By Barney Blakeney
After a 2018 S.C. State legislative session that left much undone, some local legislators say the upcoming 2019 legislative session promises more.
The SCANA/Santee-Cooper abandoned nuclear plant construction debacle took most of the time legislators gave to the business of the state in the 2018 session, said House Dist. 116 Rep. Robert Brown. And while many issues about that fiasco remain unsettled, the legislature this session likely will undertake more business, he said. Education is the hot topic many legislators are discussing at this early point in the session which began January 8.
Other work will include discussions on tax reform with a major focus on restructuring the school tax (Act 388). And providing school resource officers to insure safe schools will facilitate more discussion on gun reform, Brown predicts. Veteran House Dist. 109 Rep. David Mack said debates on Medicaid expansion, which has haunted the capitol’s legislative chambers since former Governor Nikki Haley’s rejected federal funding years ago, will return again this session.
Neophyte House Dist. 15 Rep. JA Moore agrees education again will be a top priority for the legislature this session, but the difference this session is that controlling Republicans also see it as a priority. He’s confident that’s going to produce some progressive measures from the legislature. He pointed out that South Carolina’s ignored ‘Corridor of Shame’ is at the bottom of the education ladder in a state that’s at the bottom of the education ladder nationally.
Moore said he’s introduced legislation that pushes for mental health awareness and classroom management training for teachers and others, and a focus on behavioral issues. He wants to focus on infrastructure – highway and technology – as ways to move our state forward. Public transportation will be vital in that respect as well, he says.
House 113 Rep. Marvin Pendarvis said some 300 bills already have been filed for consideration the legislative session that will end in May. Some good bills that address manufacturing, affordable housing and education are among them, he said.