This week in the Senate Jan. 23 - Jan. 27, 2017
The Senate returned to regular statewide session this week after spending the previous week working at the committee level to move bills to the floor for debate. Former Lieutenant Governor Henry McMaster became South Carolina’s governor this week following the resignation of former Governor Nikki Haley, who received confirmation by the U.S. Senate to be the next U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.
Former Senator Kevin Bryant subsequently became Lieutenant Governor after being elected President Pro Tempore by the Senate and ascending to his new position. Senator Hugh Leatherman regained the position of President Pro Tempore after a 28 to 16 vote with 1 abstention.
Bills approved by the Senate this week include:
S. 67, Sponsored by Senator Brad Hutto: This bill relates to the redevelopment of former military bases and federal facilities. Specifically, this bill states that current redevelopment fee allocations of individual income tax withholdings to the Savannah River Site Authority continue past 2021.
S. 250, Sponsored by Senators Hugh Leatherman, Nikki Setzler and Thomas Alexander: This bill, known as the “annual conformity bill,” updates South Carolina’s tax code to reflect changes made at the federal level in 2016 by conforming our state tax law to the federal code through Dec. 31, 2016. S. 58, Sponsored by Senators John Matthews, Brad Hutto, Kevin Johnson, Gerald Malloy, Margie Bright Matthews and Kent Williams: This bill creates Port Enhancement Zones to serve as distribution hubs for cargo shipped to and from the Port of Charleston. It provides for sales tax, corporate income tax and other financial incentives to increase economic growth in these zones.
S. 197, Sponsored by Senator Greg Hembree: This bill relates to the terms and conditions of operating a moped, including allowing drunken moped drivers to be charged with DUI. Current state law does not treat mopeds as vehicles so drivers aren’t violating DUI laws when they drive while intoxicated. This bill also requires moped drivers to register with the Department of Motor Vehicles and follow the same traffic rules as other vehicles.
Look ahead to next week and beyond:
License plates celebrating Clemson’s 2016 football championship could be produced soon after a bill to create and sell the special plates was moved forward by the Senate this week.
After a final vote in the Senate, S. 263, sponsored by Senators Harvey Peeler, Gerald Malloy and Thomas Alexander, will head to the House, where it isn’t likely to face opposition.
A bill that could double the penalty for those who injure or kill a police dog or horse is headed for debate on the Senate floor.
The bill, S. 6, sponsored by Senators Kevin Bryant, Greg Hembree and Paul Campbell, also known as Hyco's Law, increases the maximum prison sentence for hurting or killing police animals from five to ten years and increases the highest fine from $5,000 to $10,000.
Compiled by South Carolina Senate Pro Tempore Communications Director Michael Ulmer.