Representative Bill Hixon – District 83 – South Carolina

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Roads Bill Passes & Sine Die- Legislative Update 5/18/17

Roads Bill Passes & Sine Die
 
Sine Die (Latin meaning "without a fixed day") Adjournment occurred this past Thursday, May 11, 2017, at 5:00 pm and marked the end of this year's general legislative session. For a bill to have become law this year, it would have needed to pass both legislative chambers by Sine Die. This always adds increased pressure in the final week of legislative session.
 
While some of my House colleagues and I helped pass many significant pieces of legislation last week, the most anticipated action was the passage of a bill to fix our roads and bridges. H-3516 passed the House 99-20. The House and Senate hammered out an agreement that had enough support to pass both legislative bodies. 
 

When I ran for the House in 2010 I made a promise to you to stay in touch with you, listen to your advice and concerns, then make the best decision based on facts and numbers, and vote on the bill that best fits my district and state. After years of meetings and reviews of SCDOT our state budget and revenues, the best way to keep our roads in good repair is to ask those who use them to help pay for the up keep. Non residents will pay 30-32% of this revenue. The best way to fix our roads and bridges in this state is to raise the gas fee 2 cents per gallon a year for 6 years, totaling a max of 12 cents per gallon. At the end of the 6 years (2023) our gas fee will be 28.75 cents per gallon. This will result with a total of $625 million per year to go towards fixing our roads and bridges. Not one person I talked to want to live in 2017 on a 1987 income. "Just fix the roads" I was told. These reasons are why I voted yes to the roads bill.
 
Old Gas Fee Formula
 
Below is the present 1987 funding of the 16.75 Motor Fuel User Fee. There is less than ONE CENT left to fund state system needs after requires transfers to other entities, matching money for federal highway dollars, and daily highway maintenance costs.

 

 

 
Reforms the Department of Transportation (Starting July 1, 2017)
 

Reform/Governance
* 9 Highway Commissioners – 7 District and 2 At-large
* All appointed by the Governor and sent to the Senate and the House
* 7 District appointees approved by a separate weighted vote of only the Senators and a separate weighted vote of only the Representatives of district legislative delegations
* 2 At-large via advice and consent of the General Assembly
* Commissioners may be removed from office by the Governor without legislative approval
* Commission is removed from the day-to-day operations of the department; requires Commission to hold at least 6 meetings annually with one week notice, and publish reports/audits online
* Prohibits Commissioners from participating in the awarding of contracts, selection of consultants or contractors, etc
* Commissioners cannot have direct or indirect interest in any contract during term or up to 1 year after
 
Funds Transfer
* Deleted Act 98 Fund transfer of $50 M from GF starting in FY 18-19
* Act 275 clean-up: SCDOT can reduce the allocation to the state-funded resurfacing program in proportion to what is needed to fund the project in proportion to the amounts required by the DOT to fund repairs maintenance and improvements to the existing transportation system
 
User Fee Increase
* 2 cents/year for 6 years, total increase of 12 cents/gallon – not indexed
 
DL Fees
* No increases or changes
 
CTCs
* Increase in C-Fund allocation to 3.99 cents over a four (4) year period beginning July 1, 2018
* Must be used on the state highway system
* Donor bonus increase from $9.5 M to $17 M – additional $3.5 if needed to make donor counties whole
 
Infrastructure Maintenance Fee/Sales Tax on Motor Vehicles
* Vehicle sales – 5% fee with $500 cap in place of sales tax
* Out of state – $250 fee
 
Tax Relief
* Dual Wage Earner Cap increase from $30k to $50k over 6 years
* Manufacturing Property Tax 10.5%-9% over six years
* Non-refundable tax credit for working poor equal to 125% of federal EITC – phased in over six years
* Increases College Tuition Tax Credit for 4 and 2 year institutions to 50% of tuition capped at $1,500
* Motor Fuel User Fee Rebate:
o Refundable income tax credit equal to the lesser of the amount spent on maintenance or the amount of the increase in the motor fuel user fee
o Uses funds from $250 out-of-state transfer fee first, then funds from SCDOT
Sunsets in tax year 7
o Capped at $114 M in year 6
 
Total New Funding for Roads
* $177 M in 2018
* $625 M in 2023
 
Total Tax Relief
* $114 M Motor Fuel Tax Credit – Covered by increased revenue from out-of-state fee and SCDOT
* $105 M in General Fund Tax Relief by 2023 – offset by deletion of $50 M GF transfer to SIB

 

 

 
In order for me to have a strong voice in Columbia, I have to communicate with my constituents. And that is you! My website, newsletters, mailers, and Facebook are the communication tools that I use. It takes extra time, staff, and campaign funds to maintain these tools. 
 
If you would like to contribute, please mail a check to Hixon for House, P.O. Box 7927, North Augusta, SC 29861. You can also make a contribution online on my website.
 
I hope that you find this update helpful and informative. If I can help you with an issue, please let me know. Thank you for reading and allowing me to serve you.
 
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Legislative Update   –  May 18, 2017              
 
The House of Representatives concurred in Senate amendments to H.3221 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation establishes a statewide program for 
ADDRESSING UNSOUND SCHOOL DISTRICT FINANCES which affords the State Department of Education authority that extends beyond academic matters to include fiscal affairs. Under the legislation, the State Department of Education is to work with district superintendents and finance officers to develop and adopt a statewide program with guidelines for: (1) identifying fiscal practices and budgetary conditions that, if uncorrected, could compromise the fiscal integrity of a school district; and (2) advising districts that demonstrate these financial problems on the corrective actions that should be taken. The department must establish three escalating levels of fiscal and budgetary concern so that the State Superintendent of Education can declare a 'fiscal watch', a 'fiscal caution', and a 'fiscal emergency' with regard to school district finances. The succeeding levels of budgetary concern carry increasingly stringent requirements for school district recovery plans, audits, and inspections as well as more intensive technical support from the state department. Should a school district's finances warrant the most severe level of concern prompting the State Superintendent of Education to declare a 'fiscal emergency', the State Department of Education is authorized to take intensive steps including assuming control over the district's financial operations to preclude a default on any type of debt and prevent further decline in the district's finances. These provisions also apply to the statewide charter school district and a variation of these fiscal accountability measures applies to special schools where a state agency operates as a Local Education Agency, such as the educational programs of the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Wil Lou Gray Opportunity School, and the Governor's Schools.

 

 

The House approved S.415 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation provides for comprehensive PROBATE COURT REVISIONS to bring greater statewide uniformity to the probate process, reduce costs for filing probate actions, and enhance protections for the disabled, such as allowing for the appointment of a limited guardian when an incapacitated individual is capable of managing most of their affairs.
 
The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3587 and enrolled the legislation for ratification. The joint resolution creates a temporary SEIZURE SAFETY IN SCHOOLS STUDY COMMITTEE to examine such issues as: the state of epilepsy awareness among public school teachers, staff, and administrators; basic training in seizure response appropriate for school personnel; and, existing laws, regulations, and policies affecting epilepsy and seizure safety in public schools. The legislation provides for the composition of the fourteen-member committee, four of whom are legislative representatives with the others representing the medical, education and parent communities. Recommendations must be reported to the General Assembly before January 31, 2018, at which point the study committee is dissolved.
 
The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3559, and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation creates the SOUTH CAROLINA INDUSTRIAL HEMP PROGRAM to allow for the cultivation of industrial hemp by residents of the state for potential use in such varied products as cloth, construction materials, cordage, fiber, food, fuel, paint, paper, particleboard, and plastics. Under the program, the Department of Agriculture will allow up to twenty permits for the cultivation of up to twenty acres of land per permit in the first year, up to forty permits for the cultivation of up to forty acres in the second and third years, and afterwards the department, along with institutions of higher learning, will evaluate the program to determine the number of permits to be issued and the amount of acreage permitted. When applying for a permit, each applicant, at a minimum must submit to the department, global positioning system coordinates of where the industrial hemp will be grown and such other required information as fingerprints and the appropriate fees required by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) to perform a fingerprint based state criminal records check and for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to perform a national fingerprint-based criminal records check. No person who has been convicted of any felony, or any person convicted of any drug-related misdemeanor or violation in the previous ten years from the date of the application, shall be eligible to obtain a permit. Before the department will issue a permit to the applicant, the applicant must have proof of a signed purchaser with a contract. The department may charge fees to administer the program, not to exceed one thousand dollars annually per registrant. Applicants must provide written consent allowing SLED to enter onto all premises where industrial hemp is cultivated, processed, or stored for the purpose of conducting physical inspections or ensuring compliance with the program. The legislation includes requirements for periodic laboratory testing to ensure that industrial hemp crops do not have unlawfully high levels of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, and samples with unlawfully high THC levels are required to be destroyed. Criminal penalties are established to address the cultivation of industrial hemp as a means of disguising marijuana production or distribution operations. A violation is a misdemeanor that carries a term of imprisonment for up to three years and/or a fine of up to three thousand dollars. Universities are authorized to conduct research on industrial hemp as an agriculture commodity and work in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture to identify solutions for applications, applicants and new market opportunities for industrial hemp growers.
 
The House concurred in Senate amendments and enrolled for ratification H.3879, a bill INCREASING BURIAL EXPENSES PAYABLE UNDER WORKERS' COMPENSATION laws for accidental workplace deaths by setting the maximum amount payable to families at twelve thousand dollars, rather than the current maximum of twenty-five hundred dollars for such funeral expenses.
 
The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3150, legislation REVISING ELECTIONS PROVISIONS, and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation revises provisions for special elections so that the state's calendar for setting those special election dates will allow for compliance with the requirements of the South Carolina Uniform Military and Overseas Voters Act. The legislation requires that general elections be held for uncontested municipal races by eliminating an exception that currently allows a general election not to be conducted to fill a municipal office when only one person has filed for the office and no one has filed a declaration to be a write-in candidate.
 
The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3531 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation imposes RESTRICTIONS ON THE OWNERSHIP OF LARGE WILD CATS, NON-NATIVE BEARS AND GREAT APES as a means of furthering conservation efforts for the welfare of vulnerable, threatened, and endangered species while protecting the public against the potential safety risks posed by holding these wild animals in captivity. The legislation's restrictions on keeping all lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, cougars, cheetahs, snow leopards, and clouded leopards, all bears that are not native to South Carolina and not subject to oversight by the state's Department of Natural Resources, and all species of chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans do not apply to a list of exemptions, such as nonprofit animal protection organizations, veterinary hospitals, university laboratories and research facilities, and properly licensed zoos, circuses, and animal breeders. The legislation provides that it is unlawful for a person to import into, possess, keep, purchase, have custody or control of, breed, or sell within this state, by any means, a large wild cat, non-native bear, or great ape, including transactions conducted via the Internet. Someone in legal possession of a large wild cat, non-native bear, or great ape prior to January 1, 2018, is authorized to keep the animal for the remainder of its life subject to the conditions of the legislation which include registering the animal with the animal control authority for the city or county in which the animal is located and immediately notifying the animal control authority and local law enforcement agencies upon discovery that the animal has escaped. The possessor of the animal shall be liable for any and all costs associated with the escape, capture, and disposition of a registered animal. The legislation makes provisions for animal registration, including fees, inspections by local animal control authorities, and the confiscation of noncompliant animals. A violator of the legislation must be fined not more than one thousand dollars or imprisoned for not more than thirty days for a first offense, and must be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned for not more than ninety days for a second offense.
 
The House concurred in Senate amendments and enrolled for ratification H.3349, a bill UPDATING THE NURSE LICENSURE COMPACT to make the changes that are required for South Carolina to maintain its membership in the multi-state compact.
 
The House approved S.570 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation revises provisions governing PLANT NURSERY registration and fees for growers and dealers of trees, plants and shrubs.
 
The House approved to S.465 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation revises permitting provisions to accommodate OUT OF SEASON SHELLFISH HARVESTING IN MARICULTURE OPERATIONS that involve the controlled cultivation of oysters and other shellfish in confinement from seed size until harvest.
 
The House gave second reading approval to S.444, regarding AUTOCYCLES. The legislation revises motor vehicle provisions to systematically replace references to an "automotive three-wheel vehicle" and similar terminology with the term "autocycle" in order to conform state law to standard manufacturers' definitions widely adopted by states. The legislation's revisions do not impact the licensing, titling, and registration requirements of autocycles or motorcycle three-wheel vehicles.
 
