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2023-2024 Legislative Update Week 8: It’s All About the Next Generation

Overview of the Week:

A common thread during Week 8 of this legislative session was protecting and supporting the next generation. On Wednesday, I joined my colleagues in giving voters the opportunity to decide whether the State can provide direct aid to certain private educational institutions. This will be on the ballot in 2024. We also made strides in keeping criminals off the street by passing historic bond reform legislation that will stop the revolving door for repeat offenders. I am committed to making South Carolina the best place to raise your family!

Increasing Educational Choices & Opportunity:

It is imperative that we give flexibility to parents to make the best choice for their child's education. On Tuesday, I joined my Republican colleagues and voted to pass joint resolution H.3591 that would amend the SC Constitution, which currently prohibits the state from providing direct aid to certain private educational institutions. 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 voted to put this question on the 2024 ballot.

Keeping Criminals Off the Street:

On Wednesday, I proudly voted for H.3532, a bond reform bill that will help make South Carolina a safer place for us all to raise our families by stopping the revolving door for repeat criminals. This bill creates sentence and bond enhancements for a person convicted of a violent crime while out on bond for a previous violent crime. The bipartisan vote was 92-20.

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. The bill is headed to the House floor next week where I intend to support it.

Education Bills on the Horizon:

Parents and their children deserve as much choice as possible regardless of their zip code. H.3843, the Open Enrollment Bill, will allow students to attend public schools outside of their attendance zone and school district. By providing more opportunities, parents can find the best school and fit for their child’s education.

H.3360 will establish the Center for School Safety and Targeted Violence within the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division. The purpose of the center is to provide extensive training, education, and expertise in the fields of school safety and targeted violence. Our state needs this program so we can ensure our schools are prepared for any kind of emergency.

Our nation is experiencing staffing shortages in schools, and not just with teachers. It is imperative that we recruit and maintain the necessary support staff to empower our teachers to do their jobs. H.3308 will make it acceptable for the State Board of Education to accept credentials of school psychologists, social workers, and school guidance counselors issued by other states if the credentials meet the requirements for certification in South Carolina.

Economic Investment = Jobs for South Carolinians:

Scout Motors, a US EV manufacturer backed by Volkswagen Group, announced on Friday they will be establishing their first manufacturing plant in Blythewood, South Carolina. At the Midlands site, the company will build all-electric, next-generation trucks and rugged SUVs harkening back to the iconic Scout vehicles produced from 1960 to 1980. The company’s $2 billion investment has the potential to create 4,000 or more permanent jobs. At full capacity, more than 200,000 Scout vehicles may be produced annually at the facility. Read the full press release here.

On The Horizon: Budget

The House Ways & Means Committee wrapped up weeks of hearings and approved the preliminary 2023-24 state budget. This initial budget proposal (nearly $14 billion) is a starting point. The House will debate it the week of March 13 before sending it to the Senate. I’ll keep you informed as this year’s budget discussions make progress over the next few weeks.

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