“I learned the value of hard work by working hard.” – Margaret Mead
For most of us, work is more than a paycheck. It is a source of pride, self-motivation, and accomplishment. It means being able to make your own choices about how you want to live your life. Yet, we all see “HELP WANTED” signs everywhere.
A Responsive Approach to Unemployment Benefits
This past week, the SC House of Representatives voted to significantly adjust unemployment benefits based on our state’s economic climate. This law will be a win for small businesses and job seekers alike. H.4710 modifies the duration of unemployment benefits to reflect current job market realities. Essentially, the number of weeks of unemployment benefits that an unemployed person may receive will be tied to economic conditions, so when jobs are available, and the economy is strong, benefits are limited to encourage re-employment and workforce participation.
Currently, there are 161,000 job opportunities across our state, yet our workforce participation is low at 57%; nationally, it is 62%. After the pandemic, thousands of workers received the full 20 weeks of unemployment benefits. This bi-partisan legislation (approved 113-1) reduces benefits to 12 weeks when more jobs are available. Moreover, this reform will lead to savings on their unemployment taxes for small businesses, enabling them to reinvest those funds into growth, innovation, and further job creation — a move that benefits not just the individual companies but our economy.
Of course, challenging life circumstances prevent some people from easily being re-employed. The lack of affordable childcare is one of those obstacles. That issue has the attention of the General Assembly.
Supporting Our Veterans
On Thursday, a significant milestone was achieved with the passage of H.3116, the Veterans’ Property Tax Exemption bill. This legislation, now heading to the Governor, extends property tax exemptions to permanently and totally disabled veterans and thoughtfully amended by the Senate to their surviving spouses. It demonstrated our dedication to honoring and supporting our veterans and their families.
A Focus on Our Judiciary System
This past week the General Assembly was scheduled to elect judges. It didn’t happen. A filibuster in the Senate over the need for judicial reform derailed the vote. The urgent need to fill judicial vacancies prompted a passionate address by House Speaker Murrell Smith calling on the Senate to move forward with electing judges. The potential for 24 circuit court judge positions could remain vacant if the election doesn’t occur. That poses a serious threat to our justice system’s effectiveness. I share Speaker Smith’s concerns that this could cripple our courts, impacting public safety and the timely delivery of justice. We must address reforming the election process for judges, but we must also fill these vacancies promptly, ensuring our judicial system operates seamlessly.
2A UPDATE: Constitutional Carry
Suppose you’ve been following the legislative maneuvering over the passage of Constitutional Carry legislation in SC. In that case, you likely know the Senate amended the strong House bill we sent them a year ago, junked it up with confusing amendments, and sent it back to the House. We could have concurred with their changes and sent it to the Governor to sign into law. Instead, Republican House members decided we will give the Senate another chance to do the right thing as explained in this statement from House Majority Leader Davey Hiott:
Gun Rights Grassroots: For the past ten days, I have heard from scores of people telling legislators to agree with the Senate amendments or oppose them. Most were triggered by a barrage of conflicting emails from the various grassroots gun rights groups that continually solicit financial support. Frankly, I wonder if those groups are genuinely concerned about winning passage of Constitutional Carry or potentially losing financial support when their main fundraising issue becomes law in SC. Just ask in’…
Safety Concerns Addressed: I also hear from folks concerned that Constitutional Carry would turn SC into the ‘Wild West’ with gun-toting bad guys shooting up bars at 2:00 a.m. Consider the following just-released report.
A study commissioned by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office of Ohio – published by the Center for Justice Research—identified a significant decline in Ohio’s gun crime after June 13, 2022, when Constitutional Carry became law. Currently, 27 states recognize constitutional carry in one form or another. After Constitutional Carry was enacted, gun crime dropped in six of Ohio’s eight largest cities. The study, which encompassed two years between June 2021 and June 2023, included all firearm-related crimes and any gunshot detection alerts later verified by law enforcement. Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost emphasized it doesn’t downplay the serious problem of violent crime, “But the key takeaway here is that we need to focus on criminals, not responsible gun owners.”
Spoiler Alert: If you are worn out on political chatter or just sick of hearing and reading about America’s political mess, I recommend you skip the next few items.
Republican Rock Star
Saturday evening, U.S. Representative Elise Stefanik rallied the Republican faithful at the Aiken County GOP Bronze Elephant Gala. The New York State Congresswoman is Chair of the House Republican Caucus and the fourth-ranking House Republican. Considered a potential candidate for Vice President in the future Trump presidency, Stefanik unleashed a barrage of criticism on the numerous failed policies, both internationally and domestically. She received a standing ovation from the sold-out crowd.
Even the CNM (Corrupt National Media) can’t bury this week’s bombshell report by Special Counsel Robert Hur on President Biden’s illegal handling of classified documents. His 388-page did not exonerate Biden of guilt; rather, it described the difficulty of a jury convicting him because of his age and lack of mental acuity – being seen as a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory.
