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Ethics, Education and Streamlining Government

Ethics Reform

Exactly one year ago this week I wrote to notify you:

The South Carolina House of Representatives advanced two important milestone pieces of legislation taking a major step forward in overhauling the state’s antiquated ethics laws that govern elected and appointed officials at all levels of government.

The first, revamps the makeup of the South Carolina Ethics Commission and turns the Commission into an independent investigative body. The independent commission is given the full resources of the South Carolina law enforcement community and is tasked with investigating ethics complaints made against elected officials. Under the House plan passed this week the State Ethics Commission is comprised of 4 members appointed by the Governor, 4 elected by the Supreme Court, and 2 members elected by each the House and Senate. The measure passed the House unanimously.

 The second, bans candidate affiliated “Leadership” Political Action Committees (PAC). It even goes one step further and states that elected officials can no longer accept campaign contributions from Leadership PAC’s. This is an important step toward cleaning up the campaign finance laws in South Carolina.

 I am saddened to report a year later that both bills still sit in the Senate where senators have made it clear that ethics reform is not a priority. I will continue to champion ethics reform and I ask you to stand with me.  If the Senate would simply debate and vote on the important reforms we sent them last year and accomplished nothing else, they would actually have a chance making a positive difference this year.

Streamlining Government

Also this week in the House, we adopted legislative rules that keep the House ever-focused on the business of the people. We have limited ceremonial recognitions to only 15 minutes per day, allowing us to be more productive. As a conservative I am committed to continuing to streamline government.

Education Reform

Most current high school seniors were not yet born when the case known as Abbeville School District v. State of South Carolina was first filed in 1993.

Abbeville focuses on the issue of whether or not state leaders are adequately funding education.

Districts argue that the state is not fulfilling its responsibilities to deliver a “minimally adequate” education, using language from a 1999 Supreme Court ruling. While 29 districts were involved in the original suit (including Abbeville County), the focus now is on Allendale, Dillon 4, Florence 4, Hampton 2, Jasper, Lee, Marion 7 and Orangeburg 3.

This case has been going on for over 20 years.

The South Carolina Supreme Court issued a momentous decision on the case in November, 2014. Three out of five justices ruled that the state has failed to meet its constitutionally required obligation to provide a “minimally adequate” education to students in eight suing school districts. As a result, the court has ordered both the plaintiff districts and the defendants (representatives of the state) to reappear before the court and present a plan to address the constitutional violation. The resulting plan will have to be approved by the court. (Read the Court's decision here:

I am co-sponsor of several bills that were introduced in the House this week in response to this case. For more information:

As you can see, we have much important work to do this year. We will also select several new justices for the South Carolina Supreme Court, including a new Chief Justice in May. 

Thank You for Your Support

Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in the South Carolina House. It has been a privilege representing you. Please contact me if I can be of service to you.
Representative Phyllis Henderson
110 Silver Creek Court
Greer, SC  29650
cell: 864-423-3149
Twitter: @phyllish21

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