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2023-2024 Legislative Update Week 7: Liberty Prevails

Overview of the Week:

The Second Amendment, ratified on December 15th, 1791, remains one of the most fundamental safeguards to our liberty and freedom. On Wednesday, House Republicans voted to strengthen those inalienable constitutional rights by removing the need for a government permission slip to exercise them. The landslide 90-30 vote brings us one step closer to joining 25 other states with some form of "Constitutional Carry" laws.


Strengthening our Second Amendment Rights:

As a strong supporters of the Constitution, they voted restore a constitutional freedom that will provide more options for individuals and families to protect themselves in SC. H.3594, the Second Amendment Preservation Act, ensures that South Carolinians who can lawfully own a firearm have the right to carry it openly or concealed, except with limited restrictions. Our bill was developed with the help of SC's top law enforcement officials to make it tougher on felons who carry guns. For any felon charged with unlawfully carrying a firearm, first-time violators could face up to 5 years in jail, second-time offenders would face 5 to 20 years, and third-time or more violators would face 10 to 30 years in prison. The bill now heads to the Senate, where it has died every legislative session. We are optimistic that the ‘tough-on-crime element’ favored by law enforcement could be the differentiator in getting this passed in the Senate and on to the Governor for his signature.


Supporting Our Veterans and Active Military Families:

House Republicans voted to support our veterans this week by helping to unanimously pass two important bills that will streamline and improve efficiency within some of our veterans services. H.3802 will restructure the Veterans’ Trust Fund board and H.3797 makes it easier for military parents to enroll their children in SC schools while on active duty or pending transfer.


On The Floor Next Week:


H.3532 - Bond Reform Bill

H.3591 - Joint Resolution for Constitutional Amendment


On The Horizon:


Preparing South Carolina’s Workforce:

Because a vibrant workforce is critical to sustaining and growing our State economy, House Republicans support H.3726, the Statewide Education and Workforce Development Act. This bill establishes a state workforce readiness goal of at least 60% of all working age South Carolinians having a postsecondary degree or recognized industry credential by 2030. To reach this goal, strengthen workforce development, and break down barriers for South Carolinians who desire greater access to improving their skills and education, we are taking three strong and innovative measures. The bill requires the State Dept of Education to ensure that all public high school students are prepared for college-level math and reading, requires state colleges and universities to develop articulation agreements for uniformity in recognition of earned college credits, and requires a report to the General Assembly on the best way to utilize the state’s technical colleges for those seeking new opportunities through workforce training and post-secondary credentials. We expect this bill to move through committee and be taken up on the house floor in the coming weeks.


SC Cannot Tolerate Hate Crimes:

H.3014, the Clementa C. Pickney Hate Crimes Act, creates an opportunity for criminal courts to impose additional penalties on criminals convicted of a felony who target their victims based on their race, or other listed factors. On Thursday this bill passed the Constitutional Laws Subcommittee and will head to the full Judiciary Committee next week. As one of only two states that hasn’t addressed this issue it is imperative we get this to the House floor 2023 session.


Improving Health Care Costs and Options in SC:

On Tuesday the House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee heard public testimony on S.164, a bill to promote cost containment, prevent unnecessary duplication of health care facilities and services, guide the establishment of health facilities and services which will best serve public need, and ensure high quality services are provided in health facilities in this State. The bill should make its way through committee and on to the House floor in the coming weeks.


From the Senate:


Providing Alternative School Choices to Parents:

Concerned that the Education Savings Account (ESA) legislation that recently passed the Senate may not survive a court challenge, a Senate committee passed alternative legislation this week. Senators voted 16-4 for a bill that allows up to $55 million in tax credits to help parents pay for private K-12 tuition. Opponents of the ESA bill say tax credits are a much better alternative since it doesn't involve taking money out of public coffers for private education. Instead, donors would get a tax credit for giving to a nonprofit that doles out scholarships, so the state never collects the money.


Stopping the Dangerous ‘Carolina Squat’:

A ban on the low-riding ‘carolina squat’ vehicle modification cleared the SC Senate 39-2. The measure would restrict a vehicle's back-to-front height difference to four inches — with fines of between $100 and $300 for violators. Chronic offenders could have their license revoked. Those vehicles are illegal in North Carolina and Virginia.


Boating Safety Education Course Requirement:

The Senate passed S.96, requiring all persons born after July 1, 2007, to complete a boater education safety course before operating a vessel of more than ten hp. The bill includes exceptions if other qualified persons are on the boat. The House will now consider the bill.

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