Legislative Update from Sen. Kevin Johnson

by | June 17, 2016 10:34 am

This will be my final legislative update for this year. The session has ended and we will reconvene a new session on the second Tuesday in January 2017. As I stated in previous issues, I was disappointed in the progress that was made by the General Assembly; however, I am somewhat pleased that some progress was made during the last month of the session.
My diploma bill passed on the last day of the session. That means that any South Carolina high school student that did not receive their high school diploma only because they did not pass the exit exam can now contact their school district and receive their high school diploma. We also passed the South Carolina Farm Aid Fund Bill which allocates $40 million to provide grants to farmers who suffered as a result of the flood of October 2015.
We passed a bill that would provide an income tax deduction for military retirees and their spouses. We also passed a bill to shorten the legislative session by three weeks. These are just a few of the bills that we passed during the last month of the session. Perhaps the most important piece of legislation that passed near the end of the session is the road funding bill. Although this is not the full bill that we need, it goes a long way in providing funding that will begin to address some of the deplorable conditions of our road system. In this bill we were able to allocate $200 million that will be bonded to provide $4 billion to the transportation department. This funding will replace 400 bridges that are structurally deficient and load restricted and will expand and improve our interstates.
After trying for four years, an ethics reform bill was passed. Although this bill does not represent total ethics reform, it is a step in the right direction. The two major components of this bill is public disclosure of private income sources by appointed and elected officials and the fact that legislators can no longer investigate other elected officials.
That task will be done by an independent panel. Finally, we passed a $7.5 billion dollar general fund budget, which includes $1.2 billion of new revenue. In this budget we were able to provide more funding for public education, local government and much needed funding for several of our state agencies.
The 61,000 dedicated and hardworking state employees will receive a 3.25% cost of living adjustments and the increase in their health insurance premiums are also covered.
This ended up being a somewhat productive session and I hope you know that I enjoy having the opportunity to serve the citizens of South Carolina and especially SC Senate District 36. Please remember to visit www.scsenate.gov to see the bills that I have sponsored and co-sponsored as well as to receive more information about the aforementioned bills. As always, please feel free to contact me at any time that I may be of service.

comments » 2

  1. Comment by Moye Graham

    June 17, 2016 at 11:13

    The good Senator Johnson and I do not always agree on legislation but I will say this. If you contact the Senator he will get back with you if he does not answer your call. For this I am most grateful as he and I have spent quite a bit of time discussing things over the years when neither of us had to. After all he is my Senator and if you live in District 36 then he is your Senator also. I encourage all of you to have a relationship with your elected officials.

  2. Comment by Patricia Pringle

    June 17, 2016 at 18:31

    Senator Johnson,
    Thank you for all your hard work and dedication serving not only the citizens of District 36 but the state of South Carolina. We know that this session actually started last year this time when the Legislature had to reconvene on several occasions after the atrocious and untimely death of Senator Rev. Clemente Pinckney and the eight other parishioners from Emmanuel AME Church. Even though it has been one year today our hearts continue to go out to the families of the slain, the survivors, the SC Legislature and the Governor on such a horrific lost of lives. But we applaud you all for your resilience and how you have handled the national and international coverage during this time.
    And then in October came the 1,000 year flood in which some people, including the farmers, are still suffering as a result of.

    Thanks again for being the public servant that you are,
    Patricia Pringle, Chairwoman
    Clarendon County Democratic Party


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