(A) The South Carolina Court Administration, in cooperation with the technical college system, shall select and administer an eligibility examination to test basic skills of persons seeking an initial appointment as magistrate on or after July 1, 2001. In determining the persons to be recommended to the Governor for initial appointments as magistrates on or after July 1, 2001, a senatorial delegation must use the results of these eligibility examinations to assist in its selection of nominees. No person is eligible to be appointed as a magistrate unless he receives a passing score on the eligibility examination. The results of these eligibility examinations are valid for six months before and six months after the time the appointment is to be made.
(B) The court administration shall establish guidelines for exempting persons from taking the examination if certain prescribed educational equivalency requirements have been met.
(C) The court administration, in cooperation with the technical college system, shall develop an optional examination preparatory course. The technical college system may assess a reasonable fee from each participant who takes the examination or the preparatory course in order to pay for administering the examination and course. The planning and development of the eligibility examination and optional examination preparatory course shall begin on or after July 1, 2000.