The House returned S.173, a bill providing for CONTINUING EDUCATION ON MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS, to the Senate with amendments. The legislation revises continuing education requirements for law enforcement officers to incorporate mandatory training in mental health issues that covers such topics as responding to situations where individuals are experiencing a mental health or addictive disorder crisis. The legislation also makes provisions for training and counseling regarding law enforcement officers who are experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder.
 

 As always, thank you for the privilege of serving you in Columbia. If I can ever be of assistance to you, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with the rest of the General Assembly, please do not hesitate to contact me.
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6 Days Left- Legislative Update 5/1/17

6 Days Left for Road Fix

 

It's hard to believe the first year of our two-year legislative session is nearing a final close. It is during these final 6 days of the regular legislative session where consensus is built, and bills make their way to the desk of the governor. For the second week in a row, the clock ticked while the Senate engaged in a contentious debate of the House roads bill. In a break of good news, the Governor also signed 5 new pieces of legislation, chief among them a bill to bring solvency to the public employee retirement system.
 
While my colleagues and I have done our part in the House to address education, workforce development, infrastructure, and the public employee retirement system among many other things, the Senate remains stuck in a rut of inaction.  Ours is a part-time legislature meeting Tuesday through Thursday for about 18 weeks out of the year. We are now in our 16th week and only six regular days of session remain under normal circumstances.
 
In the House, my colleagues and I spent time in committees reviewing Senate bills and vetting additional legislation. This week, we will take up Senate amendments to the budget which passed a number of weeks ago, evaluating each through a lens of fiscal responsibility. The state budget will likely go to a conference committee where additional differences will be ironed out prior to a final vote being taken. 
 

The Roads Bill
 
Addressing the condition of our state's roads and bridges is the top priority of nearly every legislator in the House and Senate. After two weeks of public debate on the matter, I was pleased to see the Senate give the House roads bill a final vote. At approximately 10:30 p.m. Wednesday night, and after nearly 75 proposed amendments, one final amendment was added to the roads bill by senators and a successful vote for passage was taken.

 
To be sure, the Senate version is not ideal or perfect – far from it. Many in the Senate would even agree with this conclusion. Among other things, the Senate version of the roads bill doubles driver's license fees, includes a wealth redistribution element more commonly known as the "Earned Income Tax Credit," provides tax credits for college students, and almost completely removes the DOT governance model contained in the House bill. In keeping with the legislative process, the bill now heads back to the House where we will begin debate on the merits of these Senate changes and work out the policy differences between the two plans. I voted for the House bill. I am not in favor of all the Senate changes. More than likely this bill will end up going to a conference committee.
 
Public Employee Retirement System
 
As I have stated before, both the House and Senate reached a legislative agreement on the first phase of the long-term approach to securing the public employee retirement system. This monumental undertaking was a problem created over a number of years, and will take just as many if not more to be fully resolved.
The first step, one that stops unfunded liabilities from increasing, was signed by Governor McMaster this week. The House and Senate will continue work through the summer and winter months to craft the next phase of legislation ensuring the retirement system remains fiscally sound and secure. 
 
 
I invited the North Augusta girls' basketball team to the State House to honor them for winning the 2017 AAAA Championship title. The team took top honors at the state competition on March 4, 2017, at the Colonial Life Arena. The team, coaches, and school officials were recognized and commended for capturing the Championship title. I am forever grateful for the pride and recognition that the young women of North Augusta High School basketball team have brought to their school and community!
 
In order for me to have a strong voice in Columbia, I have to communicate with my constituents. And that is you! My website, newsletters, mailers, and Facebook are the communication tools that I use. It takes extra time, staff, and campaign funds to maintain these tools. 
 
If you would like to contribute, please mail a check to Hixon for House, P.O. Box 7927, North Augusta, SC 29861. You can also make a contribution online on my website.
 
I hope that you find this update helpful and informative. If I can help you with an issue, please let me know. Thank you for reading and allowing me to serve you.
 

 

Like me on Facebook 
Legislative Update   –  May 1, 2017              
 
The House of Representatives concurred in Senate amendments to H.3792, a bill addressing MINIMUM STANDARDS FOR RESTROOMS AVAILABLE AT MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL STADIUMS, and enrolled the legislation for ratification. This legislation establishes minimum standards for the numbers of restroom plumbing fixtures available for men and women at middle school and high school stadiums as a means of relieving public schools from the financial burden placed upon them by current requirements. The legislation's minimum standards apply notwithstanding otherwise applicable building codes and plumbing codes.

 

The House approved S.181 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation provides RECYCLING COMPANIES with the same protections afforded suppliers of virgin materials under South Carolina's Hazardous Waste Management Act. The revisions are in keeping with changes adopted at the federal level under the Superfund Recycling Equity Act.
 

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3549, legislation ALLOWING THE ISSUANCE OF PERMITS FOR ON-PREMISES CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOLIC LIQUOR WITH THE CONSENT OF NEARBY SCHOOLS. The legislation revises provisions that prohibit liquor licenses and permits from being issued to businesses located within certain distances of churches, schools, or playgrounds, so as to allow a permit for on-premises consumption of alcoholic liquor to be issued to a business so long as the local school board of any school located within the proximity provides a statement that it does not object to a permit being issued. Legislation was approved in 2014 to allow nearby churches and playgrounds to provide such permission.
 

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3926, a bill providing updates and REVISIONS TO THE PHARMACY PRACTICE ACT to add definitions, provide specific guidelines, health and safety standards, and procedures for compounding pharmacies and pharmacists regarding the preparation of compounded medications. The legislation establishes current good pharmacy practices for the preparation and dispensing of compounded products, workplace safety, equipment maintenance, record-keeping, and consumer protection. The legislation provides public health standards for the compounding area environment, preparation, labeling, storing, dispensing, and distribution of sterile preparations. Authority is included for compounding materials in advance and storing them when a need for the supply can be anticipated.
 

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4119, a bill providing AUTHORITY FOR RENAL DIALYSIS FACILITIES TO DELIVER LEGEND DRUGS OR DEVICES TO PATIENTS.
 

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4005, a bill designating the third week in October of each year as "SOUTH CAROLINA NATIVE PLANT WEEK".
 

 As always, thank you for the privilege of serving you in Columbia. If I can ever be of assistance to you, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with the rest of the General Assembly, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

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Crossover Success- Bill Hixon Legislative Update 4/17/17

Crossover Success!
 
 
My fellow House Republicans and I set out with a "Business Plan" in January addressing these key areas of importance in our state:
 
1.) Improving Education in Rural Communities
2.) Instituting Workforce Development through K-12 Computer Science Training
3.) Providing a Long-Term Solution to the Infrastructure Crisis
4.) Securing the Future of the Public Employee Retirement System
 
I'm pleased to report on Thursday, April 6th, the House adjourned for the Easter furlough period having completed each objective. Please find an update of each below:
 
Improving Education in Rural Communities
For too long, we did not adequately address the needs of our poor rural school districts. In a 2014 decision, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled we must do more to address the inadequacies that exist from county to county. This year, the House budget appropriated $100 million for poor school districts to maintain and improve the environments in which children learn. We also increased per-student payments by $38 million, a $50 per student increase, placing the total base student cost at $2,400. These per-student dollars go to each school district to cover the state portion of public education funding.
 
Instituting Workforce Development through K-12 Computer Science Training
It's no secret that South Carolina has the best pro-business climate in the Southeast. We've worked hard to recruit high-paying employers to our state, employers who expect us to ensure the next generation of workers is adequately prepared to fill these jobs. As part of that preparation, and in preparation for an increasingly competitive international marketplace, my colleagues and I passed legislation instituting computer science training beginning in the K-12 system. The earlier we introduce advanced technology to our students, the less we have to do on the back-end to prepare them for a high-paying job.
 
Providing a Long-Term Solution to the Infrastructure Crisis
Just under 1,000 people died on our roads last year. Due to the current state of our roads, it costs the average SC motorist an additional $1,300 – $1,800 annually to operate a vehicle. Each day, the average Palmetto State driver wastes an average of 34 minutes stuck in traffic. These facts and figures are unacceptable and saddening. In the House, we passed a pay-as-you-go road funding solution with DOT reforms and increased accountability. Last week, the governor suggested a borrow-it-all approach for fixing our infrastructure woes. I am not for the state selling bonds for the repaving of our roads and repairing of our bridges. The Senate has not passed any plan. I remain committed to addressing our infrastructure needs this year and will keep you updated on the matter.
 
Securing the Future of the Public Employee Retirement System
It was no surprise the state retirement system suffered during the Great Recession. The market decline coupled with poor management decisions resulted in unprecedented losses to the retirement system which had to be addressed. I am pleased to report that this week the House and Senate passed a conference report, now on the governor's desk, bringing solvency to the system nearly every public employee depends upon. Our public employees are the backbone of everything we do in South Carolina, and the promises made to them concerning their retirement will be kept.
 
In order for me to have a strong voice in Columbia, I have to communicate with my constituents. And that is you! My website, newsletters, mailers, and Facebook are the communication tools that I use. It takes extra time, staff, and campaign funds to maintain these tools. 
 
If you would like to contribute, please mail a check to Hixon for House, P.O. Box 7927, North Augusta, SC 29861. You can also make a contribution online on my website.
 
I hope that you find this update helpful and informative. If I can help you with an issue, please let me know. Thank you for reading and allowing me to serve you.
 
Legislative Update   –  April 17, 2017                                                   
The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3930, a bill providing AUTHORIZATION TO CARRY A HANDGUN IN PUBLIC WITHOUT A PERMIT, either openly or concealed, implementing what is often called "Constitutional carry" or "permitless carry" in South Carolina. In making its revisions, the legislation retains most of the current provisions relating to concealable weapons, including: the issuance of concealable weapons permits by the State Law Enforcement Division; the posting of notification that allows a business owner to prohibit concealable weapons on the premises; the homeowner permission required for carrying a concealable weapon into a private residence; and a list of places where concealable weapons are not allowed such as schools, daycare facilities, hospitals, courthouses, and the meeting places of government bodies. The new provisions for carrying a handgun lawfully in public, concealed or not, without a requirement for obtaining a concealable weapon permit apply only to those individuals who may legally purchase a firearm from a properly licensed and certified firearms dealer. The legislation specifies that the intent to use a handgun unlawfully against another person must not be inferred from the mere possession, carrying, use, or concealment of the handgun, whether it is loaded or unloaded. The legislation also provides for South Carolina to honor valid out-of-state permits to carry concealable weapons that are held by residents of other states, who are least twenty-one years old or military personnel of any age.

 

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3566, a bill establishing CONDITIONS UPON WHICH SCHOOL FIRST RESPONDERS MAY POSSESS FIREARMS ON SCHOOL PREMISES while rendering aid in crisis situations. The legislation makes provisions for the Law Enforcement Training Council to develop guidelines for a one-week training program offered by the Criminal Justice Academy to the emergency medical service personnel and firefighters who serve as school first responders which provides certification that, along with a valid concealed weapons permit, allows them to possess firearms on school premises while they are responding to a campus shooting or other emergencies.

 

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3969, a bill that revises SCHOOL PERFORMANCE RATINGS in establishing a single public education accountability system that meets both state and federal requirements. Through Act 200 of 2014, the General Assembly charged the Education Oversight Committee with developing and recommending a single accountability system that met both state and federal requirements. The EOC, working with the State Department of Education and other stakeholders, submitted recommendations for updating the Education Accountability Act to the General Assembly in January of this year. House Bill 3969 creates one report card with one overall rating for school performance that incorporates both state and federal requirements. Under these uniform provisions, a school's progress towards meeting or exceeding the criteria of the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate is measured with the performance ratings of: Excellent, Good, Average, Below Average, and Unsatisfactory. The same categories of performance ratings also must be assigned to individual indicators used to measure a school's performance, such as academic achievement, student growth or progress, graduation rate, English language proficiency, and college and career readiness. The legislation discontinues the assignment of performance rankings to entire school districts. To further increase transparency and accountability, the legislation requires that, by the 2019-2020 School Year, the school's report card must be furnished to parents and the public no later than September first. The legislation makes revisions regarding which standardized tests are administered to assess student achievement. The legislation requires the state to use a value-added system that calculates student progress or growth, and a local school district may, in its discretion, use the value-added system to evaluate classroom teachers using student progress or growth. Confidentiality provisions are included to exempt data relating to specific teacher effects on student progress or growth from public disclosure. A longitudinal data system is established in order to better assist with policy and fiscal decisions ranging from pre-kindergarten to college. The Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office, First Steps, SDE, the Commission on Higher Education, DSS, the Technical College System, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Employment and Workforce, and other state agencies and colleges are charged with establishing and maintaining the system. Working with the Education Oversight Committee, the State Department of Education shall design and pilot district accountability models that focus on competency-based education for a district or school or on regional or county economic initiatives to improve the postsecondary success of students. A district may apply to the department and the committee to participate in the pilot.

