Dear Friends,

The House of Representatives has had a successful session, getting important House Legislation moved to the Senate. We have nearly completed our agenda with three days left in the session.


The House has approved an ethics reform package that increases transparency, accountability and independent oversight, passed new comprehensive legislation aimed at reforming the DOT, and fought Democrats' attempts to kill income tax relief. In addition, we approved a measure that would force deregulation and remove government red tape from small business owners, expand pro-gun legislation and passed the Pro-Life Pain-Capable bill.


An issue that has been on Republican Caucus agendas since we achieved the House majority in 1994 was to shorten the session by nearly two months. That legislation is also in the Senate now and we hope our colleagues take swift action on it.


During "crossover" week, the House passed nearly 50 pieces of legislation this week. Here are a few of the major items approved:

  • Environmental Regulation Reform: H.3910 reduces the amount of time given to regulators to enforce certain environmental regulations.
  • Sunset Certificates of Need: This bill revised and streamlines the Certificate of Need process and repeals it completely in 2018. The House overwhelmingly supported this measure which helps to limit the regulation of healthcare providers around the state.
  • Pro-Gun Provision: H.3799 approves a concealed weapons permit (CWP) reciprocity agreement with the state of Georgia allowing licensed CWP carriers to cross state lines without any ramifications. I am the sponsor of this bill with over 60 co-sponsors. This bill has passed the house by a vote of 100 to 5.

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.


 Legislative Update – June 2, 2015


Body Cameras for Law Enforcement

Recent events have prompted many to look at the viability of body cameras for law enforcement officers. The House Judiciary Committee approved a measure developing a pilot program administered by the SC Law Enforcement Training Council to study the use of body cameras on law enforcement officers. The program would span 3 counties and 6 municipalities on an opt-in basis. The Training Council will report their findings to the General Assembly after a 6 month period. Both civil liberties organizations and the law enforcement community support this pilot program. After a debate on the House Floor last week the S47 passed with bi-partisan support. Once enacted the House version would:

  1. Charge the SC Law Enforcement Training Council (SCLETC) with studying the use, implementation procedures, and costs for body cameras. This first phase would last 180 days upon initial ratification.
  2. In the second 180 day phase, the SCLETC creates the guidelines for initial implementation.
  3. Throughout this process local law enforcement are given opportunities to voice any concerns they may have as they also study the impacts of implementation.
  4. The report must include a footage retention policy, detailed privacy policy, and a fiscal impact study.
Once completed, the Training Council must report their finding to the General Assembly at which time my colleagues and I will be able to make the best informed decision possible about our state's use of body cameras.
It is important that we also consider the unintended associated costs–seen recently in communities around the country–of not having these cameras: potential expense of lawless behavior and injuries to person or property, out-of-control investigation/litigation cost, and damage to South Carolina's reputation as a tourist destination. Weighed against those factors, the implementation of body cameras could represent a massive potential savings for tax payers.


Concealed Weapons

I met in a Senate subcommittee last week on these two bills. The South Carolina Sheriff's Association and the Fraternal Order of the Police are trying to kill both bills. I was able to get the Senate to carry these two bills over to the 2016 Session to reconsider. The House amended approved and sent the Senate H.3799, this bill that I sponsored provides for the recognition of concealed weapons permits issued in neighboring states. The legislation makes provisions for South Carolina to automatically recognize concealed weapon permits for carrying handguns issued by Georgia and North Carolina. Currently, South Carolina has established concealed weapons permits reciprocity with North Carolina, but not with Georgia.


The House also approved and sent the Senate H.3025, a bill providing authorization to carry a concealed weapon without a permit. In making its revisions, the legislation retains most of the current provisions relating to concealed weapons, including:
  • The issuance of concealed weapons permits by the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED)
  • The posting of notification that allows a business owner to prohibit concealed weapons on the premises
  • The homeowner permission required for carrying a concealed weapons into a private residence
  • A list of places where concealed weapons are not allowed such as schools, daycare facilities, courthouses, and the meeting places of government bodies.
These new provisions for carrying a concealed weapon apply only to those individuals who may legally purchase a firearm from a properly licensed and certified firearms dealer. 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. With the adoption of these provisions for honoring out-of-state concealed weapons permits, the legislation eliminates the current protocol for establishing concealed weapon reciprocity with other states. 


Veterans and Military Service Members

The House approved and sent to the Senate several bills impacting veterans and military service members. The "South Carolina Giving Back to Our Veterans Act",H.3147, provides a SC income tax deduction for all military retirement benefits attributable to active duty service in the United States Armed Forces. The deduction is gradually phased in under a three-year schedule so that a full deduction for military retirement benefits is provided for taxable years beginning after 2016. 

