If House lawmakers have their way in 2010, South Carolinians will be able to zoom 80 miles per hour instead of 70 along S.C. interstates. But they will be prohibited from text messaging, talking on cell phones or allowing children under 7 to sit in the front seat.
Those with health insurance can rest assured they won't be denied coverage if they ever are abused by a spouse. And those who own venomous reptiles and constricting snakes would be subject to stricter regulations.
Tuesday, House lawmakers got their first shot at prefiling legislation to be considered in the 2010 session that begins in January. Most of the 51 bills won't make it out of committee.
Still, the range of bills gives residents a sense of what is on their legislators' minds. House members will get a second chance in December to prefile more, as will senators.
One of the most-anticipated bills, a measure to impeach Gov. Mark Sanford, was prefiled and has been sent to the House Judiciary Committee, said House Speaker Bobby Harrell.
But unless there are new revelations of wrongdoing found in a State Ethics Commission investigation, Sanford should stay, Harrell said.
Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Richland, is setting his sights on the state's highways.
The former owner of a vehicle-tinting company has filed a bill to allow a darker tint on vehicle windows and windshields. He also is hoping to raise the highway speed limit to 80 from 70 miles per hour.
"If we're going to have a speed limit, we need a speed limit," Rutherford said, noting many drivers are already driving around 80 miles per hour.
"Our troopers need to stay focused on the DUIs, the aggressive driving, not the (person driving) 79 in a 70," he said.
Bills by other lawmakers would prohibit text messaging and cell phone use.
They likely face an uphill battle.
In 2008, a bill by Rep. Lanny Littlejohn, R-Spartanburg, would have prevented teen drivers from texting and talking on cell phones, but the measure failed. Similar legislation had been introduced in previous years.
National health care reform has some lawmakers thinking about what should be done on the state level.
Rep. Tim Scott, R-Charleston, a candidate for lieutenant governor, would allow South Carolina to opt out of a public option if Congress passes such a bill.
And H.B. 4198 would prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage to victims of domestic abuse.
Rep. Joan Brady, R-Richland, one of the bill's sponsors, said it hasn't been an issue yet in South Carolina. "It's been an issue in other states," Brady said. "This is an extra safeguard."
Tax reform remains a hot topic for lawmakers. One bill, for example, would double the homestead exemption for the state's senior citizens to the first $100,000 of value on their homes.
And it seems exotic pets are a sore spot for some.
Rep. Herb Kirsh, D-York, prefiled a bill that would regulate ownership of dangerous snakes and reptiles. Under the bill, owners must house the animals in bite-proof, locked enclosures. If the animal escapes, its owner must call law enforcement immediately.
"I saw in the paper up here some guy had a big snake, a python, crawling up his leg," Kirsh said. "I felt like that shouldn't be happening."