Tougher domestic violence penalties headed to Haley’s desk
A bill increasing penalties in South Carolina for repeat domestic violence offenders and banning batterers from having guns is heading to the governor’s desk.
The House voted 81-23 Thursday to accept a compromise bill.
Twenty-one of the 23 votes against the bill came from Democrats who, once certain of its passage, felt they had the freedom to criticize the proposal for giving too much power to prosecutors and not doing enough to provide counseling or other help outside of the legal system.
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Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter said something had to be done to move South Carolina down in the ranks as one of the top states for domestic violence, so a bad bill was better than no bill. “I don’t want to wait around for another 20 years,” said Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg.
The proposal changes the current system, which bases punishment for all but the most serious domestic cases on the number of offenses. That allows offenders to plead guilty to lesser offenses and get numerous misdemeanor convictions.
The bill heading to Gov. Nikki Haley’s desk punishes abusers based on the severity of the attack, the number of prior offenses and other factors, such as whether the victim was strangled, is pregnant, or children saw the abuse.
The compromise also provides a lifetime gun ban for the worst abusers and has an automatic three- or 10-year ban in other cases.
Bill to allow concealed weapons without permit dies for year
Legislation to let people carry a concealed weapon without a permit has died for the year in South Carolina.
A Senate subcommittee took no action on two bills Thursday, deciding it would be better to hold more hearings on them after the Legislature adjourns next week.
One bill would eliminate the requirement for a permit to carry a concealed weapon in the state. The second bill would require South Carolina to accept weapons permits from Georgia, which has no training requirement.
Law enforcement organizations don’t like either bill. Former State Law Enforcement Division chief Robert Stewart said the stringent training required by South Carolina is admired across the county and keeps police officers and the public safe.
“The person sitting nearby might be a Georgia permit holder and doesn’t even know how to fire a weapon,” Stewart said.
The proposal to accept permits from Georgia residents failed in the House but might get discussion by senators.
South Carolina currently accepts weapons permits from 20 other states, including neighboring North Carolina, but not from Georgia.
One of the bill’s main sponsors, Rep. Alan Clemmons, R-Horry, said it doesn’t seem fair that South Carolina won’t accept another state’s permits because it doesn’t like how its law is written. “We accept all states driver’s licenses. ... Isn’t a car a dangerous weapon?”
State Sen. Greg Gregory, R-Lancaster, replied: “Is there a state in the union you can get a driver’s license without passing a test?”
the mandatory retirement age for the Reserves.
Report: Graham allies launch super PAC to back White House bid
Allies of U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham have formed a super PAC to raise unlimited cash to back his presidential campaign, which he officially will announce next week, the National Journal reported.
The super PAC is called Security Is Strength, almost the same name as Security through Strength, the name of Graham’s testing-the-presidential-waters committee.
National Journal reported Andrew King, a former deputy chief of staff of the senator, and Caroline Wren, finance director for Graham’s 2014 re-election campaign, are running the PAC.
William Bethea, a Hilton Head attorney and Graham donor, filed paperwork creating the PAC in March, Federal Election Commission records show.
Graham will launch his 2016 presidential campaign on Monday in Central, the town where he grew up.
Meanwhile, Graham said he is retiring from the Air Force Reserve.
The S.C. Republican, a part-time attorney in the service, has had a long Air Force career, including 6 1/2 years on active duty in the 1980s. He has been in the Reserves since 1995.
Graham noted he turns 60 this summer, the mandatory retirement age for the Reserves.
Associated Press, Jamie Self