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           Statehouse Report #3
        Monday, January 31, 2011

                  Protecting our Ballots, Children, and Small Businesses

Last week marked a great start in protecting our ballots, children and small businesses.

On Wednesday, by a vote of 74-45, our State House passed H.3004, the “Voter ID Bill.” With it, we are protecting the integrity of your vote by requiring all voters to show a government-issued photo ID (a driver’s license, passport, or military ID) to prove their identity when they vote. It will also require the creation of a new voter registration card to include a photograph. We are also protecting those in dire financial circumstances by waiving the fee for a state ID until the state can issue free voter registration cards with a photograph on them.

This past week was also National School Choice Week. H.3407, the “Educational Opportunity Act,” of which I am a sponsor, gives parents a more direct role in their child’s education as they can decide what school their child attends. Each child has his or her own unique preferred learning-techniques and preferred learning-environment. This bill will give children the best option for themselves to learn and, subsequently, to succeed!

A better education in our state will create a better workforce. But without a positive environment for businesses, this workforce will continue to struggle finding jobs. Many state business leaders, my colleagues and I believe that one way to make South Carolina more business-friendly is enact tort reform. I have co-sponsored H.3375, the “South Carolina Fairness in Civil Justice Act of 2011,” that will limit the award of punitive damages and provide certain procedures and requirements relating to the award. Giving the small businesses around our state more protection from frivolous lawsuits will lower the cost of business, increase the ability and cash flow to hire our neighbors, and make our state a premier business destination.

As I have done 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.3508, “Unserved Areas,” A Bill to amend the Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, so as to retitle Article 23, Chapter 9, Title 58, relating to government-owned telecommunications service providers as "government-owned communications service providers"; by adding Section 58-9-2660 so as to provide a government-owned communications service provider may petition the Public Service Commission to designate one or more areas as an 'unserved area', to specify the procedure for making and protesting this petition, to provide for a hearing of a protest to a petition, to provide for the application of certain provisions of law to an unserved area, and to provide a process for petitioning for a determination that an area has ceased to be an unserved area; to amend Section 58-9-10, as amended, relating to definitions concerning telephone companies, so as to modify the definition of "broadband service"; to amend Section 58-9-2600, relating to the purpose of Article 23, Chapter 9, Title 58, so as to make conforming changes and clarify the scope of the article; to amend Section 58-9-2610, relating to definitions concerning government-owned telecommunications service providers, so as to make conforming changes and add certain definitions; to amend Section 58-9-2620, as amended, relating to duties, restrictions, rate computations, and accounting requirements of a government-owned telecommunications service providers, so as to make conforming changes, to give the Office of Regulatory Staff jurisdiction to investigate the compliance of a government-owned communications provider with the provisions of this chapter, to provide the commission may enforce the compliance of a government-owned communications service provider with the provisions of this chapter, and to clarify that this Section does not expand or limit the jurisdiction of the Commission or Office of Regulatory Staff with respect to any service provider other than a government-owned communications service provider; to amend Section 58-9-2630, relating to certain tax collections and payments, so as to make conforming changes; and to amend Section 58-9-2650, as amended, relating to liability insurance rates for communications operations, so as to make conforming changes -- Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry.

H.3507, “Repeal Federal Law by 2/3 Vote,” A concurrent Resolution to make application to the Congress of the United States to call a Constitutional Convention pursuant to Article V of the United States Constitution for the purpose of proposing a Constitutional Amendment that permits the repeal of any federal law or regulation by vote of two-thirds of the state legislatures -- Referred to Committee on Invitations and Memorial Resolutions. House Committee Report: Favorable.

H.3423, “Open Hunting,” A Bill to amend the Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, by adding Section 50-9-760 so as to provide that a person is not required to possess a hunting or fishing license to hunt or fish during Father's Day weekend or the three days that follow Thanksgiving Day -- Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Enviornmental Affairs.

H.3422, “Gold-Award Earning Girl Scout and Eagle Scout Hunting Requirements,” A Bill to amend the Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, by adding Section 50-9-750 so as to provide that a Boy Scout who has attained the rank of Eagle Scout and a Girl Scout who has received the Gold Award are not required to obtain a license to hunt or fish during their lifetime -- Referred to Committee on Agricultre, Natural Resources and Enviormental Affairs.

H. 3408, “Freedom of Conscience Act” -- Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

H.3407, “Educational Opportunity Act” -- Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.

H.3406, “No Abortion on State Exchange Health Plans” -- Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.

