year. Last year I worked with a few senators and many of our first responders to ensure firefighters and other first responders have access to PTSD treatment.
On Thursday afternoon, I participated in a meeting of the Petroleum Pipeline Study Committee. This committee was formed last year to recommend changes to South Carolina law regarding private petroleum companies’ ability to use eminent domain to place pipelines in the ground.
On Saturday, I attended the South Carolina Young Bankers’ annual meeting and provided an update on this year’s legislative session. We discussed many issues facing South Carolina.
STHS MOCK TRIAL – State Champions! – Congratulations to Strom Thurmond High School’s mock trial team for winning the 2016-2017 state championship this past weekend! The Rebels will compete at the national tournament in Hartford, Connecticut in May.
SCDOT PROJECTS – SCDOT Secretary, Christy Hall, recently appeared before the Senate Transportation Committee to present an annual State of the SCDOT. You can view Secretary Hall’s power point presentation here.
WANT TO SEE THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY IN ACTION? – The Senate meets in statewide session on Tuesdays at 2:00, Wednesdays at 12:00, and Thursdays at 11:00. Committees and subcommittees meet Tuesday mornings, Wednesday mornings, and Thursday mornings. You can watch live coverage of the Senate, House of Representatives, and committees here.
OUR STATE DISTRICT – Senate district 25 consists of all of Edgefield County and parts of Aiken, Lexington, McCormick, and Saluda Counties. If you’d like to see the district map, go here.
SPEAKING WITH GROUPS – Several groups, clubs, and classes around our Senate district have invited me to attend their meetings and provide legislative updates. If you would like for me to come speak with your group, please let me know.
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