 

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3968, a bill providing for ENHANCED SCREENING FOR THOSE SEEKING PROFESSIONAL AND OCCUPATIONAL LICENSING AND CERTIFICATION. This bill makes revisions to add to the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation's broad authority to revoke professional and occupational authorization enhanced authority to deny initial authorization so the department can deny the authorization to engage in a profession or occupation for any reason that it can revoke such authorization. The legislation's enhanced security provisions are applied to a list of seventeen professions and occupations selected due to the likelihood that the professional may be alone with clients and vulnerable individuals.

 

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3793, legislation authorizing certain applied, non-research HIGHER EDUCATION DEGREE PROGRAMS at four-year colleges and universities, and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation makes provisions for bachelor of science degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Electrical Engineering at South Carolina State University, doctoral degrees in Nursing Practice at Francis Marion University and the University of South Carolina Aiken, a doctor of philosophy degree in Education Administration at Coastal Carolina University, and a doctor of philosophy degree in Computer and Information Science at the College of Charleston. Approval by the Commission on Higher Education is required for all of these degree programs. The new degree programs are only allowed so long as new state general funds are not appropriated for their operation.

 

The House approved S.354 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation makes provisions for DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS STABILIZATION UNIT FACILITIES where individuals entering hospital emergency rooms suffering from mental illness or substance abuse issues may be transferred to begin receiving appropriate care. This bill makes provisions for a crisis stabilization unit facility operated or authorized by the Department of Mental Health which provides a short-term residential program offering psychiatric stabilization services, detoxification services, and brief, intensive crisis services twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The legislation exempts a crisis stabilization unit facility from the Certificate of Need process and requires a crisis stabilization unit facility to obtain a license from the Department of Health and Environmental Control.

 

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3438 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation establishes a protocol AUTHORIZING PHARMACISTS TO SUBSTITUTE INTERCHANGEABLE BIOLOGICAL PRODUCTS that have been approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration. Such substitutions may only be made when a practitioner's prescription provides authorization. The legislation provides labeling requirements and establishes a process for notifying prescribers of the specific biological product that a pharmacist dispenses to a patient.

 

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate to H.3823, a bill REQUIRING HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONALS TO REPORT THE EXPOSURE OF INFANTS TO ALCOHOL OR DRUGS. The legislation adds physicians, nurses, and medical or allied health professionals to the list of those who are required to report instances of suspected child abuse or neglect by mandating a report to the Department of Social Services whenever they encounter a child, birth to one year, who is diagnosed with neonatal abstinence syndrome or a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, or a child, birth to one year, who is medically affected by the prenatal substance exposure to a controlled or illegal substance, or withdrawal from alcohol or a controlled or illegal substance. These reports do not, however, create any presumptions that child abuse or neglect has taken place. The reporter may assist DSS in developing a safety plan for these children and their caregivers. As with other mandatory reporters of suspected child abuse and neglect, provisions are included to shield those acting in good faith from legal liability.

 

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3864, a bill revising MOTOR VEHICLE CHILD SAFETY SEAT REQUIREMENTS. The legislation updates age, weight, size, and position requirements for lawfully securing infants and children in approved motor vehicle child safety seats. Child passenger safety restraint system requirements provide for a progression from rear-facing seats for infants, to forward-facing seats, to belt-positioning booster seats, and ultimately, when a child is at least eight years old or at least fifty-seven inches tall, to a properly fitting adult safety seat belt.

 

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3865, the "SOUTH CAROLINA PREGNANCY ACCOMMODATIONS ACT". The legislation enhances state laws that combat pregnancy discrimination, promote public health, and ensure full and equal participation for women in the labor force by requiring employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees for medical needs arising from pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, including accommodations for lactation, that allow employees to remain on the job. The South Carolina Human Affairs Commission is charged with promulgating regulations to carry out this act, which shall identify some reasonable accommodations addressing medical needs arising from pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions that must be provided to a job applicant or employee affected by these known limitations, unless the employer can demonstrate that doing so would impose an undue hardship.

 

 The House approved and sent the Senate H.3809, bill facilitating ACCESS TO A YEAR'S SUPPLY OF CONTRACEPTIVE DRUGS, such as birth control pills, patches, and rings, that can be obtained all at one time rather than through periodic refills over the course of a year. The legislation establishes requirements that all individual or group health insurance policies providing coverage for contraceptive drugs must provide reimbursement for a twelve-month refill of contraceptive drugs obtained at one time by the insured, unless the insured requests a smaller supply or the prescribing provider instructs that the insured must receive a smaller supply. The Department of Health and Human Services is directed to require all Medicaid health plans to include this option of dispensing a twelve-month supply of contraceptive drugs. Provisions are included for on-site dispensing of the prescribed contraceptive drugs, which include all drugs approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration that are used to prevent pregnancy such as hormonal drugs administered orally, transdermally, and intravaginally.

 

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3824, a bill establishing REQUIREMENTS FOR HEALTH CARE PRACTITIONERS TO REVIEW A PATIENT'S CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE PRESCRIPTION HISTORY. The legislation establishes a protocol for conducting a review a patient's controlled substance prescription history, as maintained in the prescription monitoring program, before a practitioner issues a prescription for a Schedule II controlled substance.

 

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3821, a bill providing for a MANDATORY HIGHER EDUCATION CURRICULUM ON PRESCRIBING CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES in the training health care professionals. The bill requires public and private institutions of higher education offering degrees in a health care profession that allows graduates to prescribe controlled substances listed in Schedules II, III, and IV to develop mandatory course work on the prescription and monitoring of controlled substances, including Schedule II drugs used to treat or manage pain. The coursework must include instruction on strategies to recognize and reduce the likelihood of patient addiction to opioids and other controlled substances.

 

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3559, a bill creating a three-year PILOT PROGRAM FOR THE CULTIVATION OF INDUSTRIAL HEMP. The Department of Agriculture will allow up to fifteen permits to be issued annually, to South Carolina residents, for the purposes of a pilot program with each permittee allowed to grow industrial hemp on up to twenty acres of land. When applying for a permit, each applicant, at a minimum must submit to the department, global positioning system coordinates of where the industrial hemp will be grown and such other required information as fingerprints and the appropriate fees required by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) to perform a fingerprint based state criminal records check and for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to perform a national fingerprint-based criminal records check. No person who has been convicted of any felony, or any person convicted of any drug-related misdemeanor or violation in the previous ten years from the date of the application, shall be eligible to obtain a permit. Before the department will issue a permit to the applicant, the applicant must have proof of a signed purchaser with a contract. The Department may charge fees to administer this pilot program, not to exceed two hundred and fifty dollars annually per applicant. Applicants must provide written consent allowing SLED to enter onto all premises where industrial hemp is cultivated, processed, or stored for the purpose of conducting physical inspections or ensuring compliance with the Industrial Hemp Pilot Program. The legislation includes requirements for periodic laboratory testing to ensure that industrial hemp crops do not have unlawfully high levels of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, and crops with unlawfully high THC levels are required to be destroyed. Criminal penalties are established to address the cultivation of industrial hemp as a means of disguising marijuana production or distribution operations. A violation is a misdemeanor that carries a term of imprisonment for up to three years and/or a fine of up to three thousand dollars. Research Universities may conduct research on industrial hemp as an agriculture commodity and shall work in conjunction with the Department of Agriculture to identify solutions for applications, applicants and new market opportunities for industrial hemp growers.

 

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4033, a bill I sponsored, establishing the offense of ENDANGERING A HIGHWAY WORKER while driving in a highway work zone and failing to obey traffic control devices or traveling in undesignated lanes. The legislation establishes an array of penalties for violations, including a fine of not more than five thousand dollars when the driver causes a highway worker to suffer great bodily injury. The legislation also eliminates the four point driver's license violation provided for a driver's failure to use a turn signal and instead provides for a violator to be fined twenty-five dollars.

 

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3297, a bill authorizing NATIONAL GUARD VETERAN'S DESIGNATION ON DRIVER'S LICENSES. The bill provides authorization for the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue a driver's license or special identification card with the veteran's designation to qualifying individuals who served in the National Guard for at least twenty years.

 

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3209, a bill providing greater clarification and uniformity for CRIMINAL RECORD EXPUNGEMENT provisions. The legislation makes provisions for offenses that are no longer crimes to be eligible for expungement if the elements of the former criminal offenses are consistent with current-day offenses. The legislation clarifies that these expungements apply retroactively as well as to out-of-state convictions.

 

The House approved and sent the Senate of H.3290, a bill addressing PLEA AGREEMENTS RELATING TO UNIFORM TRAFFIC TICKETS. The legislation provides authority that allows not only a law enforcement officer who has issued a uniform traffic ticket, by also a solicitor or anyone else authorized to prosecute an offense, to invalidate a uniform traffic ticket and issue a ticket for a different offense as part of a plea agreement.

 

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3093, a bill making provisions for a RETENTION OF THE OWNER-OCCUPIED SPECIAL PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENT RATE FOR A DECEASED INDIVIDUAL'S ESTATE. The legislation provides that when a homeowner receiving the four percent property tax assessment ratio dies, the property shall continue to receive the special owner-occupied assessment rate until the deceased's estate is closed, or upon recording of a deed or deed of distribution out of the estate, whichever occurs first. This extension of the special assessment rate only applies if the property is not rented.

 

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3895, a bill updating and clarifying the duties of the REVENUE AND FISCAL AFFAIRS OFFICE.

 

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3137, a bill revising provisions governing authorized TASTINGS CONDUCTED BY MICRO-DISTILLERIES.

 

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3933 which provides for the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue two ADDITIONAL DEALER LICENSE PLATES TO A MOTOR VEHICLE DEALER WITH A SERVICE GARAGE at the dealership to facilitate loaner vehicles provided to customers during repairs.

 

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3271, a bill that provides for various STATUTORY UPDATES AND REVISIONS RECOMMENDED BY THE HOUSE LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE as a result of its study of the Comptroller General's Office. The legislation addresses statutory accounting responsibilities relating to the Department of Motor Vehicles.

 

The House gave second reading approval to H.4005, a bill designating the third week in October of each year as "SOUTH CAROLINA NATIVE PLANT WEEK".

 

The House rejected H.3744, a bill revising MAGISTRATE COMPENSATION.

 

 

 

 

 

 As always, thank you for the privilege of serving you in Columbia. If I can ever be of assistance to you, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with the rest of the General Assembly, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

 

 

 

 

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Bill Hixon Legislative Update 3/16/17

Curbing Anti-Semitism, Promoting Life, Constitutional Carry
 
Wednesday of last week marked the midway period for the legislative session, and what a whirlwind of activity it has been. With this years' shortened legislative session, the crossover date for legislation has been adjusted and will now take place in about a month on April 10th. This simply means my House colleagues and I must pass any legislation to the Senate by that date in order for the bill to pass this year. We made good progress on that front last week.
 
Last year, our nation saw a drastic increase in anti-Semitic behavior among college students at institutions of higher learning. The nonprofit AMCHA Initiative, which tracks incidents of anti-Semitism on college campuses, reported 618 incidents of anti-Semitism for 2016 alone; a rise of over 30% in a one-year period. Last week, we took bipartisan action to give our state-owned institutions of higher learning the tools they need to combat bigotry and hate while protecting freedom of speech. This legislation sends a strong message that South Carolina opposes bigotry wherever it rears its ugly head.
 
Two key bills also cleared the initial subcommittee process in the House Judiciary Committee. First, the South Carolina Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act cleared a key initial subcommittee with a unanimous vote. It now heads to full committee where Democrats are expected to viciously challenge the bill through all manner of legislative maneuvers. I will never waver in my support for the unborn and I look forward to voting in support of this important legislation.
 
The second bill of importance also clearing a key House Judiciary subcommittee this week was the Constitutional Carry bill. The measure put forth by retired law enforcement officer and pro-Second Amendment icon, Rep. Mike Pitts (R-Laurens), would eliminate the need to get a concealed weapons permit to carry a firearm in our state. However, this bill would also protect the existing CWP reciprocity agreements already in place with many other states. The measure now heads to full committee where, if approved, it will go to the House floor for a full vote.
 
