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Legislation Introduced by the Committee on Children

2023 - 2024 Legislative Session

Expansion of Paid Parental Leave

  • Increases parental leave from 6 weeks to12 weeks in the event of a birth or adoption of a child for state employees.

  • Expands benefit to all full time state employees. 

Safe Harbor for Minor Victims

  • Expands the definition of sex trafficking to include sexual exploitation of a minor and promoting or participating in the prostitution of a minor. 

  • Extends the current safe harbor provision by creating an affirmative defense to non-violent crimes, such as shoplifting, committed by a minor as a direct result of trafficking. The current safe harbor provision prevents trafficked minors from being charged with prostitution.

  • An amendment on the Senate floor limited use of the affirmative defense to a victim who was a minor at the time of the offense.

Intimate Partner Violence

Revises the definition of household member in the Domestic Violence Code to:

  • include former and current dating relationship.

  • allow a parent, guardian, custodian, legal counsel, or other appropriate adult may petition the court for an order of protection on behalf of a household minor.

Sex Buyer Penalties

  • Increases the penalties for solicitation of commercial sex and establishes an affirmative defense for victims of trafficking.

  • The purpose of the bill is to decrease the demand for solicitation of commercial sex and, therefore, decrease revenue obtained by traffickers.

Free School Meals

  • Eligible schools that participate in the school breakfast program shall provide breakfast and lunch without charge to all students

  • Requires 30 minute lunch period to students

Juvenile Sex Offender Registry

  • Ensures that no child under 14 is places on the sex offender registry.

  • Allows information of an adjudicated delinquent juvenile to be made available to the public if they were deemed to commit criminal sexual conduct in the first or second degree.

  • Includes “childcare facilities” for who may receive juvenile registry information.

Status Offenders

  • Eliminates the exception for children to be tried as an adult when charged with a status offense.

  • Decreases the length of time that a child may be held for violation of a court order regarding a status offense.

  • Requires the child and his family seek counseling when the status offense is of incorrigibility.

Juvenile Life Without Parole

  • Bans the sentence of life without parole for any individual who is under the age of eighteen at the time of committing an offense.

  • Provides maximum sentences for individuals who committed an offense as a minor.

  • Prohibits the use of restraints, isolation, and room confinement for juvenile offenders.

Tax Free Baby Food & Formula

Exempts baby formula and baby food from sales tax.

Morphed Pornography of Identifiable Children (MPIC)

The state’s current sexual exploitation of a minor statutes only cover instances where a minor is actually involved in the creation of child pornography. The Attorney General’s office told the Committee the use of morphed pornography of identifiable children (MPIC) is on the rise in our state. Morphed pornography is when a child’s facial image is pulled from social media or other contexts and morphed onto a pornographic image making it appear as if the child is actually engaged in sexual activity. It can be very difficult to distinguish the morphed images from reality due to the proliferation of apps and other software and the quality of images they produce. The Committee received testimony from a SC family where two girls – one eight and the other fourteen – had their images used in this way.​

  • This bill adds MPIC to the current sexual exploitation of a minor statutes as well as adding definitions for identifiable child and morphed image. It has been carefully drafted with consultation from the AG’s office.

Morphed Pornography of Identifiable Children (MPIC)

  • This bill is related to the MPIC bill and also developed in conjunction with the Attorney General’s office.

  • Creates the offense of Obscene Visual Representations of Child Sexual Abuse, which would cover cases where the minor depicted in obscene materials has been partially or fully computer generated and/or cannot be confirmed to actually exist.

  • The offense includes production, distribution, possession with intent to distribute and possession of these images.

  • The bill also adds this offense to the sex offender registry.

Tax Free & Tax Holiday for Feminine Hygiene Products and Diapers

  • Provides a sales tax exemption for feminine hygiene products, diapers, and toilet paper.

  • H. 3110 adds feminine hygiene products to the sales tax exemption holiday.

DACA Licensure

Allows people who are lawfully present in this state and are not precluded from establishing residency under federal immigration law (DACA recipients) to establish residency and be eligible for occupational or professional licensure.

Water Bottles in Schools

  • This bill allows all students and employees to bring reusable water bottles to school. Public schools may enact policies governing where bottles can be taken, set out disciplinary procedures for misuse, and limit the size, clarity, or other physical characteristics of reusable water bottles. Students and employees of DJJ and DOC are exempt.

DMV Handicapped Placard Photos

  • The statute currently requires the handicapped placard’s photograph to be taken from a user’s state ID or driver’s license; children under age 5 cannot obtain a state ID, and youth under 16 cannot obtain a driver’s license. DMV has begun looking at its internal processes to make them more accessible for adults and children with disabilities or limited mobility. DMV proposed this amendment to allow a person seeking a handicapped parking placard to submit a picture to DMV for approval to avoid the need for an office visit just for this purpose.

Children's Access to Firearms

  • Based on Texas law, this bill creates misdemeanors in the event: (1) a child accesses a readily dischargeable firearm and the person, with criminal negligence, failed to secure the firearm or left the firearm in a manner that the person knew or should have known a child would be able to gain access to the firearm; and (2) the same scenario as (1) but the child discharges the firearm and cause death or seriously bodily injury to himself or another person. The bill includes an affirmative defense for instances such as protection of self, others, or property, unlawful entry, and hunting or sporting. It also has notice provisions for firearms dealers.

Data collected from state and local sources and published in the Committee’s 2023 Child Well-being Data Book show:

  • Firearms are the number one cause of death for South Carolina children ages 1 to 17 for 2020, 2021, and 2022.

  • Homicide is the top cause of death for ages 15 to 17 for the second straight year.

  • Homicide is the second most common cause of death for children ages 10 to 14.

  • Guns were involved in 52 child homicides and 14 suicides in 2022.

  • Non-fatal gun injuries to children have steadily increased from 210 in 2019 to 356 in 2022.

  • SC is one of 11 states without a child access or safe storage law.

Legislation Endorsed by the Committee on Children

2023 -2024 Legislative Session

Child Care Worker Requirements endorsed

Under current state law, child care teachers must have a High School Diploma or GED and six months experience in a licensed or approved child care facility in order to provide unsupervised care of children. The six-month provision has been identified as the “single biggest barrier” to stabilizing the child care workforce and keeping child care facilities open and operating at full capacity.

  • This bill will eliminate the six-month provision, and instead require new caregivers to complete fifteen hours of health and safety training within three months of being hired.

Behavioral Health Services in Schools endorsed

  • This bill states school boards cannot prohibit behavioral health providers from providing services to students at public schools during school hours upon the parent’s request and provides definitions around behavioral health services for public school students and related policies. The Committee received testimony at its public hearing about this issue; schools do not have staffing to provide the required services but will not allow parents to bring in private service providers. A recent school district survey on extreme shortage in most districts for behavioral health providers, especially specialists who work with children with autism.

Tax Exemption for Feminine Hygiene Products

  • Provides a sales tax exemption for feminine hygiene products.

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