Legislative Update

The Senate finished March by passing a number of important bills.

First, the Senate Republican Caucus passed a bill that will pave the way for charter school expansion in South Carolina.

Charter schools are an important part of the educational system in South Carolina, giving educators the flexibility to create schools that best fit the needs of the local community. They are public schools, funded and overseen by the state.

We have many great public schools in South Carolina, but in order to compete nationally, we need to encourage innovation in education. But for too long, local districts have often stymied charter schools’ efforts to get going.

The Senate passed a bill to streamline many aspects of charter school creation and the admissions process. It also sets new, simpler guidelines for charter school governance, and it allows colleges and universities to voluntarily sponsor these institutions. All in all, we believe it will stimulate the growth of charter schools in South Carolina and remove administrative roadblocks for those already operating.

Second, we passed a bill to prevent workers fired for misconduct from collecting unemployment benefits – a move that could save the unemployment system $50 million per year.

The bill is aimed at protecting businesses from having to pay out benefits for workers fired under these circumstances. It also protects consumers by keeping costs low, and protects taxpayers at a time when the state is still working to pay back loans made to the unemployment trust fund.

The changes to current law are necessary because a state agency’s broad interpretation of the old law resulted in $50 million in benefits awarded to people fired for misconduct last year alone. The bill will strictly define how to deal with these types of claims, making it consistent with federal law, and eliminating these unjustified benefits.

Third, the Senate is working to pass a bill that would free South Carolina from provisions of Obamacare and allow the state to regulate healthcare decisions within its own borders.

While we hope the Supreme Court does the right thing and strikes down Obamacare, we cannot wait, and have decided to act now. However, Senate Democrats are currently throwing up some procedural roadblocks to the bill.

The bill would make South Carolina a part of an interstate compact, in which each state joining the compact would gain the right to bypass federal healthcare regulations and instead allow the states to make those decisions. It would effectively negate Obamacare regulations like the health rationing panel. Similar legislation has already been passed in six states, and has been fast-tracked in four others.

We at the Senate Republican Caucus hope you have a restful Spring Break, and a great Easter spent with family.

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