Earlier this week the House passed a budget for the 2017-2018 years. Most of my next newsletter will contain more information on this budget. I hope to have this out to you this coming week.
 

In order for me to have a strong voice in Columbia, I have to communicate with my constituents. And that is you! My website, newsletters, mailers, and Facebook are the communication tools that I use. It takes extra time, staff, and campaign funds to maintain these tools. 
 
If you would like to contribute, please mail a check to Hixon for House, P.O. Box 7927, North Augusta, SC 29861. You can also make a contribution online on my website.
 
I hope that you find this update helpful and informative. If I can help you with an issue, please let me know. Thank you for reading and allowing me to serve you.
 
 
Legislative Update   –  March 16, 2017
 

 

 

HOUSE WEEK IN REVIEW

 

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3247, a bill making comprehensive statutory revisions regarding MOPEDS. The legislation establishes new requirements for registering and licensing mopeds with the Department of Motor Vehicles. New safety requirements are established for mopeds including requirements for moped operators and passengers to wear reflective vests at night. The legislation provides that it is unlawful for a person to operate a moped on the public roads in this state that have a speed limit

of greater than fifty-five miles per hour. A moped, while traveling along a multi-lane highway, must be operated in the farthest right lane except when making a left turn. No person may operate a moped at a speed in excess of thirty-five miles an hour. As with motorcycles, a person under the age of twenty-one may not operate or ride upon a moped unless he wears a protective helmet. Mopeds are exempted from ignition interlock device requirements of driving under the influence provisions. Those who sell mopeds are required to post signs that provide brief explanations of such matters as age restrictions, maximum speeds, and the definition of a moped. A moped seller is not required to obtain a motor vehicle dealer's license. The legislation replaces the multiple, sometimes conflicting, definitions for mopeds currently found in statutes with a single new definition for mopeds and makes other revisions to allow for greater consistency in the way that the laws governing motor vehicles, including DUI offenses, are applied to mopeds.

 

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3643, a bill which provides that in reviewing, investigating, or deciding whether there has been a violation of a college or university policy prohibiting discriminatory practices on the basis of religion, South Carolina public colleges and universities shall take into consideration the DEFINITION OF ANTI-SEMITISM established in this legislation for purposes of determining whether the alleged practice was motivated by anti-Semitic intent. The legislation derives its definition from a fact sheet issued in 2010 by the Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism of the U.S. Department of State. The legislation specifies that its provisions are not to be construed to diminish or infringe upon any free speech rights protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States or Section 2, Article I of the South Carolina Constitution, 1895.

 

The House amended and gave second reading approval to H.3652, a bill relating to ACCEPTABLE MATERIALS FOR WATER PIPES IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT PROCUREMENT PROJECTS utilizing state funds. The legislation provides that all piping materials that comply with sound engineering practices and meet project requirements as determined by an engineer, employed or retained by a governmental body or any political subdivision, must be allowed to participate in the bidding process when a governmental agency is procuring piping materials for a water supply, wastewater, stormwater, or storm drainage project for which state funds are used. The legislation does not prohibit governmental agencies' officials or engineers from choosing a material at their discretion for such projects. The provisions of the legislation do not apply if a supplier has pipe or piping materials suitable for a project purpose in stock or in inventory.

 

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3587, a joint resolution creating a temporary SEIZURE SAFETY IN SCHOOLS STUDY COMMITTEE to examine such issues as: the state of epilepsy awareness among public school teachers, staff, and administrators; basic training in seizure response appropriate for school personnel; and, existing laws, regulations, and policies affecting epilepsy and seizure safety in public schools. The legislation provides for the composition of the fourteen-member committee, four of whom are legislative representatives with the others representing the medical, education and parent communities. Recommendations must be reported to the General Assembly before January 31, 2018, at which point the study committee is dissolved.
 
The House approved and sent the Senate H.3513, a bill creating a SOUTH CAROLINA RETIRED EDUCATOR CERTIFICATE that may be held by a retiree who previously held a South Carolina renewable, professional educator certificate. An initial retired educator certificate is valid for thirty years. A certificate may be renewed and is valid for ten years. Renewal of a retired educator certificate does not require completion of professional learning or renewal credit. An educator who works under the retired certificate must work under a letter of agreement. Holders of such certificates are not exempt from professional development that is required by the local school district.
 
The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3793 a bill authorizing certain applied, non-research DOCTORAL DEGREE PROGRAMS at four-year colleges and universities. The legislation makes provisions for a doctoral degree in Nursing Practice at Francis Marion University, a doctor of philosophy degree in Education Administration at Coastal Carolina University, and a doctor of philosophy degree in Computer and Information Science at the College of Charleston. Approval by the Commission on Higher Education is required for all of these degree programs. The new doctoral degrees are only allowed so long as new state general funds are not appropriated for their operation.
 
The House returned S.198 to the Senate with amendments. The legislation revises provisions for MINORS OBTAINING BEGINNER'S PERMITS OR DRIVERS' LICENSES UNDER THE AUTHORIZATION OF RESPONSIBLE ADULTS who are willing to assume the obligation imposed for the licenses or permits. In an effort to ease and normalize the procedures for adults sponsoring minors under their care for permits and licenses, the legislation expands the list of those who may sign the application for a beginner's permit or driver's license of an unemancipated minor so that it includes not only mothers, fathers, legal guardians, and adults willing to assume responsibility for the minor, but also specifically references such individuals as stepparents, individuals who have custody, care, and control of the minor, as well as foster parents, pre-adoptive parents, or persons responsible for the welfare of the child who resides in a child caring facility or residential group care home, upon written approval by the Department of Social Services. The legislation includes provisions for obtaining beginner's permits and driver's licenses when DSS has guardianship or legal custody of the minor. The disclosure of information by DSS to the Department of Motor Vehicles in order to provide approval is not to be considered an unlawful dissemination of confidential information.
 
The House approved S.365 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation makes provisions for the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue COASTAL CAROLINA UNIVERSITY "2016 BASEBALL NATIONAL CHAMPIONS" SPECIAL LICENSE PLATES.
 
The House approved and sent the Senate H.3256, a bill making provisions for the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue PALMETTO CROSS SPECIAL LICENSE PLATES to recipients of the Palmetto Cross Medal, which is a National Guard award presented by the Adjutant General in the name of the Governor to South Carolina citizens, military or civilian, who have distinguished themselves conspicuously by extraordinary heroism at the risk of their own lives under justifiable circumstances, or who have performed exceptionally outstanding service so as to make a lasting contribution to the state or nation.
The House approved and sent the Senate H.3861, a bill making revisions needed for MAINTAINING REAL ESTATE LICENSE RECIPROCITY ARRANGEMENTS WITH OTHER STATES. The legislation revises the authority of the Real Estate Commission to recognize nonresident real estate licenses on active status from other jurisdictions which reciprocate, so as to remove the requirement that these out-of-state applicants seeking licensure in South Carolina must complete successfully the state portions of the applicable examinations before their licenses will be recognized.
The House amended, approved, and sent to the Senate H.3792, a bill addressing MINIMUM STANDARDS FOR RESTROOMS AVAILABLE AT MIDDLE AND HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL STADIUMS. This legislation establishes minimum standards for the numbers of toilets and sinks available for men and women at middle school and high school football stadiums as a means of relieving public schools from the financial burden placed upon them by current requirements. The legislation's minimum standards apply notwithstanding otherwise applicable building codes and plumbing codes.
 
The Last Resort: SC infrastructure needs and how to address them:
  1. South Carolina has grown.
    • In 1990, population was 3.5 million
      • Resident population grew 15% from 1990-2000, and another 15% from 200-2010
      • Projected increase of 8.5% from 2010-2020, and by 2030 , projected to have a population of 5.1 million, representing a 28.3% increase since 2000
      • Per capita income in SC in 1987 was $13,055; by 2015 it had more than doubled to $38,302
  2. SC's road system has grown and its needs have, too.
    • SC fourth-largest state road system in the country, even though we are ranked 24th in population and 40th in land area
    • Since 1987,the state System has increased by 7,425 lane miles (83,173 to 90,598)
      • These additional lane miles can be the result of capacity projects that add extra lanes to existing roads, but can also be the result of newly-constructed roads (often from local MPO/COG projects)
    • Capacity needs continue to grow as population increases, and maintenance needs also grow accordingly
    • According to LAC report, of all states, SC dedicates the smallest amount of revenue to state roads relative to the size of the system and amount of traffic it carries
  3. Road funding has NOT kept pace with growth.
    • SC motor fuel user fee has not been increased since 1987, putting us at a disadvantage compared to neighboring States
    • LAC report states that "revenue sources are not increasing enough to cover rising costs due to inflation" ($1 in 1987 = $0.47 today) – If revenues aren't even keeping pace with inflation, they certainly can't keep pace with the state's growth and the additional stress it puts on our roads
    • SCDOT has been living on a fixed income since 1987–even as the number of SCDOT employees has decreased by nearly 10% since 1994, employer costs have more than doubled due to increases implemented by the General Assembly, and cost of materials has increased
    • Of the 16.75 Motor Fuel User Fee, there is less than ONE CENT left to fund state system needs after required transfers to other entities,
      matching money for federal highway dollars, and daily highway maintenance costs [See chart below]
  4. We have implemented significant reforms to SCDOT, with further improvements in H. 3516.
    • Act 114 of 2007
      • Governance – Clarified SCDOT Commission selection process and instituted term limits for Commissioners
        Project Prioritization – Established a requirement to evaluate, prioritize, and select projects based on set criteria, bringing a greater deal of objectivity and transparency to the project selection process; these IiSt5 can viewed on the SCDOT website today
        Auditing – E5tablished a Chief Internal Auditor under the Commission and required two hours of ethics training every other year for all staff and Commissioners
    • Act 275 of 2016
      • Governance- Allowed Governor to appoint all Commissioners with advice and consent of Legislative delegations and provided additional term limits for Commissioners
        Lines of Authority – Required all Infrastructure Bank projects to be ranked according to Act 114 criteria and receive SCDOT Commission approval
        Auditing – Moved the SCDOT Chief Internal Auditor under the State Auditor for increased accountability
    • Reform proposed in H. 3516
      • Governance- - Streamlines appointment process by allowing the Governor to appoint Commissioners with advice and consent of the General Assembly, eliminates the Joint Transportation Review Committee, and allows the Commission to appoint the Secretary Financial – Establishes the Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund at the SCDOT, which may only be used for "repairs, maintenance, and improvements to the existing road system" and directs all new revenue raised by H. 3516 to be deposited into this fund
5. We must address funding needs to fix our roads–it IS the last resort.
  • SCDOT needs an additional 51.1 B per year for 23 years ($25.3 B) to bring all existing pavements to a state of good repair
  • As the state grows, additional investment will be required to address capacity improvements like widening and expansion to relieve congestion and aid in freight mobility
    • The State has poured hundreds of millions of general fund dollars into our roads since 2014–this is unsustainable in light of other statewide needs such as unfunded pension liability and rising education and healthcare costs
    • If we do not increase the dedicated revenue provided to SCDOT through the Motor Fuel User Fee and other non-general fund sources, our roads continue to decline
  • The cost of inaction–as roads continue to decline, the cost to repair them increases at least $385 M each year

Summary of H.3516 as Amended 3/1/17
 
Motor Vehicle Sales Tax
* Establishes an Infrastructure Maintenance Fee (1 time 5%) must be paid prior to registration
* $500 cap applied to vehicles purchased in SC – collected by dealers at point of sale
* $250 cap applied to vehicles registered in other states & then registered in SC
* Active Duty Military, Spouses and Dependents are exempt from the $250 transfer fee
* Collected by SCDMV upon initial registration – $20 M/year in previously uncaptured revenue
* All new revenue deposited into Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund
* $90 M/year in total new revenue from the Infrastructure Maintenance Fee
* Effective date – July 1, 2017
* EIA is held harmless with no changes to current revenue (20% of revenues from first $300)

 

 

Hybrid and Electric Vehicles
* Biennial Fee
* $60 fee for Hybrids – $120 fee for Electric Vehicles – $1.35 M/year
* All new revenue deposited into Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund 
* Effective date – January 1, 2018

Motor Carrier Road Use Fee
* Imposed in lieu of property taxes on Large Commercial Vehicles
* Captures previously uncollected revenue from out-of-state motor carriers
* Based on fair market value, average statewide millage rate, assessment ratio of 9.5%, and portion of miles driven in SC compared to total miles driven
* Holds counties harmless – maintains existing distribution formula for collected amount
* New revenue from out of state truckers – $9 M/year – Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund
* Effective date – January 1, 2019

RFA Fiscal Impact Statement Revenue Estimates (updated 2/27/17)

Year 1 – FY 2017-2018 – $177 M to SCDOT
Year 2 – FY 2018-2019 – $258 M to SCDOT – $13 M increase to C-Fund
Year 3 – FY 2019-2020 – $339 M to SCDOT – $26 M increase to C-Fund
Year 4 – FY 2020-2021 – $408 M to SCDOT – $40 M increase to C-Fund
Year 5 – FY 2021-2022 – $479 M to SCDOT – $53 M increase to C-Fund
  

 As always, thank you for the privilege of serving you in Columbia. If I can ever be of assistance to you, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with the rest of the General Assembly, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Legislative Update 2/20/17

Our 5th week of legislative work in 2017 was the busiest yet as committees and subcommittees continued to iron out a wide variety of legislation. The legislative process requires most bills to begin in committee for in-depth examination prior to being debated and voted upon by the full House body. In fact, hundreds of bills are sent to committees and subcommittees each year, but most never make it to the House floor. This week I'll highlight a few bills that have moved from committee to the House floor.
 

