FLORENCE, S.C. — Two Pee Dee area legislators are among the sponsors of legislation that would change the composition of the University of South Carolina board of trustees.
State Sen. Gerald Malloy pre-filed Senate Bill 878 on Dec. 11. House Speaker James H. “Jay” Lucas is among the sponsors of House Bill 4752, which also was pre-filed on Dec. 11.
The bills are very similar to each other except that in the introductory language, the House bill references the “Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976” and the Senate bill references the “1976 code.”
The bills change the composition of the board to include the president of the USC alumni association (provided the person is a state resident; if not, the president appoints someone who is a resident), two at-large members appointed by the governor, two at-large members elected by a general vote of the General Assembly and a member from each of the state’s seven Congressional districts.
Currently, the board includes the governor or a designee, the state superintendent of education, the alumni association president, a member from each of the state’s 16 judicial circuits elected by the General Assembly and one at-large member appointed by the governor.
The bills keep the terms of office of the trustees at four years.
The president of the alumni association serves for his active term of office.
The bills provide that the current trustees’ terms expire on June 30, 2021, and before that date, nine new trustees shall be elected by the general assembly. Trustees from odd-numbered Congressional districts — 1, 3, 5 and 7 — are elected to initial two-year terms and then four-year terms, and trustees from even numbered Congressional districts — 2 ,4 and 6 — are elected to initial four-year terms.
The bills also amend state code to require the election of a chairman of the board for a two-year term and that a person can only serve two terms as chairman.
They also remove language requiring the governor to preside at meetings in which the governor serves as a member of the board, as the governor would no longer be a member of the board unless the governor were to designate himself as a member.
There was some controversy in 2019 related to the USC board’s appointment of Robert L. Caslen to serve as the university’s president. The university’s board ultimately approved Caslen’s appointment by an 11-8-1 vote in July.
Gov. Henry McMaster was a supporter of Caslen, but the board of trustees initially passed on Caslen in April.
One board member, Charles Williams, said he felt McMaster was trying to force a vote in July, and the courts later blocked the vote planned then. But another one was held seven days later.
McMaster denied involvement beyond encouraging finding a resolution.
Pee Dee legislators have also filed a number of other bills.
Off-shore oil and gas: Several Pee Dee legislators are among the sponsors of a bill designed to prevent the exploitation of oil and gas reserves located off the Palmetto State’s Atlantic coast.
Senate Bill 870 has been pre-filed and referred to the committee on Agricultural and Natural Resources. Among its sponsors are Sens. Greg Hembree, Malloy, Ronnie Sabb and Kevin Johnson.
The bill amends state code to provide that the state’s department of health and environmental control is prohibited from approving a plan for infrastructure used to facilitate transportation of crude oil or natural gas into the state from the Atlantic Ocean and prohibited from approving a plan for the development offshore crude oil and natural gas.
Education: Lucas is also among the sponsors of several bills related to education reform.
Items made by former in-mates: Malloy is also the sponsor of Senate Bill 877, which would require a state procurement officer to deduct 2% from the price of a bid submitted by an external company if the company certifies that the end-product — this makes these bids more competitive — was primarily made by former inmates. The bill has been referred to the committee on finance.
Equal Rights Amendment: Malloy is also among the sponsors of Senate Bill 901, which would ratify a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution providing that the equality of rights must not be abridged on account of sex. The bill has been referred to the committee on judiciary.
Homestead exemption increase: Johnson is also the sponsor of Senate Bill 910, which would amend state code to increase the homestead property tax exemption for taxpayers over 65, disabled or legally blind from $50,000 of the fair market value of a home to $75,000. The bill has been referred to the committee on finance.
Robocalls: Hembree is also the sponsor of a resolution, Senate Bill 914, to demand that Congress take immediate action and all additional steps to require telecom companies to develop and launch technology that rids citizens of illegal robocalls and spoofing. The bill has been referred to the committee on judiciary.
Hearing aids: Hembree is the sponsor of a bill that would require health insurers to cover hearing aids and replacement hearing aids for those people who are insured and suffer from impaired hearing. The bill has been referred to the committee on banking and insurance.
DUIs and open container violations: Hembree is also the sponsor of two bills, Senate Bills 916 and 917, that permit conditional discharges for first time offenders guilty of DUI or open container violations. The bills have been referred to the committee on judiciary.
Hate crimes: Malloy and Sen. Mia McLeod are the sponsors of Senate Bill 934, which would enact the Hate Crime Prevention Act of 2020. The act would make it unlawful to willfully cause bodily injury or to attempt to by the use of fire, a firearm, a dangerous weapon or destructive device because of actual or the perceived race, religion, sexual orientation or national origin of any person. The bill has been referred to the committee on judiciary.
Mobile barbershops: State Rep. Pat Henegan is the sponsor of House Bill 4771, which would allow the state board of barber examiners to issue mobile barbershop permits. The bill has been referred to the committee on medical, military, public and municipal affairs.
Licensure of physical therapists: State Rep. Phillip Lowe is the sponsor of House Bill 4772, which would require checking the fingerprint criminal records of out-of-state physical therapists looking to become licensed in South Carolina.
Feminine hygiene: Henegan is also the sponsor of House Bill 4784, which would require public buildings owned by the state or any sub-agency to supply feminine hygiene products in every female restroom free of charge. The bill has been referred to the committee on medical, military, public, and municipal affairs.
Fallen first responder survivor advocate: Lucas is among several sponsors of House Bill 4705, which would create the position of fallen first responder survivor advocate within the department of administration. The bill has been referred to the committee on ways and means.
Epinephrine coverage: Henegan is the sponsor of House Bill 4735, which would require health insurers, after Jan. 1, 2021, to cover the costs of epinephrine auto-injector devices. The bill has been referred to the committee on labor, commerce and industry.
Hunting and fishing licenses: Rep. Cezar McKnight is the sponsor of House Bill 4740, which would make it legal for someone to display their hunting or fishing license, permit, tag or stamp electronically. The bill has been referred to the committee on agriculture, natural resources and environmental affairs.
Will Lou Gray Opportunity School: Henegan is among the sponsors of House Bill 4746, which would require parental consent for the Will Lou Gray Opportunity School to send information to students about its offerings. The bill has been referred to the committee on education and public works.
Dam repairs: Henegan is a sponsor of House Bill 4751, which would require the state department of health and environmental control to notify a county when the owner of a dam cannot be located and the county may then elect to repair the dam with its funds. The bill would also provide a method for the reimbursement of the county for the repair costs. The bill has been referred to the committee on agriculture, natural resources and environmental affairs.