Last week was the 15th week of the 2018 legislative session. The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn on May 10, so there are 3 weeks left in the legislative session. Here are the highlights from last week in the Senate:
VC SUMMER – The Senate spent a good bit of time last week discussing S. 954. First, the resolution would prohibit the Public Service Commission from hearing the Dominion/SCANA merger proposal before November 1, 2018. It would require the PSC to issue a final order by December 21, 2018.
Without this change, the Public Service Commission would be required to hear and decide the request by mid July 2018. The purpose of the resolution is to ensure everyone – regulators, legislators, and the public – has sufficient information before a decision is made.
Second, the resolution would lower the rates that SCE&G customers are paying until the Public Service Commission makes its final decision. Currently, approximately 18% of SCE&G customers’ bills are devoted to VC Summer.
The Senate version of the resolution would reduce that amount to approximately 5.25%. It would also require SCE&G to pass along its savings from recent federal tax cuts; that amounts to about 3%-5% of customers’ bills. The House of Representatives will consider the resolution this week.
DYSLEXIA SCREENINGS – The Senate passed H. 4434, a bill that would require school districts to screen students for dyslexia.
Access to prescription monitoring program – South Carolina, like many states, maintains a prescription monitoring program to ensure physician and patient compliance with regulated drugs, but access to that program is extremely limited.
The Senate passed H. 4488, a bill that would give access to coroners and medical examiners for specific inquiries regarding cause and manner of death.
BEACHFRONT MANAGEMENT – The Senate passed H. 4683, the Beachfront Management Reform Act. The bill would establish a baseline and prevent construction on the seaward side of that baseline. The bill would also provide an appellate process for people who are affected by the baseline. The bill will now return to the House of Representatives.
BUDGET/PLANNED PARENTHOOD – After my update on the budget in last week’s email, several people asked me about attempts to prohibit Planned Parenthood from receiving state funds. There were two amendments to accomplish that goal. Both amendments would have prevented state funds devoted for family planning services to be spent on abortions.
The first amendment provided an exception for abortions performed to save the life of the mother. The second amendment provided exceptions for abortions performed to save the life of the mother and as a result of rape. Both amendments failed. I voted against the first amendment, but I voted for the second amendment.
I support defunding Planned Parenthood and reducing abortions, but I believe it is important to have exceptions for the life of the mother and rape victims. I then voted against the Health and Human Services portion of the budget, the section that included the Planned Parenthood funding.
LAST WEEK’S MEETINGS
On Thursday, I enjoyed welcoming third grade students from Belvedere Elementary School and W.E. Parker Elementary School to the State House.
On Friday morning, I spoke to two classes at Fox Creek High School. I really enjoyed the conversation and left with renewed optimism about South Carolina’s future. The students were impressive and engaged!
TOWN HALL MEETINGS – In March and April, I held nine town hall meetings across our senate district. We had some large crowds and some small crowds, but I really appreciate those who took the time to come out.
I hope I provided you with meaningful updates on what has been happening in the legislature, and I know I learned a lot from your questions and comments. Thanks again for your input. If you would like for me to schedule another meeting in your area, please let me know.
WANT TO SEE THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY IN ACTION? – The Senate meets in statewide session on Tuesdays at 2:00, Wednesdays at 12:00, and Thursdays at 11:00. Committees and subcommittees meet Tuesday mornings, 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
Cell Phone: (803) 480-0419