State House Update –Week of April 20 – 24, 2009

The House of Representatives returned this week after a two week furlough. With three weeks remaining in this year’s session after this week, the House focused on committee hearings so that legislation in committees can advance to the House floor for consideration.

The Judiciary Committee met and approved bills including a bill that will provide three days of early voting on the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday preceding a Tuesday election. Absentee voting would be allowed by mail only for up to 30 days before an election. Judiciary also approved bills that would allow voters to decide by constitutional amendment whether the Governor should appoint the Secretary of State and the Superintendent of Education with the approval of the General Assembly and whether the Governor and Lieutenant Governor should run as a ticket rather than be elected separately. Bills to allow the Governor to appoint the Commissioner of Agriculture and the Adjutant General did not pass in Judiciary.

Other bills passed out of Committee include the Energy Standard Act relating to building energy efficiency standards; the South Carolina Mortgage Lending Act relating to the licensing and qualifications of mortgage lenders; and a bill to allow local oil companies to blend both ethanol and biodiesel fuel. All of these bills will be debated this coming week on the House floor.

Two bills to be debated this week on the House floor that have been pending for awhile are (1) the bill to create the Department of Workforce in place of the current Employment Security Commission and (2) the bill to set up the Tax Realignment Commission. Both of these bills will come up early in this week’s floor debates.

The budget debate continued as the Senate did not pass a budget out of the full Senate. An alternative budget was offered which funded education and law enforcement and freed up approximately $200 Million for paying down state debt. This budget proposal did not pass the Senate Finance Committee but portions of it will be offered on the Senate floor. After the Senate passes its budget, the budget will go to a conference committee of both Houses of the General Assembly. I am working with other legislators to find a solution to the budget stalemate with the Governor.

Eighth grade students from Kennedy Middle School visited the State House on Wednesday and I visited with them. Also, several constituents called or emailed me during the week regarding pending legislation and matters in the district including the Lake Shore Court road problems; the Avondale water system; the SRP Credit Union lot being open for private car sales on the weekend; the state budget; wild turkey hunting season; and funding for K-12 education. I appreciate all of the insight from folks in our district.

Finally, the Aiken County Republican Party Convention and the Aiken County Tea Party were over the weekend on April 24 and 25 respectively. I was out of town with my family on a longstanding commitment. Nevertheless, I prepared a message for attendees at each event and that message was shared with those attendees to my knowledge. According to folks that I asked, both of those gatherings were well attended and very successful.

Thank you for the opportunity to represent and to serve you. Please let me know if you have issues or concerns to discuss.

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