IMPORTANT INFORMATION/BLUE GRANITE RATE INCREASE HEARING

Rep. Nathan Ballentine and I requested the Irmo night hearing and it will be held next today, January 30, 6pm at the Irmo Municipal Building. ORS will have attorneys, utility technical staff, and consumers services staff at the hearing to pass out material and answer any questions.

The website below has more information:

 (https://ors.sc.gov/news/2020-01/ors-releases-consumer-information-blue-granite-water-company-rate-case)

Overview

Representative Chip Huggins District 85 Serving Chapin and Irmo District 85 Serving Chapin and Irmo

Governor Henry McMaster led South Carolina into the roaring 20’s with his State of the State speech on Wednesday and outlined a bright future for the 5,148,000 who call our state home. The Governor laid out a sincere plan to move SC forward and I am ready to work with the entire General Assembly to turn it into reality. 

The State of the State

Governor McMaster’s agenda prioritizes public education and returning money to taxpayers. On the education issue, I am excited to work with the Governor and am hopeful that the Senate will soon pass their own comprehensive education reform bill like the House passed last session. In addition, I also support the Governor’s plan to expand 4-year-old kindergarten programs, increase teacher pay again and freeze higher education tuition rates for in-state students and universities. Other highlights from his speech included sending some of the budget surplus back to the taxpayers, upgrading our prison systems, raising the pay for law enforcement and state employees and passing the Heartbeat Bill. 

We are listening to teachers…

I am very pleased to say that Speaker Jay Lucas has proposed H. 4760 which will continue our education reforms efforts by reducing the number of state-mandated tests and assessments. This will allow more time in the classrooms for teachers to teach. The bill successfully passed subcommittee and full committee this week.

Special Guest

Speaker Jay Lucas is hosting the Mississippi Superintendent of Education, Dr. Carey Wright, this Thursday, January 30th. Mississippi has taken big strides in education reform in recent years and I am excited to hear more about Dr. Wright’s experience. She will be addressing the full education committee in Blatt Room 110 at 1:30pm. The public is encouraged to attend or you can watch Dr. Wright’s testimony at https://www.scstatehouse.gov.

Congratulations

Gov. Henry McMaster has named Rep. Bobby Cox (District 21) to lead South Carolina’s new Veterans’ Affairs Department. Rep. Cox is a former Army Ranger who was elected to the General Assembly in 2018. The Senate will have their hearing this Wednesday to confirm his position.

AND OTHER ACTIONS OF THE HOUSE:

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4404, a bill enacting the “VETERANS NURSING DEGREE OPPORTUNITY ACT” as a means of both addressing the state’s nurse shortage and smoothing the transition for veterans from military life to professional civilian careers. The legislation establishes programs to enable veteran military clinical personnel, such as medics and corpsmen, to accelerate the process at participating South Carolina public and independent colleges and institutions for obtaining associate’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees in nursing by awarding academic and clinical credit or waivers for relevant education, experience, and skills acquired from their military service.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3199, a bill REQUIRING INSTRUCTION ON STUDENT LOANS IN HIGH SCHOOL FINANCIAL LITERACY PROGRAMS. The legislation expands high school financial literacy program requirements so that they also include instruction on college and education loans, key loan terms, monthly payment obligations, repayment options, credit, and education loan debt. The State Board of Education is directed to incorporate these new instructional topics with the adoption of the next revisions scheduled for the social studies academic standards under cyclical review.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3257, a bill that provides for updating public school INSTRUCTION ON MENTAL, EMOTIONAL, AND SOCIAL HEALTH under the Comprehensive Health Education Act. The legislation provides that, at the next cyclical review of the health standards, the State Board of Education shall continue to revise existing age appropriate standards and concepts that address mental, emotional, and social health. Before September 1, 2020, in addition to the current standards, the board shall continue to make standards aligned instructional materials available to districts. Districts shall continue to adopt or develop curriculum locally. Beginning with the 2020-2021 School Year, each seventh grade student must be offered one unit of instruction in mental health and wellness based on the instructional unit selected or adopted by the board, and each ninth grade student shall receive and successfully complete a one unit course of study in mental health and wellness based on the instructional unit selected or adopted by the board.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4403, a bill revising provisions relating to BULLYING PROHIBITION POLICIES that must be adopted by school districts. The legislation provides for a more expansive definition of “harassment, intimidation, or bullying”.  Procedures are established for responding to and remediating allegations of bullying. The legislation requires an appeals procedure. Local districts are required to adopt policies for the prevention of harassment, intimidation, or bullying that are at least as stringent as the model policies developed by the State Board of Education. A procedure is established that requires the state board to approve local policies to ensure that they meet the minimum requirements.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4076, a bill REQUIRING BOARD AND COMMISSION MEMBERS TO SIGN STATEMENTS ACKNOWLEDGING THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES AND AUTHORITY. The legislation establishes a protocol under which an agency or instrumentality in the executive branch of state government or a public institution of higher learning with a governing board or commission is required to have its board or commission members sign a written document outlining statutory duties and powers. Board or commission members are not eligible to receive mileage, subsistence, or per diem unless these documents are signed in a timely manner. Repeated refusal to sign the required documents constitutes grounds for removal from office by the Governor for persistent neglect of duty. The bill implements recommendations arising from the House Legislative Oversight Committee’s study of the South Carolina Commission on Indigent Defense.

