DI lawmaker breaks down 2023-2024 legislative session

As we recently concluded what is likely our final House session until January 2025, I am proud to reflect on the accomplishments of the 2023-2024 legislative session. 
We made significant strides in reforming the way judges are chosen, cutting your taxes, and supporting our first responders.
Judicial reform: A conference committee met to debate two versions of a bill to reform the process for selecting members of the Judicial Merit Selection Commission (JMSC). The final agreement, now enrolled for ratification, restructures the JMSC to consist of 12 members, with appointments from the House, Senate, and governor.
Key provisions include prohibiting appointments of recent campaign contributors, mandating live-streamed public hearings, and increasing the number of judicial candidates submitted to the General Assembly.
Income tax deductions for firefighters/law enforcement: This bill, also enrolled for ratification, doubles the individual income tax subsistence allowance deduction for law enforcement officers, firefighters, and EMS personnel. It also increases the maximum deduction for various volunteer emergency service members. An additional amendment allows counties to exempt unprepared food items from local transportation sales tax under certain conditions.
Taxes in the 2024-2025 state budget: The General Assembly has successfully passed the general fund spending plan, focusing on tax relief, education, infrastructure, and public safety investments.

Our legislative efforts throughout this session have centered around bolstering prosperity, reforming education, reducing government intervention, promoting conservative values, and ensuring public safety.
Here is a summary of what the House accomplished this year:
Protecting life and public safety
• Fetal Heartbeat Bill: Protecting the unborn after a fetal heartbeat is detected, with exceptions.
• Help Not Harm Bill: Prohibits gender transition procedures for minors.
• Gavin’s Law: Anti-sextortion law to protect teenagers and adults from online exploitation.
• Prison Cell Phone Ban: Prohibits inmates from possessing illegal cell phones in prisons.
• Targeted Fentanyl Trafficking Legislation: Strengthens penalties against fentanyl trafficking.
• Bail Reform: Stops the revolving door of repeat criminal offenders.
• Crackdown on DUIs: Requires ignition interlock systems for drunk drivers.
• Banning Non-Citizens from Voting: Constitutional referendum to protect our rights.
Education and jobs
• Expanded School Choice - Education Savings Accounts (ESA): Empowers parents with educational options.
• Expanded Family Leave for Teachers: Increases family leave benefits for teachers.
• Increased Teacher Salaries: Ensures regular raises for teachers.
• Frozen Tuition for State Colleges and Universities: Maintains frozen tuition rates.
Health and cutting red tape
• Repeal of the Medical Certificate of Need: Removes health care access barriers and increases health care options, particularly in rural areas.
• Telehealth Expansion: Enhances access to health care services through telehealth.
• Substance Control - Xylazine Regulation: Regulates xylazine as a controlled substance.
• Restructured DHEC: Divides DHEC into separate environmental and health entities.
• ESG Pension Protection Act: Protects state pensions against “woke” ideology and policy. 
Legislative and governance reforms
• Constitutional Carry (2A): Allows constitutional carry of firearms.
• Banning DEI at State Universities and Colleges: Prohibits Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiatives at state educational institutions.
• Defining Anti-Semitism: Defines anti-Semitism in legal terms.
2024-2025 state budget highlights
This year’s $14.45 billion general fund spending plan accelerates tax cuts, invests in education, improves infrastructure, and supports public safety. Highlights include:
• Tax Relief: Reduces the state income tax rate to 6.2% for economic competitiveness.
• Education Funding: $200 million increase for teacher salaries and tuition freezes at colleges and universities.
• Infrastructure: $400 million for bridge repairs and rural road enhancements.
• Public Safety: Investments in prison upgrades, increased Highway Patrol salaries, and health care access.
• Universities: Funding for Clemson and USC’s new medical schools and SC State’s campus upgrades.
• Other Investments: Veterans Nursing Homes, rural infrastructure, school buses, instructional materials, and a robust reserve fund. 
As we look forward, these achievements underscore our commitment to a prosperous future for South Carolina. Thank you for your continued support and partnership in shaping our state’s success, please never hesitate to reach out to me directly for anything I may be able to help or assist you with, marksmith@schouse.gov

Daniel Island Publishing

225 Seven Farms Drive
Unit 108
Daniel Island, SC 29492 

Office Number: 843-856-1999
Fax Number: 843-856-8555


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