General Assembly Files Motion with Supreme Court
Asks Court to Vacate Previous Abbeville II Order
(Columbia, SC) – House Speaker Jay Lucas (District 65-Darlington) issued the following statement after he and President Pro Tempore of the Senate Hugh Leatherman filled a motion with the Supreme Court asking for reconsideration of their most recent order.
“Arbitrary deadlines that seek to hijack the legislative process and meaningless approval from an unrealistic super-panel will not reform South Carolina’s education delivery system. Achieving actual improvement requires extensive study and input from those most familiar with the issues.
“The Court’s attempt to overstep its judicial authority further complicates the lawmaking process. More importantly, it negates the significant progress made by the House Education Task Force over the last ten months. Every child in every part of our state deserves access to a 21st century education. Because we must preserve the diligent work already completed by our task force, we think it is imperative that the Supreme Court vacate their most recent order and remove themselves from the legislative process,” said Speaker Lucas.
In January, House Speaker Jay Lucas created the House Education Policy Review and Reform Task Force. This seventeen-member group is comprised of legislators, educators, the State Superintendent of Education, the president/executive director of the South Carolina Technical College System, and a former chief education advisor to the United States Secretary of Education and includes five representatives selected by the plaintiff districts. They have been working diligently for ten months and are required to submit a report to Speaker Lucas by January 12, 2016 with their findings. After review, legislation will be drafted, introduced, and continue throughout the legislative process.
House Begins Flood Recovery Response
Ways and Means Committee will Conduct Hearings to Initiate Process
(Columbia, SC) – House Speaker Jay Lucas (District 65-Darlington) issued the following statement regarding the House’s plans to address the historic flood recovery.
“The historic flood that devastated our state nearly two weeks ago proves once again that when South Carolinians are faced with adversity, we prevail. Governor Nikki Haley, Adjutant General Bob Livingston, and the rest of ‘Team South Carolina’ kept our families as safe as possible and prevented our communities from further destruction. As we move forward with the recovery process, the House will take a proactive approach to ensure that South Carolina bounces back from this disaster as quickly as possible.”
Over the past several days, Speaker Lucas has met and spoken with agency officials to begin cultivating a legislative response to the 1,000-year flood. These agencies include, but are not limited to: the South Carolina Army and Air National Guard, Department of Transportation (DOT), Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), Department of Agriculture and Office of Regulatory Staff.
“At this point in time, it is clear that full assessments and exact estimates for the damage done are not yet known and may take time to determine. However, idly sitting back and waiting for these specifics is not an option. It will ultimately be the responsibility of the General Assembly to provide the means and method of recovery.
“As Speaker, it is my intention that the House continue acting in an organized, methodical fashion so that we fully understand every issue. Addressing this matter will be no different. I have asked Chairman Brian White and the Ways and Means Committee members to look into how this disaster has affected our state. In the coming weeks, the Committee will hold hearings with state agencies and other relevant entities to assess both the impacts of the flooding and the potentials costs of recovery. Based upon the overwhelming support our first responders, neighbors, and nonprofit organizations have provided, we owe it to the people of South Carolina to move forward with the recovery process immediately.”
Additionally, Speaker Lucas has spoken with Majority Leader Bruce Bannister and Minority Leader Todd Rutherford to inform them of with this process. Both are in agreement that this is the best course of action.
(Columbia, SC) – SC House Speaker Jay Lucas issued the following statement regarding the death of Senator Clementa Pinckney.
“As a loving father, husband and dedicated public servant, Clementa Pinckney was a man of honor and sought to make a difference in the lives of others. Having served with him for a short time in the South Carolina House and continuing our friendship after his move to the Senate, Clementa held firm to his convictions and his integrity was a direct reflection of the love he shared for Christ. Senator Pinckney’s calming presence will be missed in Columbia and across South Carolina, but I am certain his legacy will live on. Tracy and I extend our thoughts and heartfelt prayers to Clementa’s family, the victims and their families of this act of violence, the Emanuel AME congregation and the Charleston community as we begin to heal from this senseless tragedy.”
