Meaningful and significant legislation meant to protect our constitutional rights, cut government spending and regulations, preserve life, and improve our education system was the basis of the first year of the 124th General Assembly.
A few weeks ago we completed the last regular week of the 2021 session where we spent a considerable amount of time on the House floor rather than in committees, to get as much done as possible before sine die – the end of session. I am proud of our accomplishments this year, from expanding gun rights, increasing teachers salaries and improving accountability in education, to protecting the unborn, securing the integrity of our elections, protecting taxpayers and the environment from events similar to the Able Construction site fire, and passing a penalty enhancement bill for proven hate-based crimes that does not infringe on religious liberties or free speech; but there is much more to be done.
We will return to work in June, although the sine die resolution restricts our debate to the budget, to review and vote on conference reports, and begin the once-a-decade reapportionment and redistricting process. Additionally, the Oversight Committee that I chair, and our subcommittees, meet throughout the “off session,” conducting public hearings with regard to the various state agencies currently under study.
Included in those activities is a public hearing scheduled for June 30 involving the State Election Commission and the process of removing deceased voters from voter rolls in South Carolina. Protecting the integrity of our elections and making sure that deceased individuals are timely removed from our voters rolls to avoid distrust and potential mischief are not partisan issues and serve to protect our democratic form of government. This hearing, like all of our House Oversight Committee meetings, will be streamed live and the link can be accessed on the House website.
In addition to the legislation mentioned above, as we approached sine die at 5 p.m. May 13, we passed a number of big-ticket items, including a petition to Congress for a limited Article V Convention of States to consider only amendments to the U.S. Constitution to limit the role and expenditures of the Federal Government, but that in no way affect the Bill of Rights, the equality of our citizens or their rights to vote. While Congress can propose amendments to our Constitution, Article V provides a mechanism for the state legislatures (34 states must pass a resolution) to call for an amendment convention with any resulting amendments requiring ratification by 38 states.
We also adopted a conference report on a bill requiring slower traffic to move into the right lane for faster vehicles on 2+ lane highways and passed a tax conformity bill to align the state and federal tax codes and exempt some of the unemployment pandemic income, ensuring people are not penalized for the hardships they faced.
It is an honor and privilege from me to serve you in the House of Representatives. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if I can be of assistance.
Weston Newton is the representative for District 120 in the State House of Representatives. WestonNewton@schouse.gov