By JOHN O’CONNOR
Requiring a photo ID to vote, gambling and home poker games, and automated traffic tickets are on the General Assembly’s agenda this week.
With Gov. Nikki Haley now in office, lawmakers are turning back to proposed legislation and the state’s $829 million budget shortfall in what is expected to be the busiest week of the session so far.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has three contentious bills on its agenda today. First up is a bill that would allow card and dice games in private homes. The bill also would rewrite state law defining illegal gambling, such as video poker, roulette or betting on races.
The same committee also is scheduled to debate bills that would require a photo ID to vote and allow local and state law enforcement officers to check the immigration status of anyone suspected of being in the country illegally.
Meanwhile, the House Judiciary committee will debate a bill allowing homeowner associations to get permits to sell alcohol for special events.
On Wednesday, the House is expected to spend most of the day debating the voter ID bill.
Democrats argue the law is unnecessary and places a disproportionate burden on the poor and elderly to get an ID to vote. Republicans argue a photo ID will ensure state elections are free of fraud and say having one is a reasonable requirement. Democrats may seek an early voting period — covering days before an election — as part of a compromise.
A Senate committee will discuss requiring police to hand traffic citations to drivers at the time of an alleged violation, a proposal aimed at preventing towns from issuing automated tickets for speeding and traffic light violations.
Lawyers have filed a class-action suit against the Jasper County town of Ridgeland for its use of automated cameras to catch speeders on Interstate 95. Ridgeland has issued between 3,000 and 4,000 tickets since August, according to The Beaufort Gazette. The bill, introduced by state Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Berkeley, would require the town refund the fines and pay a $500-per-ticket fine to the state treasurer — up to $2 million.
Thursday, a House panel will debate allowing all elected and appointed officials to carry guns anywhere in the state. State law allows some officials, mostly judges, that right now. The proposal would extend that right to legislators, local government officials and those appointed to state boards and panels.