State House Report March 20-22

Sanctuary City Ban, Stiffer Terrorism Sentencing, & Opioid Prevention Measures Passed

On Wednesday, March 21st, the House Judiciary Committee debated a bill that would effectively ban municipalities in our state from declaring themselves, or acting as, sanctuary cities. Specifically, the legislation directs the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) to create, prepare, maintain, and certify what will be known as the Immigration Compliance Report (ICR). SLED will certify compliance with federal laws related to the presence of an unlawful person in the United States as part of the ICR. The bill authorizes SLED to conduct criminal investigations to verify certifications and ensure compliance by political subdivisions. Individuals who intentionally falsify compliance documentation may be subject to persecution and municipalities could lose state-appropriated local government funds for a minimum of three consecutive years. This legislation passed in committee and will be voted on by the full House. I intend to support this legislation.

A bill to increase penalties for acts of terrorism passed out of a House committee on Thursday and will head to the House floor for a vote by the full body. The bill, pushed by House Speaker Pro Tempore Tommy Pope, would result in 10-year minimum prison sentences for individuals who plot a terrorist attack and minimum five-year sentences for individuals who support or help finance a terrorist attack. This legislation was introduced in response to a foiled attack on U.S. troops by a York County teenager, Zakaryia Abdin, who had pledged himself to ISIS. Law enforcement was able to stop the attack the evening before it was planned to take place, but Zakaryia served less than one year in juvenile detention due to his age. If passed by the full House and Senate and signed by the governor, the bill will prohibit courts and parole boards from releasing offenders like Abdin early. I also intend to support this legislation.

The full House passed several bills (I voted for each of them) to help combat the opioid epidemic taking place in communities across South Carolina. The bills were created by the South Carolina House Opioid Abuse Prevention Study Committee members appointed by Speaker Jay Lucas. The solutions passed by the full House include increased accessibility to life-saving opioid overdose antidotes, the creation of a prescription monitoring program that will keep track of information relating to opioid prescriptions, a new limit for initial prescriptions of opioid prescriptions to five days for acute pain and 14 days for post-operative pain, and improvements to decrease counterfeit prescriptions being used to obtain opioids illegally. These pieces of legislation were recently funded in the House budged passed last week. The bills will now go to the Senate for a vote.
Also, on March 22nd, I had the pleasure of introducing the 2017 AA State Football champion Abbeville Panthers on the House floor and presented them with a Concurrent Resolution commemorating their accomplishment. Congratulations to the Panthers on their third consecutive State Championship!

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

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