2023-2024 Legislative Update Week 6: Preserving & Protecting
Overview of the Week:
Preserving our rights and protecting South Carolinians was the common theme among the major legislation of Week 6 of this legislative session. On Tuesday a Constitutional Carry bill that further strengthens our Second Amendment rights passed in Committee and will head to the House floor next week. And on Wednesday, the Human Life Protection Act passed the full House and was sent over to the Senate for their consideration.
Human Life Protection Act:
As a fierce defender of life, House Republicans proudly voted this week for a bill that restricts most abortion procedures, declares that life begins at conception, and puts an end to abortion being used as birth control. The bill overwhelmingly passed the House by a vote of 77-31 with only 2 Republicans and 29 Democrats voting “no”. H.3774 will allow a licensed physician to perform an abortion only in cases where a pregnancy results from incidents of rape or incest, when a fatal fetal anomaly is present, or when the life of the mother is at risk. It also protects contraception, in vitro fertilization [IVF], and other assistive reproduction technologies. In addition, biological fathers will be responsible for paying 50 percent of the birth mother's pregnancy expenses from the time of conception as well as child support to be calculated from the date of conception. This bill is a major win for all South Carolinians, is the most advanced pro-life legislation in our state’s history, and sends a message that the days of abortion on demand in SC are drawing to an end. It’s now time for our pro-life Senators to pass this bill on for the Governor to sign.
Strengthening our Second Amendment Rights:
SC is one step closer to strengthening our 2nd Amendment right and ensuring anyone who can lawfully own a firearm has the right to carry it openly or concealed, except with limited restrictions. The House Judiciary Committee worked tirelessly to craft this very strong piece of legislation and I look forward to supporting this bill when it’s debated next week on the House floor. House Republicans are committed to ensuring SC is a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary state!
Giving Parents More Choice in Education
It is imperative that we give flexibility to parents to make the best choice for their child's education. SC was recently hindered from doing just that by a 100+ year old SC Constitutional amendment referred to as the Blaine Amendment.
The Blaine Amendment, originally proposed to the U.S. Constitution in 1875, would have prohibited the distribution of any government funds to “sectarian” schools. In short, this provision reflected the ugly marriage of two prejudices at the time: religious bigotry against immigrant Catholics then coming to America’s shores and racial prejudice against newly freed slaves whose lives, living conditions, and educational opportunities were being improved by religious missionary organizations. While Blaine’s amendment failed to pass Congress, 38 states soon passed their own similar constitutional amendments.
The far reaching implications of SC’s Blaine Amendment were recently realized when Governor McMaster was prevented from directing federal COVID-19 aid to many private and religious schools. Students of these schools struggled and suffered as a result of the pandemic just as those in the public education system, however our state was inhibited from providing the resources needed to provide them with the best education possible.
As with any effort to amend the State Constitution, the General Assembly must pass a resolution that puts this question on a statewide ballot for voters to decide in the next General Election. Accordingly, the House Judiciary Committee has vetted this question and next week the full House will vote to put this question on the 2024 ballot. We fully support this effort and look forward to the upcoming debate.