A review of what’s making news in South Carolina state government.
— South Carolina’s state Senate on Thursday approved a proposal that would charge drunken moped drivers with DUI. Current state law does not treat mopeds as vehicles, meaning drivers are not violating state DUI laws when they operate while intoxicated. A similar bill was held up by a handful of Democrats last year — before ultimately being vetoed by Gov. Nikki Haley — calling its requirements that moped drivers wear reflective vests at night “government overreach.” To avoid similar holdups this session, senators removed the reflective vest requirement. The measure needs another vote before it heads to the House, likely next week.
— An audit of the agency which runs South Carolina’s juvenile prisons found undertrained staff and ineffective police who are not able to properly respond to violent incidents at the state’s main youth prison. The Legislative Audit Council (LAC) report released Thursday documented gaps in Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) officer training and what auditors viewed as inadequate responses to deaths or other incidents in DJJ facilities. House lawmakers asked LAC to review the agency after a series of violent incidents, capped by a February 2016 riot that caused serious damage to several buildings at the DJJ holding facility in Columbia.
— Proposed legislation filed in the state House would allow out-of-state residents to carry concealed weapons in South Carolina. According to The State newspaper the bill is opposed by the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED). The measure would allow those with concealed weapons permits (CWPs) from other states to legally carry in South Carolina, but opponents note other states have looser restrictions than the Palmetto State. South Carolina requires its CWP holders be at least 21 years old and pass a gun safety course.
— Legislation that would double the penalties for those who torture or kill police dogs or horses easily passed the Senate Agriculture Committee on Thursday and is headed for discussion on the Senate floor, per the Charleston Post & Courier. “Hyco’s Law” would increase the maximum prison sentence from five years to ten and would increase the maximum fine from $5,000 to $10,000. Hyco was an Anderson County K-9 shot and killed by a carjacking suspect in 2015.
— State Sen. Kevin Bryant’s resignation to become lieutenant governor opened up the chairman’s spot on the Senate General Committee. A bit of history was made in his replacement. State Sen. Katrina Shealy, R-Lexington, is believed to be the first Republican woman to ever chair a standing Senate committee. The General Committee is responsible for oversight of state agencies. Its members got a lot of attention while investigating problems at the state Department of Social Services.
— Gov. Henry McMaster is already facing his first controversy in office after little more than a day on the job. A Change.Org petition is calling on McMaster to end his membership in a Forest Acres all-white country club. The Forest Lake Club has recently relaxed their public standing as a “white membership” club, but the petition claims the club still has not accepted a black member. McMaster has come under criticism in the past for his membership. It was an issue during his successful campaigns for state attorney general and lieutenant governor.
— Richland County’s legislative delegation said 64 people have applied to serve on the county’s turmoil-laden Recreation Commission. There has been nearly two years of back-and-forth between the commission’s members and legislators concerned about a corruption investigation (later resulting in charges) against the commission’s director. Ultimately six of the county’s seven commissioners either resigned under pressure or were removed by Gov. Nikki Haley. The county delegation interviewed prospective replacements Thursday, according to WLTX.