Indicates Matter Stricken
Indicates New Matter
The Senate assembled at 11:00 A.M., the hour to which it stood adjourned, and was called to order by the ACTING PRESIDENT, Senator CROMER.
The following remarks by Senator MICHAEL JOHNSON were ordered printed in the Journal of January 12, 2021:
Mr. PRESIDENT and members of the Senate, it is a great honor to stand before you today. I do not take this endeavor lightly. Instead, I enter this Chamber with an appreciation. An appreciation for those who have held this seat before me, what we must do, and what is expected of the people of me by the people of Lancaster and York County. I would like to take a few minutes and share my story with you in what has led me here. Three, fifteen, two and forty-four -- to most of you, those are just random numbers. To me they are much, much more and they signify why I am here today. Three is the most important number to me. Three signifies my family. My wife, my daughter, Grace, my son Cole who is not with us today. He is at Auburn University. In fact he texted me in the last five minutes asking for money. That is how I know he is officially in college. I would not be standing here today without them. There is no way I would be here today without my wife, Amy. She has sacrificed beyond measure. She has done all that I could ever ask. I will never be able to repay her for what she has done to allow me to stand here. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all you have done and I love you. The number fifteen -- before I entered this Chamber, I spent fifteen years in local government. I spent seven years on the Fort Mill School Board and eight years on the county council. I have seen what works. I have seen what does not work. I know the impact that our decisions can have on the local level and I know how our actions and more importantly our inactions can impact at a local level. I do not intend to put these experiences on a shelf. When I talk to you about reforming the tax code, I am going to give you examples of economic development lost, because our tax system is not as competitive as it could be. When I talk to you about roads and infrastructure, I am going to give you specific examples on how to make the system faster, especially at a local level. I look forward to blending my experiences with yours moving forward. The number two -- education is extremely important to me. My wife is a public school teacher. For twenty-one years, she has been teaching first grade. This year she is teaching twenty-eight children, first graders, virtually. I am a product of public schools. My children graduated from public schools but that was not the case two generations ago. Two generations ago neither of my grandparents graduated from high school. My grandfather went to war, came back and worked at a cotton mill. My grandmother followed him and worked at that same cotton mill. They worked hard. They saved their money and ensured that my mother had the advantages that they did not. Two generations later, I am the product of that grit and determination. I stand here because they wanted better for their family and they knew that education was the way to make that happen. In two generations, we have gone from the cotton mill to the state Senate. Everything I do, I will remember that we can change people's lives. We have the power to change families' stories. The number forty-four -- this room is full of tradition. One of those is our seniority system from one to forty-six. I am number forty-four. That number has picked my parking space, my office, and before the day is out it will tell me what committees and where I will sit in this Chamber. I am more than the number forty- four. I am a collection of all that has come before me and all that have influenced me. Whether I am forty-four, twenty-four, or number four, I am here to work. I am here to work hard. The challenges before us are great. Ronald Reagan once said, "By working together, pooling our resources and building on our strengths we can accomplish great things." The forty-six of us have great strengths. I look forward to working with each one of you to accomplish great things for our State. Thank you.
The following remarks by Senator KIMBRELL were ordered printed in the Journal of January 12, 2021:
This State, I think we all agree, is the greatest State in the United States of America and in this tumultuous time could be a light to the rest of the country. I thank God for his divine providence in allowing me the opportunity to be here and I thank my family for the support they have given me -- starting with my mother and father, Brett and Cindy Kimbrell. They are probably a little bit stunned that their wild child is in the South Carolina Senate. I am grateful for my beautiful wife, Liliya, and our two children. This is the best behaved those children have ever been; speaking of a wild child, I am reaping what I sowed as a kid.
Like others before me, I have aspirations of doing great things for the district I am elected to represent. We all have passions and desires and things we would like to see accomplished here. I also recognize, as our distinguished PRESIDENT has said, that the distance between where I am sitting now, on the front row, and where I will be sitting at the end of the day is a little over 30 years. There is a lot of wisdom and experience ahead of me. I would just say that, instead of waxing philosophical, or going into any specific policies I would like to pursue, I will go back to the notion that I think this is the greatest State in the country.
