Leadership Charleston Visits the State House
Yesterday, the 2022 Leadership Charleston Class made the annual journey to the South Carolina State House. The group met with Legislative leaders, learned about the role of lobbying, watched floor activity, met with Governor McMaster, heard from Justice John Few about the judicial role in state government, received an update from Dave Rozelle from the Department of Veterans Affairs and concluded the day with the role of the media in the legislative process. Overall, it was a great day and I enjoyed getting to know the class better. A special thanks to our delegation members, Representatives Joe Bustos, Mark Smith, Spencer Wetmore, Sylleste Davis, Deon Tedder, Marvin Pendarvis and JA Moore for speaking to our class.
Medical Marijuana Movement
On Wednesday, it was one of the stranger days in the General Assembly. The House began debate on the Compassionate Care Act S.150, which would legalize medical marijuana for those with debilitating conditions and end of life care. This was Senator Tom Davis’ bill that he has been working on for the last six to seven years and the legislation finally passed the Senate this year. Once the floor debate began, Representative John McCravy, who opposes the bill, raised a point of order saying the bill should have originated in the House because it imposed a tax. This came out of the blue, especially after two Attorney General opinions and a ruling on the Senate floor earlier this year saying this bill didn’t impose a new tax. After several hours of deliberation, Tommy Pope, House Speaker Pro Tem, ruled in favor of Representative McCravy’s point of order saying that the legislation violated the state constitution.
The entire lobby was hanging on every word of the ruling. I have to say that in my six sessions as a lobbyist, I have never witnessed such a ruling and even asked other more veteran lobbyists if they had heard of this happening and the resounding answer was no. After the ruling, the mood in the House was very tense as several Senators watched what happened. The House, soon after, adjourned for the day. Several Senators including the Majority Leader Shane Massey said this will put a strain on the relationship between the House and Senate. This will make for an interesting last week of session.
Earlier in the week, H.3948, a Bill that would allow more flexibility for local governments for funding infrastructure needs locally, received a favorable report out of the Senate Finance committee and moved to the floor. The Bill would allow counties to ask voters via ballot referendum to simultaneously impose a Transportation Sales Tax and a Capital Project Sales Tax. Currently, counties can only impose one of the sales taxes. Senator Sandy Senn objected to the bill when it came up on the calendar. This is yet another sign that session was nearing an end as this sort of thing seems to happen each year towards the close of session.
The Chamber supports this legislation and we ask for your help. If you could take a few minutes to reach out to Senator Senn’s office to let her know that you support the bill and our region needs the ability to ask voters to support critical infrastructure needs in our ever-growing region. Ask her to please remove her objection to H.3948. Your help would be greatly appreciated.
Senator Sandy Senn
Finally, our annual DC Fly-In is coming up next month, June 8-9. This year, we will be meeting with our Congressional Delegation, Air Force Leadership at the Pentagon, Navy leadership as well as a visit to the Department of Homeland Security to meet with the Coast Guard. This is an excellent opportunity to lobby on behalf or our region and reinforce our support of the military and Joint Base Charleston. I hope you can attend if your schedule allows. If you are interested in attending one of the best events we have, you can register here.