Month: February 2020

The State Capitol Report – 1/31/2020

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4760, a bill revising the STUDENT ASSESSMENTS that are administered in the state’s public schools as a means of: ensuring that standardized testing is not unnecessarily burdensome; improving notification about upcoming assessments; and, affording parents, guardians, and teachers with timely access to test results so that this information might be better used to improve student achievement.  The legislation eliminates the summative assessments in social studies and United States History that are not required under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act accountability provisions.  In addition to streamlining summative testing, which is conducted at the end of a school year to determine what a student has learned in a course of study, the legislation also places limits and conditions on formative testing, which is conducted during the course of a school year to determine what progress a student is making towards mastering particular subjects.  With certain exceptions, the legislation provides for students to be administered no more than one state or locally procured formative assessment, and for that one standardized test to be given no more than three times during an academic year.  A protocol is established that requires schools to provide notification to parents and guardians about upcoming formative assessments and their purpose at least one week before testing.  No more than one week after the administration of a formative assessment, schools are required to provide teachers, parents, and guardians with test results.  In addition to test scores, the material that parents and guardians receive must include information on how the formative assessment aligns with state standards and summative assessments, and suggestions for how to support the child’s learning at home.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4753, a bill providing for TEACHER INCENTIVES.  The legislation establishes a “Teacher Bill of Rights” to enumerate those things that all certified public school teachers in South Carolina should be able to expect.  These include: working in an environment conducive to learning; the inclusion of their discretion with regard to disciplinary and instructional decisions; freedom from frivolous lawsuits; unencumbered daily planning time; a competitive salary; no unnecessary paperwork; and, support from school administration to meet performance standards and professional expectations.  These provisions do not create or imply a private cause of action for a violation.  The legislation provides that each classroom teacher and full time librarian is entitled to at least a thirty minute daily planning period free from the instruction and supervision of students.  Each school district may set flexible or rotating schedules for the implementation of this duty free planning period.  Implementation may not, however, result in a lengthened school day.  The legislation offers a tax incentive for attracting teachers to areas where they are most needed in the form of an income tax credit that covers all of the property taxes paid for five years on a residence for a K-12 public school teacher who lives and teaches in a Tier IV economically challenged county.

The House appointed a conference committee to address its differences with the Senate on S.455, the “ARMED SERVICE MEMBERS AND SPOUSES PROFESSIONAL AND OCCUPATIONAL LICENSING ACT”.

The House returned S.996 to the Senate with amendments.  This joint resolution authorizes an EXTENSION OF SOUTH CAROLINA PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION CANDIDATE SCREENING to provide an opportunity to find additional qualified candidates to present to the General Assembly for election to the commission that oversees public utilities. 

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4936, a bill that eliminates the prohibition on possessing GAME FISH DEVICES while possessing or using nongame devices.  The change allows someone to have an authorized game fish device, such as a rod and reel, while using authorized nongame devices, such as set hooks, trotlines, eel pots, jug fishing devices, and traps. 

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The House approved and sent the Senate H.4945, a bill that revises coastal zone management provisions governing construction seaward of the baseline to allow for certain EROSION CONTROL STRUCTURES to have their damage assessment based on a single distinct continuous seawall or bulkhead rather than on a lot by lot basis.

If you have a comment or opinion concerning the matters discussed in this report, or if I may be of assistance to you at any time, please feel free to call your legislative office in Columbia (803-212-6875); my Richland Legislative Delegation Office (803-576-1908); or write P.O. Box 292434, Columbia, SC 29229.  Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in the House of Representatives.

