SC Senate Calendar
Updates from Facebook
July 8, 2015 - SC Senate Update- It has been a whirlwind over the last few weeks. I am emotionally and physically exhausted, and yet couldn’t sleep later. I apologize for not keeping up with my updates. We finalized the budget yesterday with reviewing Gov. Haley vetoes. We also gave third reading to the removal of the Confederate Battle Flag by a convincing vote of 36-3. I have been in touch with House members to encourage a “clean” vote, meaning no amendments. We will see what they do over the next few days. I am so very grateful for everyone who reached out and contacted me regarding the flag debate. The responses were very inspiring and heartfelt. There were just a few who didn’t agree with my position, and I want you to know I still appreciate you sharing your thoughts. The events that occurred in Charleston on the evening on June 17th will be forever sketched in the history books as a horrific tragedy, but how the families of the victims and this community reacted with such love and grace, truly shows God’s work. I hope it encourages all of us to continue to pay it forward.
June 18, 2015 - I have lost a colleague and friend in Clementa Pinckney. Clem had an amazing gift of calm in rough waters. I never saw him angry or agitated; he would give his position with firmness and grace. My prayers go out to his family and the others that were affected by this tragedy. I will never understand a level of hate in someone’s heart that they act out and harm others.
June 16, 2015 - SC Senate Update- Points of personal interest from both parties putting blame everywhere but themselves. Glad we are back to do this. (Sarcasm intended)
June 10, 2015 - SC Senate Update- After three years of trying, S.261, which allows those 60 years and older to attend state-sponsored institutions of higher learning for free even if you are working, has finally passed the legislature and was signed into law. The previous law only allowed you to attend for free, if you were unemployed. Space has to be available (you can’t take a spot of a paying student), you must meet admission standards, and be a South Carolina resident. This constituent-based idea seemed very straight forward to me, yet it still took three years to get it done. You can read the full bill here: http://www.scstatehouse.gov/sess121_2015-2016/bills/261.htm
June 1, 2015 - SC Senate Update- We are in the last week of the session. We will go back in for vetoes, budget issues and bills that were in conference the week of June 16-18th. I have gotten a good amount of inquiry about Uber. The bill that would affect Uber, H.3525, is being held up (objected to) by Sen. Scott, Lourie and Coleman. There is a chance the body uses the rules to move this bill forward to be debated, but right now it is contested and will not be debated without some procedural move. Frankly, I believe Sen. Davis has the ability to talk about the Capital Reserve bill for three more days, so there is a chance that nothing contested gets resolved. Even if the body decides to vote cloture or end debate on the Capital Reserve bill, there are about 200 amendments on the desk for that bill, and each amendment can have up to 20 minutes of debate after cloture has been invoked. You can quickly see how some compromise is needed, if there is a desire to get anything done.
May 29, 2015 - SC Senate Update- I am honored to be appointed to the conference committee on the Body Camera bill, S.47. In a year in which the legislature hasn’t gotten much accomplished, this legislation will be something that we can be proud of. It will serve both law enforcement and the public.
May 21, 2015 - SC Senate Update- We have been debating the capital reserve fund for the last two days. This fund is approximately 84 million dollars. It came out of the Finance committee with the lion share of the money going to higher education. The first amendment would move 47 million of those dollars to local governments for roads in what is referred to as “c” funds. Sen. Davis has been holding the floor and this debate has really turned into a discussion about the Transportation Funding bill. There has been testimony that the Senate version of the budget would put 69 million new, recurring dollars and potentially 370 million non-recurring, surplus dollars to roads. No end in sight, at this point. He has held the floor for about 2 hours at this point. No sign of fatigue.
