In late April, with unanimous support from my colleagues in the South Carolina House of Representatives, our state provided a major boost toward getting public schools back on track.
Moving forward, all schools will be open five days per week for in-class instruction, whereas only some school districts were operating in this manner before now. It is hoped that this new legislation will enable students to catch up much of the ground lost during COVID-19 virtual instruction.
The bill also allows retired school teachers to return to the classroom and earn up to $50,000 without losing any retirement benefits. We hope this initiative will also assist in providing extra remedial help to students who have fallen behind.
During Heritage Week, I had some time to reflect on the goals our Republican Caucus had set for this 2021-2022 session, and am pleased to report that with our significant majority in numbers, we have made excellent progress. Already we’ve accomplished four of the six objectives for this half of the session.
Here’s a recap of what we have achieved to date on those goals:
1. PASSED: Protecting the integrity of our elections. This bill tasks the State Election Commission with ensuring there is uniformity to guarantee free and fair elections. After the elections of 2020, it became clear that even in our state there were discrepancies in how each county handled votes. We learned that some counties were employing inconsistent processes. I voted “Yes” to this bill to ensure that a vote here in Beaufort County is counted the same as a vote in Jasper County or Marlboro County.
2. PASSED: Protecting the unborn. This bill, passed in mid-February, would outlaw abortions once a heartbeat is detected, which is usually around six to eight weeks after conception. However, a federal judge’s injunction on March 19 prohibited this legislation from going into effect.
3. PASSED: Open carry with education. This bill allows a firearm to be carried openly in South Carolina, given that the individual has undergone proper training and received certification. The legislation pulls South Carolina in line with 45 other states.
4. PASSED: Modifying emergency powers. This bill provides a check to the Governor’s powers when modifying and or extending a State of Emergency. While this power was previously in the hands of the Governor, now the power to extend, modify, or discontinue the order falls into the hands of the legislature.
The Speaker of the House and President of the Senate may call the legislature back to make these crucial decisions, or 10 of our 46 county legislative delegations can elect to come in to take action. At any rate, this bill allows for greater accountability to the wishes of South Carolina’s citizens.
Overall, in the first 12-plus weeks of this session, there has been much to be pleased about. Over the remaining weeks our Republican Caucus looks forward to making more progress toward achieving the goals of our conservative agenda.
Jeff Bradley is the representative for District 123 in the State House of Representatives.