Here are the highlights from last week in the Senate –
Glenn McConnell Sworn in as Lt. Governor – On Tuesday afternoon, Senator Glenn McConnell (Charleston), the Senate’s President Pro Tempore, was sworn in as Lt. Governor and, consequently, vacated his position in the Senate. Here is a brief article discussing the transition. Amid speculation that he might resign as Lt. Governor and seek his old Senate seat, McConnell announced on Thursday that he will not run for the Senate in 2012. Here is an article on that announcement.
Sen. John Courson elected Senate President Pro Tempore – After Glenn McConnell was sworn in as Lt. Governor, the Senate elected a new President Pro Tempore. The President Pro Tempore is the Senate’s leader and, constitutionally, is 3rd in line for succession to the Governor’s office. The Senate chose Sen. John Courson (Columbia) to replace McConnell as the new President Pro Tempore. Here is an article about Sen. Courson.
Charter School Bill– The Senate spent a good bit of time last week debating amendments to H. 3241, a bill that would update the laws related to charter schools. Some of the highlights of H. 3241 are:
- colleges and universities could sponsor charter schools. Now, only local school districts or the statewide charter school district can sponsor charter schools.
- single-gender charter schools could be created.
- charter school students could compete for and participate in extracurricular activities at their resident public school if the charter school does not offer those activities.
The Senate will continue debating the charter school bill this week. To read the most current version of the bill, go here.
House Passes Budget – After 2½ days of debate, the House of Representatives unanimously passed the budget on Wednesday. The Senate Finance committee will now consider the bill before sending it to the full Senate. I expect the full Senate will take up the budget in late April. I will provide more updates on the budget as the bill makes its way through the Senate.
Audit of Department of Employment and Workforce – The Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) is the state agency in charge of administering unemployment benefits and helping people find jobs. A recent audit by the Legislative Audit Council uncovered some disturbing news: DEW has done a poor job of policing fraudulent unemployment claims. The audit comes on the heels of a report in January that revealed 18% ($86 million) of all unemployment claims in 2011 were improper. To read the January report, click here. Here is an article discussing the recent audit. You can read the complete LAC audit here.
Bills of Interest
Privatization of school bus fleet – South Carolina is the only state to own and operate its public school transportation system. There has been a lot of talk in the past several years about privatizing the school bus fleet. Here is an article talking about a current proposal.
Economic Development and Job Opportunities
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.
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 held a town hall meeting at Lexington High School. We had about 15 people in attendance. Thanks to everyone who came out!
On Tuesday morning I met with Holly Pisarik, Governor Haley’s nominee to be Director of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. Mrs. Pisarik is currently Chief Advice Counsel at LLR. I will provide more information as the Senate considers Mrs. Pisarik for this position.
On Thursday night I held a town hall meeting at the Circle Fire Department in Saluda County. This was my 4th town hall meeting this Spring. See below for a list of upcoming town hall meetings.
On Friday morning I attended the West Metro Rotary (Lexington County) breakfast. Congressman Joe Wilson was the speaker, and Attorney General Alan Wilson also attended. I really enjoyed the meeting.
On Saturday I attended some of the St. Patrick’s Day events on the Square in Edgefield following the annual Shamrock Run. The weather was beautiful, and there was a great crowd!
Town Hall Meetings – I’ve held 4 town hall meetings so far this year. These meetings are great opportunities for me to keep you updated about what is happening in the General Assembly and, more importantly, allow me to hear from you. I hope you can make it to one of these meetings. Here is a list of upcoming meetings –
Richland Ruritan Club Building
217 Richland Creek Rd.
Leavelle McCampbell Middle School
82 Canal Street
Edgefield County Council Chambers
225 Jeter Street
Midland Valley High School
227 Mustang Drive
Jefferson Elementary School
170 Flint Drive
Merriwether Elementary School
565 Spring Haven Drive
North Augusta, SC
I am still working to schedule a couple town hall meetings in McCormick County. I hope to have those set soon. I will announce the meetings as they are scheduled.
McCormick County Magistrate, Jake Trantham, to Retire – Summary Court Judge Jake Trantham has told me he plans to retire in the very near future. Judge Trantham has done a great job for McCormick County, and I really appreciate his service. If you’re interested in serving as a magistrate in McCormick, please check this week’s McCormick Messenger. I’ll also have information on my website later this week.
President George W. Bush Coming to Graniteville – Former President George W. Bush will visit our district on April 18 when he comes to speak at the First Tee Junior Invitational at Sage Valley Golf Club in Graniteville. Here is an article announcing the event.
New Senate District – Our Senate district has changed because of the 2010 census. The district now contains all of Edgefield County and parts of Aiken, Lexington, McCormick, and Saluda Counties. If you’d like to see the new 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.
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.