State House Report

The House of Representatives concurred in Senate amendments to H.3145, a bill SHIELDING FROM LEGAL LIABILITY THOSE WHO TAKE ACTIONS TO PREVENT HOT CAR DEATHS of children and vulnerable adults who are left unattended in locked motor vehicles, and enrolled the legislation for ratification. The legislation provides that a person is immune from civil liability for property damage resulting from his forcible entry into a motor vehicle for the purpose of removing a minor or vulnerable adult from the vehicle if the person has a reasonable good faith belief that forcible entry into the vehicle is necessary because the minor or vulnerable adult is in imminent danger of suffering harm.

The House and Senate adopted the free conference report on S.255 and enrolled the legislation for ratification. The legislation establishes new provisions TARGETING MUGSHOT PUBLICATION EXTORTIONPRACTICES where individuals issue publications of booking photographs and other booking records of those arrested in South Carolina or post these records on websites and require payment in order for those records to be removed or revised. A misdemeanor criminal penalty, carrying a maximum fine of one thousand dollars and/or imprisonment for up to sixty days, is provided for those who engage in the extortion and a civil cause of action is established for those harmed by such practices. The legislation revises provisions for the EXPUNGEMENT OF CRIMINAL RECORDS when charges have been dismissed or the accused individual is found not guilty. The legislation revises the protocol governing how and when records should be retained or destroyed following orders of expungement. Revisions and clarifications are included to better allow individuals to avail themselves of expungement provisions. The legislation provides that if a person pleads guilty to a lesser‑included offense and the solicitor deems it appropriate, the solicitor shall notify the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) and SLED shall request that the person’s record contained in the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database or other similar database reflects the lesser‑included offense rather than the offense originally charged.

The House concurred in Senate amendment to H.3874, a bill providing for RENEWABLE ENERGY INCOME TAX CREDITS, and enrolled the legislation for ratification. The legislation makes provisions for an income tax creditfor a taxpayer who constructs, purchases, or leases and places into service large-scale nonresidential solar energy equipmentlocated on property in South Carolina that is included on the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Priority List, National Priority List Equivalent Sites, or on a list of related removal actions, as certified by the Department of Health and Environmental Control. The income tax credit covers twenty‑five percent of the cost, including the cost of installation, of the property up to a cap of $2.5 millionfor each installation of solar energy property. A sunset provision is included so that new credits will only be allowed through 2017. The legislation also expands the renewable energy tax credit geared towards residential customers that allows an income tax credit to address a portion of the cost of purchasing and installing solar energy systems or small hydropower systems so that this tax credit also applies to geothermal machinery and equipment. A sunset provision is included so that these income tax credits for geothermal machinery and equipment will only be available through 2018.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4579, a bill to implement in statute changes authorized with the adoption of the amendment tothe South Carolina Constitution which provides for the JOINT ELECTION OF THE GOVERNOR AND LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR and related matters beginning with the general election of 2018. Under the revised system, a gubernatorial candidate selects a running mate for the post of Lieutenant Governor in a manner comparable to the selection of the President and Vice President at the federal level. The Lieutenant Governor’s legislative duties are eliminated in statute, and provisions are made for the office of the President of the Senate who is elected by the Senate from its membership to preside over the legislative body and perform other prescribed duties. Beginning with the Lieutenant Governor elected in the 2018 General Election, in the case of the removal of the Lieutenant Governor from office by impeachment, death, resignation, disqualification, disability, or removal from the State, the Governor shall appoint, with the advice and consent of the Senate, a successor to fulfill the unexpired term. The legislation revises the order of succession for filling unexpected vacancies that occur in the state’s executive branch.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4665, a bill that makes provisions for the SCREENING OF MAGISTRATE CANDIDATES by the Judicial Merit Selection Commission to ensure that the candidates meet the qualifications for the office. Under the provisions, the commission submits its reports and recommendations on magistrate candidates to the appropriate Senate delegation and the Senate delegation, with the advice and consent of the Senate, in turn submits the name of the magistrate candidate of choice for appointment by the Governor. A person found not qualified by the Judicial Merit Selection Commission may not be submitted to the Governor for appointment.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4703, a bill revising the state’s provisions for immunity from criminal prosecution and civil actions for the JUSTIFIABLE USE OF DEADLY FORCE AGAINST INTRUDERS. The legislation establishes a procedure for an evidentiary hearing on a pretrial motion to dismiss based on the justifiable use of deadly force and makes provisions for a court judgment, order, or decree denying legal immunity to be immediately appealable.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3521, a bill PROHIBITING AN APPLICATION OF SECULAR OR RELIGIOUS FOREIGN LAW THAT VIOLATES RIGHTS GUARANTEED BY THE CONSTITUTION OF THIS STATE OR OF THE UNITED STATES, such as due process, freedom of religion, speech, or press, and privacy rights. This prohibition applies to any ruling or decision of a court, arbitration, tribunal, or administrative agency. The legislation includes provisions specifying that this prohibition does not apply to purely ecclesiastical matters and should not be not be interpreted by any court to conflictwith any federal treaty or other international agreement to which the United States is a party to the extent that such treaty or international agreement preempts or is superior to state law on the matter at issue.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4816, a bill designating June 27th of each year as SOUTH CAROLINA POST‑TRAUMATIC STRESS INJURY (PTSI) AWARENESS DAY.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4709, revising fishing limitations imposed in the SOUTHERN COBIA MANAGEMENT ZONE which encompasses all waters of this state south of Jeremy Inlet, Edisto Island. The legislation provides that, subject to the size limit established by federal regulation, possession of cobia caught in the Southern Cobia Management Zone is limited to one person per day, and no more than three per boat per day, from June 1 to April 30. It is unlawful to take and possess cobia in the Southern Cobia Management Zone from May 1 to May 31, and at any time federal regulations provide for the closure of the recreational cobia season in the waters of the South Atlantic Ocean.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4708, a bill revising provisions dealing with importing, possessing or selling imported fish, to clarify language in current law that the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources will continue to issue permitsfor the importation, breeding, and possession of GRASS CARP or grass carp hybrids.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Abbeville Panthers at the State House

