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           Statehouse Report #2
        Monday, January 24, 2011

                Working Together for Reform

Last week, I was excited to sit on the House Floor for Governor Haley’s first State of the State address. And I was even more excited to hear her vision in working together with the Legislature to bring about the reforms South Carolinians made it so clear they wanted in the past election. Additionally, her time spent on economic development and job creation is exactly what we need to not only talk about, but take action on and make a reality. I look forward to the opportunity to pass legislation along with the Governor that will put our neighbors back to work.

I believe that the people of South Carolina are owed a sense of responsibility with their tax-dollars, and I have honored that belief by co-sponsoring legislation last week that will limit the general fund. While small businesses around our state are having trouble making payroll and keeping the lights on, they must stay within their means to get by. State government should be no different. H.3368 will do just that. My hope is that the bill moves out of Ways and Means quickly and is passed in the General Assembly sooner than later.

It is hard to believe that 38 years have passed since Roe v. Wade. Although our state has fought hard to protect the unborn, more can be done. Three bills that I co-sponsored last week – H.3403 - “Born Alive Bill,” H.3408 - “Freedom of Conscience Act,” and H.3406 - “No Abortion on State Exchange Health Plans” all protect the unborn’s unalienable right to life.

This week, the House will hopefully have the opportunity to pass legislation that will strengthen the power of your ballot and decrease the possibility of fraud at the ballot box. H.3003 - “Voter ID” passed through our Judiciary committee last week and will be debated on the House floor starting tomorrow. Our opposition will try to make one believe that this bill will negatively impact poor South Carolinians who do not have the means to pay the $5 fee associated with obtaining a state-issued identification card. The truth is the bill abolishes the $5 fee for anybody who cannot afford it. Our goal is for all legally eligible voters to vote in a manner that protects their vote.

As I did last week and will continue to do, I have listed below the status of the aforementioned bills and other bills that I have sponsored or co-sponsored for this session. They are as follows:

H. 3408, “Freedom of Conscience Act,” A Bill to amend the Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, by adding Article 5, to Chapter 41, Title 44, to enact the "Freedom of Conscience Act" so as to prohibit an employer from dismissing, demoting, suspending, disciplining or discriminating against an employee who advises the employer that he or she refuses to participate in certain activities including, but not limited to, procedures related to embryonic tissue or a developing child in an artificial or natural womb; to provide that a health care facility is not required to admit a patient, or to allow the use of the facility for procedures including, but not limited to, procedures related to embryonic tissue or a developing child in an artificial or natural womb and to provide that certain health care providers and employees of such providers who provided notice that they will not participate in such activities must not be required to participate, must not be disciplined due to such refusal, and are immune from liability for any damages caused by such refusal; to provide that the state must not require an insurance plan or issuer to cover procedures including, but limited to, procedures relating to embryonic tissue or development of a child in an artificial or natural womb; to prohibit a health care facility, school, or employer from discriminating against a person regarding admission, hiring or firing, terms of employment, or student or staff status because the person refuses, whether or not in writing, to participate in procedures including, but not limited to, procedures related to embryonic tissue or a developing child in an artificial or natural womb; to provide that a person must not be required to participate in, make facilities available for, or provide personnel for procedures including, but limited to, procedures relating to embryonic tissue or development of a child in an artificial or natural womb if the activity is contrary to the person's conscience; to prohibit discrimination against a person establishing or operating a health care facility because the facility declines to participate in a health care service that is contrary to the facility's conscience; and to provide that a person adversely affected by conduct that is in violation of this article may bring a civil action for equitable relief and if the person prevails, the court shall award attorney's fees -- Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

