By Copper Dome Strategies
Friday, Feb. 12, 2021
The House Judiciary Committee met into the evening on Tuesday and adopted the Fetal Heartbeat bill. The Senate approved a measure this week to add school teachers to the first priority category for COVID-19 vaccinations.
The Senate gave second reading on Tuesday to S.271 (Senators Talley, Turner, Rice and Adams) by a vote of 42-1. The bill would extend the tax credit provisions of the Abandoned Buildings Revitalization Act through Dec. 31, 2025. The bill received third reading on Wednesday and now goes to the House for consideration.
The Senate Education Committee on Thursday favorably approved S.16 (Senators Rankin, Hembree, Malloy and Fanning) that would require completion of certain basic personal finance coursework for high school graduation instead of existing economics coursework requirements. The State Department of Education would develop related measuring and reporting requirements and make provisions applicable to students entering ninth grade beginning with the 2022-23 school year. The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.
House Ways and Means budget subcommittees are wrapping up state agency budget and provisos requests for FY 21-22. The committee is also waiting for a final estimate from the Board of Economic Advisors (BEA) which is expected to come when the BEA meets Friday afternoon.
The House Ways and Means Committee has revised its budget schedule and is expected to take up the budget in full committee the first week of March. Full floor debate is expected to begin in the House on March 22. Once the House adopts the budget it goes to the Senate for their consideration.
The governor’s Executive Budget can be found here.
Individual state agency budget requests can be found here.
Video archives of the subcommittee meetings can be found here.
COVID-19 – VACCINES
The Senate approved S.516 (Senators Massey, Malloy, Cromer and others) on Tuesday, by a vote of 42-0 requiring the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) to add school teachers and support staff to Phase 1a of the vaccination plan. If enacted into law, teachers and staff would be eligible immediately to begin receiving the vaccine regardless of age or health status. The bill was amended to ensure that those who currently have an appointment will not be canceled. The bill received third and final reading on Wednesday and now goes to the House for consideration. Gov. Henry McMaster has said it is unconscionable for young, healthy teachers to get the vaccine ahead of older and more vulnerable citizens, indicating he will likely veto the legislation should it reach his desk.
On Wednesday, the Senate voted 40-1 to give third and final reading approval to H.3707 (Ways and Means Committee), a Joint Resolution that would provide over $200 million from the Contingency Reserve Fund to address vaccine distribution. The Joint Resolution appropriates $63 million to DHEC and $45 million to the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) for continuing efforts. $100 million is appropriated to the COVID-19 Vaccine Reserve account to provide allocations of $75 million to hospitals to pay for the costs of administering the COVID-19 vaccine and $25 million to other COVID-19 vaccination providers that are enrolled and activated by DHEC. The Joint Resolution was amended by the Senate to eliminate the four regional health advisory committees established by the House. The House on Thursday adjourned debate on the bill until next week in the hopes of getting a compromise agreement on the regional advisory committees to amend the bill and avoid it going to a Conference Committee.
For more information from DHEC on the virus, click here.
The Senate Finance Santee Cooper Review and Policy Subcommittee took testimony Monday from state-owned utility Santee Cooper, the Central Electric Power Cooperative, Inc. and the Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS). No action was taken by the subcommittee following the testimony. The subcommittee was created to address the potential sale of Santee Cooper.
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday favorably approved S.475 (Senators Rankin, Grooms, Williams and others) that would require Nextera Energy, Inc. to provide certain documents related to the potential sale of Santee Cooper to the legislature. The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.
The House Judiciary Constitutional Laws Subcommittee on Thursday favorably approved H.3696 (Reps. Lucas, G. M. Smith, Murphy, Simrill, Rutherford and others) that would increase the number of circuit and family court judges in certain judicial circuits. The bill, which passed the House last year, now goes to the full Judiciary Committee for consideration.
The Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday favorably approved S.147 (Senators Massey, Rice, Hembree, Adams and Peeler), the COVID-19 Liability Safe Harbor Act which provides health care providers and businesses liability protection from Coronavirus claims. Twenty-two states have enacted COVID-19 liability protection and 21 states are considering it. Gov. McMaster strongly supports the legislation.
