The General Assembly wrapped up the final week of the 2013 regular session last week. Here are the highlights from the action in the Senate–
Ethics Reform – I worked with 4 other senators last weekend to resolve major differences in the ethics reform package. Although those discussions were productive, the Senate did not pass the bill as I’d hoped. However, since we have a 2-year session, we’ll be able to take up the bill when the General Assembly returns in January. I’m confident we’ll be able to improve our ethics laws during next year’s session.
Resistance to Obamacare – Although South Carolina has put up a pretty significant fight to Obamacare so far (we were one of the primary plaintiffs in the suit challenging the Act’s constitutionality, we have refused to implement the required health insurance exchanges, and we declined to expand the Medicaid program), many legislators are pushing for additional resistance to the plan. The Senate did not debate H.3101, the Freedom of Health Care Protection Act, last week, but a special committee will study the issue in the Fall and report back in January with a proposal on how to move forward. I expect there will be a tremendous amount of debate when this one comes up.
Election Law Reform – The House and Senate adopted a conference committee report on S.2, a bill designed to correct the mistake that led to more than 200 candidates being prevented from running for offices statewide last year. The bill would
– require both incumbents and challengers to file a Statement of Economic Interests (SEI) on-line by March 30 each year;
– provide that the failure to file a SEI by March 30 results in a fine rather than preventing the candidate from appearing on the ballot; however, if the candidate has not filed a SEI by the date of the election, the candidate would not be able to take office. The idea here is to avoid the “death penalty” for those candidates who inadvertently fail to file the SEI.
– ensure that local and General Assembly candidates submit their Statement of Intention of Candidacy forms at the appropriate county election commission instead of having to make arrangements with local political party leadership
The Act now goes to Governor Haley, and I expect she will sign it into law.
Concealed Weapons Permits – The Senate ended the session on Thursday in a filibuster on S. 308, a bill that would allow Concealed Weapons Permit holders to carry their concealed weapons in restaurants that sell alcohol (Applebees, Outback, etc.) as long as (1) the restaurant does not prohibit the carrying of weapons and (2) the CWP holder does not consume alcohol while carrying the weapon. The House and Senate passed different versions of the bill during the year, so the debate in the Senate was whether to concur with the House version or send the bill to a conference committee to work out the differences. Unfortunately, nothing happened because of the filibuster. I expect the Senate will take this bill up in January.
Major legislation in conference committees – Several bills remain in conference committees of House and Senate members, trying to work out differences. The legislature will be able to consider conference agreements when we return for special session on June 18. Among the bills in conference are:
– State Budget. I expect House and Senate negotiators will arrive at an agreement prior to the General Assembly returning for a special session. The budget would take effect on July 1.
– Capital Reserve Fund expenditures. Along with the budget, I expect there will be an agreement on these capital projects.
– Department of Administration. I serve on this committee. We had our first meeting last Wednesday, but it will probably take a few more meetings before the committee reaches an agreement.
General Assembly’s schedule – The General Assembly will return for a special session during the weeks of June 18 and June 25. The first week will be devoted, primarily, to adopting a final state budget. The second week will deal with addressing any budget vetoes that Governor Haley makes. The General Assembly should adjourn for the year by June 27.
Last Week’s Meetings
I attended graduation ceremonies for Fox Creek High School, Strom Thurmond High School, and Gilbert High School last week. I tried to make Midland Valley High School’s graduation, but a last-minute snafu prevented me from watching the ceremony. Congratulations to the class of 2013!
Lexington’s Nick Cuiffo drafted by Tampa Bay – Lexington High School catcher Nick Cuiffo was selected by the Tampa Bay Rays with the 21st overall pick in the 2013 Major League Baseball draft last week. Congratulations, Nick!
Midland Valley’s Taylor Grover drafted by Boston – Current USC-Aiken relief pitcher and former Midland Valley standout Taylor Grover was selected by the Boston Red Sox. Congratulations, Taylor!
Palace Malice wins Belmont Stakes! – Aiken-trained Palace Malice won the Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown, on Saturday. The win was Dogwood Stables’ second major victory: Summer Squall won the Preakness in 1990.
Our Senate 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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P.O. Box 551
Edgefield, SC 29824
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