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Rita Allison: House rejects seat belt proposals on new school buses

Published on Thursday, April 27, 2017

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Rita Allison: House rejects seat belt proposals on new school buses
By RITA ALLISON
Representative District 36

House members debated then turned back a proposal to eventually require seat belts on all new school busses in SC. There was concern about the cost ($6,500 per bus) and the potential new requirements for drivers to be responsible for each student during an accident. The bill was referred back to committee.

School stadium restrooms
The House concurred in Senate amendments to a bill (H.3792) that establishes minimum standards for the numbers of restroom plumbing fixtures available for men and women at middle school and high school stadiums as a means of relieving public schools from the financial burden placed upon them by current requirements.

Deadly flu in SC
Another teenager recently died from flu complications in South Carolina, the second teen to die this year. DHEC Director Catherine Heigel testified before the House Legislative Oversight Committee on which I serve. She reported a total of 59 people in the state died from the flu through April 8. That's a 51 percent increase over the same period last year. BEST PREVENTION - Get a flu shot.

Recyclers bill
The House approved legislation (S.181) that provides recycling companies with the same protections afforded suppliers of virgin materials under SC's Hazardous Waste Management Act.  The revisions are in keeping with changes adopted at the federal level under the Superfund Recycling Equity Act.

Liquor sales permitting
The House approved and sent the Senate legislation that revises the permitting of liquor licenses from being issued to businesses located within certain distances of churches, schools, or playgrounds. H.3549 would allow a permit for on-premises consumption of alcoholic liquor to be issued to a business so long as the local school board of any school located nearby does not object.

Halting development
SC property owners currently have the right to block land development near their home by issuing what's known as an “automatic stay,” which halts construction until a judge can hear the dispute. Under a bill passed by a House panel, developers could resume construction after 30 days if a judge does not rule before then. The Senate approved a different version of the bill earlier this year with a 90-day limit. The measure has been a top priority for legislative Republicans who argue stays are abused by conservation groups to block permits as soon as they are approved by state regulators.

Paying for power plants
Legislation has been filed in the House to prevent utility companies from increasing residential electric rates to pay for building power plants. The bill makes changes to the state's Base Load Review Act (BLRA) which allows utilities to increase rates to pay for new power plants that are uncompleted, under construction, are not completed and not generating electric. SCANA, parent company of SCE&G, hiked electric rates nine times since 2008 to help pay for the project at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Facility in Fairfield County.

Curtailing regulations
Gov. Henry McMaster announced a new Executive Order requiring the 16 agencies McMaster controls as governor to only propose regulations in response to “fact-based” needs, be fair to all involved and not an “unnecessary burden,” beneficial to all South Carolinians and which build “goodwill among businesses and communities.”

Cybersecurity threats
Concerned about the potential threats to state infrastructure and sensitive information, Gov. Henry McMaster signed a new Executive Order designed to strengthen the state's cybersecurity efforts. McMaster's order creates the South Carolina Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity (CIC) Executive Oversight Group, which will implement a statewide plan recommended last year by a working group set up under then-Gov. Nikki Haley. Details of that plan remain confidential.

Reality check – education facts
We use the ACT in 11th grade to determine college and career readiness. A score of 21 indicates a student is ready. However, the average ACT score at Clemson is 29 and 27 at USC.

Just as concerning, we use 4th grade and 8th grade NAEP scores to compare student achievement nationally. NAEP is the “nation's report card.” A random sample of students statewide is used.

• 33% of our 4th graders are at or above proficiency in reading (39th)

• 36% of our 4th graders are at or above proficiency in math (39th)

• 28% of our 8th graders are at or above proficiency in reading (41st)

• 26% of our 8th graders are at or above proficiency in math  (41st)

May 8th, I will join a few other legislators in touring public schools in Lexington County that are piloting new trends in education and finding success.

• Representative Rita Allison, represents District 36, Greenville and Spartanburg counties. She is Chairman, House Education and Public Works Committee. Contact Allison at:

• Columbia: 803-734-3053 | [email protected]

• Direct: 864-909-1092 | [email protected]

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