The General Assembly returned last week for a special session to work on the state budget. Here are the highlights from last week’s action in the Senate –
Shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston – As everyone knows by now, nine innocent individuals – six women and three men – were tragically murdered in a racially-motivated shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston following Bible study last Wednesday. The crime was horrific.
I am extremely proud of the way South Carolina – and Charleston, in particular – has responded to the tragedy. The unified message of support for the victims’ families and the Emanuel AME Church family in conjunction with South Carolina’s strong denunciation of hate has, I think, been an inspiration to the country. And the remarkable expressions of forgiveness from the victims’ families have been impressive Christian testimonies. I hope we can all learn a little more about love and forgiveness from the examples we’ve seen. And I hope we will all be a little more vigilant in opposing and renouncing hate and terror.
2015-2016 State Budget – Consideration of the budget for the 2015-2016 fiscal year involved three separate bills: the General Appropriations bill (the primary budget), the Capital Reserve Fund bill (expenditures on specific capital projects) , and a supplemental appropriations bill (roughly $300 million in surplus revenue). A conference committee of three House members and three Senators has been working to resolve differences. That committee reached an agreement early Sunday morning. One of the primary hurdles in reaching an agreement on the budget bills this year was how much to devote to our state’s aging roads and bridges. The final agreement, if passed, would allocate just over $275 million to repair and maintenance of existing infrastructure.
Continuing Resolution – While the conference committee worked to reach an agreement on the budget, the General Assembly passed a resolution last week to fund state government at last year’s levels just in case a budget is not passed before July 1. Since the conference committee has reached an agreement, I expect the 2015-2016 budget will be finalized before July 1 and make the continuing resolution unnecessary.
Upcoming Legislative Schedule – The General Assembly will return to Columbia on Tuesday for a final vote on the budget. Governor Haley will than have 5 days to issue vetoes. I expect the General Assembly will return Monday or Tuesday of next week to consider those vetoes. Thereafter, the General Assembly should adjourn until January 2016.
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.
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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