By Copper Dome Strategies
Friday, May 8, 2020
The accelerateSC committee met again this past week to discuss recommendations to the governor on getting the economy moving again. The House COVID-19 Small Business Regulatory Relief Committee held two virtual meetings. The Senate president announced the formation of a “Reopen South Carolina” committee that will work on recommendations made by the accelerateSC task force.
The General Assembly will return to Columbia on Tuesday, May 12.
The Board of Economic Advisors again lowered next year’s budget estimate, this time by $58.3 million, when they met on Friday morning.
South Carolina’s public schools will remain closed for the remainder of the academic year.
Also, late Friday afternoon, Gov. Henry McMaster announced that indoor dining at restaurants will be allowed to resume Monday, May 11. Each restaurant will choose how or when to re-open for patrons. The S.C. Restaurant and Lodging Association had urged for indoor dining to resume by May 18. “The decision from the governor’s office will give restaurant owners time to order necessary products, supplies and hire staff,” officials told The State newspaper.
Gov. McMaster had indicated earlier in the week that an announcement regarding the next wave of businesses to re-open could soon occur, but he noted that he and health officials want to be careful and ensure loosening more restrictions does not risk public health.
Keep up with all SCACPA updates specific to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 situation at www.scacpa.org/covid-19-response-and-resources.
The House COVID-19 Small Business Regulatory Relief Committee met in a virtual meeting on Monday and again Thursday. The committee was formed by House Speaker Jay Lucas (R-Hartsville) to review all existing regulations and identify ways to provide relief to businesses and prevent regulatory issues from being a barrier to the reemergence of these essential businesses. Committee Chairman Jeff Bradley (R-Hilton Head) said the committee is soliciting input from the business community, nonprofit organizations, state agencies and the general public on ideas and recommendations. Suggestions can be sent to the committee here.
The committee will hold virtual meetings via Zoom over the next few weeks. You can access the meetings here.
REOPEN SOUTH CAROLINA
South Carolina Senate president Harvey Peeler (R-Gaffney) announced the formation of “Reopen South Carolina,” a Senate committee tasked with accepting recommendations made by the accelerateSC task force.
The committee will review recommendations requiring legislative actions, including considering best practices for business operations, safe harbors for potential COVID-19 liability, continued workforce development, and addressing the increase in unemployment.
The committee will be chaired by Thomas Alexander (R-Oconee/Pickens). Other committee members include Sens. Tom Davis (R-Beaufort), Kevin Johnson (D-Clarendon), Gerald Malloy (D-Darlington), Katrina Shealy (R-Lexington), Vincent Sheheen (D-Kershaw) and Ross Turner (R-Greenville).
The accelerateSC committee met again on Tuesday to discuss potential recommendations to the governor on getting the economy moving. The committee, created by Gov. Henry McMaster, is tasked with creating a coordinated economic revitalization plan and includes small and large business leaders, healthcare professionals, local government officials and education professionals.
The plan consists of five components of analysis and effort: Response, Protection, Governance, Resources and Information. These components will employ maximum communication, collaboration and cooperation among themselves and those assisting to effectively identify issues, solutions and assets necessary for a phased revitalization path for South Carolina’s economy, guided by healthcare and medical data. The accelerateSC participants will make immediate, intermediate and long-term recommendations to the governor for revitalizing and expanding South Carolina’s economy while protecting the health of South Carolina citizens. Each subcommittee gave an update on their discussions.
The Governance Committee, chaired by Knox White, Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd attorney and Greenville mayor, reviewed potential regulatory or legislative changes that may be needed. (Copper Dome Strategies is a subsidiary of Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd). Ideas included mechanisms for local governments to deal with their budget challenges and potential regulatory relief for higher education institutions. Many of the higher education regulatory relief recommendations have been proposed to the legislature in the past. Committee member Dr. Mary Thornley, president of Trident Technical College, pointed out that some of the recommendations proposed for the technical colleges dealing with flexibility are included in the Continuing Resolution that will be considered by the legislature next week.