H.3407, “Educational Opportunity Act,” A Bill to amend the Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, to enact the "Educational Opportunity Act" by adding Article 6 to Chapter 63, Title 59 so as to provide that a qualifying student is eligible to receive a scholarship to attend an independent school if he meets certain conditions, and to provide the value of those scholarships; to allow a tax credit to be taken by a person who files state income tax for tuition paid for a qualifying student to attend an independent school upon certain conditions, to provide the value of the tax credit, to provide that the tax credit may be taken in future years upon certain conditions, to require a receipt to claim the tax credit, and to provide that a tax credit may not be taken if the student's enrollment in the independent school is terminated; to require the State Budget and Control Board to calculate the savings to the State General Fund derived from the provisions of this article, to provide the mechanism for that calculation, to provide for tax credits to be taken for tuition paid for other students to attend independent schools, and to provide for the total and individual amounts of those tax credits; to provide for a tax credit for a person who teaches a qualifying student at home, and to provide that the tax credit may be taken in future years upon certain conditions; to allow a corporation or person to claim a credit against state income tax or franchise fees for a contribution made to a student scholarship organization; to provide duties for independent schools and student scholarship organizations with regard to this article; to provide testing requirements; to allow the Department of Revenue to promulgate necessary regulations and to conduct necessary examinations and investigations; to provide reporting requirements by the State Budget and Control Board and the Legislative Audit Council; to provide duties of the Education Oversight Committee and the Department of Education with regard to this article; to provide that an independent school is not an agent or arm of the state or federal government with respect to this article; to provide that other state agencies may not regulate the educational program of an independent school; and by adding Section 12-6-3383 so as to allow an individual to claim an income tax credit pursuant to the provisions of Article 6, Chapter 63, Title 59 -- Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.

H.3406, “No Abortion on State Exchange Health Plans,” A Bill to amend the Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, by adding Section 38-71-295 so as to provide that pursuant to federal law all qualified health plans offered through the State Exchange are prohibited from including elective abortion coverage; to provide that health insurance plans and policies offered outside the Exchange must not provide coverage for elective abortions except by optional supplemental coverage for abortion which must be paid by a separate premium; and to establish the procedures for providing elective abortion coverage -- Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.

H.3403, “Born Alive,” A Bill to amend Section 2-7-30, Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, relating to the construction of the words "person" and "party" as those words appear in the laws of this state, so as to provide further for the construction of "person", "human being", "child", and "individual", so that they include every infant member of the species homo sapiens who is born alive and to define "born alive" -- Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

H.3395, “Murder during Official Duties,” A Bill to amend Section 16-3-20, as amended, Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, relating to murder, so as to add as an aggravating circumstance for which the death penalty may be imposed for the murder of a federal, state, or local elected or appointed official during or because of the performance of his official duties and include a reference to this aggravating circumstance for the purpose of including family members in the purview of the statute -- Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

H. 3374, “Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact,” A Bill to amend the Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, by adding Chapter 12 to Title 50 so as to enact the "Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact", to provide that the Governor shall execute the compact with other compact states, and to provide that the Chairman of the Board of the Department of Natural Resources shall appoint the Compact Administrator for this state-- Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs.

H. 3372, “Electronic Collar,” A Bill to amend the Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, by adding Article 14 to Chapter 3, Title 47 so as to provide that it is unlawful to remove or destroy an electronic collar or other electronic device placed on a dog by its owner to maintain control of the dog -- Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs.

H.3368, “Limit the General Fund,” A Bill to amend the Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, by adding Section 11-11-415 so as to provide that the limit on general fund appropriations for a fiscal year is the total amount of the general fund revenue estimate as of February 15, 2010 for fiscal year 2010-2011, increased annually and cumulatively by a percentage determined by population increases and increases in the consumer price index, to provide for the limitation to be suspended for a fiscal year for a specific amount upon a special vote of the General Assembly and to define this special vote, to establish the spending limit reserve fund to which all surplus general fund revenues must be credited, to provide for the priority uses of the revenues of this fund, to provide for the appropriation of fund revenues after these priorities are met, to require that appropriation of revenues of this fund must be by a joint resolution originating in the House of Representatives, and to provide that this limit first applies for fiscal year 2011-2012 -- Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.

H.3315, “Charleston Recognition” -- Referred to Committee on Judiciary.
H.3269, “Anti-Obamacare” -- Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry.
H.3185, “Higher Education Transparency Act of 2011” -- Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works.
H.3163, “Moped” -- Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works.
H.3103, “American Flag” -- Referred to Committee on Judiciary.
H.3095, “Transfer Fees” -- Referred to Committee on Judiciary.
H.3004, “Roll Call Voting” -- Referred to House Committee on Ways and Means. Passed in House. Referred to Senate Committee on Judiciary.
H.3003, “Voter ID” -- Referred to House Committee on Judiciary. House Committee Report: Favorable.

I hope this second report is helpful in following my work serving you. I thank you again for the privilege of serving you in Columbia. If I can ever be of assistance, or if you have an idea or opinion on an issue, please do not hesitate to contact me at 843-452-4722 or at info@petermccoy.org.