May 17, 2015 - SC Senate Update- Only three weeks left in the regular session. I didn’t discuss much about the budget we passed because there is no telling what will come back from the conference committee. As usual, there are some earmarks and questionable spending (take the loan forgiveness of 4 million for SC State), but overall the budget seems to better prioritize this year than in years past. About 20% of the predicted future growth is going to roads. There is money for more prosecutors, which will allow for lower caseloads per prosecutor, more money for replacing our school bus fleet, and there is increased funding for additional DSS workers. We will see what comes back from the conference committee. We are debating the Pain Capable bill right now, which would ban abortions after 20 weeks. There is an attempt to have exceptions to this ban, which is tying the Senate in knots right now. Next up will be the capital reserve funding bill (approximately 84 million) and then we will debate the roads bill. Many of my neighbors and friends have gotten robo calls regarding the roads bill. To be clear, I did vote to set it for Special Order (despite the vote being a voice vote), meaning I wanted to give our infrastructure challenges priority to be debated. I have not voted for a tax increase, as the robo call insinuates. I have greatly enjoyed the calls from my constituents on this, because it has given me a chance to let them know what we are doing and what we might be able to do- provide the largest income tax relief in the history of South Carolina.
May 12, 2015 - SC Senate Update- It appears the Bond bill, as proposed by the Senate Finance committee, has been defeated due to a procedural (rule 24/germane) issue. We did pass a proviso in the budget last week that would allow for the House and Senate to study the capital needs of higher education institutions and our armories and report back by the start of the year.
May 8, 2015 - SC Senate Update- A little has been said about the Senate Republican Caucus (SRC) plan to fix our roads. One of the most consistent things I hear from the more conservative groups and individuals is that we need to work within our means and not raise taxes on anyone. Well I heard you, and I think if you step back and truly look at this plan, you will realize that the end result does just that. Would you be in favor of taking 30% of future growth and dedicating it to roads? If so, that is what this plan does. 30% of future growth is going to a tax cut, and at the same time we are raising gas taxes to get more bang for our buck because our out of state motorist pay between 30-40% of our gas tax. The tax cut, off set by the increase in gas tax, is an overall tax reduction for South Carolina citizens. We are also including DOT reform, which is needed to make sure we use the money wisely.
April 29, 2015 - Got this nice message. I can't tell you how enjoyable it is to talk to young people who are up at the statehouse learning about the capital and the people that have made South Carolina special. Mr. Thurmond.. I think we met you yesterday at the Capital Building in front of your fathers statue..Strom Thurmond.. You introduced yourself and spoke of your family and told us a few accomplishments of your father as we admired your fathers statue.. and even took a few pics with our group... Im thinking this is you.. My daughter, Taylor, took the last pictures with you... She was so very excited and elated to meet you.. you would have thought she met a movie star!... so now she's telling EVERYONE about how nice , kind, and genuine you were to her and she's VERY INTERESTED is the history of your father and accomplishments... Taylor (my first grader child) immediately came home yesterday and googled your father to find out what your name was bc we couldn't remember for the life of us what you said your first name was-- she found an article about the 24 hour speech you were telling us about!!! She was so excited for me to post her picture of you and her in front of the statue !.. I can not express and thank you enough for your sincere thoughts you had for our group yesterday.. Acts of kindness such as this is what makes a difference in young ones lives. Her love for history and love for making a change and difference for the good of the people has dramatically changed since yesterdays visit to the Capital building... Needless to say.. we now have planned a trip to Washington DC for a family vacation, in a few weeks, to further educate her ! She's beyond excited! Lord I can only hope I found the right person.. if not... im very sorry, but we have friended you! Just wanted you to know who this crazy person is that friended you! and WOW... your kids you spoke of are ADORABLE... BEAUTIFUL family!
April 29, 2015 - SC Senate Update- We moved the PTSD First Responder bill forward from Judiciary Committee to the floor of the Senate yesterday. Unfortunately, there is a minority report (objection) on the bill, so it will not move over to the House anytime soon. We also gave 2nd reading to the Body Camera bill. Today is the last day to get 2nd reading on bills before the crossover date (3rd reading tomorrow). This results in a very interesting day for the body. You will see a lot of maneuvering to get bills moving today. Appropriations, Fetal Pain bill, Bond bill and road funding are going to dominate the last five weeks of session in the Senate. We start with appropriations or the budget on Monday, May 4th.
