SC Statehouse Report – March 28, 2016

On the day after the Brussels terror attacks (3/23), the South Carolina Senate passed a bill that would set up a state registry for refugees.

The timing was coincidental, since the bill was introduced in January. However, supporters say what happened in Belgium shows why it’s important.

The Senate vote was 39-6 in favor. None of the “no” votes came from local senators.

Among other things, the bill would require refugees to register with the state Department of Social Services.

It would also hold sponsors of the refugees responsible for damages if a refugee were to commit an act of terrorism.

If the bill passes, it will be the first bill of its kind in the country.

The bill now goes to the state House, although the House won’t address it until April 12 at the earliest. That’s because the House is on a self-imposed furlough until then.

The Senate, however, goes back to work tomorrow (3/29).


A South Carolina senate committee approved a bill last week that’s already passed in the House concerning euthanizing animals in shelters.

The bill would ban the use of barbituric acid derivatives and carbon monoxide gas as methods to put animals down.

Among the sponsors is Rep. Richie Yow (R-Chesterfield).

To read the bill, click here.


A South Carolina senate committee approved a bill to strengthen the state’s cockfighting laws.

Among other things, the bill would increase the fines and penalties for cockfighting and also make it a crime to be present at the location where cockfighting is taking place.

The bill also says if a parent or guardian has a child under 18 at a cockfight, that parent or guardian could get up to three years in prison.

One of the two sponsors is Sen. Greg Hembree (R-North Myrtle Beach).

The full senate will now debate the bill.


A South Carolina senate committee approved a bill this past week concerning alimony.

The bill says the state’s public stance on the issue shall be that no one form of alimony is preferred over another and alimony should not benefit one person in the divorce over the other.

Among the sponsors is Sen. Luke Rankin (R-Myrtle Beach).

The full senate will also now debate this bill.


Current South Carolina law requires the state to issue new license plates at least every six years.

That may soon change.

The state senate gave key approval to a bill that would increase that interval to ten years.

The reason is money. It costs the state nearly $11 to make a plate so if it has to do it less frequently, the idea is that that should save South Carolina money.

The bill already passed in the house.

After an obligatory third reading in the senate, it will head to Governor Haley.


Governor Haley took aim at longtime state senator Hugh Leatherman of Florence last week.

That came when the governor was talking about the South Carolina House’s roads plan, which would spend an extra $415 million on roads and, like the Senate plan, do so without a tax increase.

The $415 million is also a little more than the $400 million in the Senate plan, but Governor Haley on Tuesday (3/22) said she wants the House to go along with the Senate plan, which also calls for the reform of the SCDOT commission.

Ms. Haley said an example of why that’s needed is the Pamplico Highway widening project in Florence County.

While local money pays for some of that, more than half of it is state money and Governor Haley said the only reason it gets millions of state dollars is because Senator Leatherman is from Florence.

Leatherman (R-Florence) also chairs the powerful senate finance committee.

Governor Haley suggested interstate projects in the Columbia and Charleston areas and in the Upstate impact more people and called the Pamplico Highway project, a “pet project” of Leatherman’s and said, “this road is being taken care of because the Senate president happens to live there.”

However, many contend the Pamplico Highway does need widening and interstates and major highways aren’t the only roads in the state that need work.


Senator Leatherman announced last Tuesday (3/22) that he will seek a tenth term in Columbia.

The Senate president pro-tempore is 84 years old and has held the District 31 seat for 35 years.

Florence businessman and county Republican party chair Richard Skipper announced he’ll also run for the seat.


If you want to run for a South Carolina House or Senate seat, you have until Wednesday (3/30) to file.

All Senate and House seats are up this Fall (all constitutional officers, including the Governor are not).

The primaries are June 14.

Any runoffs will take place June 28.

The general election is November 8.

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