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State lawmakers touting big successes as legislative session comes to close

Published: Jun. 3, 2016 at 2:22 AM EDT|Updated: Jun. 3, 2016 at 10:42 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - State lawmakers have ended their session and gone home, except for a brief return to Columbia later this month, which concludes most major legislative activities for the year.

So what's the bottom line on what got done?

Some pretty big accomplishments came from the legislative session, especially on issues and needs that have been delayed over and over again. In some cases, for many years.

Leading the list, the one almost everybody in the state was focused on: a bill to start pumping money into road and bridge repairs.

Many agree the measure on the way to Governor Haley is not perfect, but even being able to do $4 billion dollars worth of work is still just a fraction of what's needed, or that it takes revenues that should be funneled to schools or local governments. But it passed and it does include some DOT reform which Haley had demanded.

Aside from roads, lawmakers have put millions more into education, including the poor rural districts that sued the state some 20 years ago. They have tackled ethics reform and still may make some progress at the conference committee level even after the end of the session. They have addressed state employee pay raises and flood relief.

But retiring Senator Joel Lourie says there's also something significant the General Assembly did not do and that's pass a so-called "bathroom bill."

"You know we have watched what happened up in North Carolina. Not only what they did, I think, was mean-spirited and discriminatory, but it has been an economic disaster for them. And, you know, given the politics of South Carolina I was very concerned that the same thing could happen here. But we were able to have some hearings and really vet this thing out and fortunately we did not move forward both at a statewide level or even at a local level. And I think that's big for us," Senator Lourie expressed.

Other accomplishments, a bailout on the $12 million dollar debt faced by South Carolina State University, a move that could prevent the school's shutdown. Also new protection from development for the state's beaches.

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