H.3403, “Born Alive” -- Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

H.3395, “Murder during Official Duties” -- Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

H.3375, “South Carolina Fairness in Civil Justice Act of 2011 – Tort Reform,” A Bill to amend the Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, so as to enact the "South Carolina Fairness in Civil Justice Act of 2011" by amending Article 5, Chapter 32, Title 15, relating to punitive damages, so as to provide limits on the award of punitive damages and to provide for certain procedures and requirements relating to the award of these damages; by adding Sections 1-7-750 and 1-7-760 so as to enact the "Private Attorney Retention Sunshine Act" to govern the retention of private attorneys by the Attorney General or a Solicitor and to provide terms and conditions governing the retainer agreement including limits on the compensation of outside counsel in contingency fee cases, and to provide for the suspension of the limitations under certain exceptional circumstances; to amend Section 15-3-670, relating to limitations on actions based on unsafe or defective improvements to real property, so as to provide that the violation of a building code does not constitute per se fraud, gross negligence, or recklessness but may be admissible as evidence; to amend Section 18-9-130, as amended, relating to the effect of a notice of appeal on the execution of judgment, so as to provide limits for appeal bonds; and to amend Section 56-5-6540, as amended, relating to the penalties for the mandatory use of seatbelts, so as to delete the provision that provided that a violation for failure to wear a seatbelt is not negligence per se or comparative negligence and is not admissible in a civil action -- Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

H. 3374, “Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact” -- Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs.

H. 3372, “Electronic Collar” -- Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs.

H.3368, “Limit the General Fund” -- Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.

H.3346, “Solar Energy Equipment Tax Credit,” A Bill to amend the Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, by adding Section 12-6-3586 so as to allow a state tax credit for the installation of solar energy equipment in an amount equal to thirty-five percent of the amounts for specific installations and for specific purposes, to define solar energy equipment, to provide for the timing of credits and the carry forward of unused credits, to provide those taxes against which this credit is allowed, and to prohibit double credits -- Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.

H.3315, “Charleston Recognition” -- Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

H.3292, “Bear Arms in Car,” A Bill to amend the Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, by adding Section 16-23-510 so as to provide a list of locations where certain persons are prohibited from carrying a handgun; by adding Article 9 to Chapter 31, Title 23 so as to provide that certain persons may not prohibit an individual from transporting or storing legally-possessed firearms or ammunition in the individual's privately-owned motor vehicle, and to provide penalties for violations of this Article; to amend Section 16-23-20, as amended, relating to the unlawful carrying of handguns, so as to revise the circumstances that constitute the unlawful carrying of a handgun; to amend Section 16-23-420, as amended, relating to the possession of a firearm on school property, so as to revise the circumstances upon which a person can carry a firearm on school property; to amend Section 16-23-430, as amended, relating to carrying weapons on school property, so as to revise the circumstances upon which a person may carry a weapon on school property; to amend Section 16-23-460, as amended, relating to the unlawful carrying of a deadly weapon, so as to revise the circumstances upon which it is unlawful to carry a deadly weapon; to amend Section 16-23-465, as amended, relating to additional penalties for carrying a firearm onto the premise of a business that sells alcoholic beverages, so as to revise the penalties and the circumstances upon which they must be imposed; to amend Section 23-31-215, as amended, relating to the issuance of concealable weapon permits, so as to delete the provision that requires a permit holder to have his identification card in his possession whenever he carries a concealable weapon and inform a law enforcement officer that he is a permit holder under certain circumstances, to revise the locations upon which it is lawful to carry a concealable weapon with and without a permit, and to revise the circumstances upon which a valid out-of-state permit to carry a concealable weapon must be honored; and to amend Sections 23-31-220 and 23-31-225, relating to the carrying of concealable weapons upon the premises of a business or a residence, so as to revise the circumstances upon which it is lawful to carry a concealable weapon on these premises -- Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