April 25, 2015 - SC Senate Update- I would say this last week was a little busy. Along with the usual challenges of senate duties and legal work, I had the privilege of giving four speeches and calling into the Kelly Golden show (Tuesday morning) this last week. I spoke to the eight grade class of Haut Gap Middle School on Monday and the Forrest Hills Community Center on Tuesday night. I gave one of the honorary speeches for Alice Ann Richter’s investiture on Thursday and then ran out to give the keynote speaking address for the FOP Lodge 3 awards banquet. The banquet was to honor those that served with distinction and those that were killed in the line of duty. It was awesome to be a part of event and hear so many amazing stories of valor. The week before, I had the opportunity to have breakfast with Carly Fiorina and meet Dr. Ben Carson. While Fiorina is not that well known around SC, I was very impressed with her and grateful for her time. Dr. Carson came by the legislature. He seemed very genuine. I hope I will have the chance to meet all the presidential candidates before the election next year. On the floor, we set the Pain Capable 20 Week Abortion Ban bill for Special Order. I voted to do so. I was also excited to see the PTSD 1st Responder bill move forward to the Senate Judiciary Committee. We should debate that on Tuesday. The big news this coming week on the Senate floor is the bond bill and the May 1st crossover date. You can expect to have a divided Senate when it comes to bond bill. The question I will need answered is - what is now put into the budget that took the place of all the spending that was moved over to the bond bill? We should start debating the budget on May 4th. Happy to be home and exhausted from the week, but ready for the next challenge. All- thank you for the continued prayers. No way I could sustain this pace, without help from above.
March 25, 2015 - SC Senate Update- It is going to be a busy one today. I start out with the Criminal Justice Budget Hearing at 9:00 a.m., which will take up a bill that I proposed to give Highway Patrol officers the option to get paid time and a half when working overtime. At time same time, Medical Affairs will be taking up my “Granny Cam” bill, which would allow for nursing home patients to place an electronic monitoring device in their room. At 9:30 a.m., the full Education Committee meets. I have two bills that are of interest there. The first is the Teacher Non-renewal bill (S.533) and the second is over 60 College bill (S.261). The Non-renewal bill is the result of the special committee that was appointed and worked throughout the fall to expedite the process of teachers that are not renewed in their continuous contracts. At 10:00 a.m., I have been appointed chairman of a Judiciary Subcommittee on expungements of juvenile records. Then there is a break until we go into session at 2:00, which will allow for a few meetings with constituents and other groups. I should be on the road by about 6:45 a.m., so I will miss out on taking the older three to school. Katie is getting a run in early to take over that task. Ready for the day!
March 21, 2015 - SC Senate Update- Fairly light week in the SC Senate. On Thursday, we were literally on the floor for 40 minutes. I had a few subcommittee meetings prior to session, but it still felt like a lot of driving for 40 minutes of work. We have set S.229 for special order, meaning that it has priority at this point. S.229 deals with private causes of action in an environmental case. Apparently, there was a compromise a few years back regarding this issue, but a judge interpreted the language of the law differently than what was intended, so we are amending the language to make it clear what was intended. We have not gotten back to the Ethics bill. My electronic monitoring in nursing homes bill, S.257, (also referred to as the “Granny Cam” bill) will come up in subcommittee this week. I am hopeful to have the non-profit nursing home group on board. No chance of getting the for-profit nursing homes to support the bill. AARP is also working to see it move forward. We have gotten the budget from the House, but because I don’t sit on Finance, I won’t see what we are intending to spend money on for a couple of weeks. We will be out of session for furlough the Thursday before Easter and the week after Easter. Finally, the Mugshot bill, S.255, will be up for debate in Judiciary on Tuesday. Early meetings in Columbia this coming week, so say a prayer for my wife. She will be taking the young ones to school, since I will be on the road.
