Friday, June 26, 2020
The General Assembly returned to Columbia and adopted a plan to appropriate the federal CARES Act funds.
Results have been tabulated for the primary election run-off races that were held Tuesday.
SC House sends COVID-19 bill to governor, but effort to expand absentee voting fails (The State, June 24): After a roughly three-hour whirlwind debate on Wednesday, lawmakers adopted the legislation in a 109-2 vote, agreeing to changes made and adopted by the Senate on Tuesday. But lawmakers will hold off on deciding about more than $668 million of the $1.9 billion federal relief. The lawmakers, who fast-tracked a bill in May to expand absentee voting ahead of the June primary and runoff, did not extend the early voting option for all through the November election.
Broadband for all SC cost more than $800M (The State, June 25): “The only way we’re going to reach the rural areas is by federal subsidy or state subsidy because the economics don’t make sense,” the president and CEO of a consulting firm that works to make maps of broadband service levels told the House COVID-19 Public Education committee.
Ports Authority on track to deepen harbor, build terminal (Charleston Regional Business Journal, June 25): The S.C. Ports Authority is going ahead with a $319 million capital spending plan to deepen Charleston harbor and build a new terminal despite the pandemic’s dent in global trade. The Ports Authority president said the port is preparing for major infrastructure projects to come online in 2021.
Lexington County postpones penny tax proposal for roads (Post and Courier, June 25): Talk of the tax started early this year, with formation in February of an independent commission tasked with drafting the ballot referendum. Towns and municipalities were asked to submit project requests but then the global health crisis hit the Palmetto State. “We feel that it is in the best interest of our taxpayers to not impose such a tax at this time,” the County Council Chairman said.
The Senate returned on Tuesday and the House on Wednesday. H.5202 was quickly adopted to authorize $1.2 billion for the reimbursement of funds received from South Carolina’s $1.9 billion from the federal CARES Act. The plan originated from the recommendations of Gov. Henry McMaster’s accelerateSC Task Force and was further vetted by the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee.
The legislature agreed to authorize the funds in two phases, with the remaining funds to be authorized in September. The first phase adopted this week includes:
- $500 million for the Unemployment Trust Fund
- $270 million for State and Local Government Expenditures
- $222 million for summer academic recovery camps and five additional school days
- $125 million for a hospital relief fund through the state’s Department of Administration
- $82.2 million for higher education
- $50 million for internet broadband mapping and planning, infrastructure and mobile hotspots
- $42.4 million for the state’s Department of Health and Environmental Control for statewide testing and monitoring
- $16.8 million for the state Adjutant General’s emergency management division for PPE stockpile and supply chain
- $10 million for the third-party grant administrator firm, Guidehouse, which will vet, process and audit the federal relief funds
Both chambers adjourned this week without debating proposals to provide limited liability protection to South Carolina’s healthcare providers and businesses that have been serving the state during the pandemic.
The General Assembly will reconvene again in September to appropriate the remaining funds.
To see the plan, go here.
Gov. Henry McMaster announced the Palmetto Priority initiative at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. Restaurants will soon be able to display a decal on their window that is designed to allow the public to know if they are following coronavirus safety guidelines. To receive the decal, restaurants must pass a virtual state health department safety check and agree to a checklist of requirements, including mandating masks for employees, additional training for those employees, sanitation procedures on tables and ways to make menus safer for customers to handle.
Gov. McMaster is hoping that the public becomes a watchdog for those restaurants not in compliance. The public can go to PalmettoPriority.com and lodge a complaint if they see a restaurant that is not in compliance. The complaints will be handled by the state’s hospitality and lodging association.
South Carolina remains under a State of Emergency as South Carolina businesses continue to open. To view all of the governor’s previous Executive Orders, go here.
For more information from SC DHEC on the virus, go here.
The DHEC Care Line is available to provide general information about COVID-19 by calling 1-855-472-3432 from 8 a.m.-6 p.m., seven days per week.
Other helpful links:
accelerateSC is a one-stop-shop website to help businesses and citizens connect to important information during these changing times.
The Emergency Management Division provides links to important information, including the SC Department on Aging, SC Childcare, the SC Department of Employment and Workforce, the Department of Revenue and the SC Department of Insurance.
South Carolina Department of Commerce for small business information and assistance.
For additional resources that may be beneficial to your organization’s recovery efforts, visit Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd’s COVID-19 Resources page (Copper Dome Strategies is a subsidiary of HSB).
On Monday, the accelerateED Task Force presented its Final Guidance and Recommendations for the 2020-21 School Year.
