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SC House of Representatives

  • Whether conservative South Carolina changes its abortion laws at all in the wake of this year's U.S. Supreme Court decision is about to be decided by divided conservatives in the state House. Members on Tuesday either accept a Senate-passed bill that tweaks the state's six-week ban, or, the House can insist on its own bill outlawing all abortions except when the life of the mother is at risk or if the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest. (That ban isn't in effect at the moment because of a state Supreme Court challenge.) Typically, the House and Senate would then negotiate their differences. But Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey says there aren't enough Republican votes in the Senate for anything stricter than the six-week ban.
  • South Carolina lawmakers are not yet done debating new abortion restrictions. House Speaker Murrell Smith announced Monday that the lower chamber will meet on Sept. 27. By then it will have been more than two weeks since the Senate sent back a proposal that looked markedly different from the ban passed earlier by the House. The House last month passed a ban at all stages of pregnancy with exceptions for rape and incest, as well as the life of the mother. The Senate last week passed a six-week ban that is slightly more restrictive than a law that's on hold and is also based on when cardiac activity can be detected in an embryo.
  • South Carolina senators are moving toward a showdown on a proposal to ban abortion and make no exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest. Senators failed twice to get the exceptions back into the bill Wednesday. A number of the 30 Republicans in the 46-member Senate say they can't support the bill without the exceptions because they don't want 14-year-old rape victims to have to give birth. On the other side, are Republicans who consider any abortion to be a crime that ends a life. Democrats have been united against the bill.
  • South Carolina's Senate debate on an abortion ban that would no longer include exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest started Wednesday with the chamber's three Republican women taking a stand against a bill they said doesn't respect women and doesn't respect life. On one side are absolutists who say any abortion ends a life. On the other are conservatives who have been watching developments in other states since Roe v. Wade was overturned. They don't want to force 14-year-old rape victims to give birth, or have mothers risk death by carrying fetuses that can't survive outside the womb. Democrats say they won't help Republicans change an awful bill into a very bad bill.
  • A group of South Carolina senators has voted to remove exceptions for rape and incest from a proposed abortion ban. Democrats chose not to vote Tuesday on the proposal in what appeared to be a strategy to try to prevent the bill from passing through the Legislature. The 7-3 vote in the Senate Medical Affairs Committee involved all Republican men. The committee then took a break before considering more changes as it decides whether to send the bill to the Senate floor. The same bill without the exceptions appeared to fail in the more conservative state House before some Republicans maneuvered it to allow abortions for rape and incest victims up to the 12th week of pregnancy.
  • A settlement of a redistricting lawsuit has added drawing new South Carolina House maps to the list of things state lawmakers need to do in the final three days of the General Assembly's session this week. The House agreed to redraw maps that include the areas around Orangeburg County, areas around Richland and Kershaw counties and areas around Horry and Dillon counties. The new maps would settle the lawsuit from the ACLU and NAACP.
  • A seven year effort to pass a medical marijuana bill stopped abruptly in the House of Representatives this week where the bill died on a technicality.The bill that would allow doctors in the state to prescribe medical cannabis as treatment for certain diseases. It appeared to be on its way for passage by the House when the House leadership ruled it procedurally dead.Bills that create or raise taxes must originate in the House. The so-called Compassionate Care Act originated in the Senate where it easily passed, and it would provide for new state fees to pay for regulating the growing and distribution of medical cannabis. House leaders decided the bill would be a separate tax so they ruled it out of order.The House decision shocked leaders of the Senate. Senate bills for years have altered fees and taxes. This weeks’ action could cause repercussions for the final days of the session. Next year’s budget … proposed income tax reduction, and an election reform bill are hanging in the balance. Senate Majority leader Shane Massey said he was "flabbergasted" at the House’s action.
  • A seven-year fight to pass a medical marijuana bill may have ended in South Carolina when a House leader ruled the proposal would mean a tax increase and could not be considered. Wednesday's decision may have repercussions well beyond failing to make South Carolina one of about 40 states allowing medical marijuana. Senate leaders were stunned by the decision. The House upheld the ruling on a 59-55 vote even as opponents say it could prevent the Senate from writing any bill that deals with money, whether it's a special license plate or raising the fine for speeding.
  • South Carolina House Speaker Jay Lucas says he will step down from his leadership post when this year's regular session ends on May 12. In a letter to the House clerk, Lucas set the election to select his replacement for next Thursday, where Ways and Means Chairman Murrell Smith appears to have the position locked up.
  • More than a dozen South Carolina Republican House members are creating a Freedom Caucus, a state organization modeled on the group of conservatives in the U.S. Congress. The South Carolina version promises to attack what it says is excessive state spending and push for socially conservative proposals like eliminating the state income tax or allowing people to carry guns openly without a permit. The South Carolina Freedom Caucus says it won't only take on Democrats, but Republicans that they think don't go far enough to support those ideals.