It is an honor to serve you in the State House. This year, much of our work focused on education reform, delivering a balanced and efficient budget, providing solutions for more efficient and accountable electrical utilities for customers and businesses across the state, safer communities and more help for our state’s veterans.
This 2019-2020 state Budget will fund a number of priorities, including new funding for:
• Nearly $67 million for tax rebates.
• $40 million towards replacing voting machines which are nearly twenty years old.
• A college tuition freeze for next year.
• $159 million to fully fund a 4% raise for teachers and get our teachers’ pay above the Southeastern US average.
• $10 million for additional School Resource Officers, helping provide them in school districts which can’t afford them. No school should be left unsecured nor child unsafe!
• $19.3 million to replace the state’s oldest school busses (around twenty years old!).
In addition to the state budget, we also passed needed laws in several areas, including:
Tucker Hipps Law (HB 3398). This law requires public colleges to record, and make available to the public, reports of investigations into alcohol abuse, illegal drug activity, sexual assault, and/or hazing by students associated with fraternities and sororities. I was one of the sponsors of this new law.
Reduce and Streamline Paperwork and Reporting (SB 168). State Department of Education must recommend steps for reducing and streamlining paperwork and reporting requirements for teachers, schools, and school districts.
I voted for the budget, which includes nearly $67 million for a one-time, $50 taxpayer rebate as well as $614 million in property tax relief.
Catawba Indian Tribe Tax Relief (HB 3205): This legislation ends an unfair property tax fee which was overlooked by the Act 388 property tax reform law over a decade ago, protecting this York County tribe.
Professional Qualifications for Sheriffs (HB 3951). This new law will bar anyone convicted of felony or other serious charges from serving as Sheriff, as well as require that anyone elected be able to be a certified South Carolina Class 1 law enforcement officer.
Opioid Abuse/Prescription Monitoring (HB 3728). This new law will require the Department of Health and Environmental Control to include and maintain information in the prescription monitoring program on the administering of opioid antidotes in a hospital emergency department or by a first responder.
Ride-Sharing Safety (HB 4380). It is now a criminal offense to falsely claim to be with a ride-sharing vehicle, such as Uber or Lyft. For easier identification, drivers with these services must display their license plate number on the front of their cars. This protects the public from kidnappers posing as ride-sharing service drivers.
Female Genital Mutilation of Minors a Felony (HB 3973). It will be a felony for any adult to perform, or aid and abet, female mutilation of a minor. This practice has become an issue in recent years.
No Drivers Licenses for Illegal Immigrants (HB 3789). This prevents the issuing of drivers’ licenses to non-citizens unless they can present proof they are legal immigrants.
Veteran Affairs State Cabinet Agency (HB 3438). This law will create a state Department of Veterans’ Affairs with a Secretary appointed by the Governor. This will give Veterans a much stronger advocate in state government.
In-State Tuition for Veterans (HB 3936). All veterans who are receiving federal assistance for vocational rehabilitation in South Carolina can only be charged in-state tuition rates. I was one of the sponsors of this law.
POWER AND ELECTRIC UTILITY REFORMS:
The Energy Freedom Act (HB 3659). This bill will expand rooftop solar energy by removing the existing 2% net-metering cap and allow solar customers to be compensated for the energy they produce and send back to the grid. The passing of this legislation will also save more than 3,000 solar jobs already created in our state.
Santee-Cooper Utility (HB 4287). This law will require the state to seek offers from companies interested in purchasing Santee Cooper, the state-owned electric utility company, as well as offers from companies interested in managing Santee Cooper. The best proposals will be presented to the General Assembly in January. Santee-Cooper’s $9 billion of debt and its impact upon the supply of affordable electricity to electric co-ops forced legislators to act to protect consumers.
Electric Co-Op Transparency, Oversight and Reform (HB 3145). This new law establishes much-needed regulations and oversight standards for the state’s electric co-operatives, as well as giving state government more oversight. This was in response to the recent scandals at a Midlands electric co-op.
Road Construction Utility Relocation (SB 401). This new law will help speed up utility relocation on highway construction projects. Delays caused by utility lines – above and underground – being in the way of construction are one of the biggest causes of delays and increased costs on road construction projects.
With the budget done, the General Assembly will return in January for the second half of our two-year session. In the meantime, I’m still working to keep ahead of issues so I’ll be ready to get to work next year. One good way to keep up with what I’m doing is to visit my District 26 Facebook page and sign up for updates.
As with any job, feedback is important. To do the best job I can for you, I need to know what’s on your mind, so please keep in touch with me. You can reach me with your concerns and questions anytime at 803.547.6715 or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.