COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina lawmakers finished their regular session this year by passing dozens of bills right up to the last minute of the 5 pm Thursday deadline.
While many bills were sent to the Governor or assigned to a conference committee on the last day, some measures did not make it in time.
The House bill that could've restructured USC's Board of Trustees and fired current members was the last bill debated in the Senate, but senators did not get to a vote. "This is one of those things where you're going to have to get an agreement on it, and they just couldn't agree," said Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey. "So, there was a lot of work, especially the last few days, to try to come up with something and it just didn't happen," he told reporters.
Across the hall in the House of Representatives, there was a last-second effort to revive the hate crime bill Thursday, but that didn’t work out either.
"It certainly would have been a better session had we been able to address the hate crimes bill," Senate Minority Leader Shane Massey said to reporters after session.
One bill that passed on the last day of session was a measure that allows access to birth control without a doctor’s prescription. It was initially assigned to a conference committee but lawmakers worked out their differences before the deadline and approved the bill to send to the Governor.
Also, a bill that changes South Carolina's lifelong sex offender registry was sent to the Governor. After the state Supreme Court ruled South Carolina's current statute unconstitutional, lawmakers passed a measure to remove offenders off the list after 15 years, if they meet certain criteria.
Plus, Massey said he's proud of the General Assembly's work on education. He pointed to their work on the education scholarship accounts bill, "which I think is going to help a lot of poor children have access to better educational opportunities." Massey added, "we also helped teachers with some unencumbered time, giving them a break during the school day."
The education scholarship accounts bill will need to be sorted out in conference committee. South Carolina's spending plan, will also need to be worked out in conference committee, which Senate Minority Leader Brad Hutto is hopeful for.
"We've got some particular needs in South Carolina as it relates to infrastructure: Broadband expansion, roads, in the bill," explained Hutto. "We'll have to see what comes out of conference but I think there's high hopes."
Lawmakers will return in June under their Sine Die resolution to work on the state budget and enter their conference committees. They'll also be able to take up any bills that the Governor decides to veto.