Texting, redistricting talks coming this week

COLUMBIA --- This week, lawmakers will again consider decriminalizing "sexting" in order to keep teens who exchange nude photos from being branded as sex offenders.

While that proposal, H. 3130, aims to loosen penalties for digital indiscretions, another bill set to come up, S. 225, is intended to rein in communication habits behind the wheel.

The bill, which seeks to prohibit texting while driving, will be considered Tuesday by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

On Wednesday, a subcommittee will meet to discuss the redistricting process in South Carolina, which occurs every 10 years to redraw voting districts using new Census data.

The Senate is also expected to give a final vote to S. 434, which allows the Department of Health and Human Services to reduce the reimbursement rate it pays doctors and hospitals that serve Medicaid recipients. The department has a $225 million deficit.

Last week, the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee approved a handful of proposals and sent them to the Senate calendar for floor debate.

One would change the provisions for insurance credits based on driver's education course work. Another would penalize insurance companies for discriminating against domestic-abuse victims. A third proposal is aimed at making it easier for auto insurance companies to offer coverage to someone who does not live in South Carolina permanently but is visiting from another state or country.

The Senate also approved legislation that would require voters to produce a driver's license or acceptable government-issued picture ID, rather than simply a voter registration card. The proposal also creates an 11-day early voting period that ends three days before the election. Republicans have been working on the idea since 2009.

A conference committee to negotiate the differences between the House and Senate versions is expected.

Republicans say the tougher voting requirement will prevent fraud. Democrats have called it a "solution in search of a problem" and say Republicans are trying to counter the waves of new voters who registered to support Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election.

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