(Published in the Daily Journal)
By Bill Sandifer
As I write this month’s column, I have returned to Columbia for what is called a “sine die” session of the state legislature.
This special session is a short, intense few days after the end of the regular session that gives the legislature an opportunity to very quickly work on a few significant issues. The issues at hand include ethics reform that sets standards of behavior for all elected and appointed officials, the “Clemson Enterprise Act,” which would allow College of Charleston to become a research university, and more than 70 budget vetoes from Gov. Haley, which we need to either accept or override.
One development from the special session is that the Senate paved the way for Sen. Yancey McGill of Kingstree to become the state’s interim lieutenant governor. McGill is someone who has earned respect on both sides of the aisle and I’m confident he will work hard for the good of our state. Current Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell resigned and will become president of the College of Charleston, ending his 30-year of service to South Carolina in elected office.
In next month’s column, I will share more results of the sine die session, as well as details about next year’s state budget.
I do want to take the opportunity to tell you about a few of the bills Gov. Haley has signed into law during the past few weeks. Many of these items involve protecting and providing for our state’s children.
Read to Succeed. A bipartisan effort was made to get an extra $29 million in funding for reading help for our state’s children. Led by Republican Harvey Peeler (Gaffney) and Democrat Nikki Setzler (Lexington), this is just another positive move to strengthen the educational opportunities for our children.
Common Core. The governor has signed a bill that requires the state to adopt new education requirements for the 2015-16 school year, repealing the use of Common Core. This move makes South Carolina the second state to drop Common Core standards. Critics of Common Core argue that it implements a top-down, once-size-fits-all approach to public education that could be better handled by local communities and states—and the teachers and parents who live there.
Texting. It is officially now illegal to text while driving anywhere in South Carolina. Gov. Haley recently signed our bill into law that sets one standard statewide and bans texting while driving. Anything that we can do to make our roads safer for everyone is a welcome accomplishment, in my estimation.
Jaidon’s Law. In what can only be called a victory for protecting our state’s children, “Jaidon’s Law” was signed by the governor earlier this month. This law was named after a young boy who was returned to his biological parents from a foster home and died of a drug overdose. Now drug tests and additional guidance are required before a child will be returned to his or her biological parents.
Solar. One other new law is a big win for the environment and for businesses and citizens who want to see the increased use of clean, renewable energy in the Palmetto State. Many see this bill as a historic step since South Carolina has a long history of dependence almost entirely on nuclear, coal, and natural gas.
As you can see, it has been a very busy stretch for the General Assembly and one that has been extremely fruitful as well. I believe that this “sine die” session will also be something that yields a great deal of benefit for the citizens of the Palmetto State.
It continues to be my great privilege and honor to serve you at the Statehouse. If there is any way I can assist you, or your family, please know my door is always open.