Historians sometimes get it wrong when it comes to our history. Because of early shots fired, Senator CAMPSEN would agree, we are known for the Civil War; however, we recognize that most of the symbols of this State, right down to the flag, are symbols of the Revolutionary War instead. I like to remind friends of mine from other states that they are welcome for their independence. Our State led the way for the independence of the United States of America, as we were the crossroads of the American Revolution. As we are now faced with unrest like we have rarely ever seen in the life of this country, certainly in the life of most of us in this room, I believe that South Carolina's spirit cannot only renew our spirits in this State but again be a guide to the rest of the country. I've heard it said before that, before South Carolina was even admitted into the Union, we were kicking and screaming for liberty and the concept that the rights of the individual come before the power of the State. I tell you that, in every debate we have, from talking about religious liberty, to discussions of taxes and spending, anything I contribute will be in the defense of the culture and the values of this State that I believe are defined by faith, family and the free enterprise system.
The motto of our great State, as most of us know, is, "While I breathe, I hope" but on the other side of the seal it also reads, "Ready in mind and resource." I hope that each one of us in this room, all 46 of us, are ready in mind and resource for the challenges that may come this year. I try to ensure that every day I am ready in mind and resource to aid you and support you and work together with you, to accomplish that which the citizens of South Carolina have elected us to do. Most of us have kids and grandkids, and some have maybe even great-grandkids, and it is incumbent upon us to ensure that this State can be a light to this beautiful nation.
I look forward to working with you this year and that we are ready in mind and resource, and that our children can truly say, "While I breathe, I hope." God bless this greatest State of the United States of America, South Carolina.
The following remarks by Senator ADAMS were ordered printed in the Journal of January 12, 2021:
The following remarks by Senator McLEOD were ordered printed in the Journal of January 26, 2021:
Ladies and gentlemen of the Senate, I'm not here to talk about the science, data, fiscal impact, financial hardships or fetal anomalies. We've heard our share of that over the years and again today. I'm not even here to reiterate what we've heard from the overwhelming number of doctors that we call our heroes and sheroes one day, but vilify and demonize the next. I'm here to ask one simple question that only our actions can answer.
I stand before you today because I'm pro-life and I refuse to let anyone else redefine or repurpose my position for me. Contrary to what many of you might think, I'm not pro-abortion. But I am a woman who has given birth -- twice -- and miraculously, I didn't need 140 men who serve in the South Carolina General Assembly to make that decision for me.
If you believe life begins at the moment a fetal heartbeat is detected, you should also agree that the challenges of life are exacerbated for the pregnant woman or girl and the fetus, in that very same moment.
I was in law school and my husband was in graduate school when I was pregnant with my firstborn. Financially and otherwise, times were tough. However, our families were a strong support system for us. Some women and girls do not have families or support systems. Some are raped. Others are barely surviving their own tragic circumstances or choices. And some are babies themselves -- betrayed, traumatized and violated by familial predators.
With every pregnancy comes a host of possible complications -- like the ones that left Jodie Roberts of Lexington in a vegetative state last year after having her second child, or the COVID-19 complications that left Ashley Bennett of Lexington dead, just days after giving birth to her tenth child. And since God, in His infinite wisdom, entrusted only us to carry and birth his most magnificent creation, He must think we're smart enough and strong enough to make those life-altering decisions without government's help, interference or oversight. But here we are AGAIN -- this time during an epic public health crisis -- making a "Fetal Heartbeat Bill" our number one priority when COVID-19 has already killed many more living, breathing human beings across South Carolina than abortions have. Yet, we've done NOTHING to fight for or protect over 6,500 lives that have been lost.
Obviously, waging war on the women of this State and forcing them into vicious cycles of poverty for generations is the goal of our male dominated legislature. That's why this General Assembly balked at my Viagra Bill in 2016 and my Pro-Birth Accountability Act in 2020 because some of us would rather hold everyone BUT the biological father accountable.
In this Bible toting State, I'm always amazed at the level of vitriol I receive from those who claim to believe in the same God that I do. In fact, my faith in God has always been the guiding force in my life. It seems their God is a god of hate and judgment and vengeance. They sow seeds of division and call those of us who only see their hypocrisy, "baby killers."
But unlike them, I don't worship other gods or participate in their political idolatry. And I'm certainly not a hypocrite who boasts pro-life and pro-death stances simultaneously, since the two are mutually and Biblically exclusive.
