We’ve had an incredibly productive week in the Senate, starting with the passage and the governor’s signature of a bill to protect South Carolinians.

We’ve seen the knee-jerk reaction in Washington, DC to recent gun violence, and we all know that Washington “cures” are sometimes worse than the problem. In South Carolina, we instead tried to take a more measured approach by keeping guns away from the mentally ill, without infringing upon law-abiding citizens’ second amendment rights.

Our new law will require probate and circuit courts to submit to SLED the names of those who plead or are found mentally ill into the NICS database. Passage of this bill brings SC in compliance with federal law and will prevent those that are a danger to themselves and others from purchasing firearms. The bill also provides a way for people to have their ability to purchase firearms restored through an appeals process.

Secondly, a special committee moved forward on a proposal that will add nearly $1.3 billion in new money for infrastructure. The proposal will add $1 billion in one time money and roughly $200 million annually.

Through a combination of new oversight, government restructuring, better prioritization, and creating dedicated revenue streams for roads instead of putting that money toward other government spending, we believe this bill can be a big step toward getting our infrastructure in better shape. The proposal also includes dedicated money for counties and a county match program, so that local governments will also have the tools they need to improve local roads.

Third, we’re continuing to move forward on a couple of top-priority bills that we told you about early in the session – election filing reform, and ethics reform.

On election filing reform, we straightened out the mess that got hundreds of candidates kicked off of the ballot last year. The House and Senate have now each appointed negotiators to work out the differences between our two bills. We expect that to be done in short order, and the bill sent to the governor.

Finally, a Judiciary Subcommittee is working to improve and strengthen the Ethics bill sent over from the House. Our state ethics laws are sorely outdated, and updating them is probably an opportunity that won’t come along again any time soon. Therefore, we must make sure it’s done right. The House bill represents a good start on ethics reform, but the Senate plans to make it as strong as possible before moving it forward. We need good ethics laws with teeth to make sure people have confidence in the government that represents them.

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