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           Statehouse Report #5
        Tuesday, February 15, 2011

                                       Exciting Times in Columbia

I want to start by apologizing for the delay in getting last week’s report to you.

As I believe the first four weeks of session have done, I believe that last week also moved our state in a better direction for businesses and families alike.

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, I co-sponsored a bill that business leaders and my colleagues in the House believe will boost our economy while protecting small businesses. H.3375, a “Tort Reform” bill, was passed last week by a vote of 100-7.

As an attorney, I received some concern from friends and peers regarding this piece of legislation that their clients would not be justly compensated for injuries sustained. However, I believe that this bill protects both the injured and small businesses, as those who win lawsuits are entitled to a maximum punitive damage award of $350,000 or three times the actual damages awarded, whichever is greater. This would prevent unnecessary punitive damages, while ensuring that if a company hurts you, you will continue to have access to the legal system.

As for protecting the small businesses owned by our neighbors and friends (and that contribute as much as 75 percent of new job growth), they now have less worry of frivolous lawsuits derailing operations or bankrupting their businesses altogether. According to business owners polled in 2007, the potential of outside uncertainty is something that prevents many businesses from hiring. With our unemployment rate as high as it is, we need to give the assurance and encouragement to small business owners to hire our neighbors.

This bill also makes our government more transparent, as it requires the Attorney General and Solicitors to disclose contracts when they use outside counsel and imposes limits on the fees the outside counsel may collect from the state.

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

H.3664, “Right to Carry Ammunition,” A Bill to amend the Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, by adding Section 23-31-250 so as to prohibit a business entity, property owner, or public or private employer from creating or maintaining a policy which prohibits a person from storing legally possessed ammunition or a firearm in an enclosed compartment or area with the person's privately-owned locked motor vehicle, and to provide circumstances for which a person may bring a civil action against a business entity, property owner, or public or private employer -- Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

 

H.3659, “Palmetto Public Safety Act,” A Bill to amend Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, by adding Article 9 to Chapter 7, Title 1, so as to enact the "Palmetto Public Safety Act"; to vest the Office of the Attorney General with exclusive authority regarding the detection, deterrence, investigation, regulation, and prosecution of criminal exploitation of money services businesses in South Carolina -- Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

 

H.3658, “SC Employer Free Speech Act,” A Bill to amend the Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, by enacting the "South Carolina Employer Free Speech Act" by adding Section 41-7-110 so as to provide that an employer in this state is not required to post, physically, electronically, or otherwise, notices informing employees of their rights under the national labor relations act, court decisions implementing those rights, or information pertaining to the enforcement of those rights, and to provide definitions -- Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

 

H.3645, “Uniform Traffic Tickets,” A Bill to amend Section 56-7-10, Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, relating to the issuance of uniform traffic tickets, so as to provide that a uniform traffic ticket must be used in an arrest for a misdemeanor offense within the jurisdiction of magistrates court that is committed in the presence of a law enforcement officer -- Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

 

H.3641, “Zero-Base Budget,” A Bill to amend the Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, by adding Section 11-11-35 so as to direct the Office of State Budget of the State Budget and Control Board to implement the zero-base budget process in the manner provided by the report on zero-based budgeting submitted by the Office of the State Treasurer, to provide that the new budget process may be phased in over two fiscal years beginning with appropriations for fiscal year 2012-2013 and must be fully implemented for the budget process for appropriations beginning July 1, 2014, to establish the South Carolina Zero-Base Budget Process Advisory Committee to assist the office of state budget in devising, implementing, and administering the zero-base budget process and provide for its membership and duties; and to amend Sections 2-7-60, 2-7-62, as amended, 2-7-68, and 2-7-78, all relating to annual general appropriations bills and acts, so as to provide for a biennial state budget, and to direct the Code Commissioner to update appropriately references to the annual general appropriations bill and act -- Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.

H.3585, "Krewe of Charleston" -- Introduced and Adopted.

H.3580, “Across-the-Board Expenditure Reductions,” A Bill to amend Section 1-11-497, Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, relating to across-the-board reduction in expenditures, so as to provide that unless otherwise prohibited by law, any across-the-board reduction in appropriations must be applied to all appropriated funds including state general fund appropriations and, except for federal funds, all "other funds" appropriations; to amend Section 2-7-75, relating to appropriating of funds, so as to provide that unless otherwise prohibited by law, if the General Assembly mandates any across-the-board percentage reduction of any appropriated funds, the reduction applies in the same percentage to "other funds", except for federal funds; to amend Section 2-65-40, relating to, oversight and expenditure of "other funds", so as to provide that unless otherwise prohibited by law, if the General Assembly mandates any across-the-board percentage reduction of any appropriated funds, the reduction applies in the same percentage to "other funds", except for federal funds; and to amend Section 11-11-160, relating to transfers of appropriations and reduction of appropriations, so as to provide that unless otherwise prohibited by law, if the General Assembly mandates any across-the-board percentage reduction of any appropriated funds, the reduction applies in the same percentage to "other funds", except for federal funds -- Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.

