2022 Statehouse Report # 6
The Palmetto State already enjoys lower taxes than neighboring states. Now, House Republicans and Governor McMaster have a plan to make them even lower. I am proud to have joined my House Republican colleagues, along with Governor McMaster, to roll out a plan to cut taxes in South Carolina by $1 billion. South Carolina’s economy is booming, with ARPA funds, infrastructure money, and years of conservative planning, we have a HISTORIC amount of surplus funds. Rather than spend this money as our Democrat colleagues might suggest, we’re returning it to the taxpayers.
This new tax plan was introduced on Tuesday, where we were joined by Governor McMaster for a press conference. Since then, the bill has been working its way through the committee process. I will vote in favor of this plan to ensure the hardworking people of South Carolina get to keep the money that they earn. Thank you to House leadership for their work on this bill, notably, House Ways and Means Chairman Murrell Smith, Speaker Jay Lucas and Majority Leader Simrill. Read more in the news, here.
ARPA Dollars: Where are they going?
Fiscal conservatism was the theme this week, as we passed an ARPA Funds Appropriations Bill, essentially outlining how we should handle the federal money on its way to South Carolina. As promised, we designated these dollars to state agencies for infrastructure improvements in rural and urban areas, including expanding and improving roads, highways, interstates, bridges, sewer, and broadband access. In particular, we are sending over $450 million to SCDOT, who are using the funds to improve roads, interstates, highways, and bridges. We allocated $800,000 to the Rural Infrastructure Authority, which is where a bulk of the water and sewer improvements will be done. We dedicated $400,000 towards broadband expansion, which will impact rural areas the most in getting them connected. And we gave $100,000 to the Office of Resilience to fortify our infrastructure and accommodate for storm damage and flooding… to see other dollar amounts, view the bill here.
Passed: Eliminate Taxes on Military Retirement
I recently updated you on legislation that aims to eliminate income taxes on military retirement making its way through committee. This week, I was proud to eliminate income taxes on military retirement. This bill passed unanimously and is on its way to the Senate. This is the least we can do to repay veterans for their sacrifice to our country.
Work in Progress: In Committee This Week
ELECTION INTEGRITY: I am proud to be a sponsor of/support a new comprehensive election bill, H. 4919. This bill is progressing through committee, and is currently in House Judiciary. Here are some of the protections that the bill includes:
Prevents candidates from being nominated by more than one political party or appearing on the ballot more than once.
Requires the witness of every absentee ballot to provide a printed name, signature, and address for identity verification and accountability.
Modifies the reasons that an absentee ballot can be cast, adding “absent from the country for the duration of early voting and election day” to the list.
Requires a form of valid government issued photo identification to cast an absentee ballot, as needed when casting a ballot on Election Day.
Allows absentee ballots to be opened and counted beginning at 7am on the Sunday before Election Day, in order for quicker election results when polls close.
Ensures that only one ballot can be cast, where any voter who has cast an absentee ballot can cast ONLY a provisional ballot on Election Day. This ballot will ONLY count if the absentee ballot is never received.
I am hopeful that this bill will soon come to the House floor, where I can vote to pass necessary new protections that go to maintain the integrity of our state election system.
CRITICAL RACE THEORY: Critical race theory, also known as CRT, promotes the idea that groups of people, based on sex, race, religion, or other defining characteristics, should take responsibility for historical human rights violations -- a topic reserved for consideration in law classes and other high level education. Our children do not need to be introduced to this rhetoric in K-12 schools. The House Education and Public Works Committee heard hours of testimony this week on a series of bills that prohibits CRT from being taught in South Carolina public schools. I look forward to supporting legislation that prohibits the teaching of critical race theory soon.
SCHOOL CHOICE: Legislation advanced from House Ways and Means and is now on the House calendar, which aims to give parents a choice on where to send their child to school. After pandemic conditions, the necessity of this has never been more obvious. Currently, the plan awards $5,000 a year towards the cost of private school for qualifying families, which would be funded by money in our state surplus funds, available due to years of conservative budgeting. I look forward to supporting this bill on the Floor in the near future.