State House Week 8

The House of Representatives amended, passed (and I voted for-after an amendement failed)  and sent the Senate H.3374, a bill that replaces the current Local Government Fund and its set funding level of 4.5% of the previous year’s state general fund revenues with a new LOCAL GOVERNMENT REVENUE SHARING FUND structured to deliver a revenue stream to counties and municipalities that is adjusted according to whether the state is projected to experience revenue growth or shortfall. The legislation discontinues the retrospective approach for funding political subdivisions that is tied to the previous year’s revenues and, beginning with Fiscal Year 20172018, implements prospective budgeting that draws upon state revenue forecasts. A $212 million recurring base is established for the Local Government Revenue Sharing Fund and, in a year when state general fund revenue is projected to increase, the revenue sharing fund must be increased by the same percentage as the growth estimate, up to a cap of 5%. When the state experiences revenue shortfalls, the Local Government Revenue Sharing Fund must share in the necessary budget cuts ordered for agencies and other state government functions. The requirements of the Local Government Revenue Sharing Fund must be satisfied before funds are made available for appropriation to other government needs in the budgeting process.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate Joint Resolution H.3014, a PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO THE SOUTH CAROLINA CONSTITUTION ON SHORTENING THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION. I supported this measure. The proposed constitutional amendment provides for legislators to begin their annual session one month later by requiring the General Assembly to convene at the State House in Columbia on the second Tuesday in February, rather than January, each year. Authorization is included for legislative committees to meet during the weeks before the new later commencement date to conduct preliminary work in preparation for the session. The proposal also establishes a new constitutional requirement for the General Assembly to adjourn for the year by the last Thursday in May, rather than the first Thursday in June, the current deadline for final adjournment of the annual session that is established in statute. Should the proposed constitutional amendment be approved by the General Assembly, it will be submitted to the state’s voters as a ballot question at the next general election.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3722, legislation that compiles the provisions of the twelve freestanding ethics bills approved by the House this year into a single consolidated ETHICS REFORM bill. I supported this bill as we need to continue reforming ethics laws in SC.

The House returned S.196, legislation enhancing provisions for COMBATTING HUMAN TRAFFICKING, to the Senate with amendments that convert the bill to the provisions that the House approved earlier this year in H.3125. The legislation includes within the jurisdiction of the state grand jury human trafficking offenses that involve more than one county. The legislation provides 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 the posting requirements. I voted in favor of this bill.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3522, a bill establishing PUBLIC NOTICE REQUIREMENTS FOR SAFE HAVENS FOR ABANDONED BABIES provisions that allow mothers who intend to abandon their infants to leave babies at hospitals, police stations, fire stations, staffed houses of worship, or certain other sites designated as safe settings. The legislation requires a facility, agency, or other location designated as a safe haven to post a notice prepared by the Department of Social Services on its premises that is prominently displayed for view by the public stating that it is a safe haven at which a person may leave an infant. I also supported this bill.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3251. In response to a maternal death rate in South Carolina that exceeds the national average, the legislation establishes the MATERNAL MORBIDITY AND MORTALITY REVIEW COMMITTEE under the Department of Health and Environmental Control to review maternal deaths and develop strategies for their prevention. Committee members shall serve without compensation or reimbursement for expenses. The committee is set to dissolve after five years, unless reauthorized by law. I voted in favor of this bill.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3324, a joint resolution establishing a COMMITTEE TO STUDY STATE AND LOCAL LEVEL VETERANS ISSUES and make appropriate legislative recommendations for improving the structure, delivery, and coordination of veterans services in South Carolina. The committee is comprised of the members of the Joint Legislative Veterans Issues Study Committee created in 2010 or their successors, three members appointed by the Governor, and three members appointed by the Adjutant General. The committee is charged with studying and evaluating: the current relationships between the county veterans affairs offices and the executive and legislative branches of state government; the relationships between the county veterans affairs offices and the South Carolina Division of Veterans Affairs; and, the relationships between the South Carolina Division of Veterans Affairs and the United States Department of Veterans Affairs. In addition, the committee is tasked with reviewing the current mission of the 2010 Joint Legislative Veterans Issues Study Committee and determining whether its functions should be expanded or codified. The committee must submit a written report of its findings and recommendations to General Assembly and the Governor by February 1, 2016, at which point it is dissolved. Veterans issues are very important to me. I supported our veterans with an affirmative vote.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3165, a bill INCLUDING MOPEDS AMONG THE MOTOR VEHICLES THAT ARE SUBJECT TO DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OFFENSES and certain other traffic violations. The legislation revises the definition of “motor vehicle” under the Uniform Act Regulating Traffic on the Highways by removing the specific exemption currently provided for mopeds so that the operator of a moped may be charged with DUI violations and ticketed for certain other traffic offenses. I supported this measure.

The House amended H.3142, legislation establishing SAFETY REQUIREMENTS FOR MOPEDS, and gave the bill second reading approval. The legislation establishes requirements for moped operators and passengers to wear reflective vests and for a moped to be equipped with a rear red tail light that flashes continually while the moped is in motion. The legislation provides that it is unlawful for a person to operate a moped on the public roads in this state that have a speed limit of greater than fiftyfive miles per hour. A moped, while traveling along a multilane highway, must be operated in the farthest right lane except when making a left turn. The original bill prohibited mopeds from operating on roads with a speed limit above 35 mph. I fought for an amendment proposed by Rep. Walt McLeod (D-Newberry) that would increase it to 55 mph. The amendment passed, so I voted for this bill.

The House returned 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, to the Senate with amendments. I supported this bill.

The House approved S.411 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation designates the month of October of every year as “ITALIAN AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH” in South Carolina in order to recognize Italian Americans for their many contributions to our state and nation. I supported this measure.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3305, legislation INCLUDING ORAL FLUIDS TESTS AMONG THE ACCEPTED FORMS OF DRUG SCREENING REQUIRED FOR RECEIVING UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS. I supported this bill.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3576, a bill relating to the STATUS OF A NONPROFIT YOUTH SPORTS ORGANIZATION COACH. The legislation establishes conditions under which a written agreement between a nonprofit youth sports organization and a coach constitutes conclusive evidence that an independent contractor relationship, rather than an employment relationship, exists between the nonprofit youth sports organization and the coach for purposes of workers’ compensation, unemployment insurance coverage, and federal and state income tax withholdings requirements. This bill had my support.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3464, legislation updating LICENSING REQUIREMENTS FOR BARBER SCHOOLS AND SCHOOL INSTRUCTORS with language that would allow the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation to continue to receive Title IV funding from the federal Department of Education for barber schools. I supported this measure.

The House approved S.177, regarding CERTIFICATION OF DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN RECORDS, and enrolled the bill for ratification. The bill amends Rule 902 of South Carolina’s Rules of Evidence relating to self-authenticating documents, adding two types of self-authenticating documents (Certified Domestic Records of a Regularly Conducted Activity and Certified Foreign Records of a Regularly Conducted Activity) so that South Carolina conforms to Federal Rule 902. I voted for this measure.

The House approved S.397, legislation providing for the ALIGNMENT OF STATE INCOME TAXI LAWS AND THE FEDERAL INTERNAL REVENUE CODE, and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation updates year references in provisions relating to the application of the federal Internal Revenue Code to state income tax laws. This is a bill that appears each year.
I voted for this this measure.

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About Craig Gagnon for S.C. House 11 (Abbeville and Anderson Counties)

Chiropractor
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