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South Carolina General Assembly

  • After months of just talking among themselves, lawmakers in South Carolina are finally debating making changes in how the General Assembly chooses judges. Senators on Thursday tool up a bill altering the procedure for picking who sits on the bench.
  • Even though the General Assembly isn’t in session this summer the Republican controlled House of Representatives finds itself in turmoil following a recent federal court ruling which may have un-intentionally blown a hole in the state ethics act.
  • This year’s session of the General Assembly officially ended this week. The Republican led legislature was able to enact a number of G-O-P priorities this session, such as a new six-week abortion law, reform of the state’s bail- bond system, combatting the fentanyl epidemic, streamlining DHEC the state’s public health agency, and approving a record-setting state budget.
  • The $100 million deadlock in South Carolina's $13 billion budget erupted into public view Wednesday as the highest ranking House Democrat accused the Senate's budget leader of "putting pets over people." House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford directed the line at Senate Finance Committee Chairman Harvey Peeler for insisting on money for the state's first veterinary school at Clemson University. Peeler says House members have refused to meet with senators and are threatening pay raises for state employees, teachers and state law enforcement officers over the small, petty dispute. The state won't close without a budget on July 1, but no new money could be spent without passing the new spending plan.
  • This year’s regular session of the General Assembly ended late Thursday, May 11, 2023. It ended where it began with Republicans attempting to enact a new, restrictive abortion bill. A House committee this week approved and sent to the full House a six-week, heartbeat bill similar to a law the state Supreme Court overturned in January. Gov. McMaster plans to call lawmakers back to Columbia next week, and House Speaker Murrell Smith vowed the House will pass the bill which has already been approved by the Senate.
  • With less than a month to go in this year’s session of the General Assembly it appears lawmakers will enact legislation they view as a priority under the broad description of judicial reform. Specifically, reducing the number of illegal weapons used in violent crimes, and tightening-up the state’s bond system to deny repeat offenders the opportunity to commit crimes while already out on bond for an earlier crime.
  • The South Carolina Legislature is looking to change a bond system that the Republican governor has repeatedly criticized for enabling a "revolving door" of defendants he says rack up violent charges while on pretrial release. The state Senate on Wednesday gave unanimous approval to the bill to revoke the initial bond for anyone charged with a violent crime or gun-involved felony while out on bond for a similar charge. But a provision for an additional five-year penalty, backed by the House and governor, was removed by senators who questioned its constitutionality and effectiveness.
  • April will be the last full month for this year’s session of the General Assembly, and as the final weeks approach many of the session’s major bills are still pending.
  • The Republican controlled legislature’s conservative agenda was front and center at the Statehouse this week. Lawmakers advanced new, but not so new abortion bills, a bill that would restrict what teachers can teach in their classrooms, and elected a new Supreme Court justice that will leave the court without a female justice for the first time in 35 years.
  • A federal appeals court has denied South Carolina Republicans' motion for a stay in the ongoing challenge over the state's congressional district map. Leading GOP lawmakers will now take their case to the U.S. Supreme Court in attempt to avoid redrawing the map that a three-judge federal panel last month deemed unconstitutional. According to an early January ruling, the boundaries passed last year by the Republican-dominated state Legislature mark an intentional splitting of Black voters in South Carolina's 1st District. In their Feb. 4 order, the judges postponed the date by which new maps may be presented.