I had the great privilege to honor the 2015 AA Div II State Champions today at the State House! I’m so proud of these “Band of Brothers”!  Fine young men! Got many compliments from the Staff and Security for their respectfulness and demeanor. 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

SC Chamber of Commerce Business Advocate Awards

I am pleased to announce that I have been recognized with a Business Advocate Award from the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce for 2014.

There were a total of 47 legislators recognized (all from the House of Representatives).

Each legislative session, the Chamber tracks roll call votes on key business issues and tallies them to determine an overall score for each member of the General Assembly. This year, the Chamber weighted the issues on importance to the business climate and economic competitiveness. In 2015, the Chamber tracked key votes on infrastructure, workforce development, tort reform, workers’ compensation reform and unsafe used tires

You can see more at: https://www.scchamber.net/media-center/article/south-carolina-chamber-commerce-releases-2015-legislative-scorecard#sthash.v9GFVOUq.dpuf

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Faith and Freedom Barbecue

Congressman Jeff Duncan’s Faith and Freedom Barbecue was held on Monday, August 24th at the Anderson Civic Center. The event raised money for our Veterans and collected school supplies for veteran’s children. It was a great event and featured Presidential candidates Dr. Ben Carson, Governor Scott Walker ( R-Wisconsin) and Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas). The crowd of over 1400 welcomed these candidates and their messages of freedom, liberty and the rebirth of the American Dream.  

  
   

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

House Week 16

The House wrapped up the week with House negotiators having resolved the serious issues surrounding SC State University. This plan closely resembles the previous House plan I wrote about a number of weeks ago. Under this proposal the Governor, Treasurer, Chairman of Senate Finance, Chairman of House Ways and Means and State Superintendent of Education all designate one appointee to the newly created SC State Board of Trustees. The other two members will be appointments of the chairmen from the House Ways and Means Higher Education Subcommittee and the Senate Finance Higher Education Subcommittee. These 7 members will serve as the only voting members, while the student body president and president of the alumni association will both serve as non-voting members. The new board establishes a fresh start in the effort to eliminate waste and abuse of taxpayer dollars at SC State University.

