The Senate had a full week of work in committees and on the Senate floor last week. Here are the highlights:
ADJUST INCOME TAX BRACKETS FOR INFLATION – The Senate passed S. 46, a bill that would adjust each of the 5 income tax brackets for inflation. This change will result in a small tax cut for all income tax payers. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives.
PROTECTION FOR ELDERLY HOMEOWNERS – The Senate passed S. 75, a bill that would allow homeowners to retain the 4% tax assessment on their homes if they are forced to move into nursing homes.
QUALIFICATIONS FOR THE STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION – In an earlier email I mentioned that the Senate will consider a proposed constitutional amendment to allow the governor to appoint the state Superintendent of Education rather than having that person elected statewide. To begin that discussion, the Senate passed S. 27, a bill that would require the Superintendent to have at least a master’s degree and extensive experience in public education, finance, economics, accounting, law, or business. That bill now goes to the House of Representatives. I expect the Senate will debate the constitutional amendment in the next few weeks.
LOCAL GOVERNMENTS REQUIRING EMPLOYEE BENEFITS – The Senate began debate on S. 218, a bill that would prohibit local governments from requiring private businesses to provide specific benefits to employees – health insurance, time off from work, etc. I expect the Senate to continue discussing this bill this week.
AUTOMATIC STAY OF APPEALS FROM ADMINISTRATIVE DECISIONS – When a state agency issues a permit, state law gives interested persons the opportunity to appeal the issuance of that permit to the Administrative Law Court. Once the appeal is filed, the agency’s decision to issue the permit is stayed until the Court makes a final decision on the permit, often 1-2 years later. Many businesses and industries across the state have expressed frustration with that process, whereas environmental groups staunchly defend it. The Senate Judiciary Committee has been considering legislation to eliminate the automatic stay, and there has been a good bit of input on both sides. The full committee will discuss the bill on Tuesday.
JUDICIAL ELECTIONS – Last week the General Assembly elected several new judges to courts across the state. George “Buck” James, a longtime circuit court judge from Sumter, was elected to the Supreme Court, and Gary Hill, a longtime circuit court judge from Greenville, was elected to the Court of Appeals. You can see all the results here.
Last Week’s Meetings
On Monday night, I attended the annual meeting for Edgefield County First Steps.
On Wednesday morning, I attended an annual breakfast hosted by the Lexington County Farm Bureau.
On Wednesday, I spoke with elected and appointed municipal officials from across the state at the Municipal Association’s Legislative Day gathering.
On Thursday, I attended a ribbon cutting for the new water treatment plant in Saluda.
On Thursday night, I attended a legislative delegation meeting with the Saluda County Council.
WHAT ISSUES ARE IMPORTANT TO YOU? – I would really appreciate your input as to what the General Assembly should focus on this year. If you have thoughts, questions, or concerns about issues facing South Carolina, please let me know.
TOWN HALL MEETINGS – I have held around 130 town hall meetings throughout our district over the past 9 years, and I really appreciate the hundreds of folks who have participated. These town hall meetings give me a chance to keep you updated about what’s going on in Columbia and, more importantly, allow me to hear what’s on your mind. I’m already working on the next round of meetings, which I hope to schedule for February and March. I’ll get the schedule out soon.
SCDOT PROJECTS – SCDOT has created an interactive map to let you see the road and bridge projects going on around the state. You can view those projects 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.