 

H.3563, “Streamline into Dept. of Health and Wellness,” A Bill to amend Section 1-30-10, as amended, Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, relating to departments in the Executive Branch of state government, so as to add the Department of Health and Wellness and to remove the Department of Alcohol and other Drug Abuse Services, the Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Mental Health; to amend Section 1-30-20, relating to agencies previously transferred to the Department of Alcohol and other Drug Abuse Services, so as transfer this department, its powers, duties, and programs, to the Department of Health and Wellness, Division of Alcohol and other Drug Abuse Services; to amend Section 1-30-35, relating to agencies previously transferred to the Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, so as to transfer this department, its powers, duties, and programs, to the Department of Health and Wellness, Division of Disabilities and Special Needs; to amend Section 1-30-50, relating to the Department of Health and Human Services, so as to transfer this department, its powers, duties, and programs, to the Department of Health and Wellness, Division of Health and Human Services; to amend Section 1-30-70, relating to agencies previously transferred to the Department of Mental Health, so as to transfer this department, its powers, duties, and programs, to the Department of Health and Wellness, Division of Mental Health; by adding Section 1-30-72 so as to place the Commission for the Blind, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Mental Health, the Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, and the Department of Alcohol and other Drug Abuse Services under the Department of Health and Wellness; by adding Chapter 8 to Title 44 so as to create the Department of Health and Wellness comprised of the Division for the Blind, the Division of Health and Human Services, the Division of Mental Health, the Division of Disabilities and Special Needs, and the Division of Alcohol and other Drug Abuse Services and to provide for the department's powers and duties, including, among other things, developing and implementing a state plan for the coordinated care and unified delivery of health and wellness services and overseeing the administration and delivery of health and wellness services; to amend Chapter 25, Title 43, relating, among other things, to the governance, powers, duties, and programs, of the Commission for the Blind, so as to provide that the Commission for the Blind becomes an advisory board to the Division for the Blind and to conform this Chapter to the Provisions of this Act; to amend Chapter 6, Title 44, relating to, among other things, the governance, powers, duties, and programs, of the Department of Health and Human Services, so as to conform this Chapter to the Provisions of this Act; to amend Chapters 9, 13, and 15 of title 44, relating, among other things, to the governance, powers, duties, and programs, of the Department of Mental Health, so as to provide that the South Carolina Mental Health Commission becomes an advisory board to the Division of Mental Health and to conform these Chapters to the Provisions of this Act; to amend Chapters 20 and 21, Title 44, relating to, among other things, the governance, powers, duties, and programs, of the Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, so as to provide that the Board of the Department of Disabilities and Special Needs becomes an advisory board to the Division of Disabilities and Special Needs and to conform these Chapters to the Provisions of this Act; to amend Chapter 49, title 44, relating to, among other things, the governance, powers, duties, and programs, of the Department of Alcohol and other Drug Abuse Services, so as to conform this Chapter to the Provisions of this Act; to provide transfer and transition provisions, and to provide that this act takes effect July 1, 2011 -- Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

 

H. 3559, “Illegal Automobile Compartments,” A Bill to amend the Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, by adding Section 16-21-55 so as to define certain terms relating to motor vehicles, to provide that it is unlawful for a person to knowingly own or operate a vehicle that has a false or secret compartment that contains an illegal controlled substance, an illegal firearm, a person concealed for unlawful purposes, or other contraband, and to provide a penalty -- Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

H.3547, “Flight Log Transparency,” A Bill to amend the Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, by adding Section 13-1-1095 so as to provide that the South Carolina Aeronautics Commission shall post its flight logs on its website in real time -- Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.

H.3517, "Cop Shooting Bill" -- Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

H.3508, "Unserved Areas" -- Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry. Committee Report: Favorable with Amendment.

H.3507, "Repeal Federal Law by 2/3 Vote" -- Referred to Committee on Invitations and Memorial Resolutions. House Committee Report: Favorable.

H.3498, "Construction Professional Contracts" -- Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

H.3449, "Construction Liability Insurance" -- Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry.

H.3423, "Open Hunting" -- Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs.

H.3422, "Gold-Award Earning Girl Scout and Eagle Scout Hunting Requirements" -- Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental 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" -- Referred to Committee on Judiciary. House Committee Report: Favorable. Roll Call Yeas 100, Nays 7. Read Third Time and Sent to the Senate.

H.3374, "Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact" -- Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs. Committee Report: Favorable with Amendment. Unanimous consent for Third Reading. Read Third Time and Sent to the Senate.

H.3372, "Electronic Collar" -- Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs.  Committee Report: Favorable with Amendment. Unanimous consent for Third Reading. Read Third Time and Sent to the Senate.

 

H.3469, “Streamlining of Dept. of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services,” A Bill to amend Chapter 21, Title 24, Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, relating to the establishment, 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 Corrections, and to create a Division of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services within the Department of Corrections -- Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

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

H.3346, "Solar Energy Equipment Tax Credit" -- Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.

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

H.3297, “Limiting School Bureaucracy Pay,” A Bill to amend the Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, by adding Section 59-13-115 so as to provide that a compensation package offered to a School District Superintendent may not include a provision that allows the Superintendent to receive compensation that exceeds one year's salary upon termination of the contract with the District, and to provide that an increase in Superintendent compensation must be approved by referendum -- Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works.

H.3292, "Bear Arms in Car" -- Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

H.3291, "Streamline Agencies into SC Department of Law Enforcement and Public Safety" -- 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. Roll Call Yeas 110 Nays 0. Read Third Time and Sent to Senate. Referred to Senate Committee on Education.

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. Roll Call Yeas 110 Nays 2. Read Third Time and Sent to Senate. Referred to Senate 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. Referred to Senate Subcommittee.

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. Senate Committee Report: Favorable. Senate Roll Call Yeas 26, Nays 17.


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.