With only two weeks left in this year’s session, both the South Carolina House and Senate worked to quickly pass less controversial bills so they could focus on the major pieces of legislation in the coming days.
Governor Nikki Haley is expected to sign into law legislation that would clarify the state’s construction liability laws. While receiving only minor attention, the bill attempts to fix a state Supreme Court ruling that members of the General Assembly say might otherwise cripple the construction industry.
— Several other pieces of legislation are now only procedural votes away from the governor’s desk:
The House passed a Senate bill that closes a loophole in the state’s sexual assault laws.
Currently, a lewd act against a “child” only covers those ages 15 and under, while the same crime against an “adult” only applies to those 18 and up. 16 and 17 year olds are not technically covered by either law. The new legislation would expand the law’s definition to “persons,” instead of “adults.” The bill passed unanimously.
–The House also approved a Senate bill that would strike the words “mental retardation” from all state laws, replacing it with “intellectual disability.” Sen. John Scott (D-Richland) said the old wording has a negative connotation and does not match up with federal law, anyway.
–Both bodies voted to end the requirement that school nurses be notified when a student tests positive for HIV or hepatitis. Supporters said the requirement is unenforceable, due to federal law that supersedes it. Opponents said the federal law needs to change, not state law. Governor Nikki Haley has not said if she supports the bill. She voted in favor of a similar version while serving in the Legislature in 2008, but later voted to uphold then-Gov. Mark Sanford’s veto.
–A Senate bill that would require bars and restaurants to develop recycling plans when they apply for their license got key approval Tuesday. Some legislators had been holding up the bill due to concerns it would put a high cost on businesses in rural areas. Sen. Ray Cleary (R-Georgetown) added a late compromise that would exempt a restaurant if its recycling costs went above 14 percent of its expenses. The bill has very little chance to pass the House this year.