Last week was the 9th week of the 2019 legislative session. We are now half way through the 18-week session. Here are the highlights from Senate floor action last week.
PROFESSIONAL LICENSES FOR MILITARY SPOUSES – The Senate passed S. 455, a bill that would allow spouses of South Carolina-based, active duty armed service members to receive temporary professional licenses (engineer, cosmetologists, contractors, etc.) if they have met licensure requirements. The bill will now go to the House of Representatives.
IGNITION INTERLOCK DEVICES – In an effort to strengthen our state’s DUI laws, the General Assembly passed legislation a few years ago to require people with multiple DUI convictions or very high blood-alcohol levels to install ignition interlock devices (IID) on their vehicles. After an IID is installed on a vehicle, the vehicle will not start until the driver blows into the device and registers a blood-alcohol level that is below 0.08%, the legal limit in South Carolina.
Last week, the Senate passed S. 18, a bill that would require every person convicted of DUI to install an IID on his or her vehicle, even after a first offense. The House will now consider the bill.
COMMON SENSE DEFINITION OF “CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT” – The Senate passed S. 79, a bill that would ensure that allowing a child to play outside, stay at home, or engage in many routine, independent activities are not to be considered as child abuse or neglect if the child is of sufficient age and his basic needs are met. The bill has been sent to the House of Representatives.
SPEECH-LANGUAGE PATHOLOGISTS – The Senate passed S. 277, a bill dealing with the licensure of speech-language pathologists. The House will now consider the legislation.
PHARMACY BENEFIT MANAGERS – The Senate passed S. 359, a bill that would authorize and require licensure for pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). These PBMs would work with pharmacies to process claims and negotiate with pharmaceutical manufacturers for lower drug costs. The bill has been sent to the House.
COMMUNICATION DEVICES IN PRISONS AND JAILS – The Senate passed S. 156, a bill that would make it a crime to possess a cell phone or other telecommunication device inside a prison or jail unless authorized by official in charge of the facility. The smuggling and use of cell phones in prisons has been a major problem for the Department of Corrections. The House of Representatives will now consider the bill.
K-12 EDUCATION REFORM – There has been a good bit of conversation this year about reforming our K-12 education system to provide better working conditions for teachers and more and better opportunities for students. Last week the House of Representatives passed H. 3759, a bill designed to address those issues. However, the bill has met with opposition for many teachers.
The Senate subcommittee focused on this issue has scheduled at least 9 hearings to work on the legislation, including 4 night hearings across the state to allow teachers, parents, and students to provide input. Here are the remaining subcommittee hearings that have been scheduled:
Monday, March 11
Coker College, Black Box Theater
Monday, March 18
Gaffney High School Auditorium
Thursday, March 21
Georgetown High School Auditorium
I expect the Senate version of the bill to be different in many respects from the version passed by the House. The full Senate Education Committee will likely consider an amended version of H. 3759 the first week in April, and I hope the full Senate will debate the bill later in April.
BUDGET – The House of Representatives will debate the 2019-2020 state budget this week. The current schedule would have the Senate debate the budget the week of April 15. I will provide more details as we get closer to the Senate consideration.
LAST WEEK’S MEETINGS
On Monday, I talked with teachers and spoke to a political science class at Strom Thurmond High School.
On Monday night, I attended a K-12 reform hearing held by the Senate Education subcommittee at McCormick Middle School.
On Thursday night, I attended the monthly meeting of the Ridge Road Community Club in Leesville. I enjoyed the fellowship and the opportunity to share a legislative update.
On Friday morning, I read books to two classes at W.E. Parker Elementary School in Edgefield as part of “Read Across America” week. Since Dr. Seuss’s birthday was last Saturday, I read “The Cat in the Hat” and “Green Eggs and Ham.”
STHS STATE CHAMPIONS – Last weekend Strom Thurmond High School’s mock trial team won the 2019 state championship. The Rebel team will represent South Carolina at the national tournament in Athens. Georgia in early May. Congratulations!
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 me to come and 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