The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn for the year on June 2, meaning there are 6 legislative days left. Here are the highlights from last week in the Senate –
ABORTIONS AFTER 20 WEEKS – The House of Representatives and Senate have passed H. 3114, a bill that would prohibit abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy unless the mother’s life is in jeopardy or there is a “fetal anomaly” indicating the baby cannot survive outside the womb. The foundation for the bill is scientific discovery that a fetus can feel pain at 20 weeks. Seventeen other states have passed similar legislation. The bill now goes to Governor Haley.
CWP RECIPROCITY WITH GEORGIA – Many people have asked me about H. 3799, a bill that would require SLED to recognize Georgia concealed weapons permits, resulting in Georgia recognizing South Carolina’s permits. I hope the Senate will debate and vote on the bill this week.
AUTOMOBILE CLOSING FEES – The Senate passed H. 4548, a bill that would set parameters for the type and amount of closing fees car dealers can charge on vehicle sales. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives.
MILITARY RETIREMENT PENSION AND STATE INCOME TAX – Many people have asked me about H. 3147, a bill that would exempt up to $30,000 of military retirement pensions from state income tax for someone 65 and older. Military pensions for those under age 65 would be exempt up to $15,000.00. The bill has not yet received a vote in the Senate, but I expect a strong push this week.
EMINENT DOMAIN AND PALMETTO PIPELINE – Last week, the House Judiciary Committee passed legislation clarifying that state law does not allow a private, for profit, unregulated company to take land by eminent domain. The bill includes a moratorium for up to 5 years while a Committee reviews under what circumstances, if any, petroleum pipeline companies are allowed to use eminent domain in other states. I hope the full House acts soon so we can pass this important protection of private property rights. Kinder Morgan announced in March that it had suspended further work on the proposed Palmetto Pipeline project between Belton, S.C. and Jacksonville, Florida, but I think we still need to pass the bill.
EMERGENCY AID FOR FARMS AFFECTED BY 2015 FLOODS – As I mentioned in previous updates, the General Assembly passed H. 4717, a bill that would provide $40 million in one-time relief to farmers devastated by last year’s historic floods. Governor Haley vetoed the bill, and last week the House and Senate overrode the veto. I voted to override the veto. Estimates for flood damage to crops in the state have approached $500 Million. To qualify for assistance, farmers must be able to document that they sustained at least a 40% loss of agricultural commodities as a result of a natural disaster and they must certify their loss under penalty of perjury. Qualifying farmers could then receive up to $100,000 covering no more than 20% of their total losses to help for this growing season.
PHYSICAL EDUCATION CREDIT FOR MARCHING BAND – The Senate passed S. 1204, a bill that would allow students who participate in marching band to receive P.E. credit for the activity.
Last Week’s Meetings
On Tuesday night, I participated in a candidate forum hosted by the Saluda Republican Party. They had a great crowd, and I really enjoyed the opportunity to talk with voters about issues facing South Carolina.
On Thursday night, I attended Saluda High School’s annual FFA banquet.
On Friday morning, I visited Strom Thurmond High School’s Career and Technology Center and filmed a short teacher recruitment video. As a graduate of STHS, I enjoyed the visit and the chance to plug the district that gave me a great education.
On Friday night, I attended graduation at Wardlaw Academy.
On Saturday morning, I attended a meeting of the Aiken MS Society. I enjoyed the opportunity to talk with many folks living with MS and learning about the challenges they face.
On Saturday afternoon, I attended Aiken Electric Cooperative’s annual membership meeting. About 2,500 people showed up for the event.
HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATIONS – Here are a list of graduations for our district’s high schools:
Fox Creek High School
Batesburg-Leesville High School
McCormick High School
Saluda High School
Midland Valley High School
North Augusta High School
Aiken High School
Ridge Spring Monetta High School
Gilbert High School
Strom Thurmond High School
Lexington High School
NEW PRESIDENT NAMED FOR AIKEN TECHNICAL COLLEGE – Last Monday night, Dr. Forest Mahan was named to succeed Dr. Susan Winsor as President of Aiken Technical College starting in July.
NORTH AUGUSTA RELAY TEAM – North Augusta High School’s relay team set a school record and won the state Class AAAA Championship. Congratulations to Yellow Jackets!
LEXINGTON GIRLS’ SOCCER – Lexington High School’s girls soccer team won the Class AAAA soccer state championship! The Lady Wildcats finished the season 25-0-2, the state’s only undefeated girls’ soccer team, and ranked #5 nationally!
STROM THURMOND BOYS’ BASEBALL – Strom Thurmond High School’s boys’ baseball team won the upper state championship and fell in a deciding third game of the state championship series. Heck of a year for the Rebels!
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.
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.
P.O. Box 551
Edgefield, SC 29824
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Cell Phone – (803) 480-0419