House Ways and Means Chairman Issues BEA Statement

May 27, 2015 in Legislative Updates by Tommy Pope

House Ways and Means Chairman Issues BEA Statement

White will Introduce Supplemental Appropriations Bill

 

(Columbia, SC) – S.C. House Ways and Means Chairman Brian White (District 6-Anderson) issued the following statement prior to the next week’s Board of Economic Advisors meeting.

On Friday, May 29th, the B.E.A. meets to review the official estimate that state budget writers use to formulate the annual appropriations bill.  In recent months, state revenues for the current fiscal year have consistently been higher than predicted and it is likely that the B.E.A. will increase the estimate due to higher than expected revenues.  For the first time in seven years, the state of South Carolina will close this fiscal year’s books with general fund revenues that reach a pre-recession level.

“South Carolina’s economy is booming and indications are that the B.E.A. will certify a significant amount of additional money available to appropriate by the General Assembly.  Since the general appropriations bill has already advanced through the legislative process and rather than have six representatives and senators attempt to spend a large amount of new money in conference committee, I plan to introduce a supplemental appropriations bill on Tuesday.  A thorough vetting by the entire General Assembly though the normal budget process will allow the House and Senate the opportunity to discuss and debate how this new money should be appropriated,” stated Chairman White.

House Ways and Means Chairman Issues BEA Statement

May 22, 2015 in Legislative Updates by Tommy Pope

House Ways and Means Chairman Issues BEA Statement

White will Introduce Supplemental Appropriations Bill

 

(Columbia, SC) – S.C. House Ways and Means Chairman Brian White (District 6-Anderson) issued the following statement prior to the next week’s Board of Economic Advisors meeting.

On Friday, May 29th, the B.E.A. meets to review the official estimate that state budget writers use to formulate the annual appropriations bill.  In recent months, state revenues for the current fiscal year have consistently been higher than predicted and it is likely that the B.E.A. will increase the estimate due to higher than expected revenues.  For the first time in seven years, the state of South Carolina will close this fiscal year’s books with general fund revenues that reach a pre-recession level.

“South Carolina’s economy is booming and indications are that the B.E.A. will certify a significant amount of additional money available to appropriate by the General Assembly.  Since the general appropriations bill has already advanced through the legislative process and rather than have six representatives and senators attempt to spend a large amount of new money in conference committee, I plan to introduce a supplemental appropriations bill on Tuesday.  A thorough vetting by the entire General Assembly though the normal budget process will allow the House and Senate the opportunity to discuss and debate how this new money should be appropriated,” stated Chairman White.

State House Report # 18

in Legislative Updates by Tommy Pope

Criminal Domestic Violence & Pro Life Update

With two weeks remaining in the regular legislative session for 2015, my House colleagues and I reached an agreement this week with our Senate counterparts to give substantial reform to our state’s domestic violence laws.

South Carolina is 2nd in the nation for number of women killed by men in a domestic dispute with 36,000 annual reports of domestic violence.  Last year a task force was created in the House chaired by my colleague Rep. Shannon Erickson to develop legislation to end this cycle of abuse in our state. The Committee developed a comprehensive approach which passed the House in April. The Senate sent us their version, and we’ve reached a compromise.

Provisions Included in the Compromise:

  • Changes the current penalty occurrence-based model to a hybrid approach that considers degree of injury, number of occurrences, and possible aggravating circumstances. New categories: Domestic Violence High and Aggravated Nature (DVHAN), 1st Degree, 2nd Degree, and 3rd Degree.
  • Amends the definition of “moderate bodily injury” to create a more understandable and useable definition for prosecutors.
  • Extends time period for a bond hearing to ensure a judge has all necessary information.
  • Creates a Domestic Violence Advisory Committee to study domestic violence cases.  This Committee would make recommendations to the General Assembly.  The Committee is made up of many directors of state agencies.
  • Batterer’s Treatment Programs would be selected and approved by the prosecuting agency, as opposed to the current model with the Department of Social Services (DSS) approving the programs.
  • Expands domestic violence education from only high schools to also include middle schools.
  • Allows judges to proceed with the case without the presence of the victim.
  • Permits DSS to study a voucher system for child care to accommodate care for children while victims appear in court.

