With a state budget surplus of nearly $3 billion and determination to fight federal mandates, Spartanburg area lawmakers have plenty on their plates in this, the second year of the 124th session of the South Carolina General Assembly.
Bills filed address vaccine and mask mandates, abortion, critical race theory, gun rights, tax reform, election integrity, and marijuana decriminalization. There’s even a bill to designate the enjoyment of antique motor vehicles as the official family-friendly pastime of South Carolina.
Here is a look at some bills and issues supported by Spartanburg area lawmakers:
Rep. Rosalyn Henderson-Myers, D-Spartanburg:
► Marijuana possession, H 3228, decriminalizes possession of an ounce or less of marijuana and 10 grams or less of hashish. The bill was referred last year to the House Judiciary Committee.
► Law enforcement diversity, H 3667, requires law agencies in communities “with a relatively high concentration of minority residents” to recruit, train and promote minority officers. The bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
► Law enforcement civilian review board, H 3668, requires local governments to establish a law enforcement civilian review board to investigate incidents involving the use of force by a law enforcement officer, review internal investigations and recommend disciplinary actions.
Rep. Rita Allison, R-Lyman:
► Domestic violence, H 4765, allows a court to admit evidence of a previously committed offense by a defendant in a criminal domestic case proceeding.
Rep. Steven Long, R-Boiling Springs:
► Primaries, H 3496, requires voters to register by party affiliation and allows voters to cast ballots only in their party’s partisan primary election. Partisan voters may not switch parties for two years.
► Homestead property tax exemption, H 3452, increases the homestead property tax exemption from the first $50,000 to the first $100,000 of fair market value.
Sen. Josh Kimbrell, R-Spartanburg
► Social media, S 551, requires the owner of a social media website to notify a user when their account is disabled or suspended, with an explanation of why.
► Medical Ethics and Diversity Act, S 811, allows doctors, nurses and other medical practitioners to decline to participate in health care services that violate their conscience.
► Tax cuts, S 924, also sponsored by Sen. Scott Talley of Spartanburg, the Job Creation and Competitiveness Act of 2022 would eliminate all South Carolina business income taxes for C and S corporations and limited liability corporations and cut the personal top rate from 7% to 3.5% and close sales tax loopholes to cover the cost.
“This is important if we want to remain competitive with North Carolina in the coming years with their cutting of taxes,” Kimbrell said.
Rep. Max Hyde, R-Spartanburg:
► Threatening public officials, H 3728, creates a felony offense with up to 30 years in jail for threatening to kill or harm a public official, public employee, teacher, principal or immediate family member when the threat is directly related to their job.
“You know the world is turned upside down right now,” Hyde said at a press conference last month in announcing the bill. “We need to turn it right side up, and this is one way.”
► Trail tax credits, H 3120, provide a tax credit to any property owner who voluntarily grants a permanent, public recreational trail easement. A similar bill sponsored by Senator Talley, S 774, is in the Senate.
“The tax credit would serve as another way to encourage the growth of trail systems across the state,” Hyde said. “A local example would be “The Dan” (Daniel Morgan Trail System). This concept is an all-around win because it cuts taxes, drives economic development and improves the health of our citizens.”
Sen. Scott Talley, R-Spartanburg
► Second Amendment Protection Act, S 0369, also sponsored by Sen. Shane Martin, of Pauline, prevents federal agents and South Carolina authorities from enforcing any federal laws related to firearms and ammunition.
Rep. Josiah Magnuson, R-Campobello
The most pressing legislation is passage of bills to protect residents from federal vaccine and mask mandates, according to Republican state Rep. Josiah Magnuson of Campobello.
►H 3126 makes it unlawful for any state or local government to accept federal funds to enforce a federal mask or vaccine mandate. It also makes an employee eligible for unemployment benefits if he or she is fired or suspended because they don’t receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
A Senate version sponsored by Republican Sens. Shane Martin of Pauline and Tom Corbin, Greenville-Spartanburg, S 177, requires a COVID vaccination to be “purely voluntary” and forbids employers from firing or suspending anyone who is not vaccinated.
► Judicial constitutional amendment, H 3284, also sponsored by Rep. Long, provides that Supreme Court justices, judges on the Court of Appeals and Circuit Court judges be appointed by the governor with the consent of the Senate, rather than being elected by the General Assembly.
Magnuson said he also supports income tax reform that would cut the top rate from 7% to 4.5%.
“Florida and Tennessee now have zero income tax and North Carolina and Georgia both just cut their income taxes again,” he said. “South Carolinians are in desperate need of a break.”
Sen. Shane Martin, R-Pauline:
Abortion is another hot topic this year, with the U.S. Supreme Court taking up a case that could result in the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark case that protects a pregnant woman’s right to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction.
This week, the Senate Medical Affairs Subcommittee that Martin chairs passed S 988, which would criminalize abortion in South Carolina if Roe v. Wade is overturned. A similar bill, H 4830, is in the House and is sponsored by Magnuson and Long.
In addition to fighting federal COVID vaccine mandates, Martin said he wants to increase support for law enforcement, including corrections and the judiciary.
“I chaired the budget subcommittee that got the Highway Patrol a $6,000 raise this year and am working on doing more across the board,” he said.
He also said he supports giving teachers “higher compensation and far, far less regulation.”
Rep. Bill Chumley, R-Reidville
Rep. Bill Chumley, R-Reidville, has filed a bill that would designate the restoration, showing and enjoyment of classic and antique motor vehicles as the official family-friendly pastime of the state. Two other area lawmakers co-sponsored the bill, Long and Henderson-Myers.
“From Model Ts and Packards, to Mustangs and foreign cars, there is a type for any collector, and a community of like-minded people who enjoy the collection, restoration, and exhibition of antique or other classic cars,” the bill states.
“Whether under a shade tree, in a residential garage, or in a modern facility with all of the bells and whistles, all of these enthusiasts share the same passion: taking a discarded or neglected heap of rolling metal and turning it into a showpiece that can be appreciated for generations yet to be born.”
The bill sits in the House Education and Public Works Committee.
Contact Bob Montgomery at firstname.lastname@example.org