Legislative Report – January 29, 2015

The committees and subcommittees continue to meet and discuss bills. We have had a few bills to come out of committee to the House floor for debate. One that drew a great deal of attention was the new ethics bill which I will discuss later.

My Bill, House Bill 3037 “Instate tuition rates for military personnel and dependents” passed the subcommittee and goes to full Education & Public Works committee. Current legislation requires anyone moving into SC who wants to attend college has to wait one year before they can get in-state tuition. My bill would waive the one year waiting period for veterans and their family. I am proud to author this bill for our military families and have worked diligently to get it passed. I have been able to move this bill through the House twice in previous sessions only to be stopped in the Senate by one Senator. Hopefully this will be the year to help our veterans. The military taskforce, Dept. of Defense, and all public colleges support this bill.

The full House Education & Public Works committee heard from 14 agencies and organizations. The heads of each gave a presentation updating the committee and the goals for the future. Tuition Grants Director Earl Mayo presented information on the $35M tuition grant program. The program provides up to $2500 in scholarship for SC residents to attend an independent in state college or university. SCDOT Secretary Janet Oakley provided information on SC highways and bridges and encouraged the committee to support Governor Haley’s plan to improve roads and bridges. The Transportation Infrastructure Bank Director Deborah Roundtree indicated that it funds projects that SCDOT can’t handle. Another comment on roads came from Mr. Dicky, Chairman SC Alliance to Fix Our Roads. He said in 2008 that 36% of roads were in poor condition and at the end of 2014 the condition has worsened to 42%. He also likes Gov. Haley’s plan.

Now, to the Ethics Bill. The newly elected Speaker issued the following statement after the House passed several pieces of legislation this week that would create an independent Ethics Committee to investigate all elected and appointed officials and eliminated Political Action Committees controlled by elected officials.

The House has made unprecedented progress in working together to repair the fractured relationship between the public and their elected officials. Although we still have work left to do, I am very proud we are doing our part to make sure that public officials do not receive special treatment when accused of breaking laws. By establishing an independent investigation, the public can rest assured that each case will receive unbiased attention. Additionally, we have eliminated the influence if PACs in hopes that politics will become more honest and transparent.”

My Transportation Sub Committee also met this week. On the agenda were three bills addressing mopeds. We heard testimony from the Department of Public Safety, Department of Motor Vehicles, and an owner of one of the largest motorcycle dealerships in Columbia and received several legal opinions.

H3003 which would ban all mopeds in SC was moved to “Adjourn Debate”. Which means it won’t be heard again unless a member of the Sub Committee requests it.

H3145 would change the definition of a mopeds from a motorcycle to a motor vehicle. This would allow law enforcement to ticket a moped driver for DUI which they are unable to do currently.

H3165 would require all moped drivers and passengers to wear a reflective vest and have a blinking red light at all times.

Both H3145 and 3165 passed and will go to full committee.

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