State House Report #7

February 27, 2015 in Campaign Blog by Tommy Pope

Education, Ethics Reform & Judicial Update

The House adjourned Wednesday due to inclement weather, shaving a legislative day from the calendar, but not before we moved on education reform, advanced an omnibus ethics reform bill, and received an update on the state of South Carolina’s judicial system.

On Monday, House Speaker Jay Lucas set priorities and expectations for the work the House Education Policy Review and Reform Task Force is undertaking. The diverse task force, made up of citizens, business leaders and elected officials begins work to develop recommendations that will lead to long-term substantial education reform in South Carolina. The group is required to submit a report of their findings to Speaker Lucas by the beginning of next legislative session.

Strengthening our state’s ethics laws remains one of my top priorities. In the House we have already taken the piecemeal approach to enacting ethics reform by passing a series of 12 ethics bills as a part of our comprehensive overall ethics reform package.  We have completed the series of smaller bills and have now combined each of those into one omnibus ethics package which is being fast-tracked on the House floor. The House Republican Caucus supports the omnibus package and our goal is to give the Senate either vehicle necessary for passage.

Each year the Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court is tasked with giving the State of the Judiciary to a joint session of both House and Senate lawmakers. Chief Justice Toal delivered her remarks on Wednesday primarily focusing on the innovation instituted in the judicial process over the past decade. State courts that previously didn’t have internet access now operate with high-speed internet access, and large portions of the judicial branch now operate in a secure web-based cloud through a partnership with Clemson University.  A new pilot program begins this year in two counties that will test an online system used to file legal paperwork, streamlining the process for the citizens of South Carolina.

I would also like to extend an invitation for you to join my House Republican Caucus colleagues and me as we welcome an array of possible presidential hopefuls to South Carolina. Last week we had a reception honoring Governor Kasich of Ohio with nearly 200 in attendance and a national media audience. The next time you see a cable news discussion of the 2016 presidential race, don’t be surprised when you see John Kasich standing in front of a Caucus logo banner as one of the background screen images. This week we announced former Florida Governor Jeb Bush will be in Columbia with us next month. Please click here for more information and to find out how to reserve your spot.

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.

Legislative Update- February 26, 2015

February 26, 2015 in Uncategorized by Tommy Pope

Tommy talks about the snow day, talking with the Governor about the roads, ethics being consolidated for the Senate, and Chief Justice Toal.

State House Report #6

February 20, 2015 in Legislative Updates by Tommy Pope

Ethics Reform & Budget 

The South Carolina House of Representatives had a busy week producing an initial state budget, moving again on ethics reform, and continuing to push for increased transparency in government.

In an overwhelming 90-16 vote, the House passed H.3191, the first major update of S.C.’s Freedom of Information Act in nearly thirty years. It puts enforcement teeth into the law to prevent governmental bodies from refusing to hand over public documents. The legislation will utilize the ‘Office of Freedom of Information’ within the Administrative Law Court allowing citizens and public bodies to resolve FOIA disputes without having to file a costly lawsuit.

Wrapping the FOIA bill in the reform package gave it renewed momentum and was key to its passage. Among other things, the legislation cuts the time for receiving a requested response for documents from 15 days to 10, sets limits on costs to search for items, and requires copies be provided at the prevailing local copy rates.

One of the final bills in our ethics reform package, clarifying the law following a Supreme Court ruling, saw final passage. The bill makes clear that a public agenda is required before a government body meets – giving no less than 24 hours public notice. It also states that only agenda items may be considered during the meeting, but does provide an exemption in cases of emergency. This gives greater public awareness and ensures government on all levels in South Carolina is not allowed to operate in secret.

The House Ways and Means Full Committee began meeting Tuesday to vote on agency requests and to finalize a written state budget. We focused on funding the core
functions of government and eliminating waste and duplication. Proposing and passing a balanced budget is one the most important things we do each year. We will begin debate on the House floor in the coming weeks.

Also, we were honored to host Governor John Kasich (R-Ohio) in Columbia at the House Republican Caucus reception Wednesday night. The nearly 200 attendees got to experience first-hand the electric environment of a prominent national Republican’s visit to South Carolina and the added security, trail of reporters, and cameras that follow.

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.

Legislative Update- February 19, 2015

February 19, 2015 in Legislative Updates by Tommy Pope

Tommy discusses some of the work that was done this week including more ethics, Freedom of Information, agenda work, disclosure on sources of income, roads and more. Ways and Means has been working hard on the budget. Tommy also visited with the Association of Counties Members yesterday and found it very enlightening. York County Day is next week and it should be a blast!

Page 1 of 46123456102030Last »