KHG/jhm

The State Capitol Report – 1/27/2020

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4404, a bill enacting the “VETERANS NURSING DEGREE OPPORTUNITY ACT” as a means of both addressing the state’s nurse shortage and smoothing the transition for veterans from military life to professional civilian careers.  The legislation establishes programs to enable veteran military clinical personnel, such as medics and corpsmen, to accelerate the process at participating South Carolina public and independent colleges and institutions for obtaining associate’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees in nursing by awarding academic and clinical credit or waivers for relevant education, experience, and skills acquired from their military service.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3199, a bill REQUIRING INSTRUCTION ON STUDENT LOANS IN HIGH SCHOOL FINANCIAL LITERACY PROGRAMS.  The legislation expands high school financial literacy program requirements so that they also include instruction on college and education loans, key loan terms, monthly payment obligations, repayment options, credit, and education loan debt.  The State Board of Education is directed to incorporate these new instructional topics with the adoption of the next revisions scheduled for the social studies academic standards under cyclical review.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3257, a bill that provides for updating public school INSTRUCTION ON MENTAL, EMOTIONAL, AND SOCIAL HEALTH under the Comprehensive Health Education Act.  The legislation provides that, at the next cyclical review of the health standards, the State Board of Education shall continue to revise existing age appropriate standards and concepts that address mental, emotional, and social health.  Before September 1, 2020, in addition to the current standards, the board shall continue to make standards aligned instructional materials available to districts.  Districts shall continue to adopt or develop curriculum locally.  Beginning with the 2020-2021 School Year, each seventh grade student must be offered one unit of instruction in mental health and wellness based on the instructional unit selected or adopted by the board, and each ninth grade student shall receive and successfully complete a one unit course of study in mental health and wellness based on the instructional unit selected or adopted by the board.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4403, a bill revising provisions relating to BULLYING PROHIBITION POLICIES that must be adopted by school districts.  The legislation provides for a more expansive definition of “harassment, intimidation, or bullying”.  Procedures are established for responding to and remediating allegations of bullying.  The legislation requires an appeals procedure.  Local districts are required to adopt policies for the prevention of harassment, intimidation, or bullying that are at least as stringent as the model policies developed by the State Board of Education.  A procedure is established that requires the state board to approve local policies to ensure that they meet the minimum requirements.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4076, a bill REQUIRING BOARD AND COMMISSION MEMBERS TO SIGN STATEMENTS ACKNOWLEDGING THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES AND AUTHORITY.  The legislation establishes a protocol under which an agency or instrumentality in the executive branch of state government or a public institution of higher learning with a governing board or commission is required to have its board or commission members sign a written document outlining statutory duties and powers.  Board or commission members are not eligible to receive mileage, subsistence, or per diem unless these documents are signed in a timely manner.  Repeated refusal to sign the required documents constitutes grounds for removal from office by the Governor for persistent neglect of duty.  The bill implements recommendations arising from the House Legislative Oversight Committee’s study of the South Carolina Commission on Indigent Defense.

The House amended and gave second reading approval to S.996, a joint resolution authorizing an EXTENSION OF SOUTH CAROLINA PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION CANDIDATE SCREENING to provide an opportunity to find additional qualified candidates to present to the General Assembly for election to the commission that oversees public utilities.  The legislation authorizes an extension in screening for candidates for PSC Seats 1, 3,

 5, and 7 that allows the Public Utilities Review Committee to accept applications for a time period beginning Monday, February 3, 2020, through noon on Friday, February 28, 2020.  Provisions are made for advertising these positions.  In screening candidates for the Commission and making its findings, the Review Committee is directed to give due consideration to race, gender, and other demographic factors to assure nondiscrimination, inclusion, and representation to the greatest extent possible of all segments of the population of this state.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4504, a bill to provide the Department of Health and Environmental Control with more effective means of regulating WASTE TIRE FACILITIES, particularly those facilities that amass large quantities of tires without 

recycling them in a timely manner.   The legislation authorizes DHEC to promulgate regulations to protect human health and safety of the environment from the adverse effects of improper, inadequate, or unsound management of waste tires.  DHEC is authorized to conduct inspections and investigations, obtain records of waste tire processing, storage, or hauling activities, obtain samples, and conduct research regarding the operation and maintenance of any waste tire management facility.  A protocol is established for DHEC to place a facility under a suspension when it exceeds its permitted capacity and to sanction a facility that violates a suspension by accepting additional waste tires.  DHEC is charged with maintaining a Waste Tire Rebate Facility List that includes only facilities that are in compliance and fulfill the requirements of a waste tire recycling facility.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4811, a bill revising beachfront management restrictions placed on erosion control structures or devices seaward of the setback line to allow for the placement of shoreline perpendicular WINGWALLS that extend landward at a ninety degree angle from the ends of existing erosion control structures or devices that are consistent in height and composition with the existing erosion control structures to which they are attached subject to any special conditions imposed by the Department of Health and Environmental Control.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4202, a bill requiring the state registrar of vital statistics at the Department of Health and Environmental Control to issue, upon receipt of certain documentation, a CERTIFICATE OF FOREIGN BIRTH for a child with United States citizenship who is born in a foreign country to a parent who is a resident of South Carolina.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4286, a bill revising requirements for PRESCRIPTION DRUG LABELS to provide that the lot number of the prescription must be indicated on the label, patient receipt, or bar code.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3695, a bill establishing provisions that make MOTORCYCLES OR MOTORCYCLE THREE-WHEEL VEHICLES ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE HIGH MILEAGE TAX DEDUCTIONS.

