A S.C. legislative panel on Thursday advanced a bill to bar using state money for sex change surgeries for inmates.
Under current policy, the S.C. Department of Corrections is obligated to pay for hormonal treatment and surgery for inmates who come into the prison system during the sex-change process. According to agency spokesman Clark Newsom, no inmates actually have undergone the surgery in prison, and only one has asked for it, later changing his mind after counseling.
A Senate subcommittee Thursday approved a bill that would overturn that policy. Senators did amend the legislation to allow inmates currently on hormonal therapy to continue treatment while in prison.
Legislators, including sponsor Sen. Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson, said their concern is the potential costs. For one inmate, hormone treatment costs between $300 and $1,000 a year.
“This isn’t a problem with Corrections now. I just think it’s maybe preventing a problem down the road,” Bryant said, adding only one of South Carolina’s more than 22,000 inmates is on hormonal treatment now.
An opponent said the bill and the lawsuits that could follow are more wasteful to taxpayers than paying for drugs and therapy.
“This meeting cost more today than that person will cost all year on hormone therapy,” said Christine Johnson, executive director of S.C. Equality, adding legislation similar to the S.C. proposal recently was overturned by a federal court.
The bill now moves to a full Senate committee for debate.
S.C. could opt out of national education standards
A state Senate panel is considering a bill that would bar South Carolina from enacting national education standards in math and reading.
State Sen. Mike Fair’s proposal would block standards known as “Common Core.” South Carolina’s education board adopted the curriculum in 2010. Full implementation is set for 2014-15. No action was taken was taken Thursday. The Senate panel considering the issue meets again Feb. 23.
Common Core outlines skills that K-12 students nationwide should learn to be ready for college and careers, replacing standards that now vary from state to state. Forty-five states have adopted the curriculum. The initiative was led by governors and chief state school officers.
Gov. Nikki Haley supports Fair’s bill. She says South Carolina shouldn’t relinquish control to a consensus of states any more than the federal government.