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.


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

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