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South Carolina Legislative Update - December 19, 2014

December 19, 2014

We appreciate you following our updates and hope they have proved of value throughout the year.  The update below is the last one for 2014 and we look forward to providing you with updates on the extensive deliberations and actions of the South Carolina General Assembly and state government in 2015.  The first regular session of the 121st Session of the South Carolina General Assembly will convene on January 13, 2015, and our reports will begin the following Monday.  If you have any suggestions, or if we can be of service to you in any way, please do not hesitate to contact us.

We wish you and yours Happy Holidays and our best wishes for healthy and prosperous New Year!

Prefiled Legislation

The General Assembly finished their prefiles this week, with the House prefiling over 80 bills just yesterday.  Highlights from this week’s prefiles include:  several fair tax measures, numerous amendments to the Ethics, Government Accountability and Campaign Reform Act, sales tax exemptions for machines and materials used in the production of renewable energy sources and hybrid vehicles, certificate of need reform, domestic violence/dating violence measures, and infrastructure funding measures.  To review the bills prefiled yesterday, please click here.

In The News

First director named for new SC agency

Marcia Adams, head of the soon-to-close agency that oversees much of S.C. state government operations, was named Thursday as the first director of the state’s new Department of Administration.  Gov. Nikki Haley, to whom the new agency will report, appointed Adams to the post. Adams will move into her new job July 1 when the state Budget and Control Board is split between the Department of Administration and the new Fiscal Accountability Authority.  Adams became the budget board’s director in 2011 after spending eight years running the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles. The Beaufort native and Clemson University graduate has spent 27 years working in state government.  Adams’ experience overseeing a state agency and the budget board, made up of the governor and four other political leaders, were key reasons why Haley said she chose her for the job.  “This is the one position that I am not the slightest bit nervous about,” Haley said. “I have seen her in action. I know what she thinks. We’re looking at a good finance person that understands this is all about making the lives of every agency easier and reducing the dollars of every taxpayer in South Carolina.” 

SC House bill aims to protect whistle-blowers

Nearly a quarter of the 82 bills pre-filed Thursday in the S.C. House of Representatives centered on ethics, including a proposal to strengthen the state’s whistleblower law.   The proposal would remove the $2,000 cap on a reward that whistleblowers could receive and eliminate the $15,000 cap on legal fees.  “It recognizes that state employees who step forward ... reporting wrongdoing or abuse in state government should be protected,” said state Rep. Laurie Funderburk, D-Kershaw, who filed the bill. 

Former Haley staffer Pitts to take reins of SC chamber

Ted Pitts, former chief of staff for Gov. Nikki Haley, has been named as president and CEO of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce.  He will take over the role in January. Current chamber president and CEO Otis Rawl will serve as an adviser to the chamber’s board of directors during the transition, the organization said in a release Thursday. 

Lawmaker eyes referendum on state gas tax

Recent voter rejection of sales taxes in Greenville and Lexington counties has made some state lawmakers even more reluctant to raise taxes to pay for road improvements, according to one Greenville County legislator.  But Republican Rep. Phyllis Henderson said conservatives such as herself might still be willing to let voters decide the question in a statewide referendum. 

Harrell ethics scandal drives debate

A state House panel agreed Monday on a proposal that would ban using campaign money to pay fines or court fees for ethics related violations.  But lawmakers debated whether officials should be able to use campaign money to defend themselves when accused of breaking ethics laws. 

Nikki Haley announces domestic violence task force

Republican Gov. Nikki Haley announced a task force Tuesday that would aim to address domestic violence in South Carolina.  The task force will be made up of representatives from law enforcement, education and Cabinet agencies that could include Mental Health, Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services, Social Services and Probation, Pardon and Parole.  “Everybody that touches a victim or their family will have a representative around that table,” Haley said. 

Gov. Nikki Haley's inauguration schedule announced

Gov. Nikki Haley will be inaugurated for her second and final term at 11 a.m. Jan. 14 at the S.C. State House, the inaugural committee announced Tuesday.  Haley, a Lexington Republican, defeated Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen for a second time in November.  An inaugural committee raised $750,000 for her 2011 inauguration. She ended up donating $205,595 of that money to her Original Six foundation. 

Charleston Coast Guard air facility to remain open through 2016

A U.S. Coast Guard station that provides helicopter search-and-rescue services in Beaufort County and elsewhere will remain open through 2015, but South Carolina's U.S. senators say they'll work for a more permanent solution. 

SC GOP senator Lindsey Graham thinking about a presidential run

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a conservative with a maverick streak and a folksy manner, said Tuesday that he is thinking about seeking the Republican presidential nomination.  The 20-year congressional veteran, whose highest profile interests include defense, would likely be seen as a long-shot if he launches a candidacy. He made his remarks to reporters the same day that former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said he will explore running for the White House. 

Bush (almost) announces; he’ll ‘explore’ candidacy

Jeb Bush answered the biggest question looming over the Republican Party's next campaign for the White House on Tuesday, all but declaring his candidacy for president more than a year before the first primaries.  Bush, the son and brother of Republican presidents, is the first potential candidate to step this far into the 2016 contest, and his early announcement could deeply affect the race for the GOP nomination. 

Sen. Tim Scott delivers weekly GOP radio address

In remarks prepared for delivery in his Saturday address, South Carolina’s junior Senator, Tim Scott, said the mid-term election was a repudiation of the President’s policies and that Republicans will now “present solutions for American families, and I truly hope the President will join us.”  He promised a new fight over Obamacare saying the GOP led house and senate will “tackle the Affordable Care Act head on” and offer alternative solutions to lower health care costs and increase access to care. 

Stephen Colbert’s best SC bits on his show, ranked

Stephen Colbert, son of South Carolina, finished the latest chapter of his comedic career this week with the final airing of “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central.  Colbert completed nine years as a fake conservative host; he will succeed David Letterman as the next host of “The Late Show” in 2015.  Colbert has declared himself governor of South Carolina, a U.S. Senator from South Carolina and a candidate for President ... of South Carolina. He has defended our peaches, our barbecue and our beauty contestants. He has trained with our soldiers and partied with our students. 

Gowdy:  No interest in being speaker

A Tea Party group wants Rep. Trey Gowdy to challenge John Boehner for the Speaker’s gavel. A fellow Republican says Gowdy would certainly have his support.  But the conservative South Carolina Republican says he has no interest in becoming Speaker when lawmakers cast their vote on the House floor next month.  

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