Here are the highlights from last week’s action in the Senate –
Upcoming Legislative Schedule – The General Assembly concluded its regular session last Thursday, but there are still a few things left to do. A conference committee of House and Senate negotiators is working to iron out differences in the budget and a few other bills. The legislature will return on June 16 and 17 to debate and vote on the final proposals. Governor Haley will then have 5 days to issue vetoes, so the General Assembly will likely return on June 23 and 24 to consider those vetoes. Thereafter, the General Assembly should adjourn until January 2016.
Palmetto Pipeline – Last week Senator Tom Young and I introduced legislation in the Senate to evaluate and restrict private companies’ ability to use eminent domain. Representative Bill Hixon and other Aiken House members introduced a similar bill in the House of Representatives. These bills are in response to the many concerns we have been hearing from Aiken, Edgefield, and McCormick residents about the proposed Palmetto Pipeline and Kinder Morgan (the pipeline’s owner) using eminent domain to place the pipeline. I expect hearings to be held on the legislation in the Fall.
2015-2016 State Budget – The House of Representatives and Senate both passed a budget for 2015-2016, but there are differences in the two versions. Those differences are normal, and House and Senate negotiators are working to resolve them. Once the differences are resolved, the full House and full Senate will consider the final proposal. Both houses must pass the same version before the budget goes to Governor Haley. I hope that will happen next week.
Funding for Roads and Bridges – The General Assembly adjourned last week without an agreement on a plan to fund repairs and maintenance of our state’s system of roads and bridges. I hope we will have $150M-$200M in one-time surplus money devoted to roads and bridges in the final budget, but that is not a long-term solution to the problem. We will continue to work on this issue over the Fall and continue the debate when the legislature reconvenes in January.
Abortions after 20 weeks – The House and Senate passed different versions of H. 3114, a bill that would prohibit abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. A conference committee of House and Senate members will now work to resolve the differences.
Custody and Visitation for Deployed Parents – The House and Senate passed H. 3156, a bill that sets out uniform standards for how child custody and visitation should be handled when the custodial parent is a member of the U.S. Armed Services and is deployed. Governor Haley signed the bill into law on Thursday.
Agendas for Public Meetings – The House and Senate passed S. 11, a bill that requires public bodies to post agendas prior to meetings and limits their ability to act outside the posted agendas. Governor Haley will likely sign the bill this week.
Forfeited Land Commissions – The House and Senate passed S. 78, a bill that will help county governments get forfeited property out of the Forfeited Land Commission so the property can be marketed, sold, and back on the tax rolls. Governor Haley signed the bill into law on Thursday. This legislation is extremely important for McCormick County.
Absentee Voting for Military and Overseas Voters – The House and Senate passed H. 3154, a bill to give protections to military and overseas voters so as to ensure their ballots are sent in a timely manner and those ballots are counted. I expect Governor Haley will sign the bill this week.
Uber – The House and Senate agreed on H. 3525 , a bill that will allow Uber to continue operating in South Carolina. Uber, a public transportation company that uses private drivers and mobile phone apps, has become a popular alternative to traditional taxi service. The bill now goes to the governor for consideration.
Body Cameras for Law Enforcement – The House and Senate passed S. 47, a bill that will require state and local law enforcement officers to wear body cameras. The bill requires the Law Enforcement Training Council to develop policies as to who must wear the cameras and when they must be worn. Additionally, the requirement is contingent on the state providing funding for the purchase of the cameras and maintenance of the data storage. Governor Haley is now considering the bill.
Legislative Updates – Since the Senate will not be in session this week, I will most likely not send an update next Monday. I will update you on what happens when the General Assembly returns later in the month, though. Of course, if you ever have any questions or comments, please let me know.
Last Week’s Meetings
On Monday night, I attended the Lexington County GOP’s monthly meeting. Rep. Todd Atwater and I provided updates on the legislative session and answered questions.
On Thursday, the legislative session ended at 5:00. Therefore, unfortunately, I was not able to attend graduations for Midland Valley High School and North Augusta High School.
On Friday night, I attended graduation at Strom Thurmond High School.
On Saturday, I attended graduations for Gilbert High School and Lexington High School.
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.
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.
Voting record – If you’d like to see how I’ve voted on issues, go here. You can always check to see how I vote by going to my website, 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.
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.