Senate Update

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The SC Senate adjourned last week with a number of important bills passed, and several more in the pipeline expected for final passage early next year when the two-year session concludes.

“We made some important progress this year on our agenda for jobs and reform, namely getting the election fiasco corrected, stopping Medicaid expansion, and making great strides in moving along the Department of Administration and Ethics bills,” said Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler. “I for one am disappointed in the fact that we didn’t have time to get both those bills to the governor’s desk, but I believe we will continue to work in the interim and can do so early next year. My hope is that when the legislature reconvenes, we can pass both of those bills quickly, as well as a comprehensive plan to fund our roads.”

Among the top bills passed:

· Election fix: One of the Senate Republican Caucus’ top agenda items, this bill fixes the problems in state law that caused hundreds to get thrown off the ballot. The bill also protects the ability of political party voters to choose their nominees through primaries instead of allowing party bosses to hand-pick nominees at their convention. Before a party could choose to alter its nominating method, three-quarters of the party’s convention must vote to put a referendum before the primary voters, who would then have a vote to decide the outcome.”

· Sweepstakes: Gets rid of what the gambling industry claimed was a loophole in the current law that allows them to operate thinly veiled “sweepstakes” machines. It will essentially ban the machines and prevent a resurgence of video poker.

· Mental Health Reporting: Requires SLED to enter into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System the names of those adjudicated for mental illnesses.

· Flags at Half-Staff: Requires the lowering of the flag to half-staff at the State House when a SC resident loses their life in the military.

Passed both the House and Senate

· Department of Administration: Moves the administrative functions of government to a newly created Department of Administration. The Department will include human resources, general services, and an executive budget and strategic planning office. In conference committee

· CWP Holders In Bars and Restaurants: Bill prohibits the carrying of weapons by CWP holders in bars or restaurants from 12:00 AM to 5:00 AM. CWP holders carrying weapons are prohibited consuming alcohol. Property owners are permitted to post a sign prohibiting the carrying of weapons by CWP holders.

Passed the Senate, awaiting action in the House:

· DUI: The bill will strengthen DUI laws in the state for repeat offenders, and allow Ignition Interlock Devices to be installed in vehicles of first time offenders.

· Early Voting: Designed to alleviate long lines at the polls on election day by granting 7 days of early voting.

· NDAA nullification: Prohibits an officer of the state from enforcing the National Defense Authorization Act and being detained without trial.

· Cyber Security: Offers identity monitoring for all SC residents and establishes an authority to strengthen cyber security for political subdivisions with the autonomy to overrule agency directors.

Agenda Items Not Passed

· Ethics: The Ethics bill remains on the Senate calendar and is first in line to be debated again next year.

· Transportation Funding: a comprehensive transportation funding proposal remains on the Senate Calendar.

· Spending Caps: The two components to the spending caps bills remain in Finance and Judiciary Committees