Business License Reform
Current state law allows cities to levy business licensing fees on businesses that wish to operate within city limits. For years the business community has sought reforms to this structure to reduce the burdens placed on businesses while still ensuring businesses pay their fair share and contribute to the operating funds of cities in which they exist. Business advocates say the current law creates incentives for businesses to locate outside city borders, effectively avoiding the licensing fees, which in turn can drive up the cost of doing business. A pro-business reform that would address these issues has cleared a key House committee last week and now heads to the House floor for a full vote.
 
Movement on Roads Legislation
It's abundantly clear the number one issue in South Carolina today is addressing the unsafe state of our roads and bridges. We currently lead the nation in traffic fatalities – surpassing even large states like California and Texas in annual traffic deaths. This week a bill aimed at fixing our broken roadways cleared the House budget-writing committee by a vote of 20-0. The legislation would give the Governor control of the South Carolina Department of Transportation, raise the road user fee by 2 pennies per gallon each year for 5 years, and create a Highway Maintenance Trust Fund to ensure 100% of revenues go directly (and only) toward our roads and bridges. The proposal now goes to the House floor for debate and a vote.
 
Freedom of Information Act
Finally, a bill that would establish a Freedom of Information Act Office for use by citizens and journalists has cleared a final vote in the House Judiciary Committee. The pro-transparency measure would streamline the current process used by those seeking access to government documents. After all, government operates in the public sector and the laws instituting the FOIA process are intended to ensure the business of the public remains public. This bill enhances those laws and makes compliance easier and cheaper for both government entities and those seeking government documents alike
 
In order for me to have a strong voice in Columbia, I have to communicate with my constituents. And that is you! My website, newsletters, mailers, and Facebook are the communication tools that I use. It takes extra time, staff, and campaign funds to maintain these tools. 
 
If you would like to contribute, please mail a check to Hixon for House, P.O. Box 7927, North Augusta, SC 29861. You can also make a contribution online on my website.
 
I hope that you find this update helpful and informative. If I can help you with an issue, please let me know. Thank you for reading and allowing me to serve you.
 

 Legislative Update   –  February 20, 2017

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3218, a bill to provide for "dams and reservoirs safety act" enhancements in light of problems experienced during the catastrophic floods of October 2015 and Hurricane Matthew one year later. The legislation affords the Department of Health and Environmental Control regulatory authority over smaller dams that are currently exempt from regulation in instances where DHEC determines that the dam's failure or improper reservoir operation may cause serious damage to homes, industrial and commercial facilities, public utilities, main and secondary highways, or railroads. Such smaller dams have only been subject to DHEC regulation when the department determines that their failure may cause loss of human life. The legislation makes provisions for maintaining more extensive and up-to-date records on regulated dams and reservoirs by requiring their owners to provide DHEC annually no later than July first of each year with current contact information regarding the owner, including name, home or business address, phone number, and any email address, together with a completed dam owner checklist on a form provided by the department. The owner of a dam or reservoir classified as a high or significant hazard is required to provide DHEC annually no later than July first of each year a current emergency action plan, including updated contact information for emergency management officials, such as police, fire, EMS, or utility departments or personnel, and for downstream residents and business owners located in the inundation zone for that dam or reservoir. The legislation specifies that it is not, however, the owner's responsibility to notify any downstream residents or business owners located in the inundation zone of a failure or potential failure. The owner must, instead, notify emergency officials and DHEC's Dams and Reservoirs Safety program of the actual or potential failure, and it is the responsibility of the emergency management officials identified in the emergency action plan to inform those located in the inundation zone and to cause them to be evacuated if it is considered necessary. Under the legislation, DHEC shall not require any changes to a dam or its appurtenant works due to the reclassification of the dam unless failure would likely cause loss of life, or the department, through inspection, identifies repairs that must be made.
The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3340, a bill addressing the repair of roads in the state highway system that ran along the top of breached dams. In the interest of public health and safety, the legislation establishes deadlines for the owner of a failed or breached dam which has a public road or highway in the state highway system running across the top of it to provide a written notification to the State Department of Transportation and the Department of Health and Environmental Control indicating whether or not the owner intends to repair the dam to appropriate standards and the date by which the repairs are anticipated to be completed. Provisions are made for notifying dam owners of these reporting requirements. The legislation establishes a protocol for how the Department of Transportation is to proceed with road repair efforts if no written communication is received from a dam owner, if a communication indicates a dam owner does not intend to repair the dam, or if intended dam repairs are not completed as scheduled.
 
The House approved and sent the Senate H.3221, a bill establishing a statewide

program for addressing unsound school district finances which affords the State Department of Education authority that extends beyond academic matters to include fiscal affairs. Under the legislation, the State Department of Education is to work with district superintendents and finance officers to develop and adopt a statewide program with guidelines for: (1) identifying fiscal practices and budgetary conditions that, if uncorrected, could compromise the fiscal integrity of a school district; and (2) advising districts that demonstrate these financial problems on the corrective actions that should be taken. The department must establish three escalating levels of fiscal and budgetary concern so that the State Superintendent of Education can declare a 'fiscal watch', a 'fiscal caution', and a 'fiscal emergency' with regard to school district finances. The succeeding levels of budgetary concern carry increasingly stringent requirements for school district recovery plans, audits, and inspections as well as more intensive technical support from the state department. Should a school district's finances warrant the most severe level of concern prompting the State Superintendent of Education to declare a 'fiscal emergency', the State Department of Education is authorized to take intensive steps including assuming control over the district's financial operations to preclude a default on any type of debt and prevent further decline in the district's finances.

 
The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3220, a bill reestablishing the South Carolina education and economic development coordinating council to review the progress, results, and compliance with the Education and Economic Development Act and to make recommendations for better achieving the act's goals of implementing career pathways in the state's public schools and fostering a better prepared workforce and student success in post-secondary education. The council is comprised of the following members representing the geographic regions of the state and must be representative of the ethnic, gender, rural, and urban diversity of the state: (1) State Superintendent of Education or his designee; (2) Executive Director of the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce or his designee; (3) Executive Director of the State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education or his designee; (4) Secretary of the Department of Commerce or his designee; (5) Executive Director of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce or his designee; (6) Chief Executive Officer of the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance or his designee; (7) Executive Director of the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education or his designee; (8) Executive Director of the Office of First Steps to School Readiness or his designee; (9) the following members who must be appointed by the State Superintendent of Education: (a) a school district superintendent; (b) a principal; (c) a school guidance counselor; (d) a teacher; and (e) the director of a career and technology center; (10) the following members who must be appointed by the Chairman of the Commission on Higher Education: (a) the president or provost of a research university; (b) the president or provost of a four-year college or university; and (c) the president of a technical college; (11) ten representatives of business appointed by the Governor, at least one of which must represent small business and one whom must represent the health care industry. Of the representatives appointed by the Governor, five must be recommended by statewide organizations representing business and industry. The chair is to be selected by the Governor from one of his appointees; (12) Chairman of the Education Oversight Committee or his designee; (13) a member from the House of Representatives appointed by the Speaker of the House; and (14) a member from the Senate appointed by the President Pro Tempore. A sunset provision is included in the legislation so that the council will expire after five years unless it is reauthorized by the General Assembly.
 
The House approved and sent the Senate H.3442, a bill affirming rights to adopt children in the temporary custody of the department of social services in response to recent South Carolina court opinions that the state's laws do not accommodate such adoptions.
 
The House approved and sent the Senate H.3517, a bill providing special authorization for charitable hunting and fishing programs for terminally ill youth. Under the legislation, the Director of the Department of Natural Resources may issue special authorization for hunting and fishing to any person not more than twenty-one years of age who has been diagnosed with a terminal or life threatening illness or injury where all license, tags, and fees are waived. Those seeking special authorization must be sponsored by a nonprofit charitable organization that has within its mission to provide opportunities and experiences to persons with life threatening illnesses or injuries.
 
The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3531, a bill that imposes restrictions on the ownership of large wild cats, non-native bears and great apes as a means of protecting conservation efforts for the welfare of vulnerable, threatened, and endangered species and protecting the public against potential safety risks relating to holding these wild animals in captivity. The legislation's restrictions on keeping all lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, cougars, cheetahs, snow leopards, and clouded leopards, all bears that are not native to South Carolina and not subject to oversight by the state's Department of Natural Resources, and all species of chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans do not apply to a list of exemptions, such as nonprofit animal protection organizations, veterinary hospitals, university laboratories and research facilities, and properly licensed zoos, circuses, and animal breeders. The legislation provides that it is unlawful for a person to import into, possess, keep, purchase, have custody or control of, breed, or sell within this state, by any means, a large wild cat, non-native bear, or great ape, including transactions conducted via the Internet. Someone in legal possession of a large wild cat, non-native bear, or great ape prior to January 1, 2018, is authorized to keep the animal for the remainder of its life subject to the conditions of the legislation which include registering the animal with the animal control authority for the city or county in which the animal is located and immediately notifying the animal control authority and local law enforcement agencies upon discovery that the animal has escaped. The possessor of the animal shall be liable for any and all costs associated with the escape, capture, and disposition of a registered animal. The legislation makes provisions for animal registration, including fees, inspections by local animal control authorities, and the confiscation of non-compliant animals. A violator of the legislation must be fined not more than one thousand dollars or imprisoned for not more than thirty days for a first offense, and must be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned for not more than ninety days for a second offense.
 
 As always, thank you for the privilege of serving you in Columbia. If I can ever be of assistance to you, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with the rest of the General Assembly, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

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Bill Hixon Legislative Update 2/6/17

A New Justice, Appointment of SC Education Chief, & In-State Tuition for Veterans
 
Each year, the General Assembly convenes in a joint legislative session to fill judicial seats throughout our state, including an opening on the South Carolina Supreme Court. In keeping with our constitutional responsibilities, my colleagues and I elected Judge George C. "Buck" James by acclamation to a term on the Supreme Court.
 
Currently, a committee comprised of legislators, citizens, and legal professionals accepts applications for open judicial positions, screens each applicant to verify their qualifications, and by a committee vote selects three finalists who vie for support among the 170-member General Assembly (both House and Senate members). My House colleges and I are currently debating a proposal on the House floor to lift the three-person limit currently placed on the screening committee. Eliminating this would allow all duly qualified individuals seeking to serve our state on the judiciary to compete. This good-government legislation has passed the House in previous years.
 
Recently the House Judiciary Committee passed a bill that would cause the State Superintendent of Education to be appointed by the Governor instead of elected by popular vote. This would increase the amount of accountability surrounding the office of the Superintendent of Education by allowing the Governor to directly oversee the delivery of public education to South Carolina's children. Reforms like this deliver a better return to the taxpayer and real results for parents and students.
 
Another bill making its way through the legislative process would grant in-state tuition rates to any veteran (and his/her dependents) honorably discharged from the Armed Services of the United States. The bipartisan measure which waives the one-year residency waiting period has already passed out of full committee with a favorable report and amassed 68 co-sponsors from all corners of the state. Ours is a state with a rich history of honoring those who have served our nation, and this continues that fine tradition.
 
Finally, I'd like to address the recent phenomenon known as "fake news." It's not uncommon for erroneous reports masquerading as truth and fact to spread like wildfire on internet platforms. As your Representative, I am always here to answer any questions you have. If you come across an article that either seems especially egregious, or too good to be true, maybe it is; and to assist you in verifying fact from fiction, I am only a call or email away. You can find my contact info at the end of this update.