Scripture says, "Greater love hath no man than this; that a man lay down his life for his friends." Yet, the very people who say there's nothing more important than life in the womb are the same ones who refuse to protect life beyond the womb by simply wearing a facemask.
Whether it's a statewide mask mandate, COVID-19 vaccinations or guns, proponents of this Bill rebuke all government mandates and refuse to let government trample on your rights and freedoms. Yet, it's you who now summons the same government to trample all over ours.
The God I serve says that He came so that all of us may have" life and have it abundantly." But how can we have an abundant life when our misogynistic government denies us healthcare equity, pay equity, medical autonomy and the same freedoms and liberties it demands for our male counterparts? We rail against women and girls who contemplate abortion the minute a fetal heartbeat is detected. Yet, we enact public policy like this that aborts the lives, dreams, hopes, opportunities and futures of women and girls across South Carolina. Pro-life means we, as government leaders, don't pass laws that make it harder for people to live. We show concern, compassion and empathy for the living by giving them the resources and support, like the ability to earn wages they can actually live on, access to quality, affordable healthcare and a quality education regardless of where they live. We speak up when any lives are in jeopardy.
We don't insist that "All Lives Matter" when it's obvious that black lives don't. We don't parade black preachers, black parishioners and black parents around the halls, meeting rooms and offices of this building to give credence to our rhetoric that abortion is rooted in racism, but go eerily silent when unarmed black men and women are asphyxiated and shot down like wild animals in broad daylight or murdered in the presumed safety and sanctity of their own homes. Where's the OUTRAGE?
When funding is slashed year after year for the very programs, services and support that women, children, and struggling families, need to survive? Where are your letters, phone calls and emails insisting that that funding be reinstated and replenished like we do for employers to keep from raising their unemployment insurance taxes?
It's time we get our priorities in order. People across South Carolina are DYING because of a deadly virus -- a global pandemic -- and we can't even get them vaccinated because we're focused only on abortion. We haven't even had confirmation hearings for the candidate whose vying to be the next Director of DHEC. Why? Because we're fixated on abortion. We're forcing teachers back into schools without adequate protections, pay or vaccinations as they leave the classroom and the profession in droves. Why? Because we're obsessed with our politics instead of protecting our people.
S. 1 (Word version) is an unconstitutional Bill that will saddle SC taxpayers with staggering legal fees and court costs for the foreseeable future. It's a Bill that criminalizes the very doctors and nurses who are risking their lives on the front lines of this raging pandemic to save ours.
Isaiah, Chapter 1, gives us a glimpse of God's wrath when we govern in His Name, but refuse to be governed by His Principles.
I would argue that we're experiencing His wrath now and have been since last March. Even today, you've said, "We're not here to choose which babies have a fetal heartbeat and are deserving of our protection." And yet, that's exactly what we do. We act as self-righteous, self-appointed ambassadors of God to collectively pick and choose who's worthy to live and die every single day we serve in this Body and we do it boldly in the name of God. My question, and unfortunately, it's a rhetorical one -- is simply, WHOSE LIVES MATTER? We can save our empty words. God and the people of SC will judge us by our actions.
The following remarks by Senator KEVIN JOHNSON were ordered printed in the Journal of January 26, 2021:
I hear from my constituents and they are emphasizing and putting priority on a lot more than they are this abortion Bill. I just hope that we are sincere about saving lives because there is more than one way to save a life. I ask for committee hearings and subcommittee hearings on the face mask mandate Bill and on the Medicaid Expansion Bill. I ask all of those who are really serious about saving lives to support those Bills. Thank you.
The following remarks by Senator SHEALY were ordered printed in the Journal of January 28, 2021:
The following remarks by Senator McLEOD were ordered printed in the Journal of January 28, 2021:
Thank you Mr. PRESIDENT. I hadn't planned to speak again today. But after hearing Senator CASH talk about how grateful some women are to have been raped, yesterday, I could barely contain myself.
Clearly, he has never been raped. It's probably safe to assume that the 40 men in this Body and the one hundred men of the South Carolina House haven't either. Well, I have. You're looking at a sexual assault survivor who, like most women and girls, didn't tell my parents and didn't report the crime to law enforcement. Not because I didn't want to and definitely not because I didn't need to. But, because I was afraid to.