March 11, 2015 - SC Senate Update- Productive day in the SC Senate today. The calendar is very thin, but we were able to get 2nd reading on S.179, which would ban powdered alcohol. I would expect a fairly light day tomorrow with a discussion of the Ethics bill again next week. There has yet to be a consensus on road funding that I have heard of in the Senate. The House is working on the budget this week. We should get the budget bill in a week or two.
March 03, 2015 - SC Senate Update- We are back to work today in Columbia after a weather break on Thursday. It sure was nice to have a more spring-like day yesterday. I am hopeful we will send the CDV bill over to the House today, by giving it 3rd reading. We could go back to the Ethics bill or go to another bill on the calendar (maybe powdered alcohol or the Attorney General bill).
FEBRUARY 25, 2015 - SC Senate Update- CDV bill has passed 2nd reading. 38-3. Increased penalties for CDV violence and removal of guns from those that are convicted of CDV or are under Order of Protection. The only major change is to give a judge the discretion with CDV-3rd degree and Order of Protection.
FEBRUARY 23, 2015 - SC Senate Update- Despite the weather, we are back at it today with session going in at noon. We should be debating the CDV bill again. One of the more interesting bills on the calendar that is being contested is S.179, which would ban powdered alcohol in South Carolina. As far as I can tell, only one senator, Kevin Bryant, is holding this bill up. I usually understand Sen. Bryant’s position and concern on issues, but this one is beyond me. Powdered alcohol is odorless and can be disguised in any liquid bottle, making law enforcement almost impossible. It appears to also be tasteless, making it possible to be used for other criminal activity. I am hopeful after we get through with the CDV bill, we will use the Senate rules to move this bill forward. So often it feels the legislature simply reacts to issues in the community. We are ahead of the disaster, if we can move this bill.
FEBRUARY 17, 2015 - SC Senate Update- We are now debating the Criminal Domestic Violence bill, but have adjourned for the day. Given the subject matter, I would anticipate at least a week or two on this bill. Ethics has not been brought back up yet. On another note, I have become a co-sponsor of S.137, which was introduced by Sen. Cleary. It would require term limits of both the House and Senate.
FEBRUARY 12, 2015 - SC Senate Update- Ethics! Nothing comes easy. We went at it for a little over five hours yesterday. I don’t think anyone could have predicted the outcome. As the bill was amended and then amended again, the Ethics bill started to look much different than what was originally proposed. In the end, the bill failed and we are back at square one. A couple of weeks ago, I predicted that we would take up the House version, which is issue by issue. Now that looks like the only option to getting any reform. Here is a breakdown of the amendments.
Amendment #1 (Roll Call vote #28)- The original bill had independent review of ethics complaints, this amendment stripped that and replaced it with an investigatory board made up of legislators and appointments approved by the legislature. It passed by a vote of 25-20. I voted against it. Amendment #2(Roll Call vote #30)- The original bill tightened up the recusal requirements, so that a legislator who has a conflict can’t participate in any way. This amendment stripped out participation recusal. I voted against it. Amendment #3 (Roll Call vote 32)- The original bill did nothing to change the campaign contribution limits by individuals. This amendment actually increased the limits from $1,000 to $2,000 per cycle. I voted against it. At one point a senator stood up and asked if we could rename this bill the “Incumbent Protection Act”. I think you get the drift. Ultimately, the whole Ethics bill fell apart. There is more to the story regarding other amendments that were offered. I voted for greater transparency of donors (Roll Call vote #31) and income disclosure with amounts (Roll Call vote #29); however, both of those ideas also failed to get into the final version of the bill. After three weeks of working on ethics, we don’t have a thing to show for it. No wonder the public is frustrated with their elected officials.