In order for me to have a strong voice in Columbia, I have to communicate with my constituents. And that is you! My website, newsletters, mailers, and Facebook are the communication tools that I use. It takes extra time, staff, and campaign funds to maintain these tools. 
 
If you would like to contribute, please mail a check to Hixon for House, P.O. Box 7927, North Augusta, SC 29861. You can also make a contribution online on my website.
 
I hope that you find this update helpful and informative. If I can help you with an issue, please let me know. Thank you for reading and allowing me to serve you.
 

Legislative Update   –  February 6, 2017

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3488, a bill that makes provisions for electronic insurance documents, including authorization for insurers to deliver, store, or present evidence of insurance coverage by electronic means and provisions that afford consumers the option of receiving and signing notices and documents electronically.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3441, a bill authorizing electronic payment of workers' compensation as an alternative to traditional payment by means of a check. The legislation affords the option of receiving workers' compensation payments by such electronic means as an electronic funds transfer, a direct deposit, or debit card.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3406, a bill relating to workers' compensation commission funding. By eliminating a five-year sunset provision included in Act 95 of 2013, the legislation provides ongoing authority for the Workers' Compensation Commission to retain a portion of the annual revenue of the maintenance tax imposed on self-insurers as well as half of the interest charged on delinquent maintenance taxes in order to pay the salaries and expenses of the commission. The Workers' Compensation Commission must continue to provide a report on each July to the Chairman of House Ways and Means Committee, the Chairman of Senate Finance, and the Governor of the amount of money the agency has received in the previous fiscal year under these provisions.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3237, a bill simplifying the approval process for highway routine maintenance and emergency repairs in keeping with the Department of Transportation restructuring approved through Act Number 275 of 2016 which made the Secretary of Transportation directly accountable to the Department of Transportation Commission. The legislation eliminates requirements for the Secretary of Transportation to evaluate and approve routing operation and maintenance requests or emergency repairs for highway facilities that are not included in the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program, and for the DOT Commission to review the Secretary's report of routine maintenance and emergency repair requests.

Members also adopted several changes to the rules governing the South Carolina House of Representatives.

House Resolution H.3494 was adopted to approve a house rules change regarding the cross-over deadline for considering legislation from the Senate without a super-majority vote. Under the revised rule, no bill or resolution from the Senate that is received by the House after April 10 during a regular annual session of the General Assembly may be considered unless two-thirds of those members present and voting agree to waive the rule and allow for consideration of the legislation. Any bill or joint resolution failing to receive the required vote must be returned to the appropriate committee. The April 10 deadline replaces a May 1 deadline set for the second year of a two-year General Assembly. The earlier deadline accommodates the shortened legislative session approved in Act Number 199 of 2016 and is consistent with the deadline for House-passed legislation that has been adopted by the Senate.

House Resolution H.3497 was adopted to approve a house rules change revising and expanding the duties of the ethics committee in keeping with the enhancements to the state's Ethics, Government Accountability, and Campaign Reform Act approved last year to provide for more independent means of investigating alleged misconduct of public officials (Act Number 282 of 2016) and more expansive statements of economic interests for public officials and others who are required to make Ethics Act filings (Act Number 283 of 2016).

House Resolution H.3499 was adopted to approve a house rules change revising limitations on amendments proposed for state government budget legislation. Under the revised rule, an amendment to the General Appropriations Bill or a Supplemental Appropriations Bill which has the effect of appropriating funds in excess of one million dollars must include within the amendment the corresponding appropriation reduction(s) and/or revenue increase(s) that would allow the budget to remain balanced. This rules change lowers the threshold, which was previously set at five million dollars. The rules change also provides that if an amendment identifies unspent projected revenue or balance as the funding source, the Speaker must consult with the Office of Revenue and Fiscal Affairs and confirm the existence of sufficient unspent revenue or balance before the House may consider the amendment.

House Resolution H.3501 was adopted to approve a house rules change revising notification requirements for conference and free conference committee reports on government budget legislation. The rules change eliminates the requirement that a report of a Committee on Conference or Free Conference concerning the General Appropriations Bills, Supplemental Appropriations Bills for the ordinary expenses of State Government, or legislation appropriating the Capital Reserve Fund must be printed in the House Journal before it may be considered by the House. Even though this printing requirement is eliminated, the House Rules continue to require that these reports must be made available online to the public for at least twenty four hours before they may be considered by the House.

 

 As always, thank you for the privilege of serving you in Columbia. If I can ever be of assistance to you, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with the rest of the General Assembly, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

 

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Bill Hixon Legislative Update 1/20/17

Dear Friends,
A Busy Year Ahead

 

Last week was the first week back in session for the General Assembly. We returned to Columbia with a long list of issues to tackle and a shorter period of time in which to accomplish the work of the people. A shorter legislative session means savings for taxpayers and forces more efficiency in government. I am thankful for the trust you have placed in me to represent your interests this year in Columbia.
In order for me to have a strong voice in Columbia, I have to communicate with my constituents. And that is you! My website, newsletters, mailers, and Facebook are the communication tools that I use. It takes extra time, staff, and campaign funds to maintain these tools. 
If you would like to contribute, please mail a check to Hixon for House, P.O. Box 7927, North Augusta, SC 29861. You can also make a contribution online on my website.

 

 
I hope that you find this update helpful and informative. If I can help you with an issue, please let me know. Thank you for reading and allowing me to serve you.
 

 

Legislative Update   –  January 20, 2017

House Republicans issued a Business Plan for 2017 focusing on broad job retention and growth concerns. Each item contained in our business plan directly affects an existing job or a future job. It's a smaller agenda than we have had in previous years because these are all serious items that will need serious debate.
Since voters gave Republicans control of the House in 1994, the most significant legislative achievements originated in the Caucus Agenda items such as: workers' compensation reform, property tax reform, illegal immigration reform, campaign finance reform, DOT reform, ethics reform and elimination of the Budget and Control Board, among many others.
We have a history of accomplishing our agenda quickly and thoroughly. We plan to do that again this year. This year's agenda comes in the form of a business plan and includes:
  • ·    Education Reform: Legislation is being written to correct our state's education system which does not currently afford every child the same equally proficient education. We will fix the law so every child in South Carolina receives a 21st Century education no matter what zip code they live in. By doing so, we ensure each child is prepared for life in the workforce.
  • ·    Retirement Solvency: It's no secret our state's retirement system needs a major course correction, and quickly, as it must continue to meet the needs of our public employees. Our state's greatest assets are the people who serve the public each and every day; from law enforcement to our teachers. We owe them an adequate retirement, and the promises made to public employees will be kept.
  • ·    Fixing our Roads & Bridges: Last year the House was the only legislative body to pass a comprehensive DOT restructuring/sustainable funding bill. While the Senate came up a few votes shy of passing comprehensive legislation, we have heard the demands from constituents and will re-double our efforts this year to once again pass a meaningful DOT reform/funding bill to address our crumbling infrastructure.
  • ·    Workforce Development: For a period of months, employers have been telling us there is a shortage of skilled workers to fill job openings. We will engage our k-12 education system to give parents the option for students to receive the specialized training necessary for a career in technology, manufacturing, or another field requiring analytical thinking skills.
  • ·    Real Tax Reform: House Speaker Jay Lucas appointed a special committee tasked with updating our existing tax code. The committee is currently designing a proposal that will move us further from an income based tax code while simultaneously moving toward a consumption based tax code. The result is a flatter and fairer tax code for all taxpayers.
In the coming weeks, Caucus members will reach out to their constituents and to Republican activists statewide to prioritize the agenda.
 
 As always, thank you for the privilege of serving you in Columbia. If I can ever be of assistance to you, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with the rest of the General Assembly, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

 

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Bill Hixon Legislative Update 7/6/16

End of the Legislative Year Summary
 
Dear Friends,
 
I hope everyone had a fun-filled 4th of July. I wanted to thank you for helping me make our 2016 legislative session a productive one. My biggest request was passed this year! House Bill H-3799, that I sponsored, gave us CWP Reciprocity with Georgia. We can now use our CWP's in Georgia and vise-versa. We passed this bill with lots of help from other folks, so I want to thank everyone for all your help. My second biggest request was regarding the hazardous roads and bridges. We passed S-1258 to begin repairing our roads and bridges. It is not perfect but it is still a step in the right direction. Since we have now adjourned for the year, I will be sending out newsletters as needed rather than monthly. Thank you again.
 
In order for me to have a strong voice in Columbia, I have to communicate with my constituents. And that is you! My website, newsletters, mailers, and Facebook are the communication tools that I use. It takes extra time, staff, and campaign funds to maintain these tools. 
Please help me by making a contribution to Hixon for House, P.O. Box 7927, North Augusta, SC 29861.

 

I hope that you find this update helpful and informative. If I can help you with an issue, please let me know. Thank you for reading and allowing me to serve you.

 

 Legislative Update – June 6, 2015

 
S.1258: Legislation addressing ROAD FUNDING AND DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION RESTRUCTURING. The legislation allows for an estimated total of up to $4.5 billion to be devoted to the state's roads over the next ten years. This includes: $950 million to repair or replace all structurally-deficient bridges on Interstate and national highways; $2 billion in widening and improvements to existing Interstates; and, over $1.4 billion in pavement resurfacing.
 
 H.5001: The General Appropriation Bill, and H.5002, the joint resolution making appropriations from the Capital Reserve Fund, which together comprise the $7.5 billion FISCAL YEAR 2016-2017 STATE GOVERNMENT BUDGET. $84 million in Department of Motor Vehicles fees and fines and $131 million in motor vehicle sales tax revenue is transferred to the State Highway Fund. $50 million in nonrecurring funds is distributed among the County Transportation Committees to use for resurfacing, reconstructing, and repairing roads and bridges in the state-owned secondary road system. $49 million is allocated to the Department of Transportation to address road repair costs from the October 2015 flood damage.
 
H.5021: The "ADULT STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES EDUCATIONAL RIGHTS CONSENT ACT". The legislation establishes procedures and policies through which adult students who are eligible for special education under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act may delegate authority over their educational program to agents or representatives. Under this bill, an adult student who is eligible for special education under IDEA and who is not determined to be incapacitated in probate court can delegate his or her right to make educational decisions to an agent or representative on a form prescribed by the Department of Education. An adult student under IDEA who has not been determined to be incapacitated, but may be identified (by certain medical professionals) as unable to provide informed consent may have an educational representative designated.
 
H.4554: The "SOUTH CAROLINA ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING ACT" which establishes new provisions for the regulation and oversight of money transmission services. The legislation is offered as a means of rectifying South Carolina's status as the only U.S. state lacking comprehensive regulatory authority over money transfers which has made the state a center for money laundering activities that facilitate organized criminal enterprises and terrorist activities. The legislation establishes new requirements for the licensure and regulation of money transmission and currency exchange services with the South Carolina Attorney General. Record keeping requirements are imposed on licensees and the Attorney General's Office is afforded authority to review records and conduct investigations. Penalties are established for violations including felony criminal penalties for falsifying records and engaging in illicit money transfers involving larger dollar amounts. The jurisdiction of the state grand jury is expanded to include South Carolina Anti-Money Laundering Act violations.

 

H.4521: The "TUCKER HIPPS TRANSPARENCY ACT", legislation named in memory of the Clemson University student who died during a fraternity activity on September 22, 2014. The legislation requires the state's public institutions of higher education, excluding technical colleges, to maintain a report detailing student misconduct investigations related to fraternity and sorority organizations formally affiliated with the institution. These reports are specifically required to include a violation of a Student Code of Conduct for offenses involving alcohol, drugs, sexual assault, physical assault, and hazing. Each public institution of higher learning must provide the required reports on its Internet website in a prominent location and must also furnish a printed notice of the nature and availability of this report and the website address where it can be found to those who attend student orientation. Deadlines are established for compiling the required reports and updating them in a timely manner. A sunset provision is included so that the legislation is set to expire in three years unless reauthorized by the General Assembly.

 

H.4387: A bill PROHIBITING LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES FROM REQUIRING OFFICERS TO MEET A QUOTA FOR THE NUMBER OF CITATIONS ISSUED. The legislation provides that law enforcement agencies, departments, or divisions, including municipal police departments, sheriff departments, the Highway Patrol, SLED, and other agencies that enforce state and local laws, may not require their law enforcement officers to issue a specific amount or meet a quota for the number of citations issued during a designated period of time. Law enforcement officers' job performance reviews may be based on their points of contact that involve their interaction with citizens and businesses and participation in community-oriented initiatives. An employee of a law enforcement agency, department, or division who files a report with an appropriate authority alleging a violation of these provisions is protected by the state's "Whistle Blower Act"
.

