By Rep. Stephen L. Goldfinch
The week of the infamous "Cross-Over" is over.
Cross-Over, May 1st, is the day when all bills in the SC House of Representatives (and the SC Senate) must be passed and sent to the other body in order for it to become effective law this year. The House Republican Caucus has worked hard to pass important conservative legislation so the Senate has plenty of time to consider it. We've nearly completed our agenda with more than a month left in the session.
The House approved election and ethics reforms, new legislation protecting private data held by the state, and fought Democrat attempts to radically expand Medicaid and force the state to accept Obamacare. In addition, we approved an infrastructure package for 2,000 new Boeing jobs, restructured some of our Constitutional offices, expanded pro-gun legislation, added mental health to our state's firearms background checks, and passed legislation that will increase access to capital for small high-growth businesses.
But this brings me back to an issue that has been on the Republican agenda since Republicans gained the House majority in 1994. This year, we once again approved legislation that would shorten the legislative session by nearly two months. That legislation is now in the Senate and hopefully our colleagues will take swift action on it.
Here are a few of the major items we approved last week:
Ethics Reform: The House approved the biggest change to ethics laws in a quarter of a century and sent the bill to the Senate. This legislation requires that lobbyists register at the local level, expands income disclosure for elected officials, and ends the practice of legislators policing themselves.
The "Boland" Bill: This bill expands restrictions to gun access for the mentally ill following the near-tragedy at the Ashley Hall school in Charleston. As Republicans, we stand solidly in support of our Second Amendment rights, but there are people who should not own guns. I'm proud the NRA supported us in this effort.
Early Voting: We approved the state's first early voting period, opening the polls nine days (Sundays excluded) before an election. Rep. Alan Clemmons should be applauded for his tireless efforts in pursuing this reform.
The only major piece of legislation from our 2013 agenda that has not passed is the "Department of Administration" restructuring bill. The House tried to begin debate on it last week, but efforts were blocked by Democrat delaying tactics.
The House has a solid record of achievement through the first 14 weeks of session and proved that it's time to shorten our legislative session.
It is an honor to serve you and your family in the General Assembly. If you ever find yourself in need of assistance navigating state government, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with my colleagues in the House, don't hesitate to contact me at 843-385-4302.
Rep. Stephen Goldfinch lives in Murrells Inlet and serves portions of Georgetown and Charleston counties in the South Carolina General Assembly.
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