Constituent Breakfast:

I will hold a Constituent Breakfast this Friday, March 18th at Pleasant Hill Methodist Church from 8:00 am to 9:00 am. Pleasant Hill Methodist is located at 238 Fort Mill Hwy, in Indian Land. I want to thank Pleasant Hill for opening their doors to me. I will bring some donuts so bring your own coffee (I promise to be on time for this one with donuts). I look forward to talking about District 16 and what is going on at the Statehouse.

Week in Review: March 7-11, 2022:

These are some of the bills that passed third reading in the Senate over the last week and were sent to the House (click on the link to see the text of the bill):

S.133 - Convention of States. On Thursday the Senate voted to make South Carolina the 19th state to call for a Convention of States to amend the United States Constitution under Article V. This legislation calls for term limits for federal officials (members of Congress), fiscal restraints on the federal government (balanced budget), and limits on the power and jurisdiction of the federal government. This bill now heads back to the SC House for their consideration. As I have said in numerous emails, I was a co-sponsor of this legislation and voted in favor of it.

These are some of the bills that passed second reading in the Senate over the last week (click on the link to see the text of the bill):

S.230 - Minors Engaged in Trafficking. This states that minors engaged in commercial sexual activity or trafficking are presumed to be doing so under coercion. As a result, the minor can claim this as a defense to any criminal charges. Additionally, anyone who has previously been convicted who falls in to this category may have their record expunged. I voted in favor of this legislation.

S.460 - Office of the State Fire Marshal. Once passed this bill will restructure the Office of the State Fire Marshal. It will give the State Fire Marshal jurisdiction and authority over enforcement of laws and ordinances; prevention of fires; storage, sale and use of combustibles; installation and maintenance of fire alarm systems; fire extinguishers; egress from all buildings on a statewide basis. I voted in favor of this legislation.

S.1087 - Comprehensive Tax Cut Act of 2022. I wrote about this tax relief bill several weeks ago. Again to recap, it reduces the top rates of 7% and 6% to 5.7% beginning in tax year 2022. It also eliminates income tax on military retirement income beginning in tax year 2022.

While those changes are significant, it also address property taxes on manufacturers. While campaigning for this office I would often say that America, and specifically South Carolina, needs to manufacturer goods here - not overseas. Unfortunately, manufacturers are one of the most highly taxed entities in our state. This bill will bring their property tax rate down from 9% to 6%. This is a major step towards meaningful tax relief. This will also make South Carolina more competitive against our neighbors, and bring jobs to this State.

Lastly, this bill returns One Billion dollars in the form of a one-time Taxpayer Rebate for those who file a return for tax year 2021. Each rebate will be equal to the taxpayers liability. The minimum rebate for each taxpayer would be $100 and the maximum rebate allowed would be $700. Those funds will go out before December 31, 2021. In total, the bill creates approximately $1 billion in recurring tax relief and $1 billion in nonrecurring tax relief. I, along with every member of the Senate, voted in favor of this bill.

Legislation on the Horizon:

These bills are either currently in Committee or will soon be on the floor to be debated and voted on.

S.1106 - General Reserve Fund Increase. This is a joint resolution to propose an Amendment to the South Carolina Constitution to increase the State General Reserve Fund from five (5%) percent of the general fund revenue of the last fiscal year to seven (7%) percent. It will also all the Capital Reserve fund to be increased from two (2%) percent to three (3%) percent of the general revenue from the latest fiscal year. If adopted, this would allow the State to place more in reserve funds. Ultimately, any Constitutional amendment would have to be approved by the voters of this State.

S.923 - Youth Patriotic Societies. If approved, this will require that public school districts allow youth patriotic societies to address students during Patriotism Week (the week of November 11th) about involvement in these societies.

H.4944 - Coastal Carolina Board Notices. This will require the Coastal Carolina University Board of Trustees to send notices of time and place of all meetings of the board electronically or through the US Mail not less than five days before each meeting.

S.888 - Contractor's License. This is a piece of legislation that I filed in December of last year. I proposed a bill that would allow any building science, construction management or civil engineer to voluntarily give $25 while renewing their contractor's license. Those funds will go directly to colleges/universities that teach those degree programs. This is mirrored after similar legislation in Alabama and Florida. In Alabama, this raises over $800,000 annually for scholarships and degree enhancements.

If passed, this bill would benefit Clemson University, The Citadel, the University of South Carolina, and South Carolina State University. A person renewing their license may either give to one of these universities specifically, or designate that the funds be split between the universities based on enrollment in the degree program.

S.2 - Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) Restructuring. The pandemic showed us that DHEC cannot serve dual roles. The agency is currently attempting to manage health issues while also dealing with all environmental issues. This creates an issue with the Director typically having to split time between competing factions. Under this bill, DHEC will be split in to two agencies: the Department of Environmental Services and the Department of Behavioral and Public Health. The Department of Environmental Services will primarily be responsible for the state hydrology program, the aquatic nuisance species program, and environmental functions previously served by DHEC. The Department of Behavioral and Public Health will primarily house duties of the Division of Mental Health, the Division of Public Health, and the Division of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services. Additionally the Division of Food Safety (except shellfish) will fall under the Department of Agriculture and the veterans’ homes program will be under the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.

Covid-19 Vaccine Passports:

I have had numerous people contact me about a rumor that DHEC is creating Covid vaccine passports. This is not accurate. DHEC has created virtual vaccine cards. If you are a parent, you know how difficult it can be to get your pediatrician to fill out the vaccine form so you can send it to a school or summer camp. This will allow the entire process to be digital. This is not an attempt to create a Covid passport. DHEC has issued a statement reiterating that they are not creating a Covid passport. I hope this helps to squash any rumors to the contrary.

Thank you for believing in me and allowing me to represent District 16 in Columbia. Again, if you have any questions, or you hear something and have a question, give me a call. My personal cell number is 803-984-0126.

Thank you again for everything,

Michael Johnson