Representative Nancy Mace reflects on the highlights of the 2019 House session
State Representative Nancy Mace had a big 2019. At the most recent South Carolina State House session, the Daniel Island resident brought plenty of attention to herself by co-sponsoring several significant pieces of bipartisan legislation. The attention she drew peaked in an impassioned appeal for an amendment to a “Fetal Heartbeat” bill that would allow victims of rape and incest to receive an abortion, if desired. With no signs of slowing down, Mace sat down with The Daniel Island News last week to provide a recap of the recent House session and a preview of what’s to come. Below is part one of a two-part series detailing that conversation.
The Daniel Island News (DIN): What were the high points and low points of the recent House session?
Nancy Mace (NM): “Education reform was a big one that leadership wanted to get through this year. It ended up dying when it went over the Senate, which is disappointing because there was a lot of good in there. One of the reasons that I ran is on this notion that if we continue to do the same thing every year, year after year, yet we get the same results, we’re never going to make a change. And something has to give…It’s not a funding problem, it is a spending problem because the money is not getting into the classroom. Teachers aren’t getting paid what they should be paid, they’re begging for supplies at the beginning of each semester, each year, and students are coming out, they can’t read in third grade or they’re having trouble with basic math when they should be able to do math. These are inherent problems with the system.”
“One of the other big votes that came up towards the end of session was on the Panthers, dedicating $115 million (in tax breaks) to them (for) moving their headquarters to York County, Rock Hill, and then getting an interchange that is not needed up there. That $40 million for that interchange could be spent…(on) a dozen different places down here in the Lowcountry. But that was a big one. What state government does oftentimes and what government does, and I disagree with, is picking winners and losers in the marketplace…South Carolina’s economy is built on the backs of small businesses. It’s backed on the people that work for themselves or their CEOs or their entrepreneurs.”
“Some of the things that I’ve worked on personally this year, my child-luring bill that I did with Representative [Lee] Hewitt has been a big one. Here in Charleston County and Berkeley County, we have seen instances where a man has attempted to lure a child away.”
“One of the other issues that got a bit of traction this year was the police academy bill that I filed with Representative Marvin Pendarvis out of North Charleston. We have a law enforcement crisis. We don’t have enough law enforcement in the jobs that we have openings for, and the ones we do have, we can’t get trained…We only have one police academy, centralized academy to train our police recruits. And we have a small powerful cobble of people in Columbia who don’t want to let go of that power. And it’s hurting our police officers, therefore it’s hurting our communities.”
“Healthcare is another one that got some traction. We got a hearing on it in Ways and Means, I have a bill that would repeal Certificate of Need, here in South Carolina…We have a lot of healthcare monopolies with the hospitals and you can’t have competition because we have something called Certificate of Need. If you do away with that, then another practice can set up shop or a surgery center or an outpatient practice can set up shop.”
“I am constantly filing legislation. I have close to 20 bills filed or pieces of legislation because when I hear a problem, I just want to fix it.”
DIN: Out of everything filed this year, what are you most proud of?
NM: “When I started looking at [The First Step Act], I saw that one of the provisions in there was to prohibit the use of shackles on women who are in labor, who are a part of the prison system. I started looking at South Carolina’s laws and we don’t have a law against it. In fact, it was policy in South Carolina up until Brian Sterling became director of the South Carolina Department of Corrections. It doesn’t affect a lot of people, but I do think that small parts can make a big difference in somebody’s life. Most of what I do is bipartisan. With the exception of my Certificate of Needs bill, everything I have done has been bipartisan. And passing my first bill out of the house is a big deal.”
DIN: Are you considering a run for the U.S. House of Representatives?
NM: “I am considering a run for U.S. House and as soon as I make that decision everybody will know. Everybody will know.
DIN: Do you know when that announcement will be made?
NM: Hopefully this summer.
DIN: Why are you considering running for U.S. House of Representatives?
NM: “The day after I won my reelection, in November, my daughter who was nine at the time woke up the very next day and said ‘hey, mommy, when are we going to take Joe Cunningham out?’ We laugh at this, but my family knows how passionate I am. My children want me to run for office, they want me to be successful, they want me to follow my dreams and passion. And my love is here. I’m from here, I grew up here, I’m from Goose Creek, and I’m raising my family here. I work here and I’ve been here for a long time. And I’ve seen how things have changed, in some ways for the better and in some ways not. Joe’s a nice guy. I just don’t think he’s the right guy. Whether we’re talking about immigration or we’re talking about healthcare or we’re talking about infrastructure, we really need leadership right now.”
Be sure to check out part two of our interview with Rep. Mace in next week’s issue of The Daniel Island News.