SC Statehouse Report – April 11, 2016

Perhaps the most talked-about bill in the Statehouse last week concerned a bill that didn’t even exist when the week began.

That bill was introduced in the state Senate and, among other things, would require transgender people to use public bathrooms of the gender of their birth and not necessarily the gender of which they identify.

The bill would apply to public schools and other public buildings.

It would allow private businesses to make their own rules.

It would also ban local governments from passing regulations that allow people to choose bathrooms.

North Carolina passed a similar bill last month. Many from other states, including some large corporations, have criticized the North Carolina law and threatened economic action, including boycotts, against the state.

The South Carolina bill’s main sponsor, Sen. Lee Bright (R-Spartanburg) says such boycotts don’t bother him, saying such action could backfire and hurt those companies.

“I want to stand with North Carolina and I think you should as well, with our neighbors to the north who are showing some common decency and some common sense,” Bright said.  “And I just want to say to these companies, ‘Hey, the silent majority is watching’.”

Governor Haley, however, says South Carolina doesn’t need such a law.

She says a 1999 religious freedom law works “just fine” and the state needs to focus on better jobs and better roads.

South Carolina’s bill has a long way to go before it gets close to becoming law and, based on the Governor’s words, it could face a veto if it makes it to her desk.

The bill is now in a senate committee.

To read the bill, click here.


A South Carolina Senate committee last week rejected a bill to allow medical marijuana.

While many doctors and others say marijuana does have some medicinal benefits, most of those opposed worry legalizing it for those reasons will lead to more recreational abuse.

One of the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Tom Davis (R-Beaufort) said, “this is something that is providing real relief to people who are suffering.”

However, Sen. Kevin Johnson (D-Manning) countered, “Back in my district, every single medical professional that contacted me about this bill is against it.”

The Senate’s medical affairs committee voted down the bill by a vote of 7-4, saying the benefits did not outweigh the risks.

While the Senate bill died, a similar bill remains alive for now in the the House.


In all likelihood, South Carolina may issue new license plates every ten years, instead of the current six-year interval.

The state Senate last week passed a bill to allow that and since it already passed in the house, it now goes to Governor Haley.

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.


Shane Massey is the new South Carolina Senate majority leader.

He’s a Republican from Edgefield County and got the post on Tuesday, one day after the previous leader, Sen. Harvey Peeler (R-Gaffney) suddenly gave up the position.

Massey is 40 years old and has served eight years in the Senate.

Peeler is 67 and has served 35 years.


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

The primaries are June 14 and we have contested primaries in our part of South Carolina.


Four local Senate seats feature primary races:

In District 30 (Marion, Florence, Dillon, Horry & Marlboro Counties), a Democratic primary between incumbent Kent Williams (Marion) and Patrick Richardson (Gresham).

In District 31 (Florence & Darlington Counties), a Republican primary between incumbent Hugh Leatherman (Florence), Richard Skipper (Florence) and Dean Fowler, Jr. (Florence).

In District 33 (Horry County), a Republican primary between incumbent Luke Rankin (Myrtle Beach) and Scott Pyle (Myrtle Beach) .

In District 34 (Georgetown, Horry and Charleston Counties), a Republican primary between Reese Boyd (Murrells Inlet), Joe Ford (Pawleys Island), Stephen Goldfinch (Murrells Inlet) and Dick Withington (Myrtle Beach).

The incumbent, Dr. Ray Cleary (R-Murrells Inlet), is not running for a fourth term.


Four local House seats also feature primaries:

In District 50 (Lee, Kershaw & Sumter Counties), a Democratic primary between Brian Alston (Rembert), Crystal Cunningham (Rembert), Tom Drayton (Bishopville), Keith Johnson (Lamar – Lee County), Demoine Kinney (Bishopville) and Will Wheeler (Bishopville).

The incumbent, Grady Brown (D-Bishopville) is not running for a 17th term.


In District 57 (Marion, Dillon & Horry Counties), a Democratic primary between Lucas Atkinson (Marion), Lee Walter Jenkins (Marion) and Ryan Waller (Mullins).

The incumbent, Wayne George (D-Mullins) is not running for a third term.


In District 64 (Clarendon & Sumter Counties), a Democratic primary between incumbent Robert Ridgeway (Manning), Herc Conyers (Manning) and Mitch Ellerby (Manning).

In District 103 (Georgetown, Williamsburg & Horry Counties), a Democratic primary between incumbent Rev. Carl Anderson (Georgetown) and Dewon Huggins (Bucksport).

There’s also a Republican primary for the U.S. House District 1 between the incumbent Mark Sanford and state Rep. Jenny Horne (Summerville).


Any runoffs will take place June 28.

The general election is November 8.

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