The General Assembly returned last week after a break for Easter. Here are the highlights from the last week’s action in the Senate –
State Budget – The Senate Finance Committee continued discussion of the state budget. The committee should complete its consideration this week, allowing the full Senate to begin discussing the budget on April 28. From what I have heard, it is likely that the state will have $400M-$500M in surplus revenue this year.
Bond bill? – As part of its budget deliberations, the House of Representatives considered legislation to issue bonds to borrow money for capital improvement projects across the state. Governor Haley announced her opposition to the borrowing plan, and the House abandoned the proposal.
Last week, Sen. Hugh Leatherman introduced a bond bill in the Senate. He encouraged senators to come to him if they would like funding for capital projects in their districts, and he has solicited support from colleges and universities. The Senate Finance Committee will consider the borrowing plan this week. I will keep you updated.
Funding for Roads and Bridges – Earlier this week the House of Representatives passed H.3579, a bill that would increase taxes on gasoline by roughly 10 cents/gallon, raise the sales tax cap on automobiles from $300 to $500, provide income tax savings of about $50/year for most tax filers, and make changes to the governing boards at the Department of Transportation and State Transportation Infrastructure Bank. The bill would raise nearly $430M and provide about $50M in tax relief. I expect the Senate will consider the legislation very soon.
Reckless Homicide – The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill I introduced, S. 84, to create a new criminal offense for felony reckless driving. Currently, it is a crime to drive recklessly and kill someone. If the victim lives, though, there is no criminal penalty other than a traffic ticket. This bill would fill that void. A few Senate Democrats have objected to the bill, though, which makes its passage unlikely.
Expungement of juvenile records – The Senate passed S. 133, a bill that provides for the automatic expungement and destruction of juvenile records if the juvenile was convicted of a nonviolent offense. Juveniles convicted of violent offenses could not have their records expunged.
South Carolina State University – The House of Representatives and Senate have passed separate resolutions to fire the existing Board of Trustees at South Carolina State University and appoint a new governing board. Last week, the Senate amended the House version and returned it to the House. You can read that resolution here.
Last Week’s Meetings
Over the past couple weeks, I attended Republican party conventions in Aiken, Edgefield, Lexington, and McCormick. It was great to talk with so many people about the issues facing South Carolina and the United States. I appreciate the party members in Edgefield electing me as a delegate to the state party convention to be held on May 2 in Columbia.
On Monday afternoon, I joined other members of the McCormick County Legislative Delegation in a meeting at the McCormick Arts Council at the Keturah (MACK) to discuss the importance of arts opportunities in rural South Carolina.
On Tuesday morning, I attended Lexington Chamber of Commerce’s monthly breakfast meeting.
Wednesday was tax day. I’m sure you enjoyed it just as much as I did.
On Thursday night, I attended a community meeting in Leesville to listen to concerns about a rock quarry that plans to start operations in the area. Folks are legitimately concerned about the impact of the quarry on the environment and the local economy.
On Saturday, I spent some time at the National Wild Turkey Federation’s Palmetto Shooting Complex for SC DNR’s First Annual Youth Sporting Clay Open. More than 1200 people from across the state came to Edgefield for the event, and the NWTF did a great job!
Edgefield County Veterans Affairs officer – The Edgefield County Legislative Delegation is seeking persons who are interested in serving Edgefield County as the County Veterans Affairs Officer (CVAO). The CVAO assists veterans and their dependents in determining eligibility for benefits, organizes events honoring veterans, and works with local veterans organizations to best serve Edgefield County’s veterans.
The opening is a full-time position for 35 hours/week.
Persons interested in being considered for appointment as Edgefield County Veterans Affairs Officer should visit the “Veterans Officer” page on my website.
Applications must be received by Tuesday, May 5, 2015.
Want to see the General Assembly in Action? – The Senate meets in statewide session on Tuesdays at 12:00, Wednesdays at 2:00, and Thursdays at 11:00. Committees and subcommittees meet Tuesday afternoons, Wednesday mornings, and Thursday mornings. You can watch live coverage of the Senate, House of Representatives, and committees here.
Taxpayer Hero – The South Carolina Club for Growth named me one of its Taxpayer Heroes for 2014. You can read the press release here, see the scorecard here, and see the explanation of scored votes here.
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.
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.