COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) — Thursday was the crossover deadline at the South Carolina Statehouse, when a bill had to have passed either the House or Senate and crossed over to the other body to have a realistic chance of becoming law this year. The deadline is actually May 1, but since that’s on a Sunday this year and lawmakers don’t meet on Fridays or Saturdays, Thursday was this year’s deadline.
A bill that doesn’t make the deadline isn’t completely dead, but it would require a two-thirds vote just to bring it up, which is unlikely.
The biggest issue of the year, fixing state roads and bridges, is still alive. The House and Senate have passed separate plans and a conference committee of three senators and three House members has started work on a final bill. The Senate also passed a bill to borrow about $2 billion for roads. Under the Senate bills, the state gas tax would not go up.
Rep. Gary Simrill, R-Rock Hill, is one of the House members on the conference committee. He says the Senate borrowing plan looks promising. “It is a five- to ten-year projection. It does much that is needed in South Carolina as far as preservation, resurfacing, expansions of roads,” he says. But he says it’s not a long-term solution to the state’s road problems.
Ethics reform is also still alive, after the Senate passed two bills Wednesday. One would require public officials to disclose the sources of their income. The other would create an independent panel to look at serious ethics complaints against lawmakers, instead of having them police themselves.
A bill to require refugees to register with the state is still alive, and so is a bill that would ban abortions after 19 weeks, except to save the life of the mother or in cases of extreme fetal anomalies. There are no exceptions for rape or incest.
Also alive is a bill to have the state borrow up to $200 million to repair crumbling school buildings.
One of the bills that’s dead for the year is the so-called “bathroom bill,” because it would have prevented transgender persons from using the bathrooms or locker rooms of the gender with which they identify. The bill never made it out of a Senate committee.
But sponsor Sen. Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg, says he’ll try to get it added to the state budget. “Basically, the budget amendment would say that any local subdivision that passes an ordinance that requires businesses to allow men in women’s restrooms, then we would take the aid to subdivisions, their state funding, away,” he says.
Another bill that’s dead would have changed the state’s disturbing schools law. Critics say the law was intended to protect students and staff from outside agitators, but it’s now being used to arrest students for discipline problems that should be handled at school.