The House Legislative Oversight Committee is continuing their diligent efforts to improve our state government. The committee is currently conducting studies on the following agencies:

  1. South Carolina Comptroller General’s Office
  2. South Carolina Department of Transportation
  3. South Carolina First Steps to School Readiness
  4. South Carolina Department of Social Services
  5. South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice

The Road Fix

After months of work, last month the House sent the Senate a plan to fund statewide road improvements. As soon as it arrived in the Senate it was shredded and replaced with their plan to raise nearly $800 million in taxes each year by increasing the state gas tax more than 70%. Conservative senators balked at the huge tax hike. This week Senate Republicans floated a proposal they said would raise more money for road work, but also provide some income tax relief and change how the state’s transportation agency is governed. That plan is more aligned with the House plan. Prospects are dim to pass a road plan this year.

By keeping informed about what’s being done in the legislature, you’ve proven to be a citizen that’s concerned with the advancement of your state. The House Oversight Committee needs opinions like yours. Please take the survey as part of the effort to make government more efficient and effective.

You have the option to complete all or some questions, but survey responses must be received by May 31, 2015.

Survey Link: https://www.research.net/s/HouseLegislativeOversightCommitte1

As always, it is an honor to serve you in the General Assembly.  If you ever find yourself in need of assistance navigating state government, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with my colleagues in the House, don’t hesitate to contact me at (864) 366-4112 or by email at craiggagnon@schouse.gov

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

State House Week 15 Update

The South Carolina House of Representatives finished up an extensive amount of committee work in preparation for Crossover Week. Each year, lawmakers spend roughly 4 months hearing testimony and crafting legislation. The end of that 4-month period concludes with the beginning of the crossover period which lands on May 1st for 2015. The crossover period simply demands that no more legislation can be considered by House or Senate, forcing each body to act on the legislation passed by the other body instead of new items in the remaining days of the session. In short, if a bill is going to be passed this year, it has to make it out of at least one chamber prior to this deadline.

If there is a particular piece of legislation you’re concerned about that hasn’t been passed leading up to crossover date, I hope you’ll contact me about it.

This week, the House debated and passed a bill that I co-sponsored allowing Concealed Weapons Permit (CWP) holders from other states to have reciprocal rights in South Carolina (H. 3025). Upon third reading on Tuesday, the bill will head to the Senate.

House Committees passed numerous pieces of legislation, some of which I have listed below:

House Ways and Means Committee

Certificate of Need H3250

Needy Children’s Clothing Tax Exemption H3062

Giving Back to Our Veterans Act H3147

Capitol Police Force H3022

Wetlands Conservation Act H3868

Property Tax Grace Period for Deployed Military H3149

House Judiciary Committee

Body Cameras for Law Enforcement H3997

Overdose Prevention H3083

Protecting Homeowners H3248

Humane Methods of Animal Euthanasia H3343

Patent Infringement Act H3682

Uniform Interstate Family Support Act H3766

House Education Committee

In-State Tuition Rates for Military Personnel and Their Dependents H3037

Pilot Program for GED Camps H3353

Jurisdiction of State Board of Technical and Comprehensive Education H3170

Sign Language Interpreters H3390

Snow Days H3512

Hearing Officers for Teacher Dismissal H3560

The bills listed above along with many others head to the House Floor next week where a whirlwind of debate will occur. I’ve highlighted two of these.

Body Cameras for Law Enforcement H3997

Recent events have prompted many to look at the viability of body cameras for law enforcement officers. This week the House Judiciary Committee approved a measure developing a pilot program administered by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Training Council to study the use of body cameras on law enforcement officers. The program would span 3 counties and 6 municipalities on an opt-in basis. The Training Council will report their findings to the General Assembly after a 6 month period. Both civil liberties organizations and the law enforcement community support this pilot program and the bill moves to the House floor for debate next week.

In-State Tuition Rates for Military Personnel H3037

Rep. Joe Daning (R-Berkeley) sponsored H3037 which grants in-state tuition rates to active duty military and their dependents. Currently, active duty military personnel who have been stationed in South Carolina do not receive in-state tuition rates. This bill grants them that privilege and allows them and their dependents to continue receiving an in-state tuition rate as long as they remain continuously enrolled. I’m look forward to supporting this measure on the House floor next week.

Each year we recognize a Teacher of the Year. I’d like to give my congratulations to this year’s Abbeville County School District recipient Leslie Schaffer, along with my sincere appreciation for each of our educators in South Carolina.