As I awaited President Biden’s live news conference Thursday evening, it took me back to the night of March 31, 1968. That night, I was preparing a TV newscast in Cincinnati while keeping an eye on President Lyndon Johnson’s live TV address to the American people. He was focused on the nation’s difficulties in prosecuting the Vietnam War. There were riots in the streets demanding the war be ended. Johnson concluded his address with a surprise (shocking) announcement — something from which a defiant Biden should have taken a cue.
“What we won when all of our people united just must not now be lost in suspicion, distrust, selfishness, and politics among any of our people. Believing this as I do, I have concluded that I should not permit the Presidency to become involved in the partisan divisions that are developing in this political year. With America’s sons in the fields far away, with America’s future under challenge right here at home…I do not believe that I should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes or to any duties other than the awesome duties of this office—the Presidency of your country. Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.” — President Lyndon Johnson.
Republican Presidential Preference Primary Voting
On Saturday, February 24, the SC Republican Presidential Preference Primary will be held. In Aiken County, many precincts are combined to vote at one location so your polling place for the February 24 Primary may not be where you usually vote. Check your voting location HERE.
Early voting begins tomorrow (Monday) at the Aiken County Government Center at 1930 University Parkway in Aiken County. Early voting will occur from Monday, February 12 through Saturday, February 17, and Tuesday, February 20 through Thursday, February 22, from 8:30 am to 6:00 pm.
Liquor Delivery: During the pandemic, the curbside pick-up of alcohol, wine, and beer was allowed as a safety accommodation to customers. This past week, the House passed a bill (H.4364) allowing for curbside delivery, as well as home delivery. The final vote was 77-29. The legislation is touted as one of the most conservative bill languages in the nation. It makes it more difficult for minors to purchase alcohol and puts numerous safeguards in place for delivery drivers and retailers. It also could potentially keep intoxicated people off the road so they don’t need to drive to the store to purchase more alcohol.
Luring: The House passed H.4825, focusing on combating the act of luring, with particular attention to the protection of minors from kidnapping. This legislation bolsters our legal framework to protect our citizens, especially the young and vulnerable, from such heinous crimes.
Telehealth: Another significant achievement came with the concurrence of the Senate amendment on H.4159, the “South Carolina Telehealth and Telemedicine Modernization Act.” I strongly supported this legislation, marking a significant advancement in ensuring telehealth services are provided within the same rigorous standards as in-person care. It’s now heading to the Governor for his signature.
40 Years of Service!
This week, we paused deliberations to recognize a milestone achievement. Mitch Dorman, the House Sergent of Arms, was honored for his 40 years of service in the House of Representatives. Speaker Murrell Smith presented Mitch with a certificate and lapel pin recognizing his four decades of service in keeping legislators safe. Mitch ably leads a dedicated security team that at the Capitol, the House office building, and elsewhere on the State House complex.
The Article V Convention of States (CoS) grassroots is the largest and one of the most influential groups of activists in SC. They boast a support group of more than 50,000 South Carolinians. I have worked closely with them for more than a decade, and because of their efforts, SC became the 19th state to vote to join a Convention of States to propose limits on our out-of-control federal government. The CoS legislative leaders were back at the State House this past week encouraging Representatives to cosponsor and pass two bills (H.4625, H.4626) I introduced to create guidelines for Commissioners we will eventually send to a convention.
Looking Ahead: Empowering Student Athletes
This coming week, the House of Representatives turns its attention to legislation aimed at helping, protecting, and empowering college athletes with the ability to earn from their name, image, and likeness (NIL). With solid backing from college coaches across South Carolina’s top universities, this bill (H.4957) promotes equitable opportunities for our student-athletes, aligning our state with national collegiate sports standards.
PICTURE OF THE WEEK
What a HOOT! It was ‘Fashion For Compassion’ at Aiken’s Woodside Reserve Country Club. The sold-out event benefited Aiken Equine Rescue. When I stepped onto the runway, the announcer said: “Rep. Taylor says he’s the most surprised person in the room. He never imagined he would ever be in a fashion show.” True Dat!!! My beautiful wife, Donna, was a quick-change artist modeling four different outfits.
Want to Know More?
Do you want to learn more about my positions, bill sponsorships, voting record, and past writings? Here are some handy links:
- About Me: https://taylorschouse.com/about-2/
- My Positions: https://taylorschouse.com/issues/
- Sponsored Bill & Voting Record: http://tiny.cc/b1pouz
- Recent Newsletters: https://taylorschouse.com/category/newsletter/
I’m Available & AT YOUR SERVICE
It is my honor to be of service. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need assistance navigating state government or have any thoughts or concerns about the legislature.
In Your Service,
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