 

H.3147: The legislation provides for a SOUTH CAROLINA INDIVIDUAL INCOME TAX DEDUCTION FOR MILITARY RETIREMENT BENEFITS in an amount of up to thirty thousand dollars each year for those who are at least sixty-five years old and up to seventeen thousand five hundred dollars each year for younger taxpayers. A surviving spouse receiving military retirement income is eligible for the deductions. The deductions are gradually phased in under a five-year schedule so that maximum deductions for military retirement benefits are provided by 2020. The legislation also includes provisions for unused textile mill site rehabilitation tax credits to be carried forward.
 
H.4542: "THE RIGHT TO TRY ACT". The legislation provides authorization for physicians to prescribe certain promising experimental treatments to terminally ill patients who have considered and exhausted all other treatment options currently approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration. The provisions apply only to an investigational drug, biological product, or device that has successfully completed Phase I of a clinical trial but has not yet been approved for general use by the United States Food and Drug Administration and remains under investigation in a clinical trial approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration.
 
H.4773: Designated as "MARGY'S LAW", the legislation expands South Carolina's Emergency Medical Services Do Not Resuscitate Order Act by including provisions for a DO NOT RESUSCITATE BRACELET that may be worn by someone with a terminal condition to signify to health care providers and EMS personnel that they are to withhold resuscitative treatment in keeping with a "do not resuscitate" order.
 
H.4262: Legislation revising FAMILY CHILDCARE HOME training and registration requirements. The legislation increases minimum hours of training from two to ten for operators of family childcare homes, employees or contractors with operators of family childcare homes. The legislation incorporates these training requirements and provides for other revisions within the criteria that the Department of Social Services uses in determining whether to deny an application for a statement of registration, deny an application for a renewal of registration, work with a family childcare home operator to resolve a concern, or withdraw a statement of registration. DSS shall consider previous applications and the circumstances of prior inspections or withdrawals of registration as factors to be considered in the application process; however, a prior concern does not prohibit the department from granting the family childcare home a statement or renewal of registration if the department is satisfied the concern has been resolved. The legislation provides that any person fifteen years of age or older who moves into the family childcare home after the initial application for registration is approved must also undergo the required criminal background reviews.
 
S.267bill SHORTENING THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION. The legislation provides for the regular annual session of the General Assembly to adjourn for the year by the second Thursday in May rather than the current deadline of the first Thursday in June. In addition to the current provisions for extending a legislative session, the legislation provides that if a forecast reduction is submitted by the Board of Economic Advisers after April tenth for the next fiscal year, the adjournment date for the General Assembly may be extended up to two weeks with the agreement of the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate.

 

S.233: The "SOUTH CAROLINA PUBLIC PRAYER AND INVOCATION ACT". The legislation makes revisions in keeping with particular court rulings to the statutory protocol governing the way in which a deliberative public body may invite religious leaders to offer voluntary public invocations at its meetings which are not to be used as opportunity to proselytize or advance any one, or to disparage any other faith or belief, or coerce participation by observers of the invocation.

 

H.3440: A bill making comprehensive statutory revisions regarding MOPEDS.The legislation establishes new requirements for registering and licensing mopeds with the Department of Motor Vehicles. New safety requirements are established for mopeds including requirements for moped operators and passengers to wear reflective vests at night. The legislation provides that it is unlawful for a person to operate a moped on the public roads in this state that have a speed limit of greater than fifty-five miles per hour. A moped, while traveling along a multi-lane highway, must be operated in the farthest right lane except when making a left turn. No person may operate a moped at a speed in excess of thirty-five miles an hour. As with motorcycles, a person under the age of twenty-one may not operate or ride upon a moped unless he wears a protective helmet. Mopeds are exempted from ignition interlock device requirements of DUI provisions. Those who sell mopeds are required to post signs that provide brief explanations of such matters as age restrictions, maximum speeds, and the definition of a moped. A moped seller is not required to obtain a motor vehicle dealer's license. The legislation replaces the multiple, sometimes conflicting, definitions for mopeds currently found in statutes with a single new definition for mopeds and makes other revisions to allow for greater consistency in the way that the laws governing motor vehicles are applied to mopeds.
 
S.868The legislation makes provisions DISALLOWING THE USE OF EMINENT DOMAIN POWERS BY PRIVATE, FOR-PROFIT PIPELINE COMPANIES, including publicly traded for-profit companies, that are not defined as a public utility. A sunset provision is included so that these provisions are set to expire on June 30, 2019, unless the General Assembly makes other arrangements.
 
S.1065The legislation creates a temporary PETROLEUM PIPELINE STUDY COMMITTEE which is charged with submitting a report the General Assembly that sets forth findings and recommendations regarding matters related to the presence of petroleum pipelines in South Carolina by June 30, 2017.
 
S.1037: The legislation expands the provisions physician licensure exemptions to include TEAM PHYSICIANS OF ATHLETIC TEAMS VISITING THIS STATE FOR A TEAM TRAINING CAMP.

 

H.4090: A bill revising requirements governing the operation of PAWNBROKERS, and enrolled the legislation for ratification. Offered as a comprehensive update of the provisions regulating pawnbrokers, the legislation includes among its revisions an increase in the maximum amount of a loan that a pawnbroker is allowed to make from $2,000 to $15,000.
 
S.980: The legislation establishes new regulatory provisions governing ANIMAL SHELTERS AND EMERGENCY VETERINARIAN CLINICS that provide veterinary services including a requirement for all shelters and emergency veterinarian clinics that provide veterinary services must register with the South Carolina Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners. The legislation provides that dispensing a prescription drug to the owner of an end-user for the treatment of a bodily injury or disease of an animal is unlawful unless the prescription is: (1) labeled with all information required by state and federal law; and (2) prescribed by a licensed veterinarian. The legislation provides for the South Carolina Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners to regulate the dispensing of these prescription drugs. The legislation requires a mobile veterinarian practice to provide information concerning the closest local emergency veterinary services facility to the mobile location. A mobile veterinarian practice affiliated with, operated by, or supported by a public or private nonprofit animal shelter is prohibited from operating within eyesight of the nearest privately owned veterinarian practice. The legislation includes provisions regarding the dispensation of proceeds derived from 'No More Homeless Pets' special motor vehicle license plates. The legislation creates a temporary Pet Care and Humane Treatment Study Committee to review, study, and make recommendations concerning the need for improved oversight and regulation in the state. The study committee shall make a report of its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly during the 2017 legislative session, at which time the study committee shall cease to exist.
 
H.5118: A bill revising provisions governing the operation of golf carts along the state's highways by providing  AUTHORITY FOR CERTAIN COASTAL MUNICIPALITIES AND COUNTIES TO ADOPT ORDINANCES THAT ALLOW GOLF CARTS TO BE OPERATED AT NIGHT if they are equipped with working headlights and rear lights. A sunset provision is included so that any ordinances approved are set to expire on January 1, 2021.

 

H.3849: A bill establishing  CONFIDENTIALITY FOR TEACHER EVALUATION RECORDS. The budget legislation includes a proviso that addresses the subject of the legislation for the upcoming fiscal year..

 

 

As always, thank you for the privilege of serving you in Columbia. If I can ever be of assistance to you, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with the rest of the General Assembly, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

 

 

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Bill Hixon Legislative Update 4/29/16

Dear Friends,
 
We have had a long few weeks trying to clear the House calendar before cross-over week. Cross-over means bills that have not been passed from the House to the Senate, or vice versa, and those bills that were not heard, will most likely not be passed this session. Thank you for allowing me to serve you at the State House. 
 
In order for me to have a strong voice in Columbia, I have to communicate with my constituents. And that is you! My website, newsletters, mailers, and Facebook are the communication tools that I use. It takes extra time, staff, and campaign funds to maintain these tools. 
 
House bill H.3799, our Gun Reciprocity bill, is still in the Senate. I am still trying to get the Senate to pass it.
Please help me by making a contribution to Hixon for House, P.O. Box 7927, North Augusta, SC 29861.

I hope that you find this update helpful and informative. If I can help you with an issue, please let me know. Thank you for reading and allowing me to serve you. 

 

Like me on Facebook 

 Legislative Update   –  April 29, 2016

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3204, the "Cervical Cancer Prevention Act", and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation provides that, beginning with the 2016-2017 school year, the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) may offer the cervical cancer vaccination series, the human papillomavirus vaccination (HPV) series, for adolescent students including those enrolling in the seventh grade in any school, public, private, or home schooling program, in this state.  The legislation includes parental consent requirements for vaccinations provided by DHEC and provides that no student is required to have the cervical cancer vaccination series, the human papillomavirus vaccination (HPV) series, before enrolling in or attending school.   

 

The House amended, approved, and sent the SenateH.4165, the "homeowners' association regime fee fairness to deployed service members act".  The legislation provides that, once a service member who belongs to a homeowners' association has provided proper notification to the association of orders of military deployment, the homeowners' association is prohibited from assessing or imposing penalties or enforcing a lien on unpaid regime fees that accrue during the time when the homeowner is deployed or mobilized outside of this state.
 
The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4580, a bill to provide an exemption from Department of Health and Environmental Control licensure provisions for medical foster homes for veterans that provide care for up to three veterans per home as approved by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
 
The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4327, a bill that includes provisions for hospice programs for terminally ill patients to apply to the Department of Health and Environmental Control for an expansion of their service areas and provisions that allow parent hospice organizations to offer services at multiple locations.
 
The House approved and sent the Senate H.4773.  Designated as margy's law, the legislation expands South Carolina's Emergency Medical Services Do Not Resuscitate Order Act by including provisions for a do not resuscitate bracelet that may be worn by someone with a terminal condition to signify to health care providers and EMS personnel that they are to withhold resuscitative treatment in keeping with a "do not resuscitate" order.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3952, a bill revising the process for committing the mentally ill to mental health facilities.  The legislation adds to commitment provisions the category of the "gravely disabled" which is defined as person who, due to mental illness, lacks sufficient insight or capacity to make responsible decisions with respect to his treatment and because of this condition is likely to cause harm to himself through neglect, inability to care for himself, personal injury, or otherwise.  The legislation includes a preference that emergency admissions of the mentally ill be conducted by plain clothes law enforcement officers that have had crisis intervention training and, in certain instances, the legislation allows for the option of having someone transported to a facility, not by law enforcement officers, but by emergency medical technicians in an ambulance.  For an individual who has eloped after commitment, a request for an order to search, locate, and return must be issued by the probate court and transportation must be by a state or local law enforcement officer.    

H.4717 creates the South Carolina Farm Aid Fund to assist farmers who 

have suffered at least a forty percent loss of agricultural commodities as a result. Click here to see the Chamber's full statement and letter to Senators on H.4717. of a natural disaster. Agriculture is a foundation of our state's economy, and the StateChamber supports passage of this legislation. 
 
H.3147 phases out the state income tax liability on military retirement benefits. Exempting income taxes on military retiree benefits will bring more military retirees to South Carolina, bolstering our state's workforce. The State Chamber supports passage of this legislation.
Click here to see the Chamber's full statement and letter to Senators on H.3147.

