The last day of the session for this year is May 18.
As we hasten toward a close, here are some of the bills that were passed by the Senate during the month of April.
The Senate finalized our version of the state budget for the next fiscal year. Some of the highlights of the bill as approved by the Senate includes $145 million set aside to help shore up the state's retirement system; $69 million in additional money for K-12 schools; $46 million in additional money for building upgrades at schools; and $16 million in new money for higher education.
The Capital Reserve Fund Bill also passed in the Senate after passing in the House. This bill included $75 million for Hurricane Matthew and other natural disaster recovery efforts.
Senate Bill 289 attempts to consolidate victim services by creating the South Carolina Crime Victim Services Division within the Office of the Attorney General.
Senate Bill 170 adds requirements for county coroners in regards to establishing Child Fatality Review teams when a child under 18 years old died.
Senate Bill 367 seeks to regulate boat speeding and increases the “no wake” zone along the state’s waterways.
Senate Bill 199 allows the Department of Public Safety to issue a civil penalty to the registered owner of a vehicle found to have passed a school bus unlawfully.
Senate Bill 131 aims to narrow the definition of the state’s disturbing schools law.
Senate Bill 478 changes the child passenger restraint requirements by increasing the age until which a child must be properly secured by a passenger restraint system.
House Bill 3726 makes the state retirement system financially solvent.
Finally, the Roads Bill was approved in the Senate by a vote of 30-9. The Senate's version would raise the state's motor fuel user fee - gas tax - by 2 cents per gallon over a six-year period for a total increase of 12 cents when fully implemented and would provide up to about $600 million annually in new revenue designated to repair existing state roads.
My next report will be the final one for this year and will include more details on the state budget and the roads bill as well as other major bills that were passed this year. More information on these and other bills that were passed and considered by the state Senate can be found at www.scsenate.gov.