AP NEWS

Time is running out for many bills in SC Legislature

April 9, 2019

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Time is running out for some bills to have an easier trip through the South Carolina Legislature.

Wednesday is the crossover deadline. The requirement says a bill has to pass either the House or the Senate to be considered by the other chambers with less than a two-thirds vote. That is a high hurdle for any bill without broad bipartisan support.

Much of this session so far has dealt with the state’s budget and complex issues like whether to sell troubled state-owned utility Santee Cooper or a massive overhaul of South Carolina’s education system. Lawmakers appear ready to raise the minimum starting salary for a new teacher and raise the pay for all teachers by at least 4 percent, but the rest of the education package is still crawling through the Senate.

One bill that did make the crossover hurdle would provide state incentives to pro sports teams. Lawmakers want to try to lure the Carolina Panthers to move their team practice facility and operations to South Carolina from North Carolina. The bill passed the House and is in the Senate, where some senators have asked for more information about the bill’s cost.

“I am optimistic of passage,” House Majority Leader Gary Simrill said in a statement to The Associated Press. “The Panthers deserve to be treated as any other business with this number of employees and payroll is currently.”

Some bills that are likely not making Wednesday’s deadline:

MEDICAL CANNABIS:

Proposals to allow the medical use of marijuana were introduced in both the House and Senate and would allow patients with terminal, debilitating medical conditions to purchase up to 2 ounces (57 grams) of marijuana or its equivalent every two weeks if authorized by their doctor. While the Compassionate Care Act has garnered bipartisan support, it currently sits in a health committee in both chambers. Author of the Senate’s version of the bill, Republican Tom Davis of Beaufort, has called the legislation “very conservative, strictly regulated and tightly drawn.”

HEARTBEAT ABORTION:

The proposed legislation would require medical professionals to test for a detectable heartbeat before any abortion is performed and prohibit the procedure if a heartbeat is found. The legislation provides exceptions for risk of life or physical impairment to the mother. The heartbeat is typically detectable around the sixth week of pregnancy.

Last week, the legislation passed out of the House Judiciary Committee after hours-long debate. But even more opposition and stalling tactics have been promised on the House floor, meaning representatives will likely be unable to pass it before Wednesday.

FIREARMS:

Several gun bills in both chambers will likely not make the crossover deadline including a bill allowing someone to carry a gun in public without a concealed weapons permit.

Another bill missing the crossover deadline is a proposal by Democratic Sen. Marlon Kimpson that would extend the FBI Criminal Background checks for gun purchasers from three to five days.

Kimpson’s bill is part of his renewed effort by the lawmaker to close the “Charleston Loophole” which was named after nine black parishioners were killed in a racist attack at a Charleston church in 2015 by Dylann Roof who was able to legally purchase his gun after three days even though his background check was not complete.

Democratic Rep. Wendy Brawley introduced two bills, one that would impose a 7% fee on every gun sale in South Carolina which would be put into a “School and Safety Fund” to supply school resource officers in schools across the state. Another bill by the Hopkins lawmaker would have placed a ban on bump stocks, high capacity magazines and military style assault weapons. Another bump stock ban proposal was introduced in the House but with a Republican co-sponsor.