SOUTH CAROLINA GENERAL ASSEMBLY’S FINAL “REGULAR” WEEK
At 5pm last Thursday, Sine Die went into effect, marking the end of the 2021-2022 Legislative Session.
“Although many laws might sound like gibberish to non-lawyers (and even to many lawyers, for that matter), ‘sine die’ is not. It’s Latin for ‘without a day’... to describe an adjournment when the date to reconvene is not specified…” (Congressional Institute).
With many hours on the Floor our last three days had no shortage of work to do. Until the last minute, my colleagues and I fought to push many of our conservative agenda items over the finish line. Our successes this year will make South Carolina a better place to live, work, and raise a family for years to come.
Sine Die Resolution and Pro-Life Legislation This year’s Sine Die resolution sets out the specific reasons the General Assembly can return until the new legislature is elected in November. This year, we will likely return to pass a final state budget once finalized, and we will review any gubernatorial vetoes.
Furthermore, we included a provision that allows us to return to debate legislation in reaction to a decision of the United States Supreme Court in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization. If, as anticipated, Dobbs overturns Roe v. Wade and pushes decisions on abortion to the states, the South Carolina General Assembly can return to accomplish what we intended with the Fetal Heartbeat Bill: protect innocent life in South Carolina by outlawing abortion.
Status Update on the Budget & Tax Cuts
It has been the year of tax cuts in the South Carolina House! I proudly helped craft and voted for a budget and an extensive tax cut plan that was designed with the South Carolina taxpayer in mind. We carefully calculated each dollar, putting to use the historic surpluses we had available due to years of conservative budgeting and planning.
Our budget centered around 4 R’s: increasing reserves, roads and infrastructure, raises for teachers and first responders, and over $1 billion in tax relief. It passed the House and was sent to the Senate, where they developed their own version. Given the differences, the House and Senate will each send 3 delegates to meet in a conference committee where they will reconcile the differences to write a final budget that best serves our State.
As well as a budget, the Senate also created their own version of a tax relief plan in response to the House’s $1 billion tax relief plan that I co-sponsored and supported last month. We hold that our plan better serves South Carolina taxpayers since it saves the taxpayers more money. Our plan focuses on collapsing the middle tax brackets to help hard-working middle earners - where the majority of South Carolinians fall.
Conservative Fiscal Planning: Raising Reserves
Part of being fiscally conservative and prepared for the future is having sufficient reserves. Raising our state general reserve fund was a priority for us this year, which helps prepare us in the face of financial uncertainty. I voted for a bill that will gradually raise reserves from 5% to 7%. It also increases capital reserve funds from 2% to 3%. Altogether, South Carolina will save 10% of revenue per year. This is another bill that will go to a conference committee for refining before being approved and sent to the Governor.
South Carolina is in the TOP SIX STATES who have planned & saved for a rainy-day! Source: 2022 The Pew Charitable Trusts
Military Retirement Income Tax ELIMINATED
The ‘Workforce Enhancement and Military Recognition Act’ is a piece of legislation that I am very proud to have co-sponsored and passed - in fact, every Republican from your Beaufort House Delegation was a sponsor and supporter. This milestone bill eliminates state income taxes on retirement income for military personnel in South Carolina. Beaufort County is blessed to have many retirees make their homes here and I could not be more thankful for the veterans of our state. It was an honor and pleasure to champion this bill and see this legislation ratified on Thursday and signed by the Governor.
Election Integrity Sent to the Governor’s Desk!
I recently reported how the Senate was not overly supportive of the House’s strong and bipartisan election reform bill - you may remember that it passed the House unanimously back in March. Being one of the most important and crucial pieces of legislation to go through our General Assembly this year, the House put the election reform language back in 8 more bills. This aimed to give the Senate 8 more chances to pass the important reforms to our election system. Finally, thanks to the work of House leadership and election reform champions in both bodies and citizen groups across our state, our own Representative Weston Newton and Senator Chip Campsen reached a compromise and the Senate agreed to a bill which included most of the House’s election integrity language without a poison pill, and on Friday, Governor McMaster signed the bill into law. He also held a ceremonial signing on Wednesday which I, Senator Campsen, and many Beaufort County advocates, along with House & Senate leadership and other citizen activists attended. (Photo above.)
