Wednesday marked a very important deadline for lawmakers in Columbia, the 2019 legislative session’s crossover date.
Essentially, if a bill hasn’t passed out of one body of the General Assembly before that day, its chances of passing this year are slim.
So far, more than 2,000 bills have been filed the 2019 legislative session.
They address everything from reforming the state’s education system to banning abortion. But at this point, only about 600 have been passed out of its originating body.
The bills coming out of the House include a massive education reform bill that was passed to the Senate well before the crossover deadline and a tobacco bill aimed at teenagers
“It will prevent teens from going into vape shops and purchase vaping products” says Democratice Representative Beth Bernstein of Richland. “It prevents anyone from using these products on school grounds.”
Most bills go through an intense vetting process before the bill makes it to the State House floor, but lawmakers wasted no time making sure a bill that requires illuminated signs for Uber and Lyft drivers beat the crossover date. That bill was filed after the murder of a college student.
“We can’t prevent a maniac from doing something crazy,” said Democratic Representative Seth Rose from Richland, “but as a lawmaker as a policy maker we can and we should pass laws and regulations that make the likelihood of something like that happening less.”
Bills passed out of the Senate that state Representatives will now have to vet include a ban on drones near military bases and a bill that increases how much a person can get if they were to sue the state in the case of death or injury.
Rep. Bernstein – “How it exists now does not compensate an inured person and the caps are very reasonable in how they’ve been increased.”
The bill raises the current $300,000 an individual can get to $500,000 and increases the dollar amount for groups from $600,000 to $1M.
Members of the House and Senate now have 4 weeks to send the remaining bills through the committee and floor debate process. The 2019 legislative session will conclude on the 2nd Thursday in May.
This year is the first year of a 2 year session, so even though many bills have not been passed yet, not making the cross over date, they can still be revisited next year and passed at that time time, like the fetal heartbeat and medical marijuana bills.
So far out of the 2,218 bills were filed in total and only 29 have been signed into law.