The Protection Committee discussed identifying protective protocols for practical implementation in the workplace and public, testing and contact tracing, supply of personal protective equipment and long-term mitigation efforts to ensure economic revitalization. DHEC hopes to have 1,000 contact tracers in place this summer.
The Response Committee discussed identifying challenges related to workforce capacity, workforce re-entry, critical industries, capital requirements, regulatory issues and supply chain/logistics. The SC Chamber of Commerce gave updated information on a survey of its members that said financial issues and liability protections were a major concern of businesses moving forward. Two-thirds of South Carolina businesses surveyed have not received federal assistance. For businesses that have laid off or furloughed workers, 43% responded they would not be bringing them back within the next three months. The Department of Commerce is working with DHEC and OSHA on best practices for all types of settings, including businesses and stores, places of worship and close-contact businesses.
The Resources Committee Chairman Greg Ryberg said South Carolina has received $1.996 billion in federal funds from the federal CARES Act and $48 million from another federal source. These funds are to be used for necessary expenditures related to the response to COVID-19 between March 15 and Dec. 30, 2020. The funds are largely for the public sector, including higher education, but are not to be used to supplant or replace revenue. The committee is focused on identifying the process for dispersing the funding while providing maximum transparency. Ryberg noted the Treasury Department guidelines on use of the funds continues to evolve, but funds can be used for support of remote learning/telework, sanitization of public buildings, purchase of PPE, testing, tracing and isolation, payroll overtime costs and investment in the unemployment insurance trust fund and small business assistance.
Ryberg, a former state senator from Aiken, said the committee is seeking more specific data on the anticipated costs from public sector entities for the use of the funds. He also said South Carolina will be receiving additional funding from some 26 other federal sources.
While much of the recent discussion centered on expanding broadband statewide for both remote learning and telehealth, Ryberg noted that since South Carolina does not have a statewide plan for broadband or a governance structure in place, the goal of expanding broadband statewide with these funds may no longer be an option. However, the funds may be used to assist in the development of a plan as well as to deploy resources to create broadband hotspots until a plan is developed.
The Information Committee announced the launch of an accelerateSC web site for citizens and businesses, which will serve as a comprehensive, one-stop site for citizens and businesses. The site can be found here.
Gov. McMaster has challenged the committee to be creative and collaborative and noted many of their recommendations may lead to permanently lifting some of the restrictions and red tape that have come to light during the pandemic.
For further information about accelerateSC and its members, visit the governor’s website here.
The Department of Education’s accelerateEd task force met Wednesday. The task force, comprised of educators and administrators representing all aspects of the K-12 public education system, is charged with studying barriers to school operations and student learning during the COVID-19 pandemic and providing recommendations on how schools and districts can best restart in the fall.
The Department of Education, like most other public entities, is working to determine the additional costs associated with the COVID-19 response and what funding may be available from the CARES Act funding the state has received.
State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman said she has requested $180 million for six extra instructional days along with more than $50 million for summer school funding. Spearman noted a survey of districts showed there were approximately 150,000 households that have students without internet access, and districts estimate they will need approximately 160,000 electronic devices to have students well equipped for distance learning.
For more information, go here.
BOARD OF ECONOMIC ADVISORS
The Board of Economic Advisors met on Friday morning and lowered next year’s budget estimate by $58.3 million. When combined with the BEA’s projection from early April that revenue estimates should be reduced $643.5 million, the shortfall stands at $701.8 million.
As a result of the significant disruption on the economy from the COVID-19 pandemic, state general fund revenue declined by $400.1 million for April, which is more than was anticipated. While all tax categories experienced significant declines, some are in part due to extensions to tax filing deadlines.
It was on April 9 that the BEA agreed to lower the projected revenue estimate by $643.5 million for FY20-21.
Friday’s move ensures the previously passed House version of FY20-21 in no longer valid. It is expected the General Assembly will return to Columbia in September to adopt the FY20-21 state budget.
Now that economic restrictions are easing sooner than was expected, adjustments are being made to previous estimates. Recent GDP data show larger corporate losses than expected, which resulted in the board agreeing to reduce the estimate for FY20-21 by $58.3 million. The state general fund growth estimate was reduced from 2.3% to 1.7%.