What is most notable about this legislation is that it passed both Houses unanimously - bipartisanly - in a show of solidarity that all South Carolinians can be proud of and show as a beacon of good government “of the people, by the people, for the people”!
Bill Simmary: The bill is an overhaul of South Carolina's current election system.
● Increases identification requirements on mail-in ballots; Modifies reasons for mail-in absentee voting
● Creates an 'Early Voting' system, which extends two weeks before an election for all qualified voters
● Outlaws County Election Commissions from receiving funds from third-party groups like the ACLU or Facebook
● Streamlines the election systems throughout the state so that a vote in York County is counted the same as a vote in Berkeley County
● Allows random Election audits to be conducted of precincts and must be made public
● Requires annual maintenance of the voter registration list using Bureau of Vital Statistics information
● Cleans up voter rolls by requiring the DMV to provide the Election Commission with a list of non-residents
● Increases voting machine security, requiring them to not have internet or wireless connection capability
● Prevents ballot harvesting by limiting the number of absentee ballots a person can return to five
I look forward to protecting the integrity of our elections in South Carolina with these significant changes to our election system that make it easier to vote and harder to cheat in South Carolina.
Critical Race Theory Passes the House - AGAIN!
One piece of legislation that we had to fight for again this week was a bill to outlaw Critical Race Theory indoctrination out of our classrooms and to give parents more insight into what their children are being taught. Unfortunately, our original House bill never made it out of the Senate, so our original language was incorporated into a different Senate Billand sent back for approval.
School Choice: Education Scholarships
A conference committee was formed this week to finalize legislation that promises school choice to thousands of families in South Carolina who might not have had the resources to previously enjoy educational freedom. This legislation which has its own dedicated funds - and does not remove any dollars dedicated to public schools - aims to provide scholarships to eligible students to put towards tuition, books, transportation, and other school expenses involved in attending the independent school of their choice. As one of the House conferees, I will meet with my colleagues Representatives Bill Whitmire and Jackie Hayes and the Senate team to work out a mutually agreed upon plan and move this bill forward.
Save Women’s Sports
On Tuesday, my colleagues and I approved the Senate's tweaks to a bill that saves women’s sports. This bill requires student athletes to only compete in sports based on their biological gender. The bill will soon move across the desk of Governor McMaster, where I hope he will sign it into law.
Foster Care Reform - Approved!
This week, Governor McMaster signed H.3509, which was championed by some of our foster children advocates in the House. This bill is an extension of foster care services, which will now go to support foster care youth until they reach 21 years of age, rather than 18. As a longtime member of the SC General Assembly Joint Committee on Children, I am proud to be a supporter of this important legislation and glad to see the Senate and Governor McMaster support it too!to live by adding, rearranging, and deleting content blocks.
I will share a larger, full session summary in a few weeks after our budget and conference committees have been able to complete their work on various bills.
Last note - at 5:01pm last Thursday, Speaker Jay Lucas retired and our new Speaker of the House, Representative Murrell Smith (Sumter) moved into his new position. As my former Ways & Means Chairman, I have worked closely with Speaker Smith and am excited for his new leadership position and how he will move the House forward. I also send my deepest thanks to now, former Speaker Lucas and wish him all the best in this new chapter.
for allowing me to serve and be “OUR COMMUNITY VOICE” in the South Carolina House. If I may be of assistance with any state government issue, please call on me at 843-263-1867 or email at email@example.com OR with our Beaufort Legislative Delegation office 843-255-2260. You can also visit my website: ericksonforhouse.com. Your thoughts and issues are always important and welcome.