The topics addressed in the bills prefiled last week by state senators range from guns for students to shooting animals in self-defense to paying some University of South Carolina and Clemson student-athletes.
The senator who prefiled the most bills was Lee Bright, the Spartanburg Republican who filed 27 percent of the 173 prefiled bills.
One of Bright’s proposals would create a one-semester elective course in firearm marksmanship, called the S.C. Gun Safety Program, for public, private and home-schooled students.
Bright also prefiled a bill to allow concealed weapon permits to count as one of the approved photo IDs that SC voters can present to cast their ballots.
“That’s a common complaint,” said Chris Whitmire, spokesman for the S.C. Election Commission. “Voters call and say, ‘Why can’t I vote with my concealed weapons permit?’ ”
The permit looks similar to a driver’s license, Whitmire said, adding a full background check is required for the gun permit.
(Just FYI, Sen. Bright, state law prohibits concealed weapons in polling places on Election Day.)
Bright also prefiled a bill to allow students, employees and faculty who are authorized to carry concealed weapons to pack heat on public or private college campuses, unless the institution posts signs prohibiting them. (Just for the record: To the best of Buzz’s knowledge, Bright does not own a sign company.)
In the ever-popular animal legislation category, state Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Charleston, proposes allowing a person to shoot and kill an animal in self-defense, defense of another person or defense of a domestic animal regardless of the hunting season.
Meanwhile, Sen. Katrina Shealy, R-Lexington, wants to toughen the penalties for those convicted of taking part in cockfighting, making the second or multiple offenses a felony.
So what about when Gamecocks fight Tigers on the gridiron?
Well, the players should be paid, according to a bill prefiled by state Sen. Marlon Kimpson, D-Charleston.
Kimpson’s bill says student-athletes at Division 1 S.C. schools with an athletics program that generates at least $50 million a year in revenue – meaning USC or Clemson – should receive financial compensation. The student-athletes that would be eligible include football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball players with a grade-point average higher than 2.0, or a “C.” The student-athletes would receive a stipend of $2,500 a semester.
That figure was calculated based on what the student would make in a work-study program, paying $7.50 an hour, based on working 20 hours a week, Kimpson said.
In addition, a trust fund also would be set up for a student-athlete offering $5,000 a year, up to $25,000 total, money that would be given to the student when they graduate and complete a financial literacy course.
The money to pay for the stipends would come from ticket sales, TV rights, merchandise sales, broadcasting licensing agreements and use of the commercial value of a student athlete’s name, image or likeness.
“It’s time to compensate the 21st century college athlete for the risk they assume on the field and the revenue that they generate for public universities,” Kimpson said.
Among the more predictable bills also making a prefiling appearance were proposals to appoint more of the state’s constitutional officers.
Others proposals attempt to deal with the legislative topics likely to dominate the session, including ethics reform and addressing the state’s crumbling roads.
With three more prefiling dates to come – one more Wednesday in the Senate, and two in the House, Thursday and Dec. 18 – Buzz barely can wait to see what else is proposed before the 121st General Assembly begins in January.
Rarely does a woman state representative chair a major S.C. House committee.
Only 17 percent of House members are women, or 21 of 124 members.
However, the House education committee went against the norm of male leadership Wednesday when it elected Rep. Rita Allison, R-Spartanburg, as its chairwoman.
It’s so uncommon for a woman to chair a committee that state Rep. Bill Taylor, R-Aiken, who nominated Allison, wasn’t quite sure what to call her.
“The first issue I have is: How do we address you?” Taylor asked. “I mean, this is a new brave world – is it madam chairperson? Is it madam chairman? You have to tell us, madam.”
Allison quickly responded: “I really don’t care what you call me, as long as you call me.”
• The House Democratic caucus re-elected Rep.Todd Rutherford
, D-Richland, as minority leader and Rep. Walt McCleod, D-Newberry, as assistant minority leader. The House Republican caucus re-elected Rep.Bruce Bannister
, R-Greenville, as majority leader and Rep.Gary Simrill
, R-York, as assistant majority leader.
, the Sullivan’s Island Democrat who unsuccessfully challenged Republican Secretary of StateMark Hammond
of Spartanburg, says she is contemplating a race for mayor of Charleston next November. Charleston Mayor (for life, seemingly)Joe Riley
, first elected in 1975, has announced he will not seek an 11th term.