FEBRUARY 11, 2015 - SC Senate Update- We have been debating Ethics since 2 p.m. We might actually have a vote tonight on the bill. The bill has been changed for the worse. I will do my best to address all the changes early tomorrow. What a mess…
FEBRUARY 8, 2015 - SC Senate Campaign Update- As many of you know, 2012 was the election mess. I was in both federal and state court fighting to stay on the ballot and give Charleston and Dorchester County a choice at the ballot box. After that election, I was saddled with over $70,000 in campaign debt. I took out loans to pay the debt, and over the last two years, I have managed to raise more money than any other freshman senator in the legislator to pay off those loans. On Monday, the last loan will be paid off in full. I am very grateful for all the help my friends have given me. I am hopeful that I will be able to do a newsletter and maybe some direct mail over the next year to continue to keep everyone up to date on what is going on in Columbia. Getting the monkey off my back is a huge relief.
FEBRUARY 5, 2015 - SC Senate Update- I will introduce a bill today, with the help of Deputy Michael Ackerman, that would allow first responders (EMS, Fire and law enforcement) to recover under Workers Comp for PTSD when a significant event triggers PTSD. Under current law, courts have found that being shot or using deadly force is not considered unusual and extraordinary for first responders. Deputy Ackerman was the officer involved in a September 8th shooting in West Ashley where his partner, Joseph Matuskovic, was killed in the line of duty. Deputy Ackerman was shot in the leg during that incident, and has been diagnosed with PTSD, but can’t recover under workers comp for PTSD because the event wasn’t unusual and extraordinary, according to the Workers Comp Commissioner. Apparently, being shot and having your partner killed is “normal” for law enforcement. It is a slap in the face that these men and women put their lives on the line for our safety, and when they develop a mental illness, our State turns their back on them rather than give them the treatment, care and support they need.
FEBRUARY 4, 2015 - SC Senate Update- I have decided to cross the aisle and co-sponsor S.47, which would require body cameras for all law enforcement. As far as I can tell, I am the first republican to do so. I have communicated with all three major law enforcement leaders in my area prior to making this decision. All three (Charleston, Charleston County and North Charleston) have indicated the addition of body cameras would be a useful tool, but do not believe it should be an unfunded mandate by the State. I would like to acknowledge my colleagues Gerald Malloy and Marlon Kimpson for their leadership in this endeavor.
FEBRUARY 3, 2015 - SC Senate Update- I dropped my infrastructure bill today. My bill would allow for the gasoline tax to increase, and give anyone who is a South Carolina citizen a credit for any increase that they pay. There is more to it, and it isn’t perfect, but it is a plan that wouldn’t raise taxes on South Carolinians and at the same time doesn’t raid the general fund. It would be easy to sit on the sideline, but I was elected to try and solve the problems of this State.
FEBRUARY 2, 2015 - SC Senate Update- Not much happened last week regarding Ethics bill or the CDV bill that are on the Senate floor. The Ethics bill has been held up for two issues, so far. First, it was delayed because some had hesitation regarding independent review of ethics complaints. Second, it was delayed due to the tightening up of the recusal requirements. I expect more delays this week. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if we take up the House Ethics bills before we get done with the Senate version. I am pleased to be included in Gov. Haley’s CDV task force. Finally, I have gotten some inquiries about my no gift pledge. This pledge also includes meals and drinks. Since January 1st, I have not and will not accept a meal or drink from any lobbyist principal or organization. This doesn’t mean I won’t go to an event; I just won’t eat there or drink there for free. In that regard, I went to the Baptist luncheon on Wednesday and enjoyed it, but didn’t eat or drink anything. Rather liberating to not have to keep up with all that stuff.
