As a conservative, I’m proud of the legislative accomplishments made in our state’s 124th General Assembly – from protecting the unborn to securing the integrity of our elections, cutting both government spending and regulations, re-instating annual salary increases to classroom teachers and much more.
All were achieved while expanding efforts to fight and contain the state’s COVID-19 outbreak.
The session’s official end came amid a flurry of last-minute votes, including one where House members agreed to Senate changes to the “Open Carry” bill that allows citizens who already have a concealed weapons permit to carry their guns in the open.
We also expanded South Carolina’s death penalty to include a firing squad option if lethal drugs are not available. This bill was intended to facilitate executions that have been stalled for nearly a decade because lethal drugs have not been available. The previous law gave death sentence inmates only two choices – electrocution or lethal drugs.
In addition to the gun legislation and death penalty option law, several other prominent bills that passed during May’s final legislative week included:
Convention of States: To amend the U.S. Constitution whereby Congress can propose changes, but so can a Convention of the States. With the passage of this bill, South Carolina joins a list of 14 other states who wish to participate in the convention process (34 states are needed to convene a convention).
Left Lane Driving Bill: The House adopted a conference report on a bill that states slower traffic on South Carolina’s highways must move to the right lane in order to allow for faster vehicles on two-plus lane highways to use the left lane.
Tax Conformity: The tax conformity bill passed both the House and Senate. It puts state and federal tax codes in alignment. This year many people filed for unemployment in South Carolina due to the pandemic. The bill exempts some of this unemployment income – thereby ensuring that people are not penalized for the hardships they faced.
Exceptional Need Tax Credits: This legislation allows for public charities to expend extra money on children with exceptional needs and allows for money spent on these children to be claimed as a tax credit.
Now, as we return to work in June, we will finish sorting out budget issues in three short sessions to finalize a spending package for 2021-22 and take up Gov. McMaster’s budget vetoes. This will be in addition to debating how best to allocate federal COVID-19 relief money.
We will also commence the critical once-a-decade redistricting process of re-drawing legislative voting lines that will consume much time as we move into the fall.
Jeff Bradley is the representative for District 123 in the State House of Representatives.