Headlines from the SC State Capitol:
–Thursday at 5:00 p.m. marked the end of the regular session for both the House and Senate. While lawmakers will return again on a limited basis in two weeks, they will only take up the budget and those bills in conference committee. Otherwise, any bills not headed to the governor or in conference by now are dead for the year.
–Some bills slipped through just before the deadline and are on their way to Gov. Nikki Haley’s desk. These include:
A bill that would allow person convicted of a nonviolent felony to use a firearm for hunting purposes only… Another would require law enforcement officers to perform a sobriety test on the at-fault driver after a fatal accident… Lawmakers also passed an amended bill that bars sex offenders from taking custody of a foster child… With only moments to spare, legislators also reached a compromise on a bill that clarifies an employee fired for “misconduct” is unable to collect jobless benefits.
–Several high-profile bills did not make it out after opponents prevented them from reaching a vote. The most prominent was a school choice bill that would have allowed parents to claim up to $4,000 in tax deductions for private school tuition… The impasse on the school choice legislation also prevented a vote on a telecommunications bill, a statewide ban on texting while driving, and a proposal that would have required state legislators to follow open records laws.
–Governor Nikki Haley held a ceremonial signing for a bill that gives additional property tax breaks to developers. The bill extends a multi-lot property tax discount for builders with at least 10 lots subdivided on their property. The discount, which expired at the beginning of this year, will now run into 2014.
–Thursday marked a day of “goodbyes” and “farewells” for 16 legislators. Some, such as Sen. Dick Elliott (D-North Myrtle Beach) were honored by Gov. Haley for their service. Others, such as Rep. Boyd Brown (D-Winnsboro) took some parting shots at the governor on the way out.
Also saying their farewells Thursday were Sens. Ralph Anderson (D-Greenville), John Land (D-Manning), Phil Leventis (D-Sumter), Greg Ryberg (R-Aiken), and Phil Shoopman (R-Greer)– along with Reps. Paul Agnew (D-Abbeville), Jim Battle (D-Nichols), Marion Frye (R-Leesville), James Harrison (R-Columbia), George Hearn (R-Conway), Jimmy Neal (D-Kershaw), Gene Pinson (R-Greenwood), Kevin Ryan (R-Pawleys Island), and David Tribble (R-Clinton).
Reps. Karl Allen (D-Greenville), Kevin Johnson (D-Manning), and Tom Young (R-Aiken) are also leaving the House, but each is expected to win a seat in the state Senate next year.
–The House Ethics Committee has set the first public hearing on June 28 for its further investigation of Gov. Haley. The committee made its schedule after meeting in executive session Thursday. Committee members are treading carefully in what has become an unprecedented, politically-charged process. Members say they can no longer speak publicly about their investigation until it is over.
And, as for us, that closes out “Legislative Update” for the year. We will, of course, keep you up to date once lawmakers return in two weeks. Thanks for the support in what has become one of our more popular features.