Legislative Update For The Week of 2/6/12- 2/10/12
Last week was a busy one. Here are the highlights –
DEPARTMENT OF ADMINISTRATION – The Senate continued to debate a bill that would abolish the Budget and Control Board and create a new Department of Administration. I sponsored an amendment with Senators Vincent Sheheen (D-Kershaw) and Tom Davis (R-Beaufort) to move more of the executive functions of government into the executive branch. That amendment passed last Tuesday, but the Senate undid much of that amendment on Wednesday by creating a new board to handle state procurement contracts. I hope the Senate will finish the discussion this week.
CATHERINE TEMPLETON, NOMINEE FOR COMMISSIONER OF DHEC – Several weeks ago, Earl Hunter, DHEC’s Commissioner since 2001, announced his retirement. Following a lengthy search, DHEC’s governing board recommended Catherine Templeton to be the new Commissioner. Ms. Templeton, currently Director of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, was approved by the Senate Medical Affairs Committee this past week. Her nomination now goes to the full Senate for confirmation. To read more about Ms. Templeton’s nomination and the committee hearing, go here.
STATE OF THE JUDICIARY ADDRESS – Last Wednesday, Chief Justice Jean Toal delivered her annual State of the Judiciary Address. In the speech, the Chief Justice pointed out some staggering statistics: SC has fewer trial judges, per capita, than any state in the country, and court filings in SC are much higher than in any other state. Consequently, the Chief Justice has asked the General Assembly to create 3 new circuit court judge positions and 6 new family court judge positions. You can watch a video of the speech and view the Chief Justice’s power point presentation here. Here is an article from The State about the speech.
PUB POLITICS – On Wednesday, I was a guest on Pub Politics, a popular web-based political talk show. We discussed the Department of Administration legislation, Catherine Templeton’s nomination to head DHEC, and other issues before the General Assembly. You can watch the entertaining video here.
BILLS OF INTEREST
DUI – In 2008 the General Assembly overhauled South Carolina’s DUI laws in an attempt to crack down on repeat offenders. That new law ensures repeat offenders serve mandatory jail time and requires them to install a breathalyzer device in their vehicle to prevent them from driving while intoxicated. A new bill, S.746 would require a person to install that breathalyzer device in his vehicle after a first conviction. Here is a brief article discussing the bill.
HIGH SCHOOL DROP-OUT PREVENTION – Keeping high school students in school is one of South Carolina’s biggest challenges. Multiple studies indicate people who graduate high school will earn more over the course of their lives, are less likely to require public assistance, and are more successful overall than people who drop out of high school. H.3164 would require high school students to stay in school in order to keep their driver’s licenses. Here is an article about the bill.
HOME-BASED FOODS LEGISLATION – Did you know that it is illegal to sell a cake that you bake in your home? Last year I heard from several folks in our Senate district who asked me to sponsor legislation to allow for the sale of home-based foods. After talking with DHEC and researching laws in other states, I introduced S.1035 to do just that. The bill is now out of committee and on the full Senate for consideration. You can read a couple articles about the bill here and here. You can also view a local TV news story here. You can read the bill here.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND JOB OPPORTUNITIES
NEW JOB TRAINING PROGRAM – Gov. Nikki Haley has proposed a new program to help train South Carolina’s citizens for specific jobs that are available in the Palmetto State. This program resulted from the frustrating discovery that, although our state’s employment rate is unacceptably high, we have a large number of job vacancies across the state that have not been filled because people do not have the training to perform those jobs. You can read 2 articles about the program here and here.
BRIDGESTONE HIRING – The Bridgestone plant in Graniteville announced a significant expansion last Fall. They are now hiring for the new positions. For information on how to apply, go here.
SAM’S CLUB TO BREAK GROUND IN GRANITEVILLE SOON – Sam’s Club announced plans last Fall to build a new store in Graniteville. Construction should begin in late Spring/early Summer with the expectation that 150-175 new sales associate jobs will follow. Click here for more information.
NEW COMPANY LOOKING AT AIKEN – Information released last week indicates a renewable energy manufacturing company is looking to build a new facility in Aiken County. Here’s an update. I’ll give you more information when I hear it.
If you know of a business that is hiring, please let me know. I’d love to include that information in the next newsletter so we can get the word out.
LAST WEEK’S MEETINGS
On Monday night, I attended Edgefield County First Steps’ 10th anniversary celebration. First Steps is a state-run program designed to ensure that children are ready to start school when they reach school age. As all parents know, children learn a tremendous amount in their early years. Unfortunately, not all children have home environments that prepare them to start school. That’s vitally important because studies have shown that students who do not read on grade level by 3rd grade are much less likely to finish high school.
On Tuesday, I met with the Board of Directors for Beckman Mental Health Clinic. For our district, Beckman serves Edgefield, McCormick, and Saluda Counties. They do a great job providing treatment and job training for our friends and neighbors with mental illness.
On Wednesday, I attended a luncheon for the Midlands Chamber of Commerce. From our district, Aiken, Edgefield, Lexington, and Saluda Counties are members of the Midlands Chamber. It was a very informative meeting, focusing on economic development projects and opportunities in our area.
On Friday morning, I attended the Aiken County Retired Educators’ annual legislative breakfast. We talked about proposed changes to the state retirement system and the state of education in South Carolina. These retired teachers are a great source of information!
VOTING RECORD – If you’d like to see how I voted last week, go here. You can always check to see how I vote by going to my ebsite, www.senatormassey.com, and clicking on the “Voting Record” tab.
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.
FEEDBACK FROM LAST WEEK’S UPDATE – Last week I asked for your thoughts about how South Carolina should use projected surplus revenue if those projections hold true, and I received a good bit of feedback. I really appreciate your input!
EMAIL UPDATES – If you know of people in or around District 25 who do not receive my updates but would like to get them, please email their names and email addresses to me. You can also forward this email to them and encourage them to sign up for the updates at www.senatormassey.com.