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S.C. lawmaker to address proposal to register journalists

SC Rep. Mike Pitts addresses media he proposed to register

Does Pitts, R-Laurens, actually want to register journalists? "Hell no." But he wanted to show media bias toward the Second Amendment.
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Does Pitts, R-Laurens, actually want to register journalists? "Hell no." But he wanted to show media bias toward the Second Amendment.

The state representative who proposed South Carolina register journalists will hold a press conference Tuesday to explain his proposal, which he says was intended to show the media’s bias against the Second Amendment.

Meanwhile, the leader of S.C. House Republicans, who hold overwhelming control that chamber, is signaling his disapproval, saying legislators should not be introducing bills just to to make a political statement.

State Rep. Mike Pitts, R-Laurens, said he modeled his proposed journalism registry after the S.C. law that governs permits to carry concealed weapons.

Pitts’ proposed journalist registry ran into immediate criticism that it violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights, which guarantees a free press.

That’s the point, Pitts responds, pointing to the right-to-bear-arms Second Amendment, which he says is under attack by the media.

“What do you not understand about the simplicity about the language in the Second Amendment – ‘the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed?’ ” Pitts responded rhetorically.

Pitts’ bill is the second protest proposal made this year to go viral, making headlines.

State Rep. Mia McLeod pre-filed a bill to restrict prescription of drugs to treat erectile dysfunction — Viagra, for example — to raise awareness about abortion restrictions that legislators have passed and proposed.

If the overwhelmingly male Legislature wants to dictate what women can do with their bodies, then, McLeod said, two can play that game. The Richland County Democrat acknowledged her proposal likely would go no where.

Pitts said he doesn’t expect his proposal to pass either.

State Rep. Bill Sandifer, who chairs the committee that Pitts’ bill was sent to, said if the Laurens Republican requests a hearing, he will have to allow one. But Sandifer, R-Oconee, added, “I don’t know that we will do one otherwise.”

Pitts said trying to advance his bill would be a waste of time, adding he does not “want erosion of any of our Bill of Rights.”

House Majority Leader Bruce Bannister, R-Greenville, signaled his disapproval Friday of Pitts’ proposal, having already spoken out against McLeod’s bill.

“I don’t think we should use legislation that we introduce in the House of Representatives to make political statements on issues ... that the author of the bill knows won’t pass,” Bannister said.

Pitts disagrees.

“It’s a tool that’s at hand for us to be able to do our job.”

Cassie Cope: 803-771-8657, @cassielcope

Registering journalists

State Rep. Mike Pitts, R-Laurens, will hold a press conference Tuesday to discuss his controversial proposal

When: 10:30 a.m.

Where: First floor lobby of the State House

What: Pitts plans to address his proposal to create a journalism registry

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