This was a historic week at the State House as Governor Nikki Haley resigned to take a post in the Trump Administration, and Lieutenant Governor Henry McMaster was sworn in as Governor and Senator Kevin Bryant as Lieutenant Governor. Both chambers began floor debate on bills this week as numerous committees and subcommittees met.
On Thursday, the Senate gave favorable approval to S.250, the annual tax conformity legislation, by a vote of 41-0. After a routine third reading vote next week, the bill will go to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Numerous budget subcommittees of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee continued to meet this past week, hearing state agency budget requests for the next fiscal year.
Tuesday, the Department of Administration presented their budget request to the Ways and Means Legislative, Executive and Local Government Subcommittee. Director Marcia Adams updated the subcommittee on progress of the state's IT shared services strategy. The agency is seeking $2 million in recurring funds to expand security monitoring for state agencies.
On Wednesday, the Department of Revenue appeared before the Ways and Means Economic Development and Natural Resources Subcommittee. Interim Director Hartley Powell requested $1.2 million in one-time revenue to complete the fifth and final year of credit monitoring for taxpayers that resulted from the 2103 data breach. Powell told the subcommittee he enjoyed a good transition in working with the previous director and feels the agency is in a positive stature.
The full Ways and Means Committee received an update Wednesday afternoon from the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office. Legislators have warned state agencies that the new revenue has already been earmarked and receiving additional funding will be a challenge. The presentation confirmed that warning.
Individual state agency budget requests can be found here.
On Tuesday afternoon, Governor Nikki Haley was confirmed by the United States Senate as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United Nations. Moments later, following her resignation as governor, Lieutenant Governor Henry McMaster was sworn in as South Carolina's 117th governor. That same day, Senate President Pro Tem Hugh Leatherman submitted his letter of resignation as leader of the Senate to avoid having to ascend to the office of Lieutenant Governor as required by the South Carolina constitution. On Wednesday, State Senator Kevin Bryant (R-Anderson) was elected President Pro Tem and was then immediately sworn in as Lieutenant Governor. The Senate then proceeded to elect a new President Pro Tem. Former Majority Leader Harvey Peeler (R-Gaffney) challenged Senator Hugh Leatherman for the post. Senator Leatherman was elected by a vote of 28-16 with one Senator abstaining.
Mr. Tim Hofferth, Chairman of Commission on Higher Education (CHE), addressed the Higher Education Subcommittee of the House Education Committee on Wednesday. He told the subcommittee the agency is at a defining moment and urged support for their budget request. He spoke of a crisis in institutional failure and predicted if national trends continue, South Carolina could lose a third of its higher education institutions. He implored the committee to support CHE's effort to more thoroughly audit finances of the state's public colleges and universities.
On Wednesday, the House Education Committee approved H. 3035 (Daning) as amended, relating to in-state tuition rates for veterans. The bill now goes to the full House of Representatives for consideration.
On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee approved H. 3204 (Pope) relating to the Judicial Merit Selection Commission (JMSC). The bill changes the JMSC process from nominating three qualified candidates to instead releasing a list of all qualified candidates to the General Assembly. The bill now goes to the full House of Representatives.
The House Education Committee met on Wednesday and approved H. 3427 (Lucas, Allison and others) that enacts the "South Carolina Computer Science Education Initiative Act." The bill requires public high schools and public charter high schools to offer certain computer science coursework. The committee also approved H. 3220 (Allison) that establishes the "South Carolina Education and Economic Development Coordinating Council." Both bills now go to the full House of Representatives for consideration.
INTRODUCTIONS OF INTEREST
H. 3546 Reps. Thayer and Sandifer: Relating to primary care agreements. Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry.
H. 3565 Reps. Fry, Crawford, Elliott, Burns, and others: Relating to contested case hearings under the administrative procedures act. Referred to Committee on Judiciary.
H. 3591 Reps. Govan, J. E. Smith, Allison, Erickson, G. R. Smith and Felder: Benchmarks for First Steps to School Readiness. Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works.
S. 276 Senator Bryant: Relating to primary care agreements. Referred to the Committee on Banking and Insurance.
S. 279 Senator Alexander: Appraisal Management Company Registration Act. Read the first time and referred to the Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry.
S. 299 Senators Bryant, Campbell and Alexander: Interchangeable biological products. Referred to the Committee on Medical Affairs.
S. 307 Senator Shealy: Relating to health insurance for autism spectrum disorder. Referred to the Committee on Banking and Insurance.
S. 280 Senator Goldfinch: Relating to prohibitions on railroads. Referred to the Committee on Judiciary.
COMING UP NEXT WEEK
A Joint Session of the General Assembly is scheduled for Wednesday, February 1, for judicial elections, which includes filling a vacant seat on the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals.