Legislative Report – February 26, 2015

This week’s legislative session was cut short by a day because of the blast of winter weather that swept across the Upstate. The House adjourned Wednesday but not before we pressed ahead with education reform, advanced an omnibus ethics reform bill and received an update on the state of SC’s judicial system.

On Monday, House Speaker Jay Lucas charged the House Education Review and Reform Task Force (of which I am a member) by setting priorities and expectations for that committee. The diverse task force, made up of citizens, business leaders and elected officials, begins work to develop recommendations that will lead to long-term substantial education reform in South Carolina. The group is required to submit a report of their findings to Speaker Lucas by the beginning of next legislative session.

South Carolina’s new Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman met with House Republican Caucus members and reported on progress of our homegrown student assessment standards that are replacing Common Core. She said, “I am pleased to announce that the SC College and Career Ready Standards for Math and English Language Arts received unanimous first reading approval by the SC State Board of Education. The standards are the result of hundreds of hours of work by dedicated South Carolina teachers. Input was taken from parents, community leaders, and the business and education communities and the product is one that will prepare SC’s students for college and careers after graduation.”

USC, Clemson, Francis Marion, and Lander University have already signed off on these standards certifying them as college and career ready. Approval by our other institutions of higher education is expected in the coming days. The SC Department of Education will be working with students, parents, and teachers so that they understand these new standards and are able to be successful moving forward.

You almost need a scorecard to keep up with the turmoil at the financially-troubled and scandal-plagued SC State University. The University trustees are trying to part ways with school President Thomas Elzey who they placed on administrative leave. Meanwhile, the State Senate is moving forward on legislation to oust all the trustees. Other legislative plans are being formulated to bring proper governance to SC’s only historically black public university.

Strengthening our state’s ethics laws remains a top priority. In the House, we have taken the important first steps on enacting ethics reform by passing a series of 12 ethics bills as a part of our comprehensive overall ethics reform package. Now that we have passed the series of smaller bills, we have combined each of those into one omnibus ethics package that is being fast-tracked on the House floor. The goal is to give the Senate either option necessary for passage.

Each year, the Chief Justice of the SC Supreme Court provides a joint assembly of the legislature a report on the State of the Judiciary. Chief Justice Jean Toal delivered her remarks Wednesday primarily focusing on the innovation instituted in the judicial process over the past decade. State courts that previously did not have internet access now operate with high-speed internet access and large portions of the judicial branch utilize a secure web-based cloud through a partnership with Clemson University. It has become a model for other states.

This entry was posted on Saturday, February 28th, 2015 at 6:18 am and is filed under Legislative Sessions. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

 

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