JANUARY 29, 2015 - SC Senate- I introduced a bill yesterday to allow for our highway patrol officers to have the choice, when they are forced to work overtime, to take either time and a half or comp time for the overtime they work. Currently, they are only allowed comp time. This overtime is oftentimes mandatory, and when they get comp time, they are usually instructed when they must use their accumulated comp time. Turnover is way too high with the highway patrol; maybe this will make a difference. See S.387. If you are interested in this bill and would like to see a subcommittee hearing, please contact the Senate Finance Committee.
JANUARY 24, 2015 - There is zero truth to the rumor that I have interest in taking on Mark Sanford for SC-1 as reported by Will Folks. The comments about the comb over; however, are accurate. Age and children are thinning me out up top. Will, give me a call next time.
JANUARY 21, 2015 - Senate Update- We had a fairly productive day yesterday in the Judiciary Committee. Were we able to get to the floor the Ethics bill. It does have independent oversight and income disclosure, but both of those are not perfect. I would call them better than what we have. It also has recusal requirements and submitting bank account information to the Ethics Commission to confirm what you have posted. We also started on the Criminal Domestic Violence bill. A lot has been said about prohibiting possession of firearms of those convicted of CDV. Those individuals are already prohibited under the federal code 18 USC 922 (g)(9). They are also prohibited under the federal code if there is a restraining order or order of protection where there has been a finding that such person represents a credible threat to the physical safety of such intimate partner or child. As such, I am supportive of the State restricting possession of firearms to CDV criminals and individuals under restraining orders. Unfortunately, the CDV bill does not encourage better victim participation. I will be offering a few suggestions to encourage victims either on the floor or in another bill. I am going to be out today due to sickness, but hopefully will be back at it tomorrow.
JANUARY 15, 2015 - Posted by John Robinson - I want to thank and commend my State Senator, and colleague in the Bar, for indicating that he wants to vet Gubernatorial appointees. I understand that Sen. Leatherman desires the same vetting of candidates for appointment to state boards. I am heartened by the fact that Sen. Thurmond is concerned with good government, free of influence of special interests in our state. I am proud to call him my State Senator. Postandcourier.com article link
JANUARY 13, 2015 - SC Senate Update- As I get back on the road to start my 3rd year in the South Carolina Senate, I want to take a second to thank you for the opportunity to serve my community and for allowing me to be your voice in Columbia. I also am appreciative of my wife, Katie England Thurmond, for supporting me in my service. I couldn’t do this without her help and the sacrifices she makes.
JANUARY 12, 2015 - SC Senate Update- Getting started in the morning. The following will be outside my office no later than tomorrow. Continuing to do things differently- As of January 1st, 2015, Sen. Thurmond will no longer accept any gifts. The gesture is appreciated, but not necessary. He will continue to have an open door policy, and to schedule meetings with anyone who request one. Thank you.
DECEMBER 3, 2014 - I had a great time talking with Buist Academy’s 3rd grade class yesterday. There were probably about 50 young and energetic minds peppering me with questions about government systems. I also got a few curveballs, just like some of the debates I have participated in the past. My favorite one was, “Do you like donuts”? I wouldn’t think too much of this question, except for the fact that the question came from a child looking at me from the side view. My response, “Who doesn’t like donuts”? In true political speak- answer a question with a question. (I did actually answer the question and apparently a lot of the children like the same as I do-chocolate glazed.) I had a really good time. Thank you to Beth Fritz Bailey for inviting me.
JULY 8, 2014 - Brief overview of the 2014 legislative session- I think the best way to describe this last year is to say there were hardly any easy decisions. I was pleased that we expanded CWP holders to carry in restaurants and bars, increased the use of interlock devices for DUI offenses and banned texting while driving. These bills I supported. I thought the Department of Administration was a good idea, but it was watered down without including procurement under the Administration and I couldn’t come on board. I was supportive of Read to Succeed, but not expanding 4k, and when that was added, I voted “no”. I hate that we missed out on ethics reform, but the version that was offered wasn’t ethics reform, it was just income disclosure. I got knee deep in teacher reform and video surveillance in nursing homes, both of which are going to be long term initiatives, but I am glad that the discussion has been started, which will benefit our children and our elderly. I voted against the largest budget in the history of SC because it taxes too much, didn’t prioritize roads and had too many pet projects. Finally, I successfully led the fight against raising our legislative pay mid-stream. Boy, that wasn’t the most popular thing to do with my colleges, but I believe it was the right thing to do. If I can come and speak to your organization, club or group, please email or message me. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you.
MAY 13, 2014 - SC Senate Update- We are back on the budget. We got a memo yesterday indicating that we were going to go from 10:00 a.m. to 10 p.m.for the next three days and might go into Friday and Saturday. I have an amendment that will pull out the pay increase for all legislators and put it towards replacing our school bus fleet. There will be other options put forth, if mine fails. I think you can expect us to be here awhile discussing how it doesn't make any sense to raise our salary 33%.
FEBRUARY 5, 2014 - We took up S.115 in the Judiciary committee last night. S.115 would allow all citizens who have not been convicted of violent crimes to openly carry a firearm. No training, no concealment, just open carry almost everywhere- daycares, grocery stores, pharmacies- almost everywhere. Apparently, a couple of other states have this like Wyoming, Arizona and Alaska. There was an attempt to table the bill or not allow the bill to reach the Senate floor. I voted to table S.115 or voted against the bill for really two reasons: First, I believe that the open display of a firearm by a non-law enforcement individual would create fear by everyone who sees it. Second, I have had interaction with every single law enforcement agency in my district and all of them are against it. The final vote was 10-10, which means there will be more debate. It was not tabled… yet. Driving back to Columbia early for the Common Core subcommittee hearing at 10:00 a.m.
JANUARY 24, 2014 - SC Senate- We only debated the ethics bill for a couple of hours on Thursday. We did not take a vote on the amendment offered by Sen. Campsen, rather it was suggested to go home and study the amendment and be ready to get back to it next week. I would expect us to continue to debate ethics for a good week or so. I am going to do some Q & A this morning with the Porter-Gaud AP government class. I am also sending out letters to all principals in the district to have a meeting February 3rd to discuss a bill that I intend to introduce shortly. Have a great weekend.
JUNE 5, 2013 - This is a quick update for all of those in law enforcement. The Ramsey decision was very challenging about 18 months ago. As a result of that decision, hundreds, if not thousands of tickets had to be dismissed and brought before a judge to issue a warrant. It was a nightmare for judges and court personnel. I should know, I was in the middle of it in North Charleston. I am happy to report that H.3451 was concurred with over in the House yesterday. With the governor's signature, it will become law. I am happy to have been a part of the solution to this issue and am very grateful for all of the hard working members of law enforcement. This bill will allow them to get back to on the streets quicker to do their job, rather than waiting on a judge for a warrant on a minor offense.
MAY 21, 2013 - The vote to expand Medicaid in SC was tabled or denied by a vote of 23-19 with only two republicans voting to expanding Medicaid. I don't know if we are done with this issue, but for now, we are back to discussing provisos. For those that are supportive of the expansion, I couldn't support a system that is clearly broken and that we can't afford to expand. I also stated very clearly on the campaign trail where I stood and why. We have plenty of elected people that make promises or take positions and then don't follow through. I refuse to be in that category. I was very persuaded by the Oregon study that indicated giving people insurance does not mean they will be healthier. This is one of the most divisive issues in my area and the state and I know there are some that don't agree with this vote.
MARCH 17, 2013 -Last political post for the weekend- On Tuesday, I introduced a bill, with the encouragement of my solicitor, Scarlett Wilson, that would impose a criminal penalty of five years for tampering or removing an electronic monitor. The bill is S. 509. This, combined with probation or the sheriff's office taking over the monitoring, should greatly reduce the concern that many citizens have about the effectiveness of monitoring individuals who are awaiting resolution of their case. Hopeful that Sen. Martin will give me a subcommittee hearing in the near future.
