Text bans, domestic violence among prefiled bills in Columbia

By Bill

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCIV) -- State lawmakers are busy working on next year's legislative agenda. On Monday, the House prefiled 53 bills to be considered when the General Assembly convenes in January.

Tuesday was the deadline for lawmakers to submit their bills to be tentatively assigned to various committees for consideration. It's also a chance for the Legislature to inform taxpayers about the areas on which they want to focus.

Some House members want to move forward with plans to penalize drivers who text while driving. State Rep. Don Bowen, of Anderson County, is proposing that drivers get fined who are caught texting behind the wheel.

He wants reckless driving charges to be filed if someone is hurt in an accident because of texting.

Also, Rep. Wendell Gilliard, of Charleston, is introducing a bill that would make it a hate crime to beat up a homeless person. The bill provides a two-step penalty for the offender.

Domestic violence was also a topic for lawmakers. One bill wanted to strengthen the penalties for those convicted of criminal domestic violence. State Attorney General Alan Wilson says domestic violence is the No. 1 crime problem in the state.

The new bill increases the penalty for first-time offenders. Rep. Bakari Sellers, of Orangeburg, wants to punish offenders by making them spend 180 days in jail and take part in a domestic violence intervention program.

The offender would also be restricted from carrying a gun as a condition of his or her bond.

These are only a few of the 53 bills filed Monday. They will be officially introduced on Jan. 14 when the General Assembly convenes.