Here are the highlights from last week in the Senate –
ROADS AND BRIDGES – On Tuesday, the Senate and House of Representatives agreed to send H. 3579, the bill to reform SCDOT and begin the process of fixing our decrepit infrastructure, to a conference committee to work out differences between the versions each body passed. The House appointed their three members of the conference committee. As Majority Leader, I get an appointment to the conference committee, and I have selected Sen. Larry Grooms (R-Berkeley) who is Chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. Sen. Hugh Leatherman has two appointments to the conference committee, but he has not yet made his selections. The conference committee cannot meet until Sen. Leatherman makes his picks, so I hope that is done Tuesday.
The Senate also passed S. 561, a bill that would remove several powers from the SCDOT Commission and allow the Secretary to make those decisions. While I would prefer that we not have a SCDOT Commission at all, this is a significant step in the right direction.
ETHICS – The Senate did not debate ethics reform last week in order to allow the Finance Committee to work on the budget. We will resume debate on Tuesday. I hope the Senate will be able to pass H. 3184, a bill that would require independent investigations of ethics complaints against legislators. I will keep you updated.
VULCAN QUARRY IN LEESVILLE – Last week’s subcommittee meeting on S. 684, was rescheduled for Wednesday, 4/27/2016, at 10:00. The meeting will be held in Room 407 of the Gressette Senate Office Building. The hearing will be open to the public, and the subcommittee will take public comments.
CONCEALED WEAPONS PERMITS – The Senate Judiciary Committee approved two bills dealing with concealed weapons permits. Current law allows active judges and solicitors with permits to carry anywhere in the state. S. 1023 would add clerks of court to that list and allow retired judges, solicitors, and clerks of court with permits to carry anywhere in the state, as well. That bill passed the Senate last week. The Judiciary Committee also passed H. 3799, a bill that would require SC to recognize concealed weapons permits issued by GA. However, the full Senate did not have an opportunity to consider the bill last week. I expect the Senate will vote on the bill this week.
EXEMPTING MILITARY RETIREMENT FROM STATE INCOME TAXES – The Senate debated but did not vote on H. 3147, a bill that would exempt military retirement income from state income taxes. The push for this bill comes from a desire to be seen as a more military friendly state in response to the Defense Department’s decision to consider another round of base closures around the country. South Carolina has a significant military presence, and we want to make sure our current military bases and stations stay here.
STATE BUDGET – The Senate Finance Committee approved its version of the state budget last Thursday. The full Senate is expected to begin discussion of the budget this Thursday, and I expect the debate will continue through next week. I will keep you updated.
Last Week’s Meetings
In addition to my regular legislative duties at the Statehouse, I attended the following meetings:
On Tuesday night, I attended a reception sponsored by Boeing, BMW, GE, and the SC Manufacturing Association. South Carolina has become a target state for manufacturing, and our Senate district is one of the leading manufacturing areas in the state.
On Wednesday, I participated in a candidate forum hosted by the Aiken Board of Realtors. I appreciate the opportunity to discuss the issues facing South Carolina.
On Friday night, I attended the Midland Valley Chamber of Commerce’s annual awards banquet. Congratulations to Bobby Griffin on being named Citizen of the Year!
On Sunday night, I attended the SC Poultry Festival’s pre-festival banquet in Leesville
VETERANS AFFAIRS OFFICERS – Each county has a Veterans Affairs Officer whose purpose is to assist veterans and their families with filing, presenting, and prosecuting all claims which they have for money compensation, hospitalization, training, and insurance benefits under federal law. If you have questions about veterans’ benefits or the services these officers provide, you can contact the officers at:
304 Gray Street
PO Box 236
Edgefield, SC 29824
Donald D. Moss
610 South Mine Street
P.O. Box 276
McCormick, SC 29835
108 South Rudolph Street
Saluda, SC 29138
Phone: (864) 445-4500 Ext. 2268
Fax: (864) 445-2808
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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