In a letter to key members of South Carolina’s House and Senate, Gov. Henry McMaster on Thursday offered a proposal for the chambers to return to Columbia and pass a Continuing Resolution that will allow state government to continue with the new fiscal year that begins July 1 while also protecting the health and safety of the members of the General Assembly and their staff.
Although the House and Senate have the authority to return on their own, McMaster is asking the General Assembly to not be back at the State House before the May 15 sine die date. DHEC forecasts that the state’s peak confirmed COVID-19 cases and fatalities will be May 1 with a gradual decline afterward.
For safety, McMaster said he will call the House and Senate back in June to adopt the Continuing Resolution “on a date and time of your choosing, for the purpose of passing a continuing resolution for the operation of state government.”
“Returning before May 14 for session, even briefly, could place the health and safety of your members at an elevated risk for exposure to the virus,” McMaster writes in the letter addressed to Sen. President Harvey Peeler and House Speaker Rep. Jay Lucas.
South Carolina’s new fiscal year begins July 1, and state government can proceed so long as legislators can get the Continuing Resolution passed by June 30.
“I believe – and hope – that by late June that risk will have diminished to the extent that businesses and activities in our state may be safely resumed and conducted using personal safety precautions,” McMaster writes.
“I look forward to working together to accelerate South Carolina’s economic restart,” McMaster concludes.
The Associated Press reports that Lucas agreed to the proposal immediately and that Peeler appreciated the offer while considering it to be an insurance policy in case the state and legislature have not reopened sooner “so that his offer will not be necessary.”