Updates from Tommy- next week is the last week for this session.
House Passes Partial Road Funding Bill
Amends legislation to include DOT reform
(Columbia, SC) – House Speaker Jay Lucas (District 65-Darlington) issued the following statement after the House amended S. 1258, a bill that allocates through bonding and other means over $4 billion for interstate needs, road resurfacing, and bridge repair over the next ten years. Today’s House passage of S. 1258 provides another opportunity for a road funding bill (although partial) to be signed into law by Governor Haley before the end of the legislative session.
“Members of the House understand that the people of South Carolina expect their Legislature to pass a roads bill this year. Although more effort must be made next session to find a long-term funding stream, this bill is a starting point that allows for adequate repair of deficient roads and bridges without raiding our state’s General Fund,” Speaker Lucas stated.
The Senate version of S. 1258 only provided for bonding/funding and did not address DOT reform. The Ways and Means Committee successfully amended the bill prior to debate on the House floor to include DOT reform, which gives (1) the Governor the ability to appoint all Highway Commissioners, and (2) the Highway Commission the authority to appoint a Department of Transportation Secretary with the advice and consent of the General Assembly.
“DOT reform is a crucial piece to the road funding puzzle. The General Assembly should not give another penny to the Department of Transportation without certain accountability requirements in place to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. I am very pleased the House successfully amended the Senate version to include governance restructuring as an effort to promote efficiency within DOT,” Speaker Lucas concluded.
Farm Aid Veto Override, Ethics Reform, Protecting Life & New Roads Bill
There are two weeks left in the 2015 legislative session and the House worked diligently on getting some Senate legislation through for a vote and tying up loose ends.
The first issue we dealt with was overriding Governor Haley’s veto of the Farm Aid Bill. Her veto was overridden with a near-unanimous and bipartisan vote. When the governor requested federal disaster resources as a result of the 2015 floods she requested funds for homeowners and small businesses but did not include resources for our farmers. By overriding the veto we make certain our state’s farmers and the jobs they provide stay right here in South Carolina and we don’t lose market share to China and Mexico.
My House colleagues and I have continued our commitment to passing strong ethics reform legislation. This week we strengthened and improved legislation providing for independent ethics oversight of all public officials. Unfortunately it was the only bill in our ethics reform package that passed the Senate and was returned to the House for second consideration.
I’m pleased to report final passage was granted this week for the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. Currently in our state, approximately 28 babies are aborted each year after 20 weeks (5 months). Governor Haley has indicated she will sign the new law which prohibits most abortions at 20 weeks after fertilization, the point when an unborn child can feel excruciating pain when aborted. We now join 17 other states that have also passed similar measures.
Finally, a Senate bill bonding $2.2 billion to repair our dangerous roads and bridges was given final approval by the House Ways and Means Committee. The bill was amended to add in strong Department of Transportation (DOT) restructuring and accountability measures which were not included in the Senate version. We must have DOT reform before any additional taxpayer dollars are given to the dysfunctional agency. It is important to note this bill does not allow for any new roads to be built, but requires the additional funds be used to fix our existing dilapidated roads and bridges. The bill heads to the House floor next week where it will be debated and a vote taken.
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 to not hesitate to contact me.
Tommy has been busy this week! He has been working more on the ethics bill, income disclosure, and more. He will be in Charleston tonight and Greenville tomorrow. Lots going on this weekend as well!