Last week was the 4th week of the 2019 legislative session. There are 14 weeks remaining in the regular session.
REDUCING PAPERWORK FOR TEACHERS – The Senate passed S. 168, a resolution directing the Department of Education to recommend steps to reduce and streamline the paperwork requirements on teachers and schools. The resolution is designed to address one of the concerns we often hear from teachers: government requires teachers to spend too much time on paperwork and, consequently, reduces the time they can devote to classroom instruction. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives.
CAPITAL PUNISHMENT – As I mentioned in a couple updates last year, South Carolina is currently unable to carry out executions because the Department of Corrections cannot buy the drugs required for lethal injection. Because of pressure from death penalty opponents, pharmaceutical companies will not sell us the drugs.
The Senate passed legislation last year to address the problem, but the House was unable to consider the bill before the session ended. Therefore, last week the Senate passed S. 176, a bill that would allow the Department of Corrections to use electrocution or firing squad to carry out death sentences if lethal injection is not available. The House will now consider the bill.
SANTEE COOPER – In the wake of the abandonment of V.C. Summer Nuclear Station by SCANA and Santee Cooper, there has been a good bit of discussion about the future of the state-owned utility.
A joint committee of House members, Senators, and Governor McMaster has focused on options to sell all or parts of Santee Cooper to a private utility or allow a private utility to manage Santee Cooper. To help with that effort, the joint committee hired a consulting firm to talk with interested private utilities and accept bids. The consulting firm released its initial report last week. You can see the report here.
SCANA / DOMINION – Several people have asked me about Dominion’s effort to acquire SCANA. As you recall from last year’s updates, the legislature spent a lot of time last session on this issue. In late June, the General Assembly passed several bills that temporarily reduced SCE&G’s rates, strengthened state regulators, and repealed the Base Load Review Act.
The legislature also gave the Public Service Commission (PSC) until the end of 2018 to make a decision on whether Dominion could buy SCANA. The PSC held a hearing the last several days in November and issued its order in late December, allowing Dominion and SCANA to complete the merger.
That order guaranteed that SCE&G customers would continue paying for the failed nuclear reactors for 20 years, but at a much lower rate than SCE&G and Dominion wanted. However, that deal does not include the $1,000 rebate Dominion advertised repeatedly throughout 2018.
The end result is not as bad as it could have been, but it also was not nearly as good as it should have been. I think customers deserved better than that result, and I did not support it.
MEDICAL MARIJUANA – I have received several emails about medical marijuana legislation that was recently introduced. I have not made a decision on this bill, as it has yet to be debated in committee. You can read the bill here.
WILD TURKEY HUNTING SEASON CHANGES – In 2015, the legislature approved legislation to change the turkey hunting season for male turkeys to March 20 – May 5 and set a uniform, statewide bag limit of 3 male turkeys per hunter per season.
At the same time, the Department of Natural Resources ordered an extensive study of the turkey population. That study was recently completed, and DNR is now recommending additional changes to the hunting season and bag limits. You can read DNR’s report here. I will keep you updated as to any changes that go into effect.
LAST WEEK’S MEETINGS
On Thursday morning, I joined Senator Nikki Setzler, the Democratic Leader in the Senate, on ETV’s television show, “This Week in South Carolina” to talk about this year’s legislative session. The show aired on ETV stations on Friday night. You can watch the 30-minute show here.
On Saturday night, I was pleased to received the South Carolina Sierra Club’s Legislator of the Year Award. The Sierra Club and I often disagree, but we were eye-to-eye on protecting customers from the fallout of the VC Summer debacle last year.
SCDOT ROAD PROJECTS – SCDOT now has an interactive map to allow citizens to see the road and bridge projects going on around the state. You can see that map here.
HOW IS THE GAS TAX BEING USED? – SCDOT’s website allows you to view a detailed revenue statement and project list that is funded by the Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund (IMTF). SCDOT updates this site monthly as the revenue comes in. You can see that report here.
DO YOU NEED A REAL ID? – SCDMV is now issuing Real ID licenses and identification cards. If you intend to get a Real ID, DMV encourages you to avoid long lines and get the new ID before the September 30, 2020 deadline. See below for frequent questions with answers:
WHY WOULD YOU NEED A REAL ID? – To board any commercial airline flight, enter a secure federal building, or visit a military installation on and after October 1, 2020, you must have a REAL ID or another federally approved identification such as a valid US Passport or military ID.
DO YOU NEED TO CHANGE YOUR CURRENT ID SOON? – There is no need to rush to DMV now. In fact, unless your driver’s license or ID card is expiring, there is really no reason to wait in line to change your card right now. If you do decide to get a Real ID, make sure you take the correct documentation to change your current license or ID card to a Real ID.
To see the documentation you will need for a Real ID or get more information, please see SCDMV’s Real ID page here.
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