Roads Update, Budget Debate & Gun Rights
In our 10th week of legislative session in the South Carolina House, we made headway on committee work, pouring over the Senate’s amendments to our roads plan, and taking the first steps to amend our bankruptcy laws, making them friendlier to gun owners.
My colleagues and I also worked diligently this week to clear the House calendar as we enter into the annual budget debate next week. Unlike Washington, we take time to balance our budget each year. I take a conservative approach to allocating state funds, and I value your input. Last week I sent a link to the budget proposal for fiscal years 2016/2017 as proposed by the House Ways and Means Committee. I have provided it here again in case you missed it.
The House Judiciary Committee’s General and Family Law Subcommittee approved a measure amending our state’s bankruptcy laws to ensure they are friendly to gun owners. You may ask, “What does bankruptcy have to do with the right to keep and bear arms?” Good question. During bankruptcy proceedings those who have fallen on hard times are many times required to sell off certain assets to satisfy their debts – in some cases including firearms. The provision approved this week would allow gun owners to keep up to three firearms and up to 1,000 rounds of ammunition per firearm in any bankruptcy proceeding. This ensures those who must undergo the unfortunate scenario of filing for bankruptcy do not also lose their ability to exercise one of the most important constitutional amendments.
Finally, if you were able to read my update from last week and as you may have seen in various news reports, the Senate finally sent back their amendments to our roads and infrastructure funding bill. My House colleagues and I have continued to look closely at the Senate changes. The issue of fixing our roads while creating a long-term solution to our immediate problem remains complex.
We have worked for years in the House to address the failed governance model of the Department of Transportation (DOT) tasked with paving and maintaining our roads. While the Senate roads plan does call for additional road and infrastructure funding, that money can actually only be spent as part of the budget process. We will be proactive in making sure these extra funds are part of next week’s budget debate. Also, the Senate version may not reform the DOT enough, likely requiring us to consider amending their changes for more significant reform to the DOT making the agency more accountable and efficient. After the annual budget debate which begins March 21st, we will take up the Senate’s amendments to the road funding bill, and I welcome your input.
As always, it is a privilege to serve you in the South Carolina House. If you ever need help with state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please to not hesitate to contact me.