The final three days of session are upon us. At 5:00 pm on Thursday the session will end. After that date, the only issues the Senate and House will be able to debate, and vote on, are those that are agreed to in the sine die resolution - which as of right now does not exist. Any legislation that does not make the sine die resolution will "die" and have to be refiled next January at the beginning of the new session. Last week was very busy with both chambers attempting to move legislation to the other side. This week will be equally, if not more so.

As I scanned social media over the past few days I have noticed many parents celebrating the graduation of their children from universities and colleges. I want to congratulate everyone who is entering the "real world" and wish you the best of luck in your endeavors. As always, I hope this Newsletter finds you well. The goal of this Newsletter is to keep you updated on what is happening in Columbia. If you have any questions or would like me to discuss a topic, please let me know.

Constituent Breakfast:

I will be having a Constituent Breakfast in Fort Mill on Friday, May 20th. The plan is to meet at the Amphitheater at Elisha Park from 8:00 am to 9:00 am. You can park directly behind the Amphitheater. Bring your own chair and coffee. I'll bring some doughnuts and we will discuss this past legislative session. Hope to see you there.

Week in Review: April 25-April 29, 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):

H.3050 - Law Enforcement Accountability: This bill makes comprehensive updates to law enforcement accountability, duties, and standards. Once passed this will require that non-certified law enforcement officers (LEOs) may only perform their duties when accompanied by a certified LEO. Why this change? In many small towns in South Carolina you have someone who is a non-certified LEO who has been given a car, badge, and gun. Typically this person has little to no training and is ill-equipped to handle certain situations. This will stop that practice.

Additionally, this bill shall require officers to intervene when observing another officer physically or psychologically abusing members of the public or prisoners. Failure to do so will constitute misconduct. It requires that a law enforcement agency report misconduct to the Law Enforcement Training Council. The Council may impose civil fines to an agency for failure to comply up to $1,000 per day. This bill bans the use of chokehold or carotid holds except as a justifiable means if the LEO believes the use of deadly force is necessary to protect the life of a civilian or LEO. The use of an unjustified hold shall be deemed excessive force and may result in criminal prosecution. The Council shall develop and implement curriculum to address lawful holds and set minimum standards for all law enforcement agencies related to vehicle pursuit standards, duty to intervene, hiring and terminating practices, field training, body-worn cameras, ‘no knock’ warrants, and others. Lastly, this bill establishes a Compliance Division under the jurisdiction of the Council. I voted in favor.

H.3055 - Topographic Mapping Using LiDAR: This legislation will require togographic mapping using light detection and ranging (LiDAR) data collections by December 31, 2021, and at least every seven years thereafter. The information collected must be shared with the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources Flood Mitigation Program. All results will be published on the DNR website. I voted in favor.

H.3144 - SC Wins Scholarship: A $2,500 scholarship is being created for students attending a two-year public technical college and majoring in a critical workforce area program. This is an annual $2,500 scholarship for up to three years. In order for a student to be eligible, they must be enrolled in at least six credit hours of instruction each semester, including three credit hours of instruction in one of the critical workforce areas defined by the State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Educations (SBTCE); attempt 24 academic credit hours; and maintain a grade point average of 2.0 or better on a 4.0 scale. If the SC WINS scholarship is lost, it may be regained in a same manner as the Lottery Tuition Assistance Program scholarship is regained. I voted in favor.

H.3591 - Educator Preparation Programs: This bill requires the State Board of Education to form a commission to conduct a detailed assessment of education data and to produce a report known as the "South Carolina Educator Preparation Report Card." The report shall evaluate the ability of educator preparation programs, including alternative programs, to prepare teachers for success in South Carolina's classrooms. While well intentioned, I believe this bill creates another "report card" that no one is going to read. Once again, we take time away from educating, and instead create a report that sit on the shelf. I voted against this legislation.

H.4075 - Sex-Offender Registry: Last year the South Carolina Supreme Court struck down some of the provisions of our existing sex-offender registry. This bill attempts to clean up some of that language and to ensure that those on the registry remain on it. I voted in favor.
H.4161 - Gaming Machines: In the upstate there is a company that manufactures gaming machines. Under current law, they are not allowed to completely build those machines out and must do so in another state (current law outlaws operational gaming machines). This will allow a company to develop, manufacture, process, sell, possess, or transport gaming equipment by a gaming equipment manufacturer authorized to do business in the State of South Carolina. The manufacturer is required to register with the Secretary of State’s Office, the United States Department of Justice Gambling Device Registration Unit and be in good standing. I voted in favor.

H.4597 - Anatomical Gifts: Once signed in to law this will stop someone who has a disability from being discriminated against in receiving an organ donation.

H.4608 - Save Women's Sports Act: I have written about this on numerous occasions. This bill states that a biological male, who has transitioned to a female, cannot compete against biological females on athletic teams at the elementary, middle, high, and collegiate levels. This does not preclude someone from playing in coed leagues. It is my belief that the gains to women's sports under Title IX are too great to allow the possibility that women will lose scholarships. I voted in favor.

H.4775 - Electronic Waste: This will require manufactures of certain electronic devices to offer an electronic waste recovery program, to establish television and computer monitor collection sites, and require DHEC to review and approve minimum plan requirements. The cost of "recycling" many of our electronic devices is staggering. This bill will shift that burden to the manufacturer. I voted in favor.

These are some of the bills given Second Reading last week:

H.3006 - Lunch Debts: This will stop public schools and public school districts from using debt collection agencies to collect outstanding debts for school lunches. I voted in favor.

H.3795 – Sign Language Interpreters: This will require standards, and a specific level of competence for sign language interpreters to be used by certain entities of state government, public schools, and hospital systems. A person may only provide interpreting services for an agency or hospital if they hold a recognized certification in sign language interpretation as approved by the South Carolina Association of the Deaf, South Carolina Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, or the National Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf. This does not apply in an emergency situation where parties deem delay is likely to cause injury or loss, or as part of supervised internship or mentorship in which an interpreter with a recognized certification is present. Interpreters working with public schools must be required to submit to the same background check requirements as educators consisted with regulations of the State Board of Education. I voted in favor.
H.4600 – Electro-Convulsive Therapy: This will change the persons who may consent on behalf of patients to electro-convulsive therapy or major medical treatment. The bill conforms the order of priority of persons to the order of priority in the Adult Health Care Consent Act. I voted in favor.
H.4601 – Ambulance Service: A county's governing body must ensure an ambulance service is operating within the county. The ambulance may be a county service, public, private, or nonprofit, and may enter inter intergovernmental agreements or other agreements with hospitals or health care facilities. A governing body of a county may adopt and enforce reasonable regulations to control the provisions of private or nonprofit ambulance service. I voted in favor.
H.4986 – Trawling for Shrimp: A bill to prohibit traps in the waters of the General Trawling Zone when the waters are open to trawling for shrimp. For those of you who are not familiar with this, the traps rip the nets of the shrimp trawlers. I voted in favor.

Legislation on the Horizon:

While there is little time left for these to pass, here are a few bills that were passed out of Committee this past week:

H.3291 - Notice of Trespassing: This bill is called the purple paint bill in the Senate. It simply states that a land owner can mark trees with purple paint. By doing so the land owner is placing you on notice that you are on private property and may not trespass.

H.3772 - Delivery of Beer and Wine: If passed, this will allow a retail dealer to hire a delivery service to deliver sealed packages of beer and wine to your house. Delivery cannot be to a church, school, playground, residence hall or dormitories of a college or university. There are maximum limits on the amount that can be delivered in a day and the delivery person must scan the recipients license and verify they are 21.

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