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Gov. Henry McMaster Signs Fentanyl Trafficking Bill Into Law

"We have all seen in the news about fentanyl killing our people, and it was time for us to pass a law to stop fentanyl trafficking," said S.C. Rep. Doug Gilliam (R-Union & Clinton).


COLUMBIA – Governor Henry McMaster was joined by Lieutenant Governor Pamela S. Evette, state and local law enforcement officers, state solicitors, and members of the General Assembly for a ceremonial bill signing of H. 3503, Fentanyl Trafficking, which adds fentanyl-related substances to the list of Schedule I controlled substances and creates the felony offense of trafficking in fentanyl. It also creates increased penalties for trafficking in fentanyl compared to other drugs and establishes minimum sentences. 

"Through this legislation, we provide our law enforcement and prosecutors with valuable tools to keep these drug dealers behind bars, helping to combat the unprecedented flood of fentanyl crossing the Southern border and entering our communities," McMaster said. "Going forward, we must continue to crack down on criminals within South Carolina by strengthening our bond reform bill and enhancing penalties for illegal gun possession, effectively closing the revolving door once and for all." 

The bill makes it a felony to possess two grains of fentanyl or a fentanyl-related substance knowingly. A first offense is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine, a second offense is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $7,500 fine, and a third or subsequent offense is punishable by up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. 

“This legislation ensures that the traffickers who are peddling this poison in South Carolina are subject to serious prison sentences, including mandatory minimums,” said SLED Chief Mark Keel. “I hope this legislation serves as a deterrent to anyone who seeks to profit from this deadly drug. We must do everything we can to reduce supply and save lives.”

In addition, it is a felony to knowingly sell, manufacture, cultivate, deliver, purchase, or bring into this state more than four grams of any fentanyl or fentanyl-related substance. A first offense for trafficking four to 14 grams of fentanyl is punishable by at least seven years and up to 25 years in prison and a $50,000 fine. A second or subsequent offense is punishable by a mandatory term of 25 years in prison and a $100,000 fine. For 14 to up to 28 grams, any offense is punishable by a mandatory term of 25 years in prison and a $200,000 fine. For 28 grams or more, any offense is punishable by a mandatory term of at least 25 years and up to 40 years in prison and a $200,000 fine.

"We have all seen in the news about fentanyl killing our people, and it was time for us to pass a law to stop fentanyl trafficking," said S.C. Rep. Doug Gilliam (R-Union & Clinton). "We have crafted a solid, firm bill that has the teeth needed when it comes to taking a bite out of fentanyl traffickers."

The legislation also creates a felony possession of a firearm or ammunition offense for drug dealers. Offenders convicted of possession with intent to distribute, deliver, manufacture, or traffick a controlled substance will be prohibited from possessing a firearm in South Carolina and are subject to up to five years in prison and a $2,000 fine. The firearm and ammunition must be confiscated and delivered to law enforcement. 

The bill passed the House 103-1 and passed the Senate 45-0. It took effect on June 15, 2023.

ONE PILL ... here.

Scott Secures Wins in Defense Bill 

WASHINGTON – Ranking Member Tim Scott’s (R-S.C.) legislation to address the fentanyl crisis, the FEND Off Fentanyl Act, is included in the Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The Ranking Member’s bill, which uses economic sanctions to target the financial assets of drug traffickers and Chinese fentanyl suppliers, is now one step closer to becoming law. The legislation’s inclusion in the NDAA is the result of Ranking Member Scott’s efforts to garner 66 Senate cosponsors, highlight the bill in hearings, and secure its unanimous passage at the Senate Banking Committee’s first legislative markup since 2019. Read more about the FEND Off Fentanyl Act here. 

"We must recognize the fentanyl crisis for what it is: a threat to our national security and to the future of our country. The FEND Off Fentanyl Act's inclusion in the Senate's defense bill acknowledges this reality and protects Americans from the deadly drug cartels and Chinese fentanyl suppliers who poison our communities. As the Chinese Communist Party challenges America across every domain and dangerous cartels exploit our open borders, it's time for our country to answer their aggressions with strength by targeting and seizing the money that fuels the fentanyl trade." 

