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S.C. 2016 Legislative Session Hasn’t Been A Total Washout, Says Kimpson
5/23/2016 3:12:52 PM

(left) Sen. Marlon Kimpson
By Barney Blakeney

As the 2016 session of the South Carolina State Legislature draws to a close, some local state legislators have mixed feelings about what was accomplished. West Ashley Rep. Wendell Gilliard said nothing got done and Hollywood Rep. Robert Brown says many bills still are held up in the Senate. Charleston Sen. Marlon Kimpson said he’s looking forward to next year.

In the past few years, state government, like that in Washington, seems to be stagnated except for rhetoric on several hot topic issues. Ethics reform and gun legislation are among the legislation being discussed, but no new laws are coming out of those discussions.

“We’ve made no headway this session,” Gilliard said. “The governor’s wasted a lot of time promoting her ‘It’s a Great Day in South Carolina’ theme when we’ve still got so much homelessness, poor quality public education and our farmers are being slighted after one of the most catastrophic floods in the last century. The session will close the second week in June, but we’ve done nothing to address healthcare, jobs creation or the incarceration rate for young Black males.”

It takes a team effort to get anything done in the legislature, Gilliard said. Since he first was elected in 2009, that teamwork has been non-existent, he said. Blacks will be foremost among the losers as a result of the legislature’s do-nothing session, Gilliard said.

“We’ve entertained alligator hunting bills, but we haven’t done anything about concealed weapons bills. I think that’s going to produce killing fields in the state.” On the economic side, the state’s tourism industry generates over $19 billion annually while tourism in Charleston generates some $9 billion annually. “Yet there is no Black business participation in the industry,” he said.

A lot of legislation still is pending awaiting senate action as the session draws to a close, Brown said . Funding for South Carolina State University and for initiatives to address S.C. Supreme Court mandates to eliminate the public educational ‘Corridor of Shame’ are among the pending legislation. The legislation also includes money for affordable housing and small business start-ups, he said.

However, Brown said he feels there is hope the legislature may salvage the session. A lot happens each year just prior to the session’s closing, he said.

Kimpson’s assessment of this year’s session hinges largely on passage of the legislature’s proposed budget of about $26 billion. Kinks still must be ironed out between the versions submitted by the House, Senate and governor, but allocations for Charleston’s International African American Museum, public transportation, jail anti-recidivisim, more case workers for the Department of Social Services and state employee pay raises all are requested, he said.

The 2016 legislative session hasn’t been a total washout, Kimpson said, but there have been a lot of little distractions.

Visitor Comments

Submitted By: Jerome M MIller Submitted: 5/31/2016
I have a simple challenge for my representatives, homeboys, from Charleston. I was born and raised in Charleston. I am now living in the Columbia, sc area. I would like for you guys to move on the legislation to return the richland county department oversight to county council as is in all the other counties of the state. Thank you in advance. This will be of good service to the community!!!!!

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