Last week I sent you a list of bills stalled in the Senate. Many of you took action. Thank you to all those who acted, there’s no question the Senate and the Governor are hearing your voices. Thanks to you, this week the Senate moved one step closer to passing our Pain-Capable Pro-Life bill. That’s a great start, but I still need your help. Among the items we have already passed that still remain stalled in the Senate are:

  • H3184 – Ethics Reform
  • H3006 – Pro Business Regulatory Reform
  • H3014 – Shortening Legislative Session
  • H3799 – Concealed Weapons Permit Expansion
  • H3523 – Pro Business Ride Sharing Deregulation
  • H3145 – Protecting Vulnerable Citizens

For a more detailed description of ethics reform and other issues, click here.

Please take a moment to call or email your Senator and the Governor and ask them to take action on these important matters facing our state.

As always, it is a privilege to serve you in the South Carolina House. If you ever need help with state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact me

State House Report #17

May 18, 2015 in Legislative Updates by Tommy Pope

Police Body Cameras & Mental Health

There are three weeks left in the 2015 legislative session, so the House worked on getting some Senate legislation through for a vote and tying up loose ends.

The biggest issue we dealt with this week was how to appropriately move forward on requiring law enforcement officers to wear body cameras. In recent newsletters, I have kept you apprised on the movements of this bill through the committee process, and after a debate on the House floor this week the S47 passed with bi-partisan support.

Once enacted, the House version would:

  1. Charge the South Carolina Law Enforcement Training Council (SCLETC) with studying the use, implementation procedures, and costs for body cameras. This first phase would last 180 days upon initial ratification.
  2. In the second 180 day phase, the SCLETC creates the guidelines for initial implementation.
  3. Throughout this process local law enforcement are given opportunities to voice any concerns they may have as they also study the impacts of implementation.
  4. The report must include a footage retention policy, detailed privacy policy, and a fiscal impact study.

Once completed, the Training Council must report their findings to the General Assembly at which time my colleagues and I will be able to make the best informed decision possible about our state’s use of body cameras.

It’s important that we also consider the unintended associated costs–seen recently in communities around the country–of not having these cameras: potential expense of lawless behavior and injuries to person or property, out-of-control investigation/litigation cost, and damage to South Carolina’s reputation as a tourist destination. Weighed against those factors, the implementation of body cameras could represent a massive potential savings for taxpayers.

Mental health issues continue to make headlines, and this week we took additional steps to address the growing needs of those who suffer from mental illness. Currently our court systems experience backlog in part due to an increasing number of mental health cases. This provision, originating in the Senate, would allow elected solicitors to set up mental health courts to divert non-violent mental health cases. This solution allows our state to save taxpayer resources in addition to getting treatment for those who suffer from mental illness.

Looking forward, House and Senate leaders have also come to a point of agreement on Domestic Violence reform legislation. I expect the House to debate the matter on the floor next week.

While my House colleagues and I continue to work diligently the same cannot be said about the Senate. We’ve passed numerous milestone pieces of legislation while the Senate continues to stall. Among the items we have already passed, yet have stalled in the Senate are:

  • H3184 – Ethics Reform Act
  • H3006 – Pro Business Regulatory Reform
  • H3014 – Shortening Legislative Session
  • H3799 – Concealed Weapons Permit Expansion
  • H3114 – Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act
  • H3523 – Pro Business Ride Sharing Deregulation
  • H3145 – Protecting Vulnerable Citizens

We have begun a campaign called “Finish the Job” in order to get this legislation passed. For more information on what you can do, please visit our website or our Facebook page.

As always, it is a privilege to serve you in the South Carolina House. If you ever need help with state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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