The House appointed a conference committee to address its differences with the Senate on H.3357, a bill allowing for a HEARING IMPAIRMENT NOTATION ON A MOTOR VEHICLE REGISTRATION. 

If you have a comment or opinion concerning the matters discussed in this report, or if I may be of assistance to you at any time, please feel free to call your legislative office in Columbia (803-212-6875); my Richland Legislative Delegation Office (803-576-1908); or write P.O. Box 292434, Columbia, SC 29229.  Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in the House of Representatives.

KHG/jhm

The State Capitol Report – 1/17/2020

Lawmakers returned to the State House on January 14, 2020, to commence the second regular session of the 123rd South Carolina General Assembly.

The House of Representatives approved S.11 and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation provides that, if the United States Congress amends federal law to authorize states to observe DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME year round, it is the intent of the South Carolina General Assembly that daylight saving time be the year round standard of the entire state and all of its political subdivisions.

The House returned S.194, a bill addressing PROSTITUTION AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING, to the Senate with amendments. The legislation makes revisions to prostitution crimes that include an increase in the fines for second and subsequent misdemeanor offenses relating to soliciting prostitutes or abetting prostitution.  An enhanced felony offense is established for violations involving a prostitute who is severely or profoundly mentally disabled.  The legislation revises offenses of engaging in prostitution to establish an affirmative defense against prosecution for a violation when the defendant is a victim of human trafficking.  The legislation adopts recommendations for eradicating human trafficking from the organization Shared Hope International.  These initiatives include: the establishment of criminal offenses for combatting sex tourism enterprises more effectively; the inclusion of human trafficking among the offenses for which law enforcement may seek a court order authorizing wiretapping or the interception of electronic communications to further their criminal investigations; provisions for appointing special advocates trained in handling human trafficking cases to assist minor victims; and, enhancements to training on trafficking in persons and sex trafficking for law enforcement personnel, prosecutors, and judges.   

The House appointed a conference committee to address its differences with the Senate on S.16, legislation that increases the maximum amount of a medication that may be dispensed through EMERGENCY REFILLS OF PRESCRIPTIONS BY PHARMACISTS. 

The House amended Senate amendments to H.3174 and returned the bill to the Senate.  This bill establishes technical specifications for ELECTRIC‑ASSIST BICYCLES and bicycles with helper motors and provides that those who operate these low-speed electrically assisted bicycles are subject to all statutory provisions that apply to bicyclists.  The legislation includes labelling requirements for these bicycles to indicate their wattage and maximum electrically assisted speed.  The legislation specifies that electric-assist bicycles and bicycles with helper motors are not mopeds.

The House amended Senate amendments to H.4244 and returned the bill to the Senate.  The legislation makes revisions related to VEHICLE SERVICE CONTRACTS and theft protection program warranties that include requirements for disclosures to consumers and provisions for how service contract providers establish their financial security to pay claims.

The House returned S.580 to the Senate with amendments.  This bill revises provisions governing the South Carolina Life and Accident and Health Insurance Guaranty Association to adopt national model standards for addressing IMPAIRED OR INSOLVENT INSURERS.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4533, a bill renaming the state’s Commission for Minority Affairs the COMMISSION FOR MINORITY AND MULTICULTURAL AFFAIRS.

If you have a comment or opinion concerning the matters discussed in this report, or if I may be of assistance to you at any time, please feel free to call your legislative office in Columbia (803-212-6875); my Richland Legislative Delegation Office (803-576-1908); or write P.O. Box 292434, Columbia, SC 29229.  Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in the House of Representatives.

KHG/jhm