“We suffered a setback procedurally in the House today. I can’t cry about it. I can’t pout about it. I can’t come back and lash out and try to hurt other people’s bills. That’s not productive. I just need to find out a way to get this thing on the merits up or down in the House and that’s what I’m going to be working on.”
— Bill sponsor Sen. Tom Davis (R-Beaufort)
I am writing to share infuriating news. Earlier today, S. 150 — the S.C. Compassionate Care Act — was defeated in a procedural motion.
Before debate on S. 150 could begin, Rep. John McCravy (R) raised a motion claiming the Compassionate Care Act is a revenue-raising bill and as such was not allowed to originate in the Senate. Speaker Pro Tem Tommy Pope (R) — a staunch opponent — ruled in favor of the motion to kill S. 150 after a lunch break.
Pope noted that S. 150 levies a 6% tax on cannabis and claimed, “there is no exemption in the cannabis bill for the paying of [the standard 6%] sales tax.” But he is wrong — Section 4 of S. 150 exempts cannabis from existing sales tax, meaning the bill would simply levy the same tax rate on medical cannabis as applies to almost every other item sold in South Carolina. In other words, the revenue component is incidental, which is allowed in Senate bills.
House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford (D) appealed Pope’s ruling, and an opponent of the bill made a motion to table the appeal before it could be heard. In a 59-55 vote, House members tabled the appeal, making Pope’s ruling final and killing the bill. (The “yes” votes to table the appeal included two cosponsors of the House medical cannabis bill and two reps who had voted in favor of S. 150 in committee.)
Let your representatives know how disappointed you are in the House, and that you want them to fight for medical cannabis patients.
South Carolina’s legislative session ends next Thursday. If the House does not find some way to protect medical cannabis patients by then, voters should elect a more compassionate House in November. Every seat is on the ballot.