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Caucus Report 4 – Transparency in Education, Tort Reform and Charter Schools

The following update is the official weekly report of the Republican House Caucus –

Two weeks ago, the federal National Labor Relations Board threatened to sue South Carolina over the Constitutional amendment requiring all union organizing votes be conducted by secret ballot. More than 83% of South Carolinians voted for this amendment last November indicating that the vast majority of South Carolinians believe that a secret ballot will prevent intimidation, whether it is by the union or the employer.

After standing up for our state sovereignty in support of a secret ballot, Attorney General Alan Wilson received a letter from the NLRB attorney stating that she appreciates South Carolina’s “prompt reply and … commendable desire to resolve this matter without unnecessary expenditure of taxpayer money.” This fight is not over, but we have apparently called the government’s bluff.

The House this week approved H. 3185 – a bill requiring more transparency in Higher Education.  Under the provisions of the bill, all state public colleges and universities are required to post a monthly registry of all expenditures and dollar amounts on their websites for public examination. All of these institutions have said they support the bill. This transparency bill is another step the House is taking to make your state government spending more transparent and accountable.  Every dollar the government spends should be accounted for. This bill will hold not only improve transparency but also make these institutions think harder about the money they spend.

Next week, we are scheduled to begin debate on lawsuit abuse reform legislation – a key pro-business bill that we believe will help create jobs. Tort Reform has been touted by many business organizations as one of the most effective economic improvement issues before the General Assembly. We believe the legislation will lower the cost of doing business in South Carolina by reducing frivolous lawsuits and limiting punitive damages to realistic levels. We aim to do this while still ensuring you have access to the legal system if you are truly wronged.

Students in South Carolina’s public charter school district received a big boost this week after the House Education and Public Works Committee approved sweeping legislation to strengthen these public schools. The bill provides funding parity for public charter schools sponsored by the state public charter school district since its creation. Charter schools are public schools and are held to the same accountability standards as their traditional counterparts. Unlike traditional public schools, public charter schools must meet specific performance goals or they can be closed due to poor performance. It is this measure of accountability that drives public charter schools to develop new and innovative teaching practices to meet the needs of their students. The bill will not remove one penny of money from public education, but it will ensure that public charter schools, that are meeting the needs of their students, will stay open this fall and thrive in the future.