Gov. Henry McMaster issued a new Executive Order on Thursday allowing all remaining businesses that closed as the coronavirus began spreading across the state to reopen beginning Monday.
Legislative committees met this week to discuss law enforcement reform, COVID-19 testing and tracing and the Department of Health and Human Services.
accelerateSC is a one-stop website to help businesses and citizens connect to helpful information to navigate this crisis.
BOARD OF ECONOMIC ADVISORS
The State Board of Economic Advisors (BEA) met last week but did not adjust the budget forecast for FY20-21.
General Fund revenues were strong enough to reduce the amount needed in the final accounting period to meet the May revenue estimates. Based on anticipated income tax revenues, the General Fund could see a surplus of roughly $220 million for FY19-20. The previous estimate had the surplus at $40 million. Lottery revenues exceeded estimates and were unaffected by the pandemic.
The BEA had previously reduced the new recurring General Fund estimate by $701 million. Despite the significant loss of tax revenue, the state will see additional recurring revenue for FY20-21 due to a growing economy. Additionally, the state has nearly $700 million in reserve accounts. Overall, South Carolina appears to have made it through the year in good shape. The state’s books will not officially close until early August once the Comptroller General certifies all of the revenues. The BEA will meet again on Aug. 24 to provide the final estimates in anticipation of the legislature’s return in September to finalize the FY20-21 budget.
Former State Representative Alan Clemmons of Myrtle Beach, who recently resigned his House seat, was recognized at the meeting as the newest member of the BEA. He was appointed to replace Howell Clyborne.
The BEA is statutorily charged to provide the General Assembly with the official revenue estimate for lawmakers to draft the annual state budget. Meeting handouts can be found here.
The Senate Re-Open SC Testing and Tracing Subcommittee met on Wednesday. The subcommittee heard presentations regarding efforts to date with an emphasis on future actions needed to achieve mitigation and suppression strategies. The speakers included representatives from the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), the SC Hospital Association, the SC National Guard and the SC Emergency Management Division.
Although our state has moved from 47th to 33rd nationally in the number of residents tested according to the Kaiser Foundation, and monthly tests have exceeded goals set, some committee members want even more testing to take place. Subcommittee Chairman Tom Davis (R-Beaufort) challenged those presenting to provide specific policy and funding recommendations for the legislature to consider. He stressed an emphasis should also be placed on what to do with the data collected to achieve mitigation protocols.
The committee will meet next week to discuss additional efforts to analyze the testing and the week after to discuss additional measures DHEC has implemented.
To view the video archive of the meeting, go here.
Gov. McMaster issued a new Executive Order on Thursday, allowing all remaining businesses that closed as the Coronavirus started spreading across the state to reopen beginning Monday. McMaster’s order requires that employees and patrons must wear masks inside those businesses, which include racetracks, concert venues, movie theaters, adult entertainment venues, spectator sports, parks, festivals and performing arts theaters.
McMaster also ordered that previously suggested guidelines for restaurants reopening in the pandemic are now mandatory. Those rules include the wearing of face masks inside and limiting tables to eight people and capacity to 50%. 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, click here.
For more information from SC DHEC on the virus, click 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.
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.
HOUSE EQUITABLE JUSTICE SYSTEM AND LAW ENFORCEMENT REFORM COMMITTEE
The House Equitable Justice System and Law Enforcement Reform Committee held their initial meeting this past Tuesday. The committee was formed by House Speaker Jay Lucas (R-Hartsville) to address the urgent issues that our nation and state have been grappling with in recent weeks. The committee represents a bipartisan, diverse group of lawmakers, which Speaker Lucas hopes will bring substantial reforms to the entire House to improve our state’s justice system and law enforcement policies. The committee, co-chaired by House Majority Leader Gary Simrill (R-Rock Hill) and House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford (D-Columbia) will include subcommittees that will examine these four issues:
Law Enforcement Officer Training, Tactics, Standards and Accountability
Civil Asset Forfeiture Reform
Criminal Process and Procedure Reform
The committee heard presentations from law professors and solicitors at the first meeting. Topics included body cams, after-action reports, stop and frisk policies, no-knock warrants, hate crimes and officer wellness. It was noted much of the work to draft legislation will take place in the subcommittee meetings over the next few months. The goal is to have bipartisan legislation pre-filed in December for consideration by the General Assembly in January. To view the video archive of the meeting, click here.
HOUSE LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE
The Healthcare and Regulatory Subcommittee of the House Legislative Oversight Committee met this past Tuesday to discuss the study of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). DHHS Director Josh Baker gave an overview of the state’s Medicaid Program that included its mission, principles and goals. He noted that 1 in 5 South Carolinians are Medicaid beneficiaries representing 1.1 million members and that 60% of all children under the age of 18 are beneficiaries. The FY20 Medicaid budget was $7.8 billion and the FY21 budget is $8.27 billion. The goal of the committee is to evaluate the agency and seek potential changes to policy and state law to improve services. The committee is not expected to meet again until after House reorganization in December.
Information regarding the study can be found here.
To view the video archive of the meeting, click here.
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 are now operating in FY21 with the same funding as they received in FY20. The General Assembly will return to Columbia on Sept. 15 to adopt a state budget for the remainder of FY20-21.
SINE DIE RESOLUTION
The General Assembly’s Sine Die Resolution, S.1194, allows it to continue past the mandatory May 14 Sine Die deadline to complete unfinished business.
Each House will stand adjourned to meet at the call of the President Pro Tem of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives. At this time, there are no plans to return until September. The resolution further authorizes the General Assembly to meet again in statewide session on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, 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, Nov. 8, 2020.
The Testing and Tracing Subcommittee of the Re-Open SC Select Committee will meet on Tuesday.