As always, it is an honor to serve you and your family in the General Assembly.  If you ever find yourself in need of assistance navigating state government, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with my colleagues in the House, don’t hesitate to contact me at home at (864) 366-4112 0r email me at craiggagnon@schouse.gov.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

HOUSE WEEK IN REVIEW March 23-27, 2015

The House of Representatives adopted the conference committee report on S.196, legislation enhancing provisions for COMBATTING HUMAN TRAFFICKING. The legislation includes human trafficking offenses within the jurisdiction of the state grand jury. The legislation also includes new requirements for posting National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline information that apply to a list of establishments such as adult businesses, massage parlors, hospital emergency rooms, agricultural labor contractors, hotels, motels, airports, train stations, bus stations, rest areas, and truck stops. Penalties are established for failing to comply with these posting requirements.I voted in favor of the compromise.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3119, a bill establishing the FELONY CRIMINAL OFFENSE OF THEFT OF A FIREARM punishable with a fine of up to five thousand dollars and/or imprisonment for up to ten years. I voted in favor of this bill. There should be stiff penalties for firearm theft.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3116, a bill establishing FRAUDULENT FIREARMS AND AMMUNITION PURCHASE PREVENTION provisions. The legislation provides that it is unlawful for a person to knowingly solicit, persuade, encourage or entice a licensed dealer or private seller of firearms or ammunition to transfer a firearm or ammunition under circumstances which the person knows would violate the laws of this state. Additionally, it is unlawful for a person to knowingly provide to a licensed dealer or private seller of firearms or ammunition materially false information with intent to deceive the dealer or seller about the legality of a transfer of a firearm or ammunition. The legislation also prohibits someone from wilfully procuring another person to engage in this unlawful conduct. An exemption is provided to allow law enforcement officers to conduct sting operations and other official investigations. A violator of these provisions is guilty of a felony offense punishable with a fine of up to five thousand dollars and/or imprisonment for up to five years. I voted in favor of this bill as there have been ongoing attempts by anti-gun activists to sabotage gun rights by obtaining guns under false pretenses and then blaming federally licensed firearm retailers for gun crime in New York City, among other places.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3583, a bill establishing ANTI-BOYCOTT REQUIREMENTS FOR GOVERNMENT CONTRACTING. The legislation establishes conditions that prohibit the state government, local governments, school districts, or any other political subdivisions or public bodies from entering into contracts for goods or services with businesses that unfairly discriminate against South Carolina’s free trading partners through boycotts. The legislation establishes requirements that, in order to enter into a government contract with a value of at least ten thousand dollars, a business must certify that it does not, and will not, engage in boycotts against South Carolina’s trading partners that are based upon race, color, religion, gender, or national origin. Boycotts specifically do not include such matters as decisions based upon business or economic reasons, or the specific conduct of a targeted person or firm. I voted for this measure as it proects our trading partners from unfair discimination. For example, SC governmental entities cannot do business with countries that boycott Israel for no reason other than they are Jewish.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3525, the “TRANSPORTATION NETWORK COMPANY ACT” which regulates operations that make use of digital networks and mobile device applications to connect a passenger to a transportation network driver for the purpose of providing transportation for compensation using a vehicle outside the limits of a municipality. The legislation establishes new requirements for transportation network companies to obtain certificates from and be regulated by the Office of Regulatory Staff which, in carrying out its new duties, is charged with balancing the interest of the state in promoting innovative, safe, and cost-effective transportation services with an appropriate level of safety protections for passengers and the general public. The Transportation Network Company Act includes new requirements relating to such matters as insurance coverage, vehicle safety and cleanliness, background checks for drivers, nondiscrimination with respect to passengers, the charging of fares, a prohibition on cash payments, and a prohibition on street hails and other ride arrangements that do not make use of the company’s digital network. Assessments are established to address regulatory costs and penalties are provided for violations. I voted for this as Transportation Network Companies (such as Uber) are becoming important businesses in SC.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3547, a bill that expands provisions establishing REEMPLOYMENT RIGHTS OF SOUTH CAROLINA NATIONAL GUARD AND STATE GUARD MEMBERS so that they also apply to someone who is employed in South Carolina but has been a member of another state’s national or state guard and honorably released from that duty. I voted for this bill. Our Veterans should be given this respect.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3683, a bill requiring that the ADJUTANT GENERAL’S ANNUAL REPORT ON THE SOUTH CAROLINA NATIONAL GUARD be submitted to the General Assembly as well as to the Governor. I voted for this as it will make this information more readily available to the Legislature.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3775, a joint resolution on FORGIVING SCHOOL DAYS MISSED DUE TO INCLEMENT WEATHER. The legislation authorizes school districts to waive make-up requirements for up to three full school days that students missed due to inclement weather during the 2014-2015 school year. A district must, however, exhaust all statutorily required make-up days remaining on the 2014-2015 school calendar before granting these waivers. I supported this bill.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3843, a joint resolution EXTENDING THE DEADLINE FOR THE OFFICE OF FIRST STEPS STUDY COMMITTEE TO COMPLETE ITS REVIEW and present its recommendations to the General Assembly from March 15, 2015, to January 1, 2016. I voted for this measure as more time is required to complete this study.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3545, a bill making revisions to ARSON OFFENSES. The legislation revises various statutes that provide for the degrees of arson, correcting some changes that were put in place through the adoption of the 2010 Omnibus Crime Act. I cosponsored this bill.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3216, a bill relating to ANIMAL CONTROL AND LITTER CONTROL OFFICERS. The legislation equips animal control officers with the same custodial arrest powers that are currently afforded litter control officers. The legislation also specifies that such litter or animal control officers are vested with all the powers and duties according to the officers’ corresponding law enforcement officer classification conferred by law and are under the jurisdiction of the appropriate local law enforcement agency. I supported this bill when it was in my committee as well as when it came to a vote on the floor. Animal control officers will receive proper training and will then be able to carry a firearm on the job – not just a rope on a pole.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3443, a bill AUTHORIZING OPTOMETRISTS TO CONTINUE TO PRESCRIBE HYDROCODONE which they have not been allowed to do since the medication was reclassified from Schedule III to Schedule II of the federal Controlled Substances Act in October, 2014. I supported this measure.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3349, a bill providing for numerous REVISIONS TO THE PHARMACY PRACTICE ACT. The legislation includes authority for compounding materials in advance and storing them when a need for the supply can be anticipated. I supported these updates.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3786, a bill establishing PROTECTION FOR TIGER SHARKS. The legislation provides that it is unlawful to take or possess a tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier). Any tiger shark that is caught must be released immediately and must remain completely in the water at all times while being released. The legislation provides that persons who are in the water for a lawful purpose may take all reasonable measures to defend themselves if attacked by a tiger shark.  I supported this bill as tiger sharks, while being little threat to humans, are being caught and their fins are cut off to make a “supplement” that some people believe will help their “potency”.

