Last week was the 8th week of the 2020 legislative session. There are 10 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 passed the amended version of S. 419, a comprehensive bill with many K-12 education reform ideas. Here are a few of the highlights of bill:
- 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.
- Pays for certification costs for all new 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.
- Reauthorizes the National Board Certification program for teachers. Teachers who complete this rigorous certification process receive an additional $7,500 per year for 10 years.
- Guarantees a 30-minute, duty-free lunch period for elementary school teachers.
- 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.
- Provides summer reading camps for students who are struggling with reading after kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grades.
- Permanently eliminates 3 state-mandated tests: social students in 5th and 7th grades and science in 8th grade.
- 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.
- Creates a scholarship for students who want to pursue careers in critical workforce areas. These scholarships will allow students to attend technical college at little to no cost.
- Creates a need-based scholarship for high-poverty students to attend technical college at little to no cost. Students receiving these scholarships would receive intensive career and guidance counseling along with an assigned mentor from business/industry to help ensure success.
- 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.
The bill does not address every problem in education. It certainly makes significant progress, though. The bill will now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.
SANTEE COOPER – The Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways & Means Committee both voted last week to reject all three recommendations as proposed. Both committees will now work on a reform package to consider. Additionally, House leadership has indicated they would like to negotiate a better deal to sell Santee Cooper to NextEra Energy. I expect this process to continue for several more weeks, but I am confident the legislature will come to an agreement this session.
DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS – Last year the General Assembly created a new state Department of Veterans Affairs. Last week, the Senate confirmed Governor McMaster’s nomination of Major General William F. Grimsley of Beaufort to be the first Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
JOHN DE LA HOWE SCHOOL – The Senate passed S. 754, a bill that would create a new Governor’s School for Agriculture at John De La Howe in McCormick. The bill will now go to the House of Representatives. If the bill becomes law, it will represent a significant turnaround for De La Howe, a school that was in danger of closure just a few years ago and is now thriving with agricultural students statewide wanting to attend.
PROFESSIONAL EMPLOYER ORGANIZATIONS – The Senate passed S. 909, a bill that would create additional tax incentives for Professional Employer Organizations under the Enterprise Zone Act to keep SC competitive in economic development. The House will now consider the bill.
CONTESTS IN MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS – The Senate passed S. 866, a bill that would require the county boards of voter registration to serve as the deciding entity in most instances when contests are raised to municipal elections. The House will now consider the bill.
FLOOD INSURANCE – The Senate passed S. 882, a bill that would create the South Carolina Private Flood Insurance Act. The purpose of the bill is to foster more innovation and encourage insurers to give customers more options. The House will now consider the bill.
BEACH PRESERVATION – The Senate passed S. 868, a bill that would make changes to the state’s beach preservation policy. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives.
MOTORCYCLE TAXES – The Senate passed H. 3695, a bill that would allow high mileage discounts for motorcycles and motorcycle three-wheel vehicles. The bill will now go to the Governor.
RESPONSE TO CHILD ABUSE – The Senate passed S. 892, a bill that would require the creation of a specific protocol to follow in the investigation of a crime against a child and provide training to law enforcement. The bill will now go to the House of Representatives.
AUCTIONEER LICENSES – The Senate passed S. 758, a bill that would allow auctioneers with 25 years’ experience to be granted a waiver from continuing education requirements. The House will now consider the bill.
FOREIGN TRADE ZONES AFFILIATED WITH COLUMBIA REGIONAL AIRPORT – The Senate passed H. 4702, a bill that would allow the Richland-Lexington Airport Commission to establish and operate foreign trade zones. The bill will now go to Governor McMaster.
RESTRAINT OF PREGNANT INMATES – The Senate passed H. 3967, a bill that would limit the manner in which pregnant inmates are restrained. The bill will now go back to the House for consideration of a Senate amendment.
LAST WEEK’S MEETINGS
On Monday, I participated in Read Across America Day at W.E. Parker Elementary School by reading books to students in 2nd and 5th grades. I enjoyed interacting with students and talking with teachers.
On Tuesday, I toured the South Carolina Association of School Administrators’ facilities used to train principals and assistant principals. I think providing consistent leadership training to principals and assistant principals is extremely important, and I appreciate SCASA’s work in this effort.
On Wednesday, the National Commander of the American Legion visited the State House and addressed a joint assembly of the legislature. I had a few minutes to talk with Commander Bill Oxford, who is from North Carolina, and many local members of the American Legion.
On Thursday afternoon, I participated in a Midlands radio talk show, 100.7 The Point with Keven Cohen. We talked about the legislative session and what I expect to happen in the remainder of the session.
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