Constituent Update #3 – 2015

Last week was cut short for as the General Assembly did not convene for our regular Thursday session as winter storms in the upstate caused us to adjourn Wednesday.  However before the Senate left Columbia we were able to advance significant domestic violence legislation. Here’s some of what we’ve been working on…

Domestic Violence
The Senate gave second reading to a tough new domestic violence law. The law will create three classifications of domestic violence with increasing penalties. These additional levels of charges are something SC Attorney General Alan Wilson believes will help prosecute cases going forward. Additionally, the legislation establishes mandatory gun restrictions for those convicted of the more serious 1st and 2nd degree domestic violence.  It also provides judicial discretion on firearm restrictions for lesser 3rd degree convictions, and those subject to protective orders. This bill upholds my commitment to protect the rights granted by the 2nd Amendment while keeping firearms away from those who forfeit those rights, criminals, and those unable to safely execute those rights, the mentally ill.
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Coastal Insurance Rates
Increasing coastal property insurance rates have been a problem for years. One reason given for this is the insurance industry’s reliance on Florida hurricane models which some believe to not accurately reflect the risks in SC. In an attempt to provide lower property rates along the coast of SC and beyond, the Senate asked the SC Department of Insurance to conduct a Feasibility Study of Developing a SC Hurricane model. Recently the completed study was presented to the Banking & Insurance Committee. The findings indicate that the costs associated with maintaining a SC model combined with no assurance it will produce lowers rates for property owners does not make the project feasible. You can read the entire report by clicking here. The SC Department of Insurance will continue to work toward reducing costs to SC property owners through other means.

I will be chairing two subcommittees over the next few weeks.  The first, within the Committee on Banking & Insurance, will be dealing with payday lenders operating in South Carolina (S217, S219, & S287). A public hearing will be held March 11th.  The second, within the Transportation Committee, will address the operation of transportation network companies like Uber in South Carolina (S409). Deer Tagging (S454) – A requirement for the use of deer tags and quota will be debated in the Fish, Game, & Forestry Committee on March 4th.

Other Business
The following items were passed by the Senate and have been sent to the House for consideration…
Forfeited Lands Emergency Development Act – allows County Councils and Forfeited Land Commissions to petition legislative delegations for the use of special authorities. Turkey Season – establishes male wild turkey hunting season as March 20 through May 5 and declares the Saturday and Sunday preceding March 20 of each year as “youth turkey hunting weekend”. Federal Balanced Budget – Last week I met with Ohio Governor John Kasich who was in Columbia to advocate for fiscal restraints to be placed on the US Congress. I also sat in on a subcommittee that is taking testimony on several bills designed to call for amendments to the U.S. Constitution. Following a day of pointed questioning, Eleanor Kitzman withdrew her name from consideration for her controversial appointment to become the Director of the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).

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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