Thursday’s editorial highlights some bills from our local legislators that deserve to be passed in the time left in this session:
There’s never enough time for our legislators to debate, refine and pass every bill proposed each session. Most ideas will never become law. But though the sand is running out on the current two-year session, there is still time in the coming months to pass some of the well-considered proposals from local leaders.
A few that are still worthy of consideration:
S. 461 | Sen. Ray Cleary’s mandatory recycling bill passed the Senate last year, but thus far hasn’t moved very far ahead in the House. The Murrells Inlet Republican’s bill would require every business with a liquor permit to at least investigate the possibility of a recycling program. Those businesses that find a recycling program that costs the same or less than their current trash pickup would be required to take advantage of it.
There has been some pushback by restaurateurs and the hospitality industry, concerned that this would be a new onerous requirement for businesses. But recycling should not be viewed as undue interference from government, any more than current trash regulations. We already regulate our waste, not allowing it to be simply thrown out willy-nilly, wherever a business owner wishes. Especially if there is no additional cost to business owners, adding a new requirement that some of that waste be recycled will be to all of our benefit in the long run.
The bill is currently awaiting action in Rep. Nelson Hardwick’s Agriculture Committee in the House. Hardwick, a Surfside Beach Republican, said on Wednesday that he expects a hearing on the bill in the coming weeks, after some other pressing business, such as the state budget, is complete. With that timetable, there’s still time for this useful bill to become law, but the clock is ticking. Any change by the House will have to be approved again by the Senate. The sooner action can be taken, the better.
H. 3757 | Hardwick has a bill of his own that deserves to see some action. He’s long been pushing a bill to crack down on the scourge of human trafficking in the state, an issue that has special significance here in the tourism-heavy, more transient coastal area. Hardwick’s bill has received important backing from the state attorney general, as well as SLED and the state’s sheriffs and prosecutors associations. Now it just needs to get out of the House, where it has been languishing since February of last year.
“It’s an atrocity that we need to look at,” said Hardwick last month, and encouragingly, it does seem to be gaining some traction. Hardwick said Wednesday that a sponsor in the Senate has been secured, and he thinks there’s “a good chance” the bill will yet become law this year. If so, it would be a welcome victory for victims advocates and law enforcement alike.
The state would also be well served by passage of other locally sponsored bills that are still working their way through the legislature:
Sen. Dick Elliott’s S. 435 would require public reporting of expenditures of any public funds provided to agencies or nongovernmental bodies, a welcome requirement for those who would like to see where the money they send to their government is spent. The bill by the North Myrtle Beach Democrat passed the Senate last year, but has yet to see much action in the House.
A common sense proposal by Aynor’s Liston Barfield, H. 3863, would allow health care facilities to take advantage of previously distributed but unused prescription medicine and redistribute it to indigent patients rather than destroy it. With the high cost of health care, the idea is a good one – a good one that Barfield has been backing for years now – that could save both money and lives. But despite picking up a number of co-sponsors in the House, Barfield said Wednesday that it has run into opposition from DHEC and pharmacists, and the idea has been mostly stuck in committee since being introduced by the Republican House member last March. Barring immediate and decisive action it likely doesn’t have time to pass this session, but thankfully Barfield has promised to reintroduce it next year in the hopes of passage the next time around.
Finally, while Rep. Alan Clemmons has been busy the past two years proposing a number of ways of limiting voting, notably through the state’s controversial voter ID bill and a more recent bill to constrain voter registration drives, he also put forth a commendable bill to make it easier for citizens outside the country to vote by absentee ballot. H. 3349, which has passed the House but not the Senate, would open the S.C. ballot to citizens who have never lived in the country but who have parents from our state. The change could make it easier for those working overseas to retain a voice in the leadership of their home country. Beneficiaries could include those in the service of our government, missionaries or others who’ve grown up outside our borders.