With the House on furlough this week, the attention will be solely on the Senate:
–The full Senate will likely take up an amendment on the floor Wednesday that would remove the State Treasurer’s position from the state Retirement Investment Commission. Current Treasurer Curtis Loftis claims the move is a politically-motivated attempt to silence him for criticizing the panel. Some legislators say the panel is non-political and membership on it should require a financial background.
–The Senate Finance Committee will begin hearing agency requests for next year’s state budget, as the House will start to debate it in two weeks. A panel will hear from the Aeronautics Commission and the Budget & Control Board Wednesday.
–A judiciary subcommittee will discuss possible changes to the Omnibus Crime Reduction and Sentencing Reform Act that was signed into law in 2010… Another judiciary panel will hear testimony on a bill by Sen. Glenn McConnell (R-Charleston) that would make it an unlawful trade practice for a business to purposely mislead about its geographic location in a phone book or print advertisement.
–Another judiciary subcommittee will hear testimony on a proposed change by the Workers Compensation Commission to how it calculates the maximum allowable payments for medical services.
–A Labor, Commerce, and Industry subcommittee will discuss several bills, including one by Sen. John Scott (D-Columbia) that would create the South Carolina Economic Development Research Committee. The committee’s purpose would be to “examine and develop innovative solutions” to the economic crisis.
–A natural resources panel will hear testimony on a bill by Rep. Bill Hixon (R-North Augusta) that would make it a crime to remove an electronic dog collar from a hunting dog. The bill passed the House last year.
–A medical affairs subcommittee will consider the latest effort to block the manufacture of methamphetamines in South Carolina. A bill by Sen. Wes Hayes (R-Rock Hill) would prohibit the sale of certain drugs used in meth to a person who has generated a “stop-sale” alert twice in 30 days. The alerts already exist under current law to warn if a person buys more than 3.6 grams of some drugs per day, or more than 9 grams per month.
–The Transportation Committee will debate a bill that would eliminate the state Transportation Commission (appointed mostly by the legislature) and instead place the Transportation Secretary (appointed by the governor) in charge of highway projects.
–The Fish, Game, and Forestry Committee will take up a bill by Sen. Ronnie Cromer (R-Prosperity) that alters the state Department of Natural Resources board. The bill adds an eighth member to represent South Carolina’s new congressional district created this year and would also require the at-large member to serve as chair. Legislators are not happy with current chair Caroline Rhodes (who represents the First Congressional District) over her handling of the board. Cary Chastain is the current at-large member.
–The Banking and Finance Committee will take up a pair of bills– notably one by Rep. Jim Harrison (R-Columbia) that would prohibit a company which administers insurance claims from recommending customers to auto glass repair shops it also owns.
–A judiciary subcommittee will discuss several bills, including legislation by Sen. Ray Cleary (R-Murrells Inlet) that would allow counties to create ordinances requiring clean yards… Another subcommittee will take up a bill by Sen. McConnell that would change how summary courts handle bonds… A third panel will consider a bill by Sen. Mike Fair (R-Greenville) that would give a family court judge more freedom to consider an “out-of-court” statement made by a child in an alleged abuse case.
–A judiciary subcommittee will also question Department of Public Safety Director Leroy Smith, as they consider his nomination. Smith was appointed by Gov. Nikki Haley to the position in the fall while the legislature was out of session. He replaces previous director Mark Keel, who left to take over the State Law Enforcement Division last year.