This week, the House of Representatives advanced legislation cracking down on domestic violence. We also took decisive action by passing a resolution concerning the overhaul of South Carolina State University.
Studies show that South Carolina’s murder rate of women killed by men sits at twice the national average. It’s unacceptable, and my colleagues and I are committed to strengthening our laws to give law enforcement the necessary tools to reverse this pattern of abuse in our state.
For 6 months, the House Special Criminal Domestic Violence Ad Hoc Committee, under the direction of Chairman Shannon Erickson (R-Beaufort), diligently studied all aspects of the issue. The committee listened to dozens of hours of testimony from both survivors of domestic violence and from the law enforcement and prosecutors charged with bringing justice to those who perpetrate crimes of domestic violence.
As a result of their findings the committee produced the Domestic Violence Reform Act. This comprehensive legislation:
- Significantly enhances penalties for those found guilty of committing acts of domestic violence.
- Paves the way for middle school students to receive instruction on how to identify and respond to domestic violence situations.
- Creates the Domestic Violence Advisory Committee comprised of citizens, medical doctors, and law enforcement to review instances of death as a result of domestic violence and submit a public annual report.
Currently South Carolina’s domestic violence laws are occurrence based – an approach that has proven insufficient by itself. H 3433 institutes a hybrid model based on the number of occurrences and adds that penalties become more severe depending on the level of injury sustained, also accounting for any aggravating circumstances. I am committed to ending the cycle of domestic violence in South Carolina and this restructuring demands the punishment fit the crime.
The House unanimously passed H.3663, a joint resolution that:
- Removes the current SC State board members.
- Gives authority to newly appointed interim board members.
- Allows the interim Board of Trustees to remove the current President if they deem that action necessary.
“It is my hope that our joint resolution – which received unanimous bipartisan support – will put SC State back on a path to success,” said House Speaker Jay Lucas (R-Darlington).
The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate:
H.3204, the CERVICAL CANCER PREVENTION ACT. I did not support this bill as I have reservations that portions of it appear to be marketing a product – namely HPV vaccines – at taxpayer expense. Further, the bill provides that if anyone wants the vaccine, the state would pick up the tab – potentially costing taxpayers of SC $500,000 per year.
H.3849, a bill establishing CONFIDENTIALITY FOR TEACHER EVALUATION RECORDS as a means of promoting candid feedback for continuous improvement of teaching and learning. The legislation provides that records relating to educator evaluation that include personally identifiable information are exempt from public disclosure under the state’s Freedom of Information Act provisions. I supported this measure. I supported this measure.
H.3847 which provides that an applicant for LICENSURE AS A SPEECH‑LANGUAGE PATHOLOGIST ASSISTANT who earned a bachelor’s degree in speech‑language pathology from a nationally accredited institution of higher education is exempt from the recently-enacted requirement of having a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher education. I supported this measure also.
The House committed H.3343, a bill disallowing certain METHODS OF EUTHANASIA (such as gas chambers) IN ANIMAL SHELTERS, to the Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Environmental Affairs Committee.
The House appointed a conference committee to address its differences 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.