H.3291, “Streamline Agencies into SC Department of Law Enforcement and Public Safety,” A Bill to amend the Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, by adding Chapter 2 to Title 23 so as to create the South Carolina Department of Law Enforcement and Public Safety; to amend section 1-3-240, as amended, relating to the removal of certain state officers by the governor, so as to delete the term the Director of the Department of Public Safety and replace it with the term Director of the Department of Law Enforcement and Public Safety; to amend Section 1-7-920, relating to the members of the Commission on Prosecution Coordination, so as to delete the term "Director of the Department of Public Safety" and replace it with the term "Director of the Department of Law Enforcement and Public Safety"; to amend Section 1-30-10, relating to the departments of state government, so as to delete the term "Department of Public Safety" and replace it with the term "Department of Law Enforcement and Public Safety"; to amend Section 1-30-90, relating to the Department of Public Safety, so as to substitute the term "Division of Public Safety" for the term "Department of Public Safety", to amend Section 2-13-240, as amended, relating to the distribution of the Code of Laws of South Carolina to various entities, so as to delete the term "Department of Public Safety" and replace it with the term "Department of Law Enforcement and Public Safety"; to amend Sections 5-3-90, 5-7-110, 9-11-180, as amended, 10-11-80, as amended, 11-35-710, as amended, 12-28-1910, as amended, 12-28-2325, 12-45-70, as amended, 13-7-70, as amended, 13-7-160, as amended, 14-1-206, as amended, 14-1-207, as amended, 14-1-208, as amended, 14-1-212, 16-3-1410, as amended, 17-5-130, 17-22-350, and 23-1-230, relating to the scope of the provisions that provide for the structure, organization, powers, and duties of municipal governments, the Department of Public Safety's contributions into the State Retirement System on behalf of active highway patrol member employees, parking on certain state parking lots, state procurement code exemptions, the inspection of fuel and shipping papers, law enforcement assistance provided to the Department of Revenue by the Department of Public Safety, paying taxes and the delegation of collection of taxes, rules and regulations regarding the transportation of materials, regulations relating to the transportation of nuclear materials, court assessments and surcharges, victim assistance services, qualifications and age requirements for coroners, traffic education program fees, and the first responders advisory committee, all so as to delete the term "Department of Public Safety" and replace it with the term "Department of Law Enforcement and Public Safety"; to amend Chapter 6, Title 23, relating to the establishment of the Department of Public Safety, so as to reestablish it as a Division of SLED; to amend Sections 23-23-30, as amended, 23-25-20, 24-5-340, 36-9-410, 38-55-530, as amended, 38-55-570, as amended, 38-73-470, as amended, 38-77-1120, 39-9-230, as amended, 43-5-1250, as amended, 44-4-130, as amended, 54-17-60, 56-1-286, as amended, 56-1-460, as amended, 56-1-1320, 56-1-1760, 56-1-2220, 56-1-2230, 56-3-662, 56-3-663, as amended, 56-3-840, as amended, 56-5-330, 56-5-380, 56-5-765, 56-5-1270, 56-5-1300, 56-5-1320, 56-5-1330, 56-5-1340, 56-5-1350, 56-5-1520, 56-5-2930, as amended, 56-5-2933, as amended, 56-5-2945, as amended, 56-5-2951, as amended, 56-5-2953, as amended, 56-5-3660, 56-5-3670, 56-5-3680, 56-5-3690, 56-5-3900, 56-5-4030, 56-5-4035, 56-5-4070, 56-5-4075, 56-5-4140, as amended, 56-5-4160, as amended, 56-5-4170, 56-5-4840, 56-5-4880, 56-5-4970, 56-5-5015, 56-5-5080, 56-5-5120, 56-5-5140, 56-5-5810, as amended, 56-5-5870, 56-5-5880, 56-5-6170, 56-5-6525, as amended, 56-5-6560, 56-5-6565, 56-7-10, 56-7-12, 56-7-30, as amended, 56-9-350, 56-10-45, 56-10-552, 56-11-20, 56-11-40, 56-15-420, 56-19-420, as amended, 56-35-50, 57-3-180, 58-23-50, as amended, 58-23-1120, as amended, 59-67-20, 59-67-260, 59-67-570, 61-6-2900, 61-6-4250, 61-6-4290, 63-19-1860, 63-19-1880, relating to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Training Council, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Hall of Fame Committee, Reserve Detention Officers, unlawful sale or disposal of personal property subject to a security interest, insurance fraud and reporting immunity, the disposition of uninsured motor premiums, motor vehicle theft and motor vehicle insurance fraud-reporting immunity act, the implementation of the metric system, the statewide network of mass transit systems, the emergency health powers act, account balances relating to hunting and fishing licenses, activities of the maritime security commission and the naval militia, motor vehicle driver's licenses, the registration and licensing of motor vehicles, the regulation of traffic traveling along the state's highways, the issuance of traffic tickets, verification of motor vehicle insurance, the confiscation of registration certificates and license plates, the uninsured enforcement fund, the road tax on motor carriers, the promulgation of regulations relating to motor vehicle dealer and wholesaler licenses, motor vehicle certificates of title, diesel idling restrictions, permits issued by the department of transportation, motor vehicle carriers, the transportation of school children, the alcoholic beverage control act, the conditional release of a juvenile, and the appointment of juvenile probation counselors, all so as to delete the term "Department of Public Safety" and replace it with the term "Department of Law Enforcement and Public Safety", or "Division of Public Safety"; to amend Chapter 21, Title 24, relating to the creation and operation of the Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon services and the Board of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services, so as to transfer all functions, powers, duties, responsibilities and authority statutorily exercised by the Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services to the Department of Law Enforcement and Public Safety; to amend Section 23-3-10, 23-3-680, and 23-3-690, relating to the creation of SLED, so as to provide that its duties and functions are transferred to the Department of Law Enforcement and Public Safety; by adding Article 7 to Chapter 6, Title 23 so as to create the Natural Resources Enforcement Division within the Department of Law Enforcement and Public Safety; to amend Section 23-6-30, relating to the duties of the Department of Public Safety, so as to give it jurisdiction to enforce the laws regarding birds and fisheries; and to repeal Sections 50-3-110, 50-3-120, 50-3-130, 50-3-140, 50-3-150, 50-3-160, 50-3-310, 50-3-315, 50-3-316, 50-3-320, 50-3-330, 50-3-340, 50-3-350, 50-3-370, 50-3-380, 50-3-390, 50-3-395, 50-3-396, 50-3-400, 50-3-410, and 50-3-420 all relating to the Natural Resources Enforcement Division -- 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. House Committee Report: Favorable.

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. Roll Call Yeas 104, Nays 0. Referred to Senate Committee on Judiciary.

H.3003, “Voter ID” -- Referred to House Committee on Judiciary. House Committee Report: Favorable. Roll Call Yeas 74, Nays 45. Read Third Time and Sent to Senate. Referred to Senate Committee on Judiciary.

I hope this 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.