House Still Committed to Fixing Roads
Amends Sine Die Resolution to address infrastructure reform
(Columbia, SC) – House Speaker Jay Lucas (District 65-Darlington) issued the following statement after the House amended its sine die resolution to allow debate of H. 3579, the House Infrastructure Repair and Reform bill. The House-passed roads plan cleared the House on April 16th by an overwhelming vote of 87-20, but has faced significant roadblocks in the Senate.
“The people of South Carolina and the business community have demanded we fix our roads and the House has taken every measure possible to make this happen. By passing today’s amended resolution, we are giving the Senate yet another opportunity to address our state’s number one need. Delaying action ignores the will of the people and neglects the single greatest issue facing our economy.”
Today’s action by the House allows the Senate to debate, amend and pass the House bill if the Upper Chamber agrees to do so. The amendment was introduced in the House by a bipartisan group of 85 cosponsors and successfully passed with more than the required 2/3rds vote.
“The strong support this measure received in the House proves that fixing our roads is not and should not be a partisan issue. It’s a South Carolina issue and requires immediate attention. There is no excuse for the Senate to continue to delay progress and we look forward to working with them as they craft a mutually agreeable, responsible plan.”
House Passes Domestic Violence Compromise
Sends Comprehensive Bill to the Senate for Final Approval
In April, the House passed its own version of domestic violence legislation (H. 3433) that included recommendations from the House Criminal Domestic Violence Ad Hoc Committee. This group spent over six months studying and investigating ways to improve our laws so that we can better protect victims and their families from abuse. H. 3433 included significant and comprehensive ideas that were not included in the original version of S. 3. To ensure these concepts were given the attention they deserve, House and Senate leaders negotiated for three weeks to iron out differences. An agreement was reached last Thursday morning and S. 3 was immediately placed on the House calendar for debate.
“Our state’s alarming domestic violence statistics are indicative of unworkable, complex laws that fail to protect families from senseless abuse. Increasing penalties and instituting harsher punishments for offenders are a major step in the right direction, but we also must attempt to transform our culture through education and social policy initiatives,”stated Speaker Lucas.
House Judiciary Chairman Greg Delleney (District 43-Chester) and Representative Shannon Erickson (District 124-Beaufort) remained focused on this issue and worked tirelessly with Senators Larry Martin, Greg Hembree, and Brad Hutto to reach an agreement. Attorney General Alan Wilson also played an instrumental role by encouraging all parties to coalesce around a comprehensive solution.
“The House’s unwavering commitment to reform our domestic violence laws is evident in our leadership’s ability to compromise.” Speaker Lucas continued. “This agreement could not have been reached without Chairman Delleney, Representative Shannon Erickson, and several others who fervently negotiated to give added protections to victims, crack down on offenders, and institute a cultural change to put an end to domestic abuse. As the bill heads over to the Senate Chamber, I am confident that our colleagues will uphold our agreement and help send this bill to the Governor’s desk for signature.”
Provisions Included in the Compromise:
- Changes the current penalty occurrence based model to a hybrid approach that considers degree of injury, number of occurrences, and possible aggravating circumstances. New categories: Domestic Violence High and Aggravated Nature (DVHAN), 1stDegree, 2ndDegree, and 3rd Degree.
- Amends the definition of “moderate bodily injury” to create a more understandable and useable definition for prosecutors.
- Automatic gun bans for DVHAN, 1stdegree, and 2nd degree where moderate bodily injury is present. Judicial discretion for 3rd and 2nd degree where moderate bodily injury is not present.
- Extends time period for a bond hearing to ensure a judge has all necessary information.
- Creates a Domestic Violence Advisory Committee to study domestic violence cases. This Committee would make recommendations to the General Assembly. The Committee is made up of many directors of state agencies.
- Batterer’s Treatment Programs would be selected and approved by the prosecuting agency, as opposed to the current model with the Department of Social Services (DSS) approving the programs.
- Adds domestic violence education to the curriculum for compressive health classes required in middle school.
- Allows judges to proceed with the case without the presence of the victim.
- Permits DSS to study a voucher system for child care to allow the victim to appear in court.