By Seanna Adcox
Bills on medical marijuana, tax reform and gun background checks are among those officially doomed for the year by the South Carolina Legislature’s self-imposed deadline.
Bills not advanced from one chamber to the other by Thursday have little shot of making it into law this year. That’s because measures that don’t meet the crossover deadline require a two-thirds vote to even be considered before the session ends May 9. That’s a high hurdle for anything remotely contested.
But it doesn’t mean those measures are dead. Since this is the first year in the two-year legislative session, debate can pick up in January wherever bills sit when legislators adjourn next month.
Despite a years-long push by some of South Carolina’s most conservative legislators, bills that would allow people suffering from chronic ailments — including post-traumatic stress disorder, multiple sclerosis, crohn’s disease and cancer — to legally use marijuana have yet to advance to either chamber’s floor. GOP Sen. Tom Davis of Beaufort, the effort’s leading backer, turned an anonymous attack mailer to his advantage, saying its absurdity “underscores the intellectual deficiency of the opposition.” Who paid for it to show up in mailboxes last month remains unknown. But opponents include law enforcement leaders, and they’re not budging from their positions.
The year began with South Carolina’s business leaders pushing for a massive revamp in the state’s tax code. The state Chamber of Commerce called for lowering corporate and personal income taxes, eliminating sales tax exemptions, cutting property taxes on businesses and at least simplifying business license taxes. None of that is remotely close. Last month, a House study panel tentatively approved broad concepts for sales and income tax changes. House Speaker Pro Tem Tommy Pope, the panel’s chairman, introduced an income tax bill March 27. The sales tax bill remains in the works.