The House granted free conference powers to consider compromise provisions with the Senate on H.3118, legislation relating to the HUNTING AND TAKING OF WILD TURKEY, including conservation measures that may be needed to address observed declines in the state’s wild turkey population. I supported this as the House and Senate versions differ and need to be reconciled.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3668, relating to REQUIREMENTS FOR WEARING SAFETY APPAREL IN WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREAS. The legislation requires all non-exempt persons to wear a hat, coat, or vest of solid international orange while on Wildlife Management Area lands during deer hunting season. I supported this simple safety measure.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3762, a bill relating to ANIMAL TRAPS. The legislation allows for a customer number issued by the Department of Natural Resources to be used in order to identify the owner of an animal trap. The legislation also eliminates an outdated protocol for game wardens to inspect skins, furs, pelts or hides of furbearing animals before they may be transported out of state. I voted in favor of this bill.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3323 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation transfers authority for managing “SOUTH CAROLINA NOXIOUS WEED ACT” responsibilities from the Department of Agriculture to Clemson University’s Division of Regulatory and Public Service Programs which already manages the state’s crop pest program. I voted for concurrence.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3558. This bill revises provisions that allow COTTON MODULAR VEHICLES to travel on the state’s roads to haul cotton from fields to processing facilities. I supported this as this is a simple remedy to help our farmers.

The House recommitted to the Judiciary Committee H.3041, a PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO THE SOUTH CAROLINA CONSTITUTION FOR THE SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION TO BE APPOINTED BY THE GOVERNOR rather than elected. In deference to educators in our district, I voted against the change to the Constitution. The bill was ultimately sent back to committee.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment