This week started with the General Assembly honoring the Clemson Tigers winning the 2018 national football championship and an inspiring speech by head football Coach Dabo Swinney on the importance of doing our jobs, sticking to our values, and getting things done for the good of the team. (Something all Legislators need to hear). It was a good motivator as we continue to debate the transformational education reform bill that’s moving through the House, and as we begin discussions regarding this year’s budget.
Education Reform Bill is on the Move
The House will take up the S.C. Career Opportunity and Access for All Act (H.3759) next week on the floor. This past week the bill reported out of the full education committee 15-1 and is expected to be debated on the House floor next week. Thank you all for the input. I’ve heard from teachers, parents, students, and the business community. All agree that education needs fundamental reforms like raising teacher pay, teaching our children to read, testing less and teaching more, and creating accountability for school boards. South Carolina ranks 24th in per pupil spending, yet we are last in student achievement. Something has got to change in the way we teach and get our children ready for the workforce. I look forward to debating this bill on the floor next week.
Tax Reform Update
The Tax Committee, a bipartisan committee appointed by the speaker last year, met again this week to continue discussions on a reform bill. The committee is preparing to report a bold plan that will reduce income taxes and broaden the base of sales taxes resulting in much fairer tax rates across the board for all South Carolinians. I will dive into the recommendations to make sure they are helping (not harming) Greenville businesses and individual families.
Other Legislative News
Civil Asset Forfeiture
Legislation that would change the way civil forfeiture cases are handled is making its way through the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Laws. Right now, law enforcement can seize property from residents, sometimes without charging or convicting them of a crime, and then profit from the proceeds. I co-sponsored this bill and I look forward to supporting this bill when it gets to the full House to help ensure that no person can lose their property unless/until they are convicted of a crime. It’s the right thing to do and protects both law enforcement and the individual. Thanks for the feedback on this!
Serving SC Veterans
I was proud to co-sponsor legislation that will improve the chain of command in the Division of Veteran Affairs. Just last week, Gov. Henry McMaster was joined by veterans, myself, and S.C. Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Van McCarty in supporting our effort to make the South Carolina Division of Veterans Affairs a standalone cabinet agency. From that press conference we were able to build momentum and pass the bill out of the House. I encourage you to contact your State Senator and have them pass S. 0454 as soon as possible. (Currently, the Division of Veterans Affairs is housed under the Department of Administration.)
This week, I supported efforts to simplify our hunting laws in S.C., specifically the rules governing the S.C. Hunting License and a Big Game permit. Currently, permits allow three unrestricted individual antlered deer tags and eight date-specific individual antlerless deer tags which are valid only on specified days. This bill provides, instead, that a resident receives, in addition to the three antlered deer tags, two antlerless deer tags that are not date-specific with the purchase of a hunting license and permit. As a result, the bill eliminates any reference to the minimum number of days for the taking of antlerless deer in Game Zones 1, 2, 3, and 4.
Good News for SC Tourism
For the sixth consecutive year tourism in SC has shown record growth. 2017 generated a record economic impact of $22.6 billion, an increase of $1.4 billion from 2016. Tourism growth in the state has increased 50% increase since 2010, according to the SC Parks & Recreation Division. We as a State Legislature must ensure we get out of the way of our businesses and continue to reduce regulations so that South Carolina is a place that continues to thrive.
Clemson Honored at State House
We were honored to host Coach Dabo Swinney and Clemson players at the State House for their 2018 National Championship this past week. Clemson’s win is a way to highlight all the great things occurring in our State. I enjoyed meeting Coach Swinney and the Tiger!