The House amended and gave second reading approval to S.996, a joint resolution authorizing an EXTENSION OF SOUTH CAROLINA PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION CANDIDATE SCREENING to provide an opportunity to find additional qualified candidates to present to the General Assembly for election to the commission that oversees public utilities. The legislation authorizes an extension in screening for candidates for PSC Seats 1, 3, 5, and 7 that allows the Public Utilities Review Committee to accept applications for a time period beginning Monday, February 3, 2020, through noon on Friday, February 28, 2020. Provisions are made for advertising these positions. In screening candidates for the Commission and making its findings, the Review Committee is directed to give due consideration to race, gender, and other demographic factors to assure nondiscrimination, inclusion, and representation to the greatest extent possible of all segments of the population of this state.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4504, a bill to provide the Department of Health and Environmental Control with more effective means of regulating WASTE TIRE FACILITIES, particularly those facilities that amass large quantities of tires without recycling them in a timely manner. The legislation authorizes DHEC to promulgate regulations to protect human health and safety of the environment from the adverse effects of improper, inadequate, or unsound management of waste tires. DHEC is authorized to conduct inspections and investigations, obtain records of waste tire processing, storage, or hauling activities, obtain samples, and conduct research regarding the operation and maintenance of any waste tire management facility. A protocol is established for DHEC to place a facility under a suspension when it exceeds its permitted capacity and to sanction a facility that violates a suspension by accepting additional waste tires. DHEC is charged with maintaining a Waste Tire Rebate Facility List that includes only facilities that are in compliance and fulfill the requirements of a waste tire recycling facility.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4811, a bill revising beachfront management restrictions placed on erosion control structures or devices seaward of the setback line to allow for the placement of shoreline perpendicular WINGWALLS that extend landward at a ninety degree angle from the ends of existing erosion control structures or devices that are consistent in height and composition with the existing erosion control structures to which they are attached subject to any special conditions imposed by the Department of Health and Environmental Control.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4202, a bill requiring the state registrar of vital statistics at the Department of Health and Environmental Control to issue, upon receipt of certain documentation, a CERTIFICATE OF FOREIGN BIRTH for a child with United States citizenship who is born in a foreign country to a parent who is a resident of South Carolina.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4286, a bill revising requirements for PRESCRIPTION DRUG LABELS to provide that the lot number of the prescription must be indicated on the label, patient receipt, or bar code.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3695, a bill establishing provisions that make MOTORCYCLES OR MOTORCYCLE THREE-WHEEL VEHICLES ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE HIGH MILEAGE TAX DEDUCTIONS.

The House appointed a conference committee to address its differences with the Senate on H.3357, a bill allowing for a HEARING IMPAIRMENT NOTATION ON A MOTOR VEHICLE REGISTRATION.

Thank you for allowing me to serve you in the South Carolina House of Representatives and please feel free to contact me via email at [email protected] or my 24-hour phone line at 331-8468.