From the death penalty to teacher salaries: A look at new bills filed this session

SC Senate building (WPDE)

A new legislative session means new bills filed that could impact you.

Two bills filed have drastically different approaches to the death penalty in South Carolina.

A bill co-authored by Senator Greg Hembree calls for electrocution to be the main way to carry out the death penalty in South Carolina, unless the convicted opts for lethal injection and it is available.

"The problem that we have is a lot of pharmaceutical companies won't provide us with the drugs to carry them out because they're worried about protests and boycotts and all that kind of good stuff," said Senator Stephen Goldfinch.

Right now, lethal injection is the main method of execution unless otherwise elected in writing by the condemned. Pharmaceutical companies have been refusing to sell the chemicals necessary for lethal injection to states that have the death penalty.

"We have got to have a solution and using the electric chair seems like it might not be the optimal solution, but it seems like the only solution to carry out the law in South Carolina right now,"' said Goldfinch.

Another bill filed in the state senate is trying to completely abolish the death penalty in South Carolina. Goldfinch says he is opposed to this.

"I would lean towards keeping the death penalty and supplying a second option," said Goldfinch.

Hembree did not respond to any calls made.

Additionally, representatives and senators filed dozens of bills regarding changes to schools.

A senate bill would allow teachers to be rewarded with lump sum bonus based on performance.

A house bill pushes for teachers to get a 15 percent raise.

Another senate bill would raise teacher's salaries from the South Eastern average to the national average. The national average is almost $60,000, while the southeastern average is a little below $50,000, according to the National Education Association.

"Anything and everything we can do to keep good teachers, to bring good teachers back or to recruit good teachers has to be of upmost importance to us in the general assembly," said Goldfinch.

There are also several bills regarding school safety. One would add a 7 percent fee to handgun sales and that money would go towards school resource officers. Another bill would require all public schools to have metal detectors at the door.

There's also a bill that would make sure teachers can express their point of view on public policy without the fear of being punished by administration.

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