Tuesday was the final day for South Carolina senators to pre-file bills for the Statehouse session that starts in January. Members of the state House of Representatives concluded their pre-filing period last week. Go to scstatehouse.gov for links to all the prefiled bills.
Among the measures filed by local senators on Tuesday were:
State Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Berkeley, offered a bill that says any abortion not performed in a certified hospital could only be performed by an attending physician who has admitting privileges at a local certified hospital. Senate Bill 875 is similar in wording to an abortion bill that led to a divisive fight and constitutional challenge in the state of Texas.
Anger at sentencing
Judges won’t be allowed to alter, modify or rescind a defendant’s criminal sentence unless the court has held a hearing allowing all the parties to be notified and heard. State Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Isle of Palms, filed Senate Bill 887 after Circuit Judge Thomas Hughston Jr. of Charleston earlier cut in half a 15-year prison sentence he imposed for drunken driver Samuel McCauley, who at age 19 killed Eleanor Caperton in a crash on Interstate 26 in 2011.
Houston took the action after McCauley’s attorney presented information that his original sentence was too high compared with other felony DUI cases in the county. The move was done without a formal hearing, angering Caperton’s family, who didn’t learn about it until two months later.
State Sen. Marlon Kimpson, D-Charleston, filed legislation to implement a recommendation by the state’s Tax Realignment Commission establishing a system for online retailers to collect South Carolina state sales tax and remit it to the state Department of Revenue. Kimpson says the state is missing out on millions of dollars each year and Senate Bill 870 would help collect them.
Gas tax increase
Sen. Ray Cleary, R-Georgetown, offered a stepped increase to the state’s gas tax to pay for road improvements. Senate Bill 891 would keep the state’s gas tax at 16 cents per gallon until next July, when it would annually increase by 2 cents a year until 2023, when it would reach a cap of 36 cents a gallon.