06 Feb New Supreme Court Justice, Dam Safety, In-State Tuition for Veterans, Appointment of SC Education Chief
Each year, the General Assembly convenes in a joint legislative session to fill judicial seats throughout our state, including an opening on the South Carolina Supreme Court. In keeping with our constitutional responsibilities, my colleagues and I elected Judge George C. “Buck” James by acclamation to a term on the Supreme Court.
After dam failures from the 1,000-year storm of 2015 and Hurricane Matthew in 2016, the SC House approved legislation that expands the types of dams that can be inspected by the state. The legislation also puts new requirements on dam owners. House Bill 3218 has been the focus of much work by my ad hoc committee over the past six months. It increases the number of dams that would be regulated as “significant hazards” by SC DHEC. The law includes smaller dams if failure could cause a loss of life downstream. Owners of the roughly 630 private dams that fall into these categories would be required to register with the state and submit an emergency action plan each year. This legislation has now been sent to the Senate.
Another bill making its way through the legislative process would grant in-state tuition rates to any veteran (and his/her dependents) honorably discharged from the Armed Services of the United States. The bipartisan measure which waives the one-year residency waiting period has already passed out of full committee with a favorable report and amassed 68 co-sponsors from all corners of the state. Ours is a state with a rich history of honoring those who have served our nation, and this continues that fine tradition.
Recently the House Judiciary Committee passed a bill that would cause the State Superintendent of Education to be appointed by the Governor instead of elected by popular vote. This would increase the amount of accountability surrounding the office of the Superintendent of Education by allowing the Governor to directly oversee the delivery of public education to South Carolina’s children. Reforms like this deliver a better return to the taxpayer and real results for parents and students.
Thank you for the privilege of serving you in Columbia. If I can ever be of assistance to you, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with the rest of the General Assembly, please don’t hesitate to contact me.