The committee also favorably approved S.82 (Senator Malloy), the Tort Claims Act, which would increase limitations on liability. This legislation is similar to a bill passed by the Senate in 2019. Both bills now go to the full Senate for consideration.
The Senate Education Committee on Wednesday favorably approved S.160 (Senator Scott) relating to the disposal of surplus property by the Midlands Technical College Enterprise Campus Authority. The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.
The House Education Committee on Wednesday favorably approved H.3017 (Reps. Davis, Atkinson, B. Newton and others), which would allow eligibility for Palmetto Fellows Scholarships for students attending two-year institutions of higher learning and technical colleges. The subcommittee also approved H.3029 (Reps. Huggins, Garvin, Allison, Ballentine and Wooten) relating to the disposal of surplus property by the Midlands Technical College Enterprise Campus Authority. Both bills now go to the full House for consideration.
A Senate Education Subcommittee favorably approved on Thursday S.376 (Senators Talley and Hembree) that enacts the “State Institution of Higher Education Efficiency Act.” The bill would raise the threshold for approval of permanent improvement projects from $1 million to $2 million. The bill was amended in subcommittee to include the state’s 16 technical colleges. The bill now goes to the full Senate Education Committee.
The full House Judiciary Committee worked into the evening on Tuesday and approved S.1 (Senators Grooms, Verdin, Kimbrell, Garrett and others), enacting the “South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act.” The bill, which passed the Senate in January, prohibits the performance of an abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. The legislation is a priority for the GOP majority. Opponents say the bill will ban virtually all abortions and is unconstitutional. The bill now goes to the full House of Representatives for consideration next week.
The Senate favorably approved S.378 (Senators Cash and Senn) on Wednesday, relating to penalties for teasing, maltreating, and injuring police dogs and horses. The bill is awaiting third and final reading in the Senate.
INTRODUCTIONS OF INTEREST
H.3834 (Rep. Finlay) Excludes certain overtime and bonus pay as gross income for income tax purposes. Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.
H.3838 (Rep. Martin) Joint Resolution to include school teachers and support staff and first responders under Phase1a for COVID-19 vaccinations. Referred to Committee on Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs.
H.3852 (Rep. Elliott) Enacts the “South Carolina Learn Everywhere Act” for extended learning opportunities for high school and certain occupational licensure requirements. Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works
H.3858 (Reps. Ott, Collins, R. Williams, Kirby and others) Joint Resolution to include school teachers and support staff under Phase1a for COVID-19 vaccinations. Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.
H.3867 (Reps. Sandifer and Hardee) Relating to guidelines for contracting telemedicine services and requirements to practice telemedicine. Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry.
H.3882 (Rep. White) Establishes a scholarship reserve account funded by unclaimed lottery prize money. Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.
S.534 (Senator Loftis) Enacts the “Restore America’s Foundation Act” requiring public schools, colleges and universities to teach American founding principles. Referred to the Committee on Education.
S.536 (Senators Harpootlian, Talley, Scott, Hutto, McElveen and Kimbrell) Requires businesses selling alcoholic beverages to derive fifty-one percent of their revenue from serving meals. Referred to the Committee on Judiciary.
S.540 (Senator Hutto) Exempts qualifying surviving spouse from paying property tax. Referred to the Committee on Finance.
The House of Representatives will debate the “South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act.”
REAR VIEWS 2021
Feb. 5: Senate Nears Approval of $200M from Reserve Fund for Vaccine Distribution
Jan. 29: DOR Tells Economic Development Subcommittee That SC’s Tax Revenues are Strong
Jan. 22: Board of Economic Advisors Places State’s Tax Revenue Collections at $336M Above Forecast
Jan. 15: McMaster Delivers State of the State, Recommends $123M More for Small Business Grants
Jan. 8: 2021 Legislative Session “Pre-View from the Dome”
Dec. 18: A First Look at Pre-Filed Tax Legislation of Interest for the 2021 Legislative Session