In addition to his fentanyl sanctions legislation, the Senate unanimously voted to include Ranking Member Scott’s amendment to address the Chinese military’s influence on U.S. higher education in the NDAA. In 2020, the U.S. Department of State warned that the Chinese Communist Party influences academic research and engages in intellectual property theft. The Ranking Member’s bill requires the Secretary of the Treasury to report gifts and grants given to U.S. universities from entities in the Chinese military-industrial complex—a commonsense step to protect American education and sensitive research from malign influence.

“Every year, undisclosed sources within the People’s Republic of China send millions of dollars…to U.S. colleges and universities. The sad fact is we know too little about that. My amendment will be the first step in understanding their impact,” Ranking Member Scott said in a speech on the floor in support of his amendment.

As a result of Ranking Member Scott’s support, other key provisions that counter the threat of the Chinese Communist Party were secured in the Senate’s NDAA. The Ranking Member played a central role in shaping an amendment that requires the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to review national security risks when foreign entities make large purchases of U.S. agricultural land. Chinese entities now hold over 380,000 acres of America’s agricultural land, more than four times the acreage held last decade. Ranking Member Scott was also instrumental in the crafting of an amendment on outbound investment that would require U.S. firms to notify the Treasury Department when pursuing sensitive technology investments and transactions in countries of concern. The amendment preserves U.S. leadership in key industries vital to national security, such as artificial intelligence and semiconductors, while also detecting U.S. investments that could aid America’s adversaries.

Additional Scott provisions and state-related funding expected to be part of the Fiscal Year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) include: 

  • Senator Scott’s John Lewis Fellowship Act, a bipartisan bill to create a new fellowship within the Fulbright Program for the study of nonviolent civil rights movements, named for civil rights icon Congressman John Lewis;  
  • Senator Scott’s amendment to theDepartment of State Authorization Act of 2023 requiring the Department to explore alternative methods to fill numerous, long-standing vacancies at U.S. embassies, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa— an issue the Senator raised with Secretary Blinken that hinders our ability to counter China and Russia’s expanding influence;
  • Senator Scott’s amendment to theDepartment of State Authorization Act of 2023 requiring examination of U.S. diplomatic language programs to ensure foreign service officers receive the training they need and to prevent the mismanagement of taxpayer funds.
  • An amendment Senator Scott offered with Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) and Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) to require the Administration to take a whole-of-government approach to the fentanyl crisis and violence at our southern border through the establishment of an inter-agency coordinator to counter Mexican cartels;
  • An amendment Senator Scott offered with Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) to end China’s unfair advantage by requiring the Department of State to oppose any effort to label China as a ‘developing nation’ at international organizations or in future treaties; 
  • A modified version of the Protecting America’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve from China Act, a bill Senator Scott helped introduce with Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to prevent the sale of American crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to our adversaries; and
  • More than $2 billion to support South Carolina military installations and the Savannah River Site, including funding to complete the construction of a new barracks complex at Fort Jackson. 

The FY24 NDAA also provides record funding for the Department of Defense (DoD) HBCU and Minority Serving Institutions Program.


Senator Scott Accepting Applications for Fall 2023 Internships 

U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.) is now accepting applications for internships in his Washington, D.C., North Charleston, Columbia, and Greenville offices for the fall of 2023. The internship program offers undergraduate and graduate students the chance to work with public service professionals and gain practical experience in constituent services, government policy, and more. Students of all majors, particularly those studying governmental affairs, public policy, or communications, are welcome to apply.

Washington, D.C. Office: In Washington, interns will research legislation, attend congressional hearings and briefings, assist with press tasks, and help manage correspondence on various issues. Responsibilities also include answering phones and other administrative tasks. Interns in this office will gain a stronger understanding of the lawmaking process, while also improving their communications and customer service skills.

South Carolina Offices (North Charleston, Columbia, and Greenville): In the state offices, interns will take an active role in the community, working on state-based projects while also answering phones, completing research, and being an integral part of day-to-day office operations. Interns in these offices are able to assist with issues that affect South Carolinians each day.

Internship hours are flexible to accommodate students' course schedules but generally run from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Students may also gain course credit for completing the internship program. Interested students can apply through our website at For additional questions, contact the internship coordinator at or (202) 224-6121.