Future Reflections January- February 1984, Vol. 3 No. 1

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LEGISLATIVE VICTORY IN SOUTH CAROLINA

by Donald C. Capps

Reprinted from the August/September, 1983 BRAILLE MONITOR

The National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina is very proud to announce the passage of H. 2124, which is legislation that redefines "visually handicapped pupils" to mean pupils age four and older instead of legal school age. This is extremely important legislation. For the first time, four-year-old blind children are eligible to attend the public kindergarten system of the State. It is the twentieth piece of legislation and spearheaded by the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina to a successful conclusion, representing a quarter of a century of legislative success on behalf of the state's blind.

While the legislation is very meritorious, its passage was not easy. The House Education Committee was given misinformation by some representatives of the Department of Education concerning an impact study, and this was corrected. The Greenville school district influenced a Greenville County representative to oppose the legislation on the grounds it would cost too much, and we had to overcome this opposition in committee and on the House floor. The same misinformation on the impact study done by the Department of Education was given to the Senate Education Committee and, once again, this misinformation had to be corrected, and we did so.

Once H. 2142 cleared the Senate Education Committee and was placed on the Senate calendar, a Senator not hostile to the bill, but who wanted to tack on a wholly unrelated amendment, would have caused H. 2142 to have gone back to the House where it may or may not have been concurred in, jeopardizing ultimate passage. Senator Rubin, a diplomat of the first order, was successful in getting his Senate colleague to withdraw the amendment and, therefore, H. 2142 got third reading in the Senate Tuesday afternoon, May 24, and probably will undoubtedly be signed into law by the Governor by the time you read this. Instead of costing a quarter of a million dollars, as indicated by the impact study done by the Department of Education, it has been more accurately determined that the legislation requires only $50,000 annual appropriation to fund. This is truly significant legislation as it provides a real head start for four-year-old blind children who need to be helped and educated as early as possible.

While the Federation is extremely proud of this legislation, we wish to thank others who were interested in and assisted the Federation. This includes the South Carolina School for the Blind, and Commission for the Blind, as well as individuals actively involved in the education of the blind. The education of blind children is extremely important, and this particular legislation provided a real opportunity for all of us to work together in a commendable manner.

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