The four-phase plan looks closely at summer planning and preparation, pre-opening schools and reopening schools and the continuity of operations. The plan recommends three different scheduling models for the upcoming academic year due to the uncertainty of what health conditions will look like in August. Schools will re-open with a continuum of options, including on-campus and remote learning.
The Department of Education established the accelerateED Task Force comprised of educators and administrators representing all aspects of the K-12 public education system to study barriers to school operations and student learning during the COVID-19 pandemic and to provide recommendations on how schools and districts can best restart.
Guidance and recommendations for 2020-21 school year can be found here.
Summer learning and operations recommendations can be found here.
For details, go here.
HOUSE COVID-19 PUBLIC EDUCATION COMMITTEE
The House COVID-19 Public Education Committee met again on Wednesday. The committee was formed by House Speaker Jay Lucas (R-Hartsville) to evaluate disruptions caused by the pandemic and identify ways to provide relief in the K-12 system. Wednesday’s meeting continued the focus on the expansion of rural broadband. The committee heard presentations from Jim Stritzinger, President and CEO at Revolution D on broadband mapping, Anthony Padgett, President and CEO of SCETV and Dr. Stephanie Frazier, Vice President of Educational Services on Datacasting and Nanette Edwards, Executive Director, South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff on statewide broadband efforts.
The committee, chaired by Rep. Raye Felder (R-Fort Mill), will gather information and take testimony seeking recommendations to eliminate, suspend or modify current statutes and regulations. Their next meeting is scheduled for July 22.
SC LEADS ACT
On Monday, South Carolina Senate Republicans unveiled a proposal to file new legislation to enhance law enforcement accountability, standards and make other policy recommendations. The proposal known as “The South Carolina Law Enforcement Accountability, Duty and Standards (SC LEADS) Act” enhances law enforcement accountability, transparency and professional standards, and seeks to strengthen trust in South Carolina. The proposal includes:
- Required baseline standards and accreditation
- Duty to intervene
- Fully fund body-worn camera program and South Carolina Highway Patrol car camera program
- Mandatory attendance at misconduct hearings
- Strengthen requirements for non-certified officers and training
- Centralized investigation and charging authority
To read more, go here.
PRIMARY ELECTION RUN-OFF RACES
Primary election run-off races were held on Tuesday. Three incumbent legislators on June 9 failed to garner 50.1% of the votes needed to win, requiring the run-offs and all were victorious Tuesday.
- Senator Luke Rankin (R) District 33 in Horry County defeated challenger John Gallman. Rankin has served since 1993 and is currently Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee
- Representative Neal Collins (R) House District 5 in Pickens County defeated challenger Alan Quinn
- Representative Bill Chumley (R) District 86 in Greenville/Spartanburg defeated challenger Chris Bennett
BUDGET – CONTINUING RESOLUTION
A Continuing Resolution, H.3411, is in effect that provides for the continued and uninterrupted operation of state government into the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2020. State government agencies will continue operating in FY21 with the same funding as they received in FY20. The General Assembly will return to Columbia in September to adopt a state budget for the remainder of FY20-21.
SINE DIE RESOLUTION
The General Assembly’s Sine Die Resolution, S.1194, allows them to continue past the mandatory May 14 Sine Die deadline to complete unfinished business.
Each chamber will stand adjourned to meet at the call of the President Pro Tem of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. The resolution further authorizes the General Assembly to meet again in statewide session on Tuesday, Sept. 15 at noon and continue in statewide session until Sept. 24 for the consideration of specific matters, including the annual General Appropriations Act.
Unless the session is otherwise adjourned Sine Die at an earlier date, the 2020 session of the General Assembly shall stand adjourned Sine Die not later than 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, November 8.
INTRODUCTIONS OF INTEREST
H.5508 (Rep. Forrester), House Resolution congratulating and honoring Dr. Henry C, Giles, Jr., President of Spartanburg Community College, upon his retirement. The Resolution was adopted.
H.5527 (Reps. Pope, Clemmons, Hewitt, Jordan and others), Joint Resolution to provide liability protections for a limited time for health care providers and businesses during the pandemic. Referred to Committee on Judiciary.
S.1235 (Senators Sheheen and Jackson), Establishes the Office of Broadband Development. Referred to the Committee on Judiciary.
No meetings are scheduled at this time. We will keep you apprised of any action of legislative committees that may occur.
Thank you for following SCACPA’s ‘The View from the Dome’ for State House Developments on Tax Issues Through SC’s 2020 Legislative Session. Here is a review of our weekly updates.