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24 April 2015 – House Week in Review

The following narrative explains legislation passed by the House for the week being reported. This narrative is created by House staff and does not present the information with a partisan view.

The House of Representatives amended and gave second reading approval to H.3025, a bill providing AUTHORIZATION TO CARRY A CONCEALED WEAPON WITHOUT A PERMIT. In making its revisions, the legislation retains most of the current provisions relating to concealed weapons, including: the issuance of concealed weapons permits by the State Law Enforcement Division; the posting of notification that allows a business owner to prohibit concealed weapons on the premises; the homeowner permission required for carrying a concealed weapon into a private residence; and a list of places where concealed weapons are not allowed such as schools, daycare facilities, courthouses, and the meeting places of government bodies. The legislation incorporates within these provisions authority for someone to carry a concealed handgun lawfully in public without having to obtain a concealed weapons permit. These new provisions for carrying a concealed weapon apply only to those individuals who may legally purchase a firearm from a properly licensed and certified firearms dealer. The legislation also provides for South Carolina to honor valid out-of-state permits to carry concealable weapons that are held by residents of other states. With the adoption of these provisions for HONORING OUT-OF-STATE CONCEALED WEAPONS PERMITS, the legislation eliminates the current protocol for establishing CWP reciprocity with other states.

The House returned H.3663 to the Senate with amendments. This joint resolution establishes an INTERIM GOVERNING AUTHORITY FOR SOUTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY in order to address the school’s financial crisis and academic accreditation issues and ensure the continuing viability of the institution. The legislation removes the members of S.C. State’s Board of Trustees and transfers oversight and control of the institution to a seven-member Interim Board of Trustees composed of the designees of the five members of the State Fiscal Accountability Authority (the Governor, Treasurer, Comptroller General, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee), one member appointed by the chairman of the House Ways and Means Higher Education and Technical Colleges Subcommittee, and one member appointed by the chairman of the Senate Finance Higher Education Subcommittee. The Interim Board is solely responsible for the selection, periodic evaluation, and retention or termination of the university’s president. The Interim Board serves up to June 30, 2018, or until the General Assembly elects a new, restructured South Carolina State University Board of Trustees whose members are to serve staggered terms in order to maintain consistency and preserve institutional knowledge.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3539, a bill to provide for the “JAMES B. EDWARDS CIVICS EDUCATION INITIATIVE” which requires, as part of the high school curriculum United States Government required credits, that public school students take the United States citizenship civics test that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services administers to prospective citizens to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the fundamentals of American history and the principles and form of the United States government. Students are not required to pass this civics test, but those who do receive at least a passing grade may be recognized by the school district. Each public school, including charter schools, must report the percentage of students at or above the designated passing score on the test for inclusion on the school’s report card.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3353, a joint resolution to provide for a GENERAL EDUCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT (GED) CAMP PILOT PROGRAM. The legislation provides for the State Department of Education to establish, beginning with the 2015-2016 school year, a two-year pilot program to develop, implement, support, and monitor General Educational Development (GED) Camps that provide a volunteer-based system to assist people who do not have a high school diploma in earning their GED certificates and advancing to such personal goals as higher education, the military, or an occupation.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3534, a bill EXPANDING ELIGIBILITY FOR PARTICIPATION IN THE SOUTH CAROLINA HIGHER EDUCATION EXCELLENCE ENHANCEMENT PROGRAM that is funded with Education Lottery proceeds for the purpose of enhancing the educational opportunities of low-income and educationally disadvantaged students. The legislation expands the criteria for institutions eligible to participate in the South Carolina Higher Education Excellence Enhancement Program so as to include: an institution that offers at least one nonsectarian program at the baccalaureate level; an institution with a predominately female enrollment; and an institution that receives Title III funding and is accredited by an accrediting organization recognized by the United States Department of Education. Provisions are included for the Commission on Higher Education to conduct an annual review of funds allocated to schools to ensure that they are being used appropriately.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3890, a bill revising the authority for FORGIVING SCHOOL DAYS MISSED BECAUSE OF SNOW, EXTREME WEATHER CONDITIONS, OR OTHER DISRUPTIONS. Under the legislation, a local school district is authorized, through a majority vote of its board of trustees, to waive make-up requirements for up to three days missed because of snow, extreme weather conditions, or other disruptions requiring schools to close. The State Board of Education is authorized to grant waivers for up to an additional three days beyond the three days forgiven by the local school district. Currently, the forgiveness of missed school days requires an approval of some kind from the General Assembly.

The House returned H.3877, a joint resolution AUTHORIZING A SCHOOL DISTRICT TO FORGIVE UP TO THREE DAYS MISSED DURING THE 2014-2015 SCHOOL YEAR DUE TO INCLEMENT WEATHER, to the Senate with amendments. A district may not, however, grant these waivers of make-up requirements until it has exhausted all statutorily required make-up days remaining on the 2014-2015 school calendar.

The House amended and gave second reading approval to H.3343, a bill addressing METHODS OF EUTHANASIA IN ANIMAL SHELTERS. The legislation disallows the use of lethal gas for euthanasia in animal shelters and makes provisions for the use of sodium pentobarbital and other substances that are recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association as being clinically proven to be as humane.

The House approved S.237 and enrolled the legislation for ratification. The joint resolution provides for a continuation of the “STUDY COMMITTEE ON EXPUNGEMENT OF CRIMINAL OFFENSES” until December 31, 2015.

The House approved S.376, relating to a COUNTY AVIATION COMMISSION OR AUTHORITY, and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation makes clarifications regarding voting and non-voting members and provides for changes and appointments of membership on a single county aviation commission or authority.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3304, a bill creating the LANDRUM FIRE AND RESCUE DISTRICT in Greenville and Spartanburg Counties as a multi-county special purpose district.