The Buzz

December 17, 2013

STATE HOUSE: Updates on Senate pre-filed bills (updated)

The Buzz

A blog from The State's political team of Cassie Cope, Jamie Self and Andy Shain. Email tips to

Latest bills pre-filed by S.C. senators by Tuesday

Good-bye income tax: S.C. Sen. Katrina Shealy pre-filed a bill Tuesday to eliminate the state income tax. Shealy’s bill calls for gradually cutting the income tax over five years by reducing rates 1.4 percent a year. South Carolinians would keep nearly $560 million in its first year, Shealy said. "This bill can help ease the burdens South Carolina families may be facing in these tough times," the Lexington Republican and close ally of Gov. Nikki Haley said in a statement. "This bill can make South Carolina a more desired place to relocate and start businesses."

Good-bye county election commissions: S.886 would combine election commissions and voter registration boards in all 46 counties. Board members would be appointed by a majority vote of the county's legislative delegation. Sponsor: Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens.

"Dating violence" would become a crime: S.869 would define the crime of "dating violence." It attempts to define a dating relationship as "characterized by the expectation of affection between the parties," and notes that a "dating relationship does not require sexual intimacy." The penalties are the same as those for criminal domestic violence. The bill would not apply to "violence in a casual acquaintanceship or violence between persons who have only engaged in ordinary fraternization in a business or social context." And it does not apply to anyone under the age of 18. Sponsor: Sen. Darrell Jackson, D-Richland.

Online sales taxes: S.870 would require online retailers to collect state sales taxes if the retailer has sales of more than $10,000 to S.C. residents for one year. The bill would not apply to a retailer that "owns, leases, or utilizes a distribution facility in this State." So it appears, which has a distribution facility in Lexington County, would be exempt. Sponsor: Sen. Marlon Kimpson, D-Charleston.

S.C. loves horses: S.871 would create the nine-member "Equine Promotion Board." Their job would be to oversee a new "Equine Promotion Fund." People required to file state income tax returns could choose to donate money to this fund and take a state tax deduction. Sponsor: Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville.

Local government funding: S.873 would require the state to give local governments at least $229,837,744 every year. That's how much state lawmakers voted to give local governments in the 2014 fiscal year. Right now, state law says lawmakers must give local governments at least 4.5 percent of the previous year's general fund revenues -- a law lawmakers have routinely suspended in recent years. A legislative committee is meeting now to come up with other ways to fund local governments. Sponsor: Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg.

Abortion regulations: S.875 says any abortion not performed at a certified hospital must be performed by a doctor with "admitting privileges at a local certified hospital." This is similar to Texas HB.2, which inspired an 11-hour filibuster by Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis that garnered national attention. The Texas law passed anyway and is now headed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Sponsor: Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Berkeley.

Gas tax increase: S.891 would increase the state's gas tax by 2 cents every year until the tax reaches 36 cents per gallon. Right now, the tax is 16.5 cents per gallon, the third-lowest in the country. Road funding has been a priority for both Republicans and Democrats. But Republican Gov. Nikki Haley has vowed to veto any increase in the gas tax. And with Haley up for reelection in 2014, don't look for her to change her mind anytime soon. Sponsor: Sen. Ray Cleary, R-Georgetown.

Higher traffic fines: S.894 would impose a $5 surcharge on all "fines, forfeitures, escheatments, or other monetary penalties" in state, county and city court. The money would pay for training at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy, which has been having money issues lately .

Tougher penalties for domestic violence: S.904 would increase the penalties for criminal domestic violence. A first offense conviction would carry a sentence of not more than one year in prison, while a second offense conviction would have penalties ranging from 90 days to three years in prison. It's worth pointing out who filed this bill: Sen. Katrina Shealy, the Senate's only woman. She could have an ally in Democratic state Rep. Bakari Sellers, who filed a similar bill in the House. Sellers, a Democrat, is running for lieutenant governor. Sponsor: Sen. Katrina Shealy, R-Lexington.

Child preference in custody disputes: S.905 would require judges to consider "the child's reasonable preference for parenting time" when determining a custody order. Sponsor: Sen. Katrina Shealy, R-Lexington.

Check back for updates. Click here to read the full list of pre-filed bills.

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