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Senate Summary Week of May 27 – 29, 2008

June 1, 2008
Senate Summary Week of May 27 - 29, 2008
 
Quote of the Week–  “We are now going to be able to reassert the
rule of law that has been abdicated by the federal government. It is
their responsibility, but they have abdicated enforcing federal law and
we are reasserting that rule of law at the state level to the           
 greatest extent that we can.”

Senator Chip Campsen (R-Charleston) commenting on the South Carolina
Illegal Immigration Reform Act passed this week by the General
Assembly.
 
Immigration Reform Passes General Assembly (Thursday, May 29)
The General Assembly this week approved the nation’s most
comprehensive illegal immigration reform bill (H.4400). The bill
requires all businesses to use the federal E-verify system or a valid
South Carolina driver’s license to confirm the legal immigration
status of new hires.  Worker verification became the lighting rod issue
in the session-long debate on illegal immigration reform.
 
The final bill, agreed to this week, was the result of negotiations
between Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn McConnell (R-Charleston) and
House Speaker Bobby Harrell (R-Charleston). “This is going to be the
toughest bill in the United States,” says Senator McConnell. “This
is a comprehensive bill that deals with public benefits, ID fraud and a
host of other issues. When you take the entire matrix of this bill and
put it out there and start engaging in conduct that violates this law
you are in for some rough sledding.” 
 
The bill has been sent to the governor’s office for his signature,
which he has suggested he will do in recent comments released to the
press. 
 
218th Brigadier General Addresses Senate (Thursday, May 29)
The South Carolina Senate was honored this week to hear from returning
Brigadier General Robert Livingston Jr. The Senate, in a rare move,
allowed the commander of South Carolina’s 218th Brigade Combat Team to
speak from the podium on the Senate floor, an honor typically reserved
only for senators. After receiving multiple standing ovations and
reporting on the success of the 218th in Afghanistan, General Livingston
presented a plaque to the Senate expressing gratitude for its support of
the combat team.
 
Bills Headed to the Governor’s Desk
The following bills have been ratified, or are enrolled for
ratification, and will next be sent to the governor’s office for his
consideration:
H. 3159 - Historical Documents (enrolled) - allows for certain
historical documents to be displayed in public buildings. 
H.4662 - Education Accountability Act (ratified) - eliminates PACT
test, establishes new ratings for schools performing below expectations,
as well as other changes.
S.1329 - I Believe License Plate (ratified) - allows for creation of a
new specialty license plate.
H.4900 - Cigarette Ignition Propensity (ratified) - sets new standards
for an unattended cigarette’s ability to ignite surrounding material.
S.1022 - Critical Needs Nursing Fund (ratified) - provides for
development of a fund to help in the retention of nurses.
S.104 - Civil War Sesquicentennial Advisory Board (ratified) -
establishes advisory board to coordinate South Carolina’s
commemoration of the Civil War. 
 
Bills On the Contested Calendar
Two bills that are being closely watched, received key second readings
this week, but the bills were later placed on the Senate’s contested
calendar. The bills are:
H.4538 - the “Government Accountability Act”, which establishes
guidelines for legislative oversight of state agencies, and 
H.3202 - a Constitutional Amendment guaranteeing the rights of hunting
and fishing.
 
Budget Vetoes Returned to the House (Wednesday, May 28)
Governor Mark Sanford returned to the House of Representatives, 69
vetoes to the 2008-2009 General Appropriations bill. The House began
consideration of the vetoes on Thursday, May 29 and is expected to
continue consideration on Tuesday, June 3.  Since the bill originated in
the House, the Senate will only be able to consider vetoes the House
votes to override.
 
DPS Director Nomination Goes Before Full Senate (Tuesday, May 27)
The Senate Judiciary Committee, by a vote of 19-0, gave a favorable
recommendation this week to Major Mark A. Keel, the governor’s nominee
to be the next director of the Department of Public Safety. The
confirmation hearing took almost three hours, during which time Major
Keel was asked numerous questions about recent videos that have surfaced
related to the conduct of highway patrol officers. The nomination will
now go before the full Senate for final consideration.
 
Major Keel is currently serving as the Assistant Director and Assistant
Chief at the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED), where he has served
since August of 1979.
 
Sprinkler Bill Returns to House(Thursday, May 29)
The Senate this week gave key approval to a bill (H.4470) that will
provide tax credits to homeowners who voluntarily install sprinkler
systems in their home. The bill only allows for the tax credits if
current law does not require the installation of sprinklers. The measure
will now return to the House of Representatives, which could concur with
the Senate amendments or make final changes.
 
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