The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee wants a new system for making public police dash cam videos to prevent unnecessary delays.
The bill by Sen. Larry Martin of Pickens was among about three dozen bills "pre-filed" Wednesday by senators in advance of their return to work next month.
Other bills would prevent gun transfers up to 28 days until a criminal background check is completed, would ban the use of cell phones by students during school hours and would create a revolving state fund to pay for dam repairs.
Martin, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he filed his bill in response to the fatal shooting in July of Zachary Hammond, a Seneca teen, by a police officer that was captured on the officer's dash cam.
The Greenville News filed a state Freedom of Information Act request for a copy of the video after the shooting and eventually sued for its release.
The video was released near the end of October after Tenth Circuit Solicitor Chrissy Adams concluded that the officer's actions did not constitute a crime.
Martin's bill would require that all law enforcement dash cam videos are releasable under the state Freedom of Information Act but their release could be delayed if prosecutors and law enforcement seek an injunction after convincing a judge, who could conduct a private review of the video.
Martin said he was concerned over delays in the release of the video in the Seneca case but also in the year-long delay in the release of a video of a killing of a Chicago teen by an officer there.
"I just think the public deserves better than that," he said of delays.
He said such a system would provide consistency for law enforcement, prosecutors and the public instead of the current handling of such requests, in which he said police or prosecutors do not have to detail why they are not releasing the video.
"Having a judge review this is not going to enable a prosecutor or a law enforcement agency to misrepresent their reasons for wanting to withhold it," he said. "They're going to have to explain that to a judge."
Martin said he hopes the system will "bring a level of confidence" that will allow the public to support law enforcement and lighten the amount of litigation required to release such videos.
Also filed Wednesday is a bill by Sen. Gerald Malloy, a Darlington County Democrat, that would require the completion of a criminal background check before a gun could be transferred, up to 28 days. Currently the FBI allows a gun sale to go through if a background check takes longer than three days.
Some South Carolina lawmakers had talked of requiring the check to be completed no matter how long it takes in the wake of the shooting deaths of nine people in a Charleston Church in June. The man charged with their murders was allowed to purchase his handgun after an FBI examiner could not access local records within three days to determine if he should be denied.
Martin said what lawmakers need to determine is any underlying problems with background checks. He said providing more time or unlimited time would not necessarily solve the problem.
Also filed Wednesday was a bill by Sen. Katrina Shealy, a Lexington County Republican, that would require school boards to prohibit students from using wireless communication devices during school hours.
Sen. Kevin Bryant, an Anderson Republican, filed a bill that would prohibit state agencies from accepting any new refugees until new security measures are implemented by the federal government.
The legislation also would require the State Law Enforcement Division to work with local law enforcement agencies to confirm that any refugees placed in the state by the federal government do not pose any public safety risk.
Lawmakers can pre-file bills on three days over the next week.