MARCH 15, 2013 - We were more productive in the Senate this week. S.53, the Superintendent of Education bill, failed to get the required two thirds votes, or 31 hard votes for a constitutional change. We got 27-16 (really 28 because L. Martin changed his vote, so he could make a motion being on the “prevailing” side.) O’Dell and Leatherman were the only republicans to vote against the bill. It looks like there is a desire to try again, but I don’t think we will be successful, unless Rankin, Leatherman and O’Dell can be persuaded. Not sure if Rankin is on board or not, but he was out this week with a federal trial. S.4, Early Voting, got through second reading on Thursday with a vote of 34-5. I supported the bill. S.237, which is the Flag Flying at Half Staff bill, moved through 2nd reading unanimously on Thursday. We took up NDAA, S.92, but adjourned before any real discussion. Overall, we spent close to 11 hours on the floor this week, including defeating a motion to adjourn to stay and keep at it. Hopeful we can move S.308, Concealed Carry in Restaurants and Bars bill this coming week.
MARCH 12, 2013 - I have been thinking about the cost of medical treatment in South Carolina over the last few weeks, especially in light of some of the decisions that need to be made in the legislature. Premiums continue to rise on everyone and some of the solutions offered are to throw more money at the problem, which certainly is not the best idea. I was encouraged to learn the federal government seems to be aware of the problem and is considering or has implemented denying reimbursements to hospitals where patients are readmitted or are retreated as a result of poor care. The example was a Medicare patient who is treated for bed sores. The care for bed sores would not be reimbursed. When you combine this effort with SC government charging lower premiums on people who do not use tobacco, I think you might just have something that addresses the problems at hand. In its simplest form, government should encourage or reward positive behavior and through doing so, discourage the opposite. On a final note, having everyone have a little skin in the game per test/procedure would also go a long way.
MARCH 8, 2013 - Unfortunately, the movement of bills continued to slow down a good amount this week. S.53, which would put the Superintendent of Education under the administration, was discussed both Wednesday and Thursday. All other bills passed were “uncontested”. Hopefully, we will have a vote by Tuesday on S.53. I spent the week attending other committees that I was not appointed to. I attended the Mental Health Bill and ethics overhaul sub-committee meetings.
We decided to furlough for two weeks around the Easter Holiday. Savings are around 250K, is what I am told. I have mixed emotions about the furlough. Great that we are saving money and it shows that we should shorten the legislative session. I am frustrated that we are leaving without getting to the important items like infrastructure, education, jobs, ethics and insurance cost.
Finally, I attempted to amend one of those “uncontested” bills associated with Accommodations Tax to allow for coastal municipalities to hold a referendum to raise Accommodations Tax by 1% to be used for beach renourishment. I was politely told that the finance chairman had not approved and I needed to introduce it as a free standing bill. S.503 was introduced on Thursday and is co-sponsored by all republican coastal senators. I did get a chance to talk about the challenges of beach erosion on Folly and Isle of Palms in the well of the senate. Got peppered with questions and enjoyed every second of it.
MARCH 3, 2013 - One more post for today- S.412, which would rid us of the blackout period for elections, is going to subcommittee this Thursday. It will join other ethics reform bills that have been introduced. I am very grateful for Sen. Martin’s willingness to include this bill in the discussion of ethics reform. If you feel like I do that the public deserves to know who is financing campaigns throughout the whole election cycle, please call your senator and ask him/her to support S.412.
MARCH 3, 2013 - We had a finance informational meeting last week. Some interesting news about your state’s collection and spending. The overall budget is 22.7 billion. For the big ticket items, we spend 3.9 billion on K-12 education, 2.1 billion on transportation, 1.1 billion on law enforcement, 4.4 billion on higher education and get this, 8.9 billion on Medicaid and HHS. I never had a clue that we spent that much on entitlements on the state level, especially compared to what we spend on education and law enforcement.