20 Apr Roads & Infrastructure, Domestic Violence Reform, Civics Education Initiative, and Judicial Election Reform
Last week, after Easter furlough, the South Carolina House hit the ground running by passing a comprehensive SC Department of Transportation (SCDOT) restructuring plan, gave final passage to legislation cracking down on domestic violence, and making headway on other legislative reforms.
Following 7-months of testimony and hours of debate with much input, the House made the first legislative step to address the state’s aging infrastructure. The comprehensive measure revamps the existing SCDOT structure, leadership, and funding model.
It’s important to note that House Republicans were able to keep in a provision that also provides income tax relief to South Carolina taxpayers. The bill now heads to the Senate where we expect to see dramatic changes occur. It will then head into a joint “crossover” period that will allow the House another opportunity to amend the legislation. We expect the legislative process to change the bill substantially, and I will keep you updated on the status.
I’ve been in communication with you about our work to reform our state’s domestic violence laws and I’m happy to let you know that we gave final passage to the legislation this past week. Our comprehensive approach:
- Significantly enhances penalties for those found guilty of committing acts of domestic violence.
- Paves the way for middle school students to receive instruction on how to identify and respond to domestic violence situations.
- Creates the Domestic Violence Advisory Committee comprised of citizens, medical doctors, and law enforcement to review instances of death as a result of domestic violence and submit a public annual report.
- Increases the waiting period during bond hearings to allow judges to gather evidence while protecting survivors from their abusers.
I am committed to ending the cycle of domestic violence in South Carolina and I am proud to support these restructuring measures which dramatically improve our state’s existing domestic violence laws. The bill now goes to the Senate.
The House Education Committee gave final approval to the James B. Edwards Civics Education Initiative. Currently, immigrants seeking U.S. citizenship must take the US Citizen Civics Test containing 100 basic questions about American history and government. A recent study found that 92% of immigrants pass this test, while only 4% of American high school students could do so. This bill would require the same test to be administered each year to high school juniors throughout the state. Test scores will be compiled by the Education Oversight Committee to ensure our students are armed with the basic facts they need to be the informed and active citizens our state and nation needs. The bill now heads to the House floor.
The House Judiciary Committee also gave initial subcommittee approval to legislation that reforms the process used to select our state’s judges. Currently, judicial candidates are screened through a panel that is limited to selecting 3 individuals for any given judicial election. The bill would remove the cap and allow anyone who is deemed qualified to run for the bench. By doing so, we open up the process and allow everyone to participate, not just a select few. The bill could hit the House floor as early as next week.