Legislation H.3149 provides a 90 day property tax grace period for deployed military service members. This legislation requires counties, upon application of the taxpayer, to extend the date for filing returns and the payment of property taxes for persons serving in the United States Armed Forces or National Guard in or near a hazard duty zone. The determent begins on the tax due date and ends 90 days after the last date of deployment. No interest may be charged during the deployment unless the tax is not paid within the 90 day grace period.
The "South Carolina Uniform Military and Overseas Voters Act", H.3154, legislation establishes protocols to address issues of custodial responsibility that arise when a parent in the uniformed Armed Services is deployed, including provisions for temporary child custody orders and agreements that are put in place during the time of deployment.
The House also approved and sent to the Senate H.3548, a bill establishing notification requirements for child abuse and neglect allegations involving active military families. The legislation establishes requirements for department of social services reports of alleged child abuse and neglect involving a child of an active military family to be made to designated military authorities at military installations.
The House approved S.391, a bill revising eligibility criteria for in-state higher education tuition rates for veterans and their dependents, and enrolled the legislation for ramifications.Implementation of these provisions at the state level is necessary to allow for eligibility under federal G.I. Bill provisions. The legislation provides that active duty military personnel may be charged less than the undergraduate tuition rate for SC residents for courses that are presented on a distance basis, regardless of residency. Also a covered individual enrolled in a public institution of higher education receiving education assistance are entitled to pay in-state tuition and fees without regard to the length of time the covered individual has resided in this State. Such a covered individual is defined as a veteran who served 90 days or longer on active duty in the Uniformed Service of the United States, their respective Reserve Forces, and the National Guard and who enrolls within three years of discharge; or a person who is entitled to and receiving certain federal assistance by virtue of the person's relationship to the veteran. A covered individual must live in this State while enrolled at the in-state institution.


Tax Credits


The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3710, a bill providing for a multiple lot real property tax discount extension. The legislation extends the multiple lot real property tax discount that has been provided to property developers to allow for an additional three years of eligibility in certain circumstances so that it would apply for property tax years beginning after 2011 and before 2019.


The House also amended, approved and sent to the Senate H.3725, a bill revising tax credits for the rehabilitation of abandoned buildings and historic structures. The legislation includes criteria for a state-owned abandoned building that affords tax credit eligibility for rehabilitating a building of a certain size abandoned for more than five years that was most recently owned by the State, or an agency, instrumentally, or political subdivision of the State. The legislation revises tax credit provisions for rehabilitating certified historic structures to provide a taxpayer may elect a 25% tax credit in lieu of the current 10% tax credit, not to exceed $1 million for each certified historic structure. A three-year, rather than a five-year write-off period is established for the tax credits for rehabilitation expenses of abandoned buildings and historic structures.


The Senate recently completed its budget debate. After my colleagues and I made some changes this week, we sent it back to the Senate in order to move the final budget to the House-Senate conference committee. However, because it took the Senate so long to finish the budget the first time, we will most likely have to return to Columbia after the final day of session to complete it.

Domestic Violence

The House gave final approval to the domestic violence bill and sent it to Governor Haley who is expected to sign it. This legislation significantly increases penalties for offenders, bars higher-lever abusers from owning guns, and revamps how such rimes are prosecuted in SC. State Attorney General Alan Wilson said, "South Carolina has taken its first giant step in the long journey to changing the culture of violence." The measure creates four new tiers from domestic violence offenses based on the circumstances and severity of the incident.




Senate Filibustering

Based on the filibustering going on in the Senate as of late, we took responsible steps of passing a continuing resolution to make sure that if the Senate cannot pass a budget, government would not shut down.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Election

This week the House met with the Senate in a joint assembly to elect our state's next Supreme Court Chief Justice. In a unanimous decision, members of both chambers selected Justice Costa Pleicones to lead the high court. This marks the first new Supreme Court Chief Justice in 15 years.



College Savings

If you or someone you know had a baby on May 29, that person is eligible for a grant of $529 to start a 529 college savings plan. This privately funded grant is available to anyone opening an account for their child by August 30. Contact the State Treasurer's Office for more information by clicking here.



Prohibiting Tattoos and Piercings for Pets
The House approved, amended, and sent the Senate H.3917, legislation prohibiting tattoos and piercings for pets. The legislation prohibits the piercing or tattooing of a companion animal except for when conducted by veterinarians for purposes of providing a means of identification or supplying a medical benefit. The legislation defines a companion animal as any animal that is kept inside a residential dwelling and any dog or cat regardless of where it is kept. The definition does not include livestock, fowl, or any wild animal. A violation is a misdemeanor subject to a fine of up to $1000 and/or imprisonment for up to 30 days.


Sine Die

Thursday, June 4th is the "Sine Die", the official end of the session. I will update you next week on when the House will have to return to session to consider the budget, any outstanding conference committee reports, or governor's vetoes.




As always, thank you for the privilege of serving you in Columbia. If I can ever be of assitance 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.