The 2015 legislative session is in full force. There has been so much going on in Columbia.
On Jan. 14, Gov. Nikki Haley was inaugurated for her second term. It was a great ceremony. I am excited to continue to work with the governor on pushing our conservative ideals forward.
After the first week of session, the Senate was ready to get to work. We had committee meetings all week. Particularly, the Judiciary Committee worked hard to get bills out of subcommittees into the full committee. I am impressed how quickly the members worked on getting ethics and criminal domestic violence out to the full Judiciary Committee.
I have been preaching ethics for a long time. This is a good bill. I along with the Judiciary Chairman Sen. Larry Martin are content with the bill that was reported out. Two major components are included in this bill are independent oversight and sources of income. I am hopeful we are going to be able to debate this bill on the floor of the Senate and keep this version of the bill intact. Again, pushing this legislation out of Judiciary is a mighty accomplishment. We have started this year off right.
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Along with ethics, CDV legislation was passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Moving quickly on bills like these that most everyone agrees need to be addressed is exactly what South Carolinians sent us here to do. I am proud of Sen. Greg Hembree for chairing the subcommittee that worked tirelessly on making sure this bill was adequate in protecting our residents.
There was great discussion in the full committee on both bills. Our No. 1 priority as senators is protecting our constituents. The CDV bill establishes criminal degrees of domestic violence based upon the severity of the offense. It provides that a person who is convicted of domestic violence is prohibited from possessing a firearm for 10 years. Also, the person who is subject to an order of protection related to domestic violence is prohibited from possessing a firearm while the person is subject to the order of the protection. Reporting this bill out of Judiciary is an accomplishment.
Gov. Haley also addressed the General Assembly in the State of the State Address. The main thing on everybody’s mind was roads. What are we going to do about the condition of South Carolina roads? For the past month I have been bombarded with emails, calls and meetings aboutfixing our roads. Well, we finally have a plan.
The governor calls for the restructuring of the Department of Transportation and making sure the dollars we send there have a purpose. I think the plan to cut our state income tax from 7 percent to 5 percent during 10 years and increase the gas tax by 10 cents during three years is a good start. Also, changing the way we spend our infrastructure dollars is something that needs to be addressed. I am looking forward to working on this. I am glad we actually have a plan.
I am of the Republican Caucus and the Senate as a whole. It is rare to have change in leadership in both the House and Senate, but we are confident a lot will get done.
As always, my constituents in District 14 are the most important. I am encouraged and excited to continue the people’s work in Columbia. The future is bright for the state of South Carolina.
Sen. Harvey S. Peeler Jr. represents District 14, which includes York County. He is chairman of the Senate Medical Affairs Committee. He can be reached at 803-212-6430.