2021 Statehouse Report # 13
In the House this week, my colleagues and I had huge success in advancing our firearm laws even further in South Carolina! Just a few weeks ago, we took a first step in expanding our firearm laws with H. 3094, a bill that allows open carry with training. On Wednesday, I voted in favor of a second expansion to our Second Amendment rights. This bill, H. 3096, allows permitless carry in South Carolina and ensures our right to bear arms is not limited by frivolous permitting and training. This bill passed by a vote of 69-47 and now moves over to the Senate. I am very proud to have voted for this bill, which is a HUGE step in advancing our Constitutional rights!
Clementa C. Pinckney Hate Crimes Act
By a vote of 79-29, the House passed the Clementa C. Pinckney Hate Crimes Act on Wednesday. This bill does not criminalize anything that is not already a felony but increases the penalty for a felony found to be motivated by a person’s discrimination against another’s race or gender. This motivation must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt, and a jury decides (not a judge). This does not criminalize acts against property or crimes committed by minors who may not know better. I supported this bill on Tuesday because it allows the people of South Carolina (as jury members) to decide when a hate crime has been committed and protects our state from the most heinous of criminals.
Rep Weston Newton (District 120) captured the issue well when he said, "Protecting against violent criminal acts motivated by proven hatred is not a liberal or conservative issue. It is not a Republican or Democrat issue, it is not a white or Black issue, and it is not a gay or straight issue."
Each year, the House passes a tax conformity bill that puts the State and Federal tax codes in line. This is an important bill to ensure when you go to file your taxes, our State rules match those of the Federal Government. This year we had a very large amount of people file for unemployment in SC due to the pandemic conditions and shut-down. This bill exempts the first $10,000 of benefits these folks received from State tax income, ensuring that these people are not penalized for the hardships they involuntarily faced. This bill, H. 4017, unanimously passed the House.
Life Scholarships (H. 3588)- This bill amends the criteria for Life Scholarships, requiring certain English, Mathematics, and Computer Science coursework to be completed for eligibility. This completion takes place during a student’s senior year to better prepare them for college. I was in favor of/opposition to this bill, which passed Thursday.
Non-Certified Teachers in the Classroom (H. 3590)- I voted [IN FAVOR/IN OPPOSITION] to this bill, which allows public school districts to hire noncertified teachers (such as those who are retired or switched careers) for any school, career, and or technology center that have open teaching positions up until 5 days before the school year. Although these teachers may not comprise more than 25% of the staff and must have certain experience/academic requirements, this ensures that students have a teacher in the classroom no matter what. This passed by a vote of 99-17.
SC WINS (H. 3144)- I voted in favor of establishing the SC Workforce Industry Needs Scholarship (SC WINS). This means that certain students attending a two-year technical school are eligible for a scholarship upon meeting certain criteria and requirements. This passed the House on Wednesday by a vote of 105-1.
Other Legislative News
Training Firefighters (H. 3466)- This makes it more affordable for rural fire departments in South Carolina to operate. When a fire department trains a firefighter, they will be reimbursed for the costs of training if another fire department hires the trainee within a certain time. The reimbursement will come from the new employer of the firefighter. This protects the smaller departments that lose firefighters to larger, more desirable departments. This passed by a vote of 108-2.