Lawmakers finished pre-filing bills last week ahead of the session that starts Jan. 12, including legislation aimed at addressing October’s historic rainstorm and June’s mass shooting at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church.
Legislators also introduced a few bills that might raise eyebrows.
Here are 15 that caught The Buzz’s eye, including their main sponsors:
▪ Establishing a committee to study erecting a monument near Charleston’s Marion Square to honor the nine slain members of Emanuel AME church, introduced by state Rep. Wendell Gilliard, D-Charleston.
▪ Charging out-of-state groups a fee to use the State House grounds for rallies, introduced by state Sen. Katrina Shealy, R-Lexington. (During the summer’s flag debate, out-of-state groups protested at the State House, including one clash that resulted in five arrests.)
▪ Creating a commission to raise private money to display the last Confederate battle flag flown at the S.C. State House, introduced by state Rep. Mary Tinkler, D-Charleston. (A commission charged with displaying the flag has proposed a $5 million-plus display, which some legislators say taxpayers should not have to pay.)
▪ Requiring documentation from a state representative who says they are related to another person while addressing the House, state Rep. Chris Corley, R-Aiken. (During the flag debate, state Rep. Jenny Horne, R-Dorchester, delivered a fiery bring-it-down speech, buttressed by her statement that she was related to Confederate President Jefferson Davis, a claim that grated some flag advocates.)
▪ Ending laws that forbid: adultery; children under age 18 from playing pinball; seducing an unmarried women to have sex with the promise of marriage; challenging another person to an armed duel; opening dancing halls on Sunday; working on Sundays; opening stores on Sunday; and barring railroads from removing tracks in towns with more than 500 people, introduced by state Rep. Stephen Goldfinch, R-Georgetown.
▪ Requiring killers of police dogs and horses to pay for the cost of replacing them, introduced by state Sen. Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson.
▪ Making it a crime to make noise heard beyond your property that interferes with others’ enjoyment of their home or business, introduced by state Sen. Ronnie Cromer, R-Newberry.
▪ Allowing concealed-weapon permit holders to carry guns into state courthouses, churches, hospitals and businesses that ban concealed weapons during a state emergency declared by the governor, introduced by state Rep. Josh Putnam, R-Anderson.
▪ Creating a “Do Not Call” list to prevent calls from telemarketers, introduced by House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Darlington.
▪ Preventing a doctor from prescribing erectile dysfunction medication until several requirements are met, including a notarized affidavit from one of the patient's sexual partners and having the patient visit a therapist, introduced by state Rep. Mia McLeod, D-Richland.
▪ Changing the duties of the lieutenant governor, when the governor and lieutenant governor start running on the same ticket in 2018, and allowing the governor to pick a successor if the lieutenant governor leaves office rather than automatically promoting the state Senate leader, introduced by House Speaker Pro Tempore Tommy Pope, R-York. (South Carolina has had to replace its lieutenant governor twice in the last five years, once when Lt. Gov. Ken Ard, R-Pamplico, resigned as he faced ethics charges and, again, when Ard’s Senate-elevated successor, former state Senate President Pro Tempore Glen McConnell, resigned to become president of the College of Charleston. In both instances, the moves created upheaval in the Senate.)
▪ Requiring lobbyists to wear photo identification cards, introduced by state Rep. Mike Burns, R-Greenville. (Lobbyists regularly assemble in the crowded State House lobby, making it difficult to determine who is lobbying issues, some say.)
▪ Allowing pastors and churches to not officiate or hold weddings that violate “a sincerely held religious belief,” introduced by state Rep. Dan Hamilton, R-Greenville, in response to the legalization of gay marriage.
▪ Requiring movie theaters, arenas and concert halls to use metal detectors, introduced by Gilliard in response to recent mass shootings in those venues in the United States and Europe.
▪ Mandating every school to display the words "In God We Trust" in their lobbies, introduced by state Rep. Alan Clemmons, R-Horry.
▪ Preventing bans by schools on wearing patriotic clothing or displaying of patriotic symbols on clothes, introduced by state Rep. Chip Limehouse, R-Charleston.
▪ Making state college investigations of fraternities, sororities and other social organizations available to the public, introduced by Putnam in response to recent allegations against Greek organizations.
▪ Allowing people who file bankruptcy to keep up to three firearms and 3,000 rounds of ammunition, introduced by Clemmons.
S.C. Republicans on discrimination, immigrants, medical marijuana
Want to know the mood of S.C. Republicans? The word “oppressed” comes to mind.
Just look at the responses to five questions posed in the Winthrop Poll of likely S.C. Republican primary voters released last week:
▪ Do Christians in America experience discrimination? Great deal — 46 percent; Some — 38 percent; Little or none — 17 percent
▪ Do white Americans face less, same amount or more discrimination as blacks? Less — 41 percent; Same — 36 percent; More — 17 percent
▪ Do you believe that immigrants take jobs away from U.S. citizens? Yes — 62 percent; No — 33 percent
▪ How do you feel about the federal government? Frustrated — 61 percent; Angry — 35 percent; Basically content — 3 percent
▪ Should doctors be allowed to prescribe marijuana for medical purposes? Yes — 70 percent; No — 22 percent
▪ Maria Belen Chapur told The Washington Post last week that she and U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford, R-Charleston, are dating again and will travel to her native Argentina for the holidays. For those who don’t know the story: Sanford was caught having an affair with Chapur while he was governor in 2009, he divorced, won a seat in Congress in 2013 and announced his breakup with Chapur in a Facebook posting last year. “We are still trying as best we can to mend things,” Chapur said.
▪ The Republican National Committee will hold a second presidential debate in South Carolina. The Fox Business Network will host the debate on Jan. 14 at the North Charleston Coliseum. CBS hosts another GOP debate on Feb. 13 at the Peace Center in Greenville, a week before the Republican primary. (Democrats will hold a debate on NBC in Charleston on Jan. 17.)
▪ Four Democrats — not three — will be on South Carolina’s Feb. 27 presidential ballot: former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and lesser-known Chicago businessman Willie Wilson.
▪ The S.C. Education Association, a professional association for S.C. teachers, has endorsed Clinton, the Democratic frontrunner.
▪ Sanders' presidential campaign has hired former S.C. Democratic Party director Lachlan McIntosh as a full-time political adviser, bringing the senator’s full-time S.C. staff to 35. The Charleston native is a political consulting veteran, working most recently in the unsuccessful Charleston mayoral candidacy of Democratic state Rep. Leon Stavrinakis.
Staff writer Jamie Self contributed. Follow Shain on Twitter: @andyshain