 
Provisions in the House Amendment to H. 3579:

- The House of Representatives appointed a conference committee to address its differences with the Senate on H.3579, legislation that includes Department of Transportation restructuring and road funding initiatives.
- Highway Commissioners are appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the General Assembly
- Commission appoints a Secretary of Transportation with advice and consent of the General Assembly, who then serves at the pleasure of the Commission to create a single line of authority from the Governor, to the Commission, to the Secretary.
- Eliminates the Joint Transportation Review Committee, but retains the required qualifications for Commissioners to ensure appointees have appropriate education and experience. These qualifications and requirements were removed in the Senate amendment.
- Adopts the State Infrastructure Bank language in the Senate version and requires the entity to follow SCDOT prioritization criteria for projects
- Removes the irresponsible $400M general fund mandate because it is unreliable. This year's House passed budget appropriated $415M additional funds to SCDOT, an amount larger than specified in the Senate amendment, and we will continue to give available funds to SCDOT in the future.
- Addresses the Legislative Audit Council's concerns expressed in report by placing the SCDOT Chief Internal Auditor under the independent State Auditor

 
Chamber President Ted Pitts released this statement following the House vote:
 
"The business community appreciates the work Speaker Lucas and the House have done over the last two years to reform DOT and to address our state's long term infrastructure funding needs…As this legislation moves back to the Senate, we are reminded that there is still time to adopt a measure that provides at least $600 million in additional, sustainable revenue along with the reforms to the DOT and STIB this year.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4763, legislation designated as "Alicia's Law" to acknowledge the advocacy efforts of Alicia Kozakiewicz of Pennsylvania who, in 2002 at the age of thirteen, survived abduction by an Internet predator.  The legislation provides for a 6.1% assessment on criminal court fines to be deposited in a newly-created internet crimes against children fund that is to be used to investigate, prosecute, and prevent Internet crimes against children, such as cyber-enticement and child pornography, including the necessary staffing, training, and equipment.  Of the revenue credited to the fund each year, sixty percent must be allocated to the Attorney General to operate the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, and the remaining forty percent must be transferred to the Department of Public Safety to provide grants to local law enforcement agencies.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3768 and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation provides for the "South Carolina Able Savings Program" that allows for the establishment of savings accounts as a means of empowering individuals with a disability and their families to save private funds to support the individual with a disability.  The legislation establishes the Savings Program Trust Fund and Savings Expense Trust Fund and provides guidelines to the State Treasurer for the maintenance of these accounts.  The legislation allows for state implementation that coordinates with the federal Achieving Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act of 2014.

The House approved S.849 and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation establishes requirements for insurance plan pharmacy benefits managers to compile maximum allowable drug cost lists that show the maximum amount for the cost of a particular generic drug that will be reimbursed to a pharmacist or pharmacy who provides covered health care services or supplies as a participating network plan provider.  The legislation includes requirements for pharmacy benefit managers to make these maximum allowable cost lists available to network pharmacy providers and to review and update maximum allowable cost price information.  Provisions are included that allow a pharmacy to appeal the provider's reimbursement for a drug subject to maximum allowable cost pricing.  

The House returned S.339, legislation designated as "hope's law", to the Senate with amendments.  The legislation establishes requirements for mammography reports to be provided to patients that include information about breast density.  When a mammogram shows that breast tissue is dense, the required report must include notice to the patient explaining that dense tissue is common and not abnormal, but can, however, make it harder to evaluate mammogram results and may also be associated with an increased risk of breast cancer.

 

The House amended, approved, and sent the SenateH.5140, a bill that makes revisions relating to a school district's annual school calendar for teachers, staff, and students.  The legislation provides that, beginning with the 2017-2018 school year, the school start date for students must not be before August fifteenth, rather than the opening date limit of the third Monday in August that is set in current law, except for schools operating on a year-round modified school calendar.  The legislation revises the deadline for notification of teaching assignments and makes provisions for the types and timing of student assessments.  Beginning in the 2017-2018 school year, the legislation requires, with certain exceptions, that school districts administer the statewide summative assessment for grades three through eight during the last twenty days of school and that such testing may not exceed seven days each school year.

 
The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4492, a bill revising notification requirements for department of social services child placement hearings that inform foster parents, preadoptive parents, or relatives providing care to abused or neglected children so that, with certain exceptions, notification must be given at least ten days in advance.  The legislation includes provisions that allow these parties to file reports with the family court.
 
The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4525, a bill extending and revising provisions for devoting a portion of insurance premium tax revenues to the funding of firefighting needs and emergency medical services training.  The legislation extends until June 30, 2030, the requirement for using two and one-quarter percent of each year's insurance premium tax revenues to fund emergency response needs and redistributes the revenue so that one percent is transferred to the South Carolina Forestry Commission to be used for firefighting and firefighting equipment replacement, one percent is transferred to the aid to fire districts account within the State Treasury to be distributed to local fire departments for firefighting equipment replacement, and one quarter of one percent is transferred to the aid to emergency medical services regional councils within the Department of Health and Environmental Control to be used for grants to fund emergency medical technician and paramedic training.
 
The House approved and sent the Senate H.4556, a bill providing a property tax exemption for permanently and totally disabled emergency medical technicians.  The legislation extends to permanently and totally disabled former emergency medical technicians the homeowner property tax exemption that is currently allowed for military veterans, former law enforcement officers, and former firefighters who are permanently and totally disabled.
 
The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.4712, a bill making clarifications regarding the classification of off-premises outdoor advertising signs as personal property for tax purposes.  The legislation establishes conditions under which an off-premises outdoor advertising sign is classified as tangible personal property for tax purposes, and establishes provisions under which the value of a lease or lease income on such billboards may not be used in the assessment of the tax value of the real property on which the advertising sign is erected.  The legislation includes provisions for any sign permit required by local, state, or federal law to be considered as intangible personal property for ad valorem property tax purposes.
 
The House amended, approved, and sent the SenateH.4398, a bill establishing a firearms exemption in bankruptcy claims.  The legislation revises provisions for the real and personal property of a debtor that is exempt from attachment, levy, and sale in a bankruptcy proceeding by adding an exemption that covers any firearms not exceeding a total value of five thousand dollars owned by the debtor.  The legislation revises the exemption for a debtor's aggregate interest, not to exceed fifty thousand dollars in value by providing that, except that a surviving spouse may exempt, in addition to their interest, the aggregate interest of a deceased spouse not to exceed fifty thousand dollars in value.
 
The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4795, a bill allowing a student who has been awarded a palmetto fellows scholarship the option of deferring enrollment in a higher education institution for one year following high school graduation without declining the award.
 
The House returned S.1013, a bill overhauling and updating the licensure and regulation of real estate brokers, salespersons, and property managers, to the Senate with amendments.  Notably, the bill includes provisions for the operation of real estate teams supervised by a broker-in-charge and increases continuing education requirements for real estate license renewals from eight hours to ten hours. 

 As always, thank you for the privilege of serving you in Columbia. If I can ever be of assistance to you, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with the rest of the General Assembly, please do not hesitate to contact me.
 

 

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Roads Update, Pro-Life Action & Budget Movement- Bill Hixon Legislative Update

Dear Friends,
 
Can you believe it is time for me to seek re-election? Last week I filed to run again for the House of Representatives District 83. Again I ask for your prayers and support. Thank you for all you do for me with your emails, thoughts, and prayers. Please keep them up!
We finished up the week of legislative session in the South Carolina House by clearing the way for South Carolina institutions of higher learning to be more competitive, and also made significant headway on important Pro-Life reform.
 

 

After years of pressure from South Carolinians who continue to suffer on our hazardous roadways, the Senate has finally amended and returned the SCDOT reform bill we sent them last year. We discussed and debated their revisions last week. Most of the House does not completely agree with what the Senate returned to us since there would be no source of funding after 2017. Citizens should expect and receive certain basic services from their government, safe roads and bridges being chief among them. I continue to hear from voters in my district that repairing our roads remains one of their top priorities. My House colleagues and I do not intend to delay the passage of this important road funding legislation and will address it as quickly as we are able to do so.

 

I am pleased to report we have but one final hurdle to clear in getting the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act to a conference committee. In conference, minute details can be cleared up between both the House and Senate allowing a final passage in both legislative bodies placing the bill on Governor Nikki Haley's desk for her signature. As House conservatives, we have been working for many months to move this important legislation, and I am hopeful that in the coming weeks I will be able to report that our efforts have been successful. Protecting the unborn from violent pain is not a political issue, but a moral imperative that I am proud to support.
 
Finally, after many months of deliberation in subcommittee and full committee, the House Ways and Means Committee introduced the State's annual budget for fiscal year 2016/2017. The initial proposal can be found here, and I welcome your feedback and suggestions. We will be taking the budget up this week.
 
In order for me to have a strong voice in Columbia, I have to communicate with my constituents. And that is you! My website, newsletters, mailers, and Facebook are the communication tools that I use. It takes extra time, staff, and campaign funds to maintain these tools. 
If you would like to contribute, please mail a check to Hixon for House, P.O. Box 7927, North Augusta, SC 29861.
 
I hope that you find this update helpful and informative. If I can help you with an issue, please let me know. Thank you for reading and allowing me to serve you.
 

Legislative Update   –  March 21, 2016

The House of Representatives approved and sent the Senate H.4941, a bill establishing a statewide program for addressing unsound school district finances. Under the legislation, the State Department of Education is to work with district superintendents and finance officers to develop and adopt a statewide program with guidelines for: (1) identifying fiscal practices and budgetary conditions that, if uncorrected, could compromise the fiscal integrity of a school district; and (2) advising districts that demonstrate these financial problems on the corrective actions that should be taken. The department must establish three escalating levels of fiscal and budgetary concern so that the State Superintendent of Education can declare a 'fiscal watch', a 'fiscal caution', and a 'fiscal emergency' with regard to school district finances. The succeeding levels of budgetary concern carry increasingly stringent requirements for school district recovery plans, audits, and inspections as well as more intensive technical support from the state department. Should a school district's finances warrant the most severe level of concern prompting the State Superintendent of Education to declare a 'fiscal emergency', provisions are included in the legislation for the State Department of Education to promulgate emergency regulations to preclude a default on any type of debt and prevent further decline in the district's finances.
The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4940, a bill that provides in statute for the office of transformation within the State Department of Education. As directed by the State Superintendent of Education, the Office of Transformation provides technical assistance, such as diagnostic reviews of school operations and academics, to under-performing schools and districts with ratings of below average or at risk on annual school report cards or with the lowest percentages of students meeting state standards on state assessments or with the lowest high school graduation rates. 

 

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4701, the "Second Amendment Preservation Act". The legislation provides that the state of South Carolina shall not enforce any federal law, rule, or regulation that took effect after January 1, 2016, that limits the right of a person to own, possess, or use a firearm, ammunition, or firearm accessories and shall not accept any federal funds or expend any state funds to enforce any federal law, rule, or regulation that took effect after January 1, 2016, that requires firearms to be registered or confiscated.

The House amended and gave second reading approval to H.4542, the "experimental health care treatment law" which provides authorization for physicians to prescribe certain promising experimental treatments to an eligible patient who has considered all available approved treatments for an advanced illness that has been medically determined to be irreversible and, without life sustaining measures, likely to result in death within six months. The provisions apply only to an investigational drug, biological product, or device that has successfully completed phase one of an FDA approved clinical trial but remains under further investigation in federal clinical trials and has not yet been approved for general use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4413, a bill revising safe havens for abandoned babies provisions that designate locations, such as hospitals, police stations, and fire stations, where someone may leave an infant under certain circumstances without criminal penalty. The legislation requires all such locations to post a notice on the premises that prominently displays to the public that the facility, agency, or other location is a designated safe haven at which a person may leave an infant. The legislation also provides that the safe haven provisions apply to infants who are no more than one hundred eighty days old rather than the current standard of no more than thirty days old.

 
The House amended approved, and sent the Senate H.4943, a bill the issuance of deer hunting tags for in-state residents and non-residents. This new tagging system does not revise game zones or seasons, but it does include requirements for hunters to tag every deer taken in the state.  The legislation provides for the Department of Natural Resources to issue eight doe day specific tags and three buck tags with the purchase of a South Carolina hunting license and big game permit for in-state residents.  Hunters (including youth and gratis licensees) will have the option to purchase two additional buck (with four points on one side or a minimum 12-inch antler spread) tags at $5 each and/or four additional doe tags at $5 each.  All funds collected from the two additional buck tags sales will go into a Coyote Management Program.  With the purchase of a hunting license and big game permit, non-resident hunters will pay $50 for the first purchased antlered tag and $20 for each additional antlered tag (with a maximum purchase of four tags of which two must have size restriction).  There is a $10 charge for each antler-less tag purchased.  The legislation provides for antler-less and antlered deer limits to be two doe taken per day and two bucks taken per day.  The Department of Natural Resources to provide a report of a four year study by July 1, 2022, to the Chairman of the Senate Fish, Game and Forestry Committee and the Chairman of the House Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee on such issues as the status of state's the white tailed deer population and a review of the tagging program.  As part of its Coyote Management Program, DNR is directed to develop and implement a coyote tagging and bounty program. The department must tag and release no less than three coyotes in each of the four game zones and apply a bounty of not less than one thousand dollars per tagged coyote.  The department must neuter any coyote before it is released. 
 
The House approved and sent the Senate H.4717, a bill that responds to the unprecedented damage of the October 2015 floods by creating the "South Carolina Farm Aid Fund" to assist farmers in order to prevent the economic collapse of many of the state's farms which could cause a severe disruption in the state's economy and food supply chain.

 

 As always, thank you for the privilege of serving you in Columbia. If I can ever be of assistance to you, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with the rest of the General Assembly, please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

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