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Constituent Update #1 – 2015

I hope that 2015 is off to a wonderful start for you and your family!  With the turning of the calendar, the 2015-2016 legislative session has begun. And while the initial return to Columbia was taken up with gubernatorial inauguration festivities, last week we did dig in to several of the most contentious issues we will face – Ethics Reform and Criminal Domestic violence legislation.

Ethics Reform
Last year the SC General Assembly failed to pass needed ethics reform legislation when late session maneuvering resulted in the bill failing to meet deadlines. With this in mind, last week the Senate Judiciary Committee met for several days in order to move a reform bill to the Senate floor early in the session. Several of the larger components of the committee approved bill would provide for an independent investigatory body for ethics complaints and require income disclosures by legislators. We’ll likely begin full debate on this bill this week.

Domestic Violence
I was proud to be asked by Attorney General Alan Wilson to participate in a domestic violence press conference where the Attorney General outlined his desires in stronger domestic violence laws.  In response, the Senate Judiciary also passed out a bill to be debated by the full Senate very soon.  Under the bill, penalties would escalate based on the severity of the crime. Also in the current version, those convicted of domestic violence or placed under orders of protection, would not be allowed to possess firearms for up to 10 years.  I expect a great deal of debate and additional amendments when the bill comes to the floor.

Transportation Infrastructure
If we have had a discussion in the past several years, you already know that I am convinced that the condition of our roads and bridges is quite possibly the most significant issue facing our state.  Until recently however the appetite in Columbia to take on this gargantuan task has been lacking. However I believe momentum is now building towards finding a long term solution.

Recently, Representative Chris Murphy and I released what we believe to be essential components to solving our road problems.  If you missed that, you can view it here.

Education
In November, 2014 the SC Supreme Court ruled that SC has violated it’s constitution requirement to provide for a minimally adequate education to the children of largely rural school districts.  Claiming the ruling was ambiguous and an overstep of the separation of powers doctrine, the General Assembly asked the court to reconsider their ruling. Today however, the court denied that request and therefore SC will begin a long process of evaluating our state education funding policies.

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 my pleasure to serve as your Senator!

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Filed in: Constituent Updates, Education, Governance, Roads & Infrastructure, Uncategorized Tags: ,

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