COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) – A new year starts tomorrow and at the South Carolina State House that means another legislative session for our lawmakers, who will spend months passing new laws.
In 2019 education reform dominated the discussions here at the State House and in 2020 the conversations are expected to continue. But lawmakers are also expected to tackle issues dealing with abortion, what’s left of the V.C. Summer Nuclear Plant project and hate crime legislation.
A comprehensive bill dealing with everything from teacher salary to classroom environment was passed in the House in the 2019 session. The bill is now in the hands of the state’s senators being discussed by a senate education committee.
“For us to be able to keep competitive and retain those teachers and respect those teachers we really need to focus on making the classroom setting better for teaching and make the salary increases,” explained Rep. Beth Bernstein, a House Democrat.
The House also passed a controversial bill banning abortions at the detection of a heartbeat. The bill was fast tracked out of session and passed by the senate medical committe. That bill is now waiting in the wings of the Senate.
There are also some wildcard items that expected to come into play in 2020, like a proposal to pay college athletes.
Representative Justin Bamberg is just one lawmaker behind that movement. “We’re at the point where we’re talking a multi billion dollar industry. Everyone from the coaches, the schools to the NCAA they’re cashing out on the student athletes.”
And bills to regulate vaping products and establish penalties for hate crime penalties.
Rep. Bernstein is behind some of that legislation. “It would be very sad to me if we weren’t able to pass some form of hate crime legislation this session because we’re one of four states in the nation that does not have something on the books.”
The legislative session will reconvene on Tuesday, January 14, 2020.
State lawmakers are still working on how to continue responding to the failed V.C. Summer Nuclear Plant and the state owned utility company Santee Cooper.
Lawmakers are expected to review bids to buy the company this year.