The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn for the year on June 2, meaning there are just 3 legislative days left. Here are the highlights from last week in the Senate –
ROADS AND BRIDGES – House and Senate leaders continue to work toward an agreement on fixing our state’s roads and bridges. Last week the House of Representatives passed S. 1258, which would give the governor control of SCDOT and devote more than $4 billion to roads and bridges over the next ten years. I am optimistic that we will reach an agreement and get a vote on a final package this week.
CWP RECIPROCITY WITH GEORGIA – The Senate spent several hours last week debating H. 3799, a bill that would require SLED to recognize Georgia concealed weapons permits, resulting in Georgia recognizing South Carolina’s permits. The primary question is whether we are going to limit the scope to recognizing Georgia’s permits or whether it will be expanded to recognize every state’s permits. If the bill is limited to Georgia, I think the Senate will likely pass the bill this week. However, there will be much more opposition if the bill is expanded to all states. I am optimistic the bill will pass, but we still have some work to do. I hope to get a vote on Tuesday.
DEER TAGS – The Senate and House of Representatives agreed on S. 454, a bill that creates a new limit for the number of deer hunters may kill each season. Each resident hunter will receive 3 tags for antlered deer (for any date during the season) and 8 tags for anterless deer (for dates specified by DNR). Residents will be able to purchase 2 additional tags for specified antlered deer and additional tags for antlerless deer. Nonresident hunters will have to purchase tags, at a higher cost, for every deer. The bill now goes to Governor Haley.
STATE BUDGET – The House and Senate conference committee reached an agreement on the budget over the weekend. I do not have the details yet, but I will share them with you in the next email. I expect the Senate will vote on the final budget proposal this week.
ETHICS – H. 3184, the bill that would require independent investigations of ethics complaints about legislators was assigned to a conference committee last week to work out differences between the House and Senate versions. I am hopeful we can work this bill out this week, as well.
ADDITIONAL RIGHTS FOR FOSTER PARENTS – The Senate passed H. 4492, and H. 4546, bills designed to give foster parents more input at family court hearings and more authority to make independent decisions on normal, every day issues.
REAL ESTATE APPRAISERS – The Senate passed H. 5023, a bill to update the Real Estate Appraisers License and Practice Act.
ABORTIONS AFTER 20 WEEKS – Last week I told you about 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. Governor Haley signed the bill into law last week.
DONALD BEATTY ELECTED CHIEF JUSTICE OF SOUTH CAROLINA SUPREME COURT – On Wednesday, the Senate and House of Representatives met in joint assembly to elect judges. Associate Justice Donald Beatty was elected Chief Justice; his term will begin January 1, 2017. I have real concerns about Justice Beatty’s judicial philosophy and the opinions he has authored and concurred in; therefore, I voted “no.”
SENATE PORTRAIT OF LATE SEN. CLEMENTA PINCKNEY – On Wednesday afternoon, the Senate hosted a ceremony to unveil a portrait of former Senator Clementa Pinckney. The portrait will be displayed on the wall of the Senate chamber.
Last Week’s Meetings
On Tuesday, I had the chance to meet and recognize Lexington High School’s girls soccer team. The Lady Wildcats won this year’s state championship with a 25-0-2 record, and finished #5 nationally!
On Thursday night, I attended Fox Creek High School’s graduation.
On Friday night, I attended graduation at McCormick High School.
On Saturday, I attended Memorial Day programs in Aiken County at the Horse Creek / Midland Valley Veterans Park and in McCormick.
On Monday, I attended Memorial Day programs in Edgefield and Saluda.
HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATIONS – Here are a list of graduations for our district’s high schools:
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
AIKEN COUNTY RECEIVES CERTIFIED WORK READY STATUS – Last week the Department of Employment and Workforce announced that Aiken County has been designated as a certified work ready community. South Carolina leads the nation with the most certified work ready communities and continues to attract international business development due to its commitment to economic growth and a robust workforce pipeline.
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.