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Caucus Report 16 – Odds and Ends

Despite the short week in the House chamber, several major pieces of legislation were moved by the House and the Senate.

This week’s notable achievement is the approval of the House’s Voter ID legislation by the Senate. After two years of debate, we finally got one of the Republican Party’s major platform items to our governor’s desk. Thank you to all the activists who called their senators. Thank you to the senators who were finally able to get this critical piece of legislation through their chamber.

The Voter ID bill requires voters to prove who they are with a state-issued picture ID when they vote. It’s that simple, and polls show it is supported by 4 out of 5 Americans.

In the House, two other major pieces of legislation moved. The first bill provides fixes the Point of Sale reassessment that was part of the property tax relief act from a few years ago.

While the relief act slashed homeowners’ property tax bills by as much as 50 percent, a provision that reassessed property when it was sold has had an unintended negative consequence on our real estate market. Combined with the economic downturn, Point of Sale has had a seriously negative effect on our state economy.

The Point of Sale repeal should do more than change property reassessment. It is also a jobs bill. A recent study by economists hired by the South Carolina Association of Realtors showed that repealing the Point of Sale provision will create up to 35,000 jobs and create a $4.2 billion total impact on economic activity in our state.

An increase of 35,000 jobs would lower our state’s unemployment rate by up to 2 percentage points.

This is the third time we have approved Point of Sale changes .The bill now goes to the Senate.

The second major piece of legislation that moved this week was the illegal immigration bill. The bill has two major parts. The first part requires that if a South Carolina law enforcement officer has reasonable suspicion that a person stopped, detained, or arrested is an illegal immigrant, the officer or his agency must verify the person’s immigration status. The bill also makes it illegal for an illegal immigrant to ask for work or attempt to ask for work.

In 2008, the House led the way in passing the toughest illegal immigration bill in the nation. Since the 2008 illegal immigration bill passed, the numbers of illegal immigrants has declined by 21.4 percent, according to a 2011 study by the Pew Research Center.” This new bill should make it even more difficult for illegal immigrants to live and work in our state – freeing up jobs for American citizens and legal immigrants. Immigration and the ideal of a better life has made our country great, but it is important that we reward those who take the time to come to the United States legally.

We look forward to getting the illegal immigration bill to Governor Haley’s desk before the end of session.

These are the final two major items on our agenda for the year, but the House Judiciary Committee is still working diligently on the Census-required redistricting.