New laws signed by Gov. Nikki Haley shorten the legislative session, allow South Carolinians to carry concealed guns in Georgia, and block petroleum companies from taking people’s land for a pipeline.
Those are among more than 40 bills Haley quickly signed Friday, a day after legislators sent them her way. Dozens more could become law within the week, as the Legislature passed a slew of bills in the session’s final days.
While the session officially ended Thursday, legislators will return June 15 to take up Haley’s vetoes.
Here’s a look at some of the laws that took effect Friday:
▪ Future legislative sessions will end three weeks earlier, on the second Thursday in May, unless a bad economy causes the state’s revenue forecasters to reduce their estimates.
South Carolina’s regular legislative session is the 13th longest among states. The House, which wanted to cut even more weeks, has been trying to shorten the January-to-June session for 20 years, but prior proposals kept dying in the Senate.
Proponents say shortening the session saves taxpayers money in legislators’ per diems for food and lodging, plus mileage, and could encourage more people to seek the job.
▪ A reciprocity agreement with Georgia will make it easier for South Carolinians with concealed weapon permits to travel back and forth.
The law was sought mainly by residents in Aiken County, who drive daily into Augusta, Georgia. Advocates argued not having reciprocity with the state’s western neighbor is a real inconvenience.
The law creates an exception to prior law barring state law enforcement from recognizing permits from states that don’t have at least the same requirements to carry a concealed gun as South Carolina. Georgia doesn’t require training for its permit.
▪ Private, for-profit companies can’t acquire land for a petroleum pipeline through eminent domain.
The law specifies only public utilities have the right to take property for public use, after giving the owners money. It was driven by residents’ fears of losing their land to an underground pipeline planned to run from Belton to Jacksonville, Fla.
The Palmetto Pipeline was canceled this year after Georgia passed a temporary moratorium on pipeline companies using eminent domain.
▪ Former students who didn’t graduate solely because they didn’t pass the high school exit exam can still petition their school board to retroactively receive a diploma.
The law erases the previous deadline of Dec. 31, 2015. As of Dec. 1, 6,000 people had received such diplomas. The last exit exam was taken in 2014. Earlier that year, legislators abolished the test and replaced it with two considered more useful to students’ future success, with scores that can go on work resumes or college admissions applications.
▪ Terminally ill patients gain access to medicines being tested in clinical trials.
The so-called “Right to Try Act” allows a doctor to prescribe medication that’s in the first phase of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval process. Similar laws have been passed in at least 28 other states.
Access is limited to people with a terminal illness who have exhausted all options approved by the FDA and can’t enroll in a trial. Available medicines must have passed basic safety testing.
▪ South Carolinians are encouraged to “roll up their sleeves and lend a hand to make a positive difference in our great state.” The law declares the third Saturday in May as the South Carolina Day of Service.