We are a little more than a month into the 2017-18 Legislative Session and many of the issues that were not appropriately dealt with last session remain as top priority. Here's some of what's going on...
Roads The most significant and contentious issue remains how to fix our state's crumbling roads. Last year we were successful at passing a list reforms to the SC Department of Transportation. The changes were both meaningful and necessary. However, because of the time spent in the discussions, we were prevented from addressing the funding components. Surprisingly, the same objections are again threatening to derail funding this year as some are insisting on further reforms. I believe the reforms passed last year are sufficient to move forward and have stated that case in a recent commentary.
It is now time to turn our attention to a funding solution. I have introduced a funding plan that is the most comprehensive approach offered to date. The plan is supported by many of my colleagues who are also interested in ending the practice of passing bills that are little more than window dressing, and calling them a solution. I remain confident we will achieve this goal.
Overview of my proposed plan that finally fixes our roads, lowers taxes and creates jobs?
Pension Reform The SC public pension system is underfunded by nearly $21 billion dollars. The reasons are many but include poor investment performance, expanding benefits, unsustainable rate assumptions, U.S. monetary policy, and many others. The solution must include both shoring up the existing pension to ensure the promises we have made to public employees are kept, and reforming the structure itself to ensure sustainability into the future. This week the Senate passed a bill to accomplish the first of these objectives. This action will place us on a path to a healthy and modern public pension.
Joint Election of Governor & Lt. Governor Beginning in 2018, South Carolinians will elect the Governor and Lt. Governor as a ticket. In preparation for that, the General Assembly must set the procedures for that election as well as clarify how the role of the Lt. Governor, who currently presides over the Senate, will change going forward.
Secretary of Education The General Assembly is debating a bill that will remove the Superintendent of Education as a state officer which the Constitution requires to be elected. Instead, the position would be appointed by the Governor. If passed by the General Assembly, the people of SC would then have to approve this change through a statewide referendum. Specific qualifications would also be required for any nominee. The change is proposed to take place in 2023.
Insurance Fraud Prevention (S269) Neighboring states are more active in insurance fraud investigation which has resulted in SC becoming a target for this criminal activity. This bill will double investigative and enforcement efforts within the Attorney General's office. Status: Passed Committee Expand Nursing Practices (S345) The goal of improved health care should be access to and reduced cost of quality health care delivery. This bill will expand the practice areas of licensed nurse practitioners for this purpose. Status: In CommitteeSAFE Home Program Enhancements (S315 &S11) This program provides grants to individuals in order to mitigate weather related risks to primary residences. This bill will change eligibility and expand those risks eligible for mitigation. Status: Passed Committee/In CommitteeHuman Trafficking (S168) Increases penalties for those who solicit prostitution and those who induce individuals to engage in prostitution.Status: Passed SenateAuto Stay (S105) Establishes a designated time frame for which a hearing must be held for those construction projects which are challenged for environmental concerns. Status: Passed Committee
Please reach out to me if you have further questions about these or any other issues. I am happy to take a deeper dive with you.
And as always, thank you for your support. It is a great honor for me to serve the people of Dorchester, Berkeley, and Charleston Counties. I thank you for this opportunity.
Senator Sean M. Bennett L. Marion Gressette Building, Suite 601 Post Office Box 142 Columbia, South Carolina 29202 803.212.6116
District Office 121 S Cedar Street Summerville, South Carolina 29483 843.873.9834
Roll out of the newest member of the Boeing fleet. The 787-10, built ONLY in SC. Fort Dorchester High School JROTC had the honor of presenting the colors for the visit by Governor Henry McMaster & President Donald Trump.