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SC House and Senate Conference Committee come to agreement on Boating and Safety Bill

Gilbert, SC 05/12/2023 (Randall Smith) - A South Carolina House and Senate Conference Committee on Thursday agreed and recommended in their report to adopt the Senate version of the Boating Safety and Education Bill S.96. This version removed Rep. Phillip D. Lowe’s (Florence) amendment that would have exempted all hunters and fishermen from having to take the Boating Safety Course. The consensus of the Conference Committee was that the safety of the boating public outweighed his attempt to exclude hunters and fishermen.

The report was presented to the House by Confrere Chairman Rep. Jason Elliott (Greenville). What happened next was astounding. At times, the discussion on the floor of the House looked more like an old-fashioned slugfest. Rep. Phillip D. Lowe, whose amendment was removed by the Conference Committee, was upset. Rep. Lowe attempted two times to table the legislation until January of 2024, but his motions were soundly defeated. He then tried to stop consideration of the report by questioning the actions of the Conference Committee. With each step, he was denied. Then, since everything Rep. Lowe attempted failed, he filibustered the legislation. With the help of Rep. Todd Rutherford (Columbia), the two tied up the House for the next two hours and fifteen minutes. This coming on the last day of the session stalled all other legislative consideration in both chambers!

During one exchange between Rep. Lowe and Rep. Kathy Landing (Charleston), she said, “Are you aware that we are receiving texts asking why is he doing this? What is he trying to prove? It is very, very hurtful” …. “Are you aware that you are hurting families that were affected by this all over South Carolina?” Rep. Lowe’s answer was, “They must not be hunters or fishermen.”

Next up was Rep. Russell L. Ott (Orangeburg) who took a more solemn approach. He described Rep. Lowe’s presentation as “Comedic Relief.” Rep. Ott asked, “Do you know who is not laughing? The Smith and Kiser families, both of which have worked tirelessly to get this Bill passed.’’ The Kiser family’s father and the Smith’s son were both killed by impaired boaters.

Randall Smith of Boating Safety South Carolina who attended the session where all this was going on said that Rep. Phillip D. Lowe’s actions today were over the top. His insensitivity was without exception. He reminded the citizens and the other members of the legislature of a child throwing a temper tantrum when he didn’t get his way. He appeared either unaware or does not care that he lost respect from both Senate and House members, and for what? He cannot stop this legislation. All he has done is delay it to his own detriment. I believe his intention from the very beginning was to kill the legislation! I take extreme exception to his disrespect for not only my family, but all other families who have lost loved ones and have vigorously fought for this legislation.

The Boating Safety and Education Bill S.96 will be taken up again next Tuesday in the overtime portion of this year’s session. Below is a YouTube link to the video of Thursday’s “Comedic Relief.” It is long, but I would encourage you to watch all of it, and while you are watching, put yourself in my place, a parent that lost a son. Then ask yourself if Rep. Lowe was trying to be funny or is he just that inconsiderate?


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