So, how dare you. How dare you! And all the talk about God. Let me remind you -- God gives us free will to make our own decisions and choices. It's this Bill, and others like it, that take that away -- our rights, our liberties, our freedoms and our choices -- with this Bill that's about anything BUT life. It's this Bill that mocks God by taking away our rights, our liberties, our freedoms and our choices. And it's this Bill that's about anything but life. So, after all of that -- do you have to take our dignity too? Does it make you feel good when women have to relive the horror, unspeakable shame and the trauma we've experienced by a man, then forced to retell it to yet another man -- this one with a badge?
Just like rape, this Bill is about POWER and CONTROL. Raped by a man. Now, forced to report it to a man. Governed by a body of men. A reminder that she may have survived the assault, but her every move during and after it will be governed by men. We've got 46 county sheriffs in this State. Forty-five of them happen to be men. And likely, men who have no idea what it's like to be sexually assaulted or raped. Men who don't have the God-given capacity to become pregnant or be forced to give birth and be forever bonded to the seed of her rapist. Men who have no idea what she's been through or going through and quite frankly, couldn't care less.
We've heard enough of the hypocrisy. We've seen the props and the pics. And yes, we know we're outnumbered now in this Chamber, just like you're now outnumbered beyond this Chamber. But what I can't get past is the sheer audacity that this male-dominated legislature has to force women and girls of this State to report this crime to our male-dominated law enforcement agencies -- knowing that both are ill-equipped to handle the magnitude of that responsibility. We've still got rape kits that haven't been touched and rape cases that haven't been solved from years ago, but who cares if these survivors ever get justice. You just hope they get pregnant.
The reality is most women and girls don't report these crimes to law enforcement. Not because they don't want to hold these offenders accountable, but because they're scared to death. They've survived the rape, but then comes the trauma, the guilt, the shame, the torment and the fear. Without mental, emotional and financial support, many more women and girls won't survive the additional hell we're going to put them through with this Bill. And sadly, desperation and despair will lead some down a dark, dangerous and deadly path only to bleed out in back alleys because they feel hopeless, helpless and believe they have no other choice. This isn't about holding rapists and sexual predators accountable and you know it. In fact, you've said very little if anything about that because you know this Bill does just the opposite. It protects rapists and child molesters and you're fine with that. It doesn't protect the unborn. And it certainly doesn't protect the women who are forced into motherhood, many before they even get to experience womanhood.
Senator CASH, I'm glad that some women are able to move beyond the physical, mental emotional and psychological scars to turn their mess onto a message. Their trauma into a testimony. God's Grace into gratitude. But even they had a choice. I'm just asking that the men in this Body give the women and girls of this State that same choice.
Because you've reminded us again today that S.1 and other anti-abortion bills are your party's only priority, even during a global pandemic. And because appealing to your conscience about your unwillingness to protect ALL LIVES -- regardless of guilt or innocence -- doesn't work, let me try to appeal to what drives you -- your politics.
At least 1.2 million of South Carolina's registered voters are women. That's 55% of our state's registered voters. And according to the Institute of Women's Policy Research, South Carolina is home to almost 2.5 million women and girls. That's almost half of our State's population.
So enjoy this power and control while you have it, fellas. It's just politics for you. But it's personal for millions of us and one of these good ole election days not too long from now, we're going let you know it.
The following remarks by Senator MARTIN were ordered printed in the Journal of February 9, 2021:
I want to offer my sincerest condolence to his wife Rhonda, the church members of Bogansville Methodist Church, and the entire West Springs and Pauline community in Spartanburg and Union Counties. Thank you Mr. PRESIDENT.
The following co-sponsor was added to the respective Bills:
S. 221 (Word version) Sen. McElveen
S. 222 (Word version) Sen. McElveen
S. 441 (Word version) Sen. McElveen
The following co-sponsor was removed from the respective Bill:
S. 498 (Word version) Sen. Shealy
At 11:06 A.M., on motion of Senator McLEOD, the Senate adjourned to meet next Tuesday, February 16, 2021, at 12:00 P.M.
This web page was last updated on Friday, February 12, 2021 at 11:56 A.M.