Abortion bills among those not meeting SC deadline

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COLUMBIA — Bills that would outlaw abortion and strengthen South Carolina’s open records law are among those unlikely to survive what is referred to as the crossover deadline in the Legislature.

Legislation that didn’t advance from one chamber to the other by Thursday has little chance of becoming law this year.

After the May 1 deadline, bills require a two-thirds vote to even be considered by the other chamber for the session that ends June 5. That’s a high hurdle for contested measures. Since this is the end of a two-year session, bills that don’t pass this year officially are dead.

Measures that have not crossed over include:

• A bill strengthening the state’s Freedom of Information Act. The bill barred government entities from charging excessive fees, required them to respond more quickly to requests, and inserted penalties for ignoring the law. .

• Several anti-abortion bills. Two so-called “personhood” bills by Sen. Lee Bright, R-Roebuck, would outlaw abortion outright by granting legal rights at fertilization.

• A proposed amendment to the South Carolina constitution allowing couples to divorce after 150 days of separation, rather than one year.

• A bill giving families the ability to electronically monitor loved ones in South Carolina’s nursing homes. A tie vote of 7-7 prevented its advancement.

• An attempt to slow down drivers in highway construction zones by increasing penalties and state troopers’ presence.

• A bill allowing people to openly carry guns in South Carolina without a permit.

Another of Bright’s bills seeks to close abortion clinics by requiring doctors who perform them to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. That advanced to the Senate floor, but a senator is blocking debate. A bill dubbed the “Pregnant Women’s Protection Act” is viewed by opponents as a back-door attempt to end abortions. It states that a pregnant woman has a right to defend a threat to her unborn child using deadly force. It’s the definition of “unborn child,” as beginning with conception, which concerns abortion-rights activists.

• A bill repealing the state’s “stand your ground” law. The bill would delete from state law residents’ right to use deadly force to defend themselves against an attacker wherever they are, as long as they have a right to be there. That language was added in June 2006. The bill introduced in February would still allow people to use deadly force against someone illegally and forcibly entering a home, business or occupied vehicle. The bill went nowhere.

COMMISSION PROPOSAL

COLUMBIA — Gov. Nikki Haley rejected a proposed House compromise on ethics oversight Thursday that would create an independent investigative commission.

A House ethics reform panel unanimously advanced the proposal earlier Thursday. It would create a commission made up of 12 members selected by all three branches of state government, and it would have the power to investigate allegations of violations by officials and candidates.

The commission’s publicized findings would not be binding. Power to punish violators would remain with existing House and Senate ethics committees and judiciary and executive review boards.

Haley spokesman Doug Mayer dismissed the proposed commission, saying “There is nothing independent about legislators investigating other legislators.

The panel’s proposal is a compromise attempt between the House and Senate, which passed different ethics reform legislation.

– Associated Press


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