Last week was the 7th week of the 2020 legislative session. There are 11 legislative weeks remaining before the General Assembly adjourns on May 14, 2020.
Here are the highlights from last week in the Senate –
K-12 EDUCATION REFORM LEGISLATION – The Senate continued discussing S. 419, a comprehensive bill with many K-12 education reform ideas. Fortunately, we finally made some progress. The Senate voted on Tuesday for cloture, a procedural motion to stop accepting amendments and move toward a final vote. I hope the Senate will have a final vote this week. Here are a few of the highlights of bill as it stands now:
- One of the frequent concerns we’ve heard from teachers is that students are tested too much. The bill would permanently eliminate 3 state-mandated tests: social students in 5th and 7th grades and science in 8th grade. The only remaining state-required tests would be an end of course test for U.S. History/Constitution for high school juniors and a literacy assessment for 3rd grade students.
- Allows high school graduates who have earned Palmetto Fellows or Life scholarships to use those scholarship funds at technical colleges. Currently, those funds are limited to use at universities.
- Provides additional scholarship funds to education majors through Palmetto Fellows and Life Enhancement scholarships. The new scholarships would offer prospective teachers up to an additional $2500 per year.
- Requires school board members to follow a uniform code of ethics and receive training for their service on the school board.
- Establishes a framework for turning around failing schools and allows for removal of elected school boards in chronically failing districts.
- Provides summer reading camps for students after kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grades.
- Guarantees a 30-minute, duty-free lunch period for elementary school teachers.
- Pays for certification costs for all new public school teachers. This provision will save new teachers about $500 each.
- Doubles the reimbursement amount teachers receive for classroom supplies they pay for out-of-pocket. Teachers are currently allowed $275 per year. They would now receive $550.
- Reduces the paperwork teachers have to complete for student learning objectives (SLO’s). The excessive paperwork and time required to complete these SLO’s has been a frequent criticism from teachers I’ve talked with.
- Expands the state-funded 4k program to every district in the state. Students with family income less than 185% of poverty would be eligible for the 4k program.
SANTEE COOPER – The Senate Finance Committee has spent a significant amount of time the last two weeks hearing from and questioning witnesses regarding the Department of Administration’s report and recommendations on the future of Santee Cooper. I expect that process to continue this week, with Santee Cooper’s leadership returning on Tuesday morning and Central Electric Cooperative leadership coming in on Thursday morning. The Finance Committee will make its recommendations to the full Senate by the end of next week.
LAST WEEK’S MEETINGS
Wednesday was FFA Day at the State House. I enjoyed meeting and talking with FFA students from Midland Valley High School, Ridge Spring Monetta High School, Strom Thurmond High School, Gilbert High School, and Saluda High School.
On Thursday night, I attended a reception for 11th Circuit Solicitor Rick Hubbard. Rick is the elected solicitor for Edgefield, Lexington, McCormick, and Saluda Counties, and he’s doing a great job!
On Friday morning, I attended the monthly meeting for River Bluff High School’s Teenage Republicans. I enjoyed talking with these students about issues affecting South Carolina.
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. So far, about 26% of South Carolinians have a Real ID. Therefore, it is likely that lines will get longer the closer we get to September 30.
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.
In order to purchase a REAL ID, you must bring original or government-issued copies of all of the following:
- Proof of identity (Government-issued birth certificate or valid US Passport)
- Proof of SSN (SSN card, W-2, non-1099, 1099)
- Two Proofs of Current, Physical SC Address (no PO boxes)
- Proof of All Legal Name Changes (Marriage license(s), divorce decree(s), court order(s); If a customer has a valid US Passport/Passport Card in his or her current, legal name and the name on all other documents match, the valid US Passport/Passport Card be used as this category and proof of identity)
You can get more information about needed documentation at SCDMV’s Real ID page.
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 and current projects 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.
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