The current fiscal year estimate was not adjusted. It was noted the state will have a much clearer picture of FY20-21 staring in July after the state’s books are closed at the end of June.
Prior to the pandemic, the BEA had projected $888 million in new recurring revenue. That amount is now below $200 million. The estimated surplus of $567 million is now estimated to be $40 million.
The state currently has $305 million in its Contingency Reserve Fund.
The BEA’s 22 pages of meeting handouts can be found here. The Board is statutorily charged to provide the General Assembly with the official revenue estimate for lawmakers to draft the annual state budget.
On Monday, April 27, Gov. Henry McMaster extended the State of Emergency for another 15 days. The governor also ordered that local elections set for May be postponed, according to the State Election Commission. New dates have not been announced.
On Wednesday, McMaster and SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) officials introduced a multi-step plan with the goal of testing 110,000 residents per month or 2 percent of the population within the next two months. State officials plan to expand testing and contact tracing efforts to find the hotspots and aggressively prevent the disease from spreading. All South Carolina nursing home residents and workers will be tested by June 1. Testing will also be expanded in rural areas and minority communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
To view all of the governor’s previous Executive Orders, go here.
The Medical University of South Carolina is offering free Telehealth consultations and screenings for anyone in South Carolina experiencing COVID-19-like symptoms. New and existing patients should use the promo code COVID19.
For more information from DHEC on the virus, go here. The DHEC Care Line is available to provide general information about COVID-19 by calling 855.472.3432 from 8 a.m.-6 p.m., seven days per week.
Other helpful links:
The Emergency Management Division provides links to important information, including the South Carolina Department on Aging, SC Childcare, the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce, the Department of Revenue and the South Carolina Department of Insurance.
Small business information and assistance can be found at the South Carolina Department of Commerce.
Information for parents, teachers and students regarding statewide school closures can be found at the SC Department of Education.
For resources that might be beneficial to your organization’s preparedness efforts, visit the COVID-19 Resources page of Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd PA.
South Carolina Health Alert Network
South Carolina COVID-19 Emergency Supply Sourcing & Manufacturing
Reminder: Wash your hands. Cover your nose and mouth when you cough. Stay home if you’re sick.
Senate President Pro Tem Harvey Peeler (R-Gaffney) and House Speaker Jay Lucas (R-Hartsville) have announced the General Assembly will return to Columbia on Tuesday, May 12.
The current legislative session is scheduled to adjourn Sine Die on May 14. It is expected they will adopt a Continuing Resolution to provide for the operation of state government beyond June 30 in the absence of a state budget for FY20-21. It is also likely they will adopt a Sine Die Resolution that would allow the bodies to extend the regular legislative session an additional two weeks until May 28.
Gov. McMaster had previously written to the leadership of the House and Senate offering to call them back in for a Special Session in June, at a date and time of their choosing, for the purpose of passing a Continuing Resolution for the operation of state government beyond June 30 if they were not able to reach an agreement prior to May 14.
JOINT BOND REVIEW COMMITTEE
The Joint Bond Review Committee (JBRC) meeting scheduled for Wednesday, May 6, was postponed.
The General Assembly returns to session on Tuesday, May 12.
Look to SCACPA’s ‘The View from the Dome’ for State House Developments on Tax Issues Through SC’s 2020 Legislative Session. Sine Die adjournment is scheduled for May 14.
Jan. 10: South Carolina’s Pending Tax Bills and Your 2020 Legislative Preview
Jan. 17: Gov. McMaster’s Executive Budget Calls for Tax Cuts, Rebates for Taxpayers
Jan. 24: McMaster’s State of the State Emphasizes Tax Cuts, Rebates, Teacher Raises; Business License Tax Talks Continue
Jan. 31: House Subcommittee Hears Budget Request from SC Chief Justice to Improve Case Management System
Feb. 7: Senate Finance Committee Approves Business Personal Property Bill for DOR Filing
Feb. 14: Board of Economic Advisors Announces Largest Budget Surplus in SC History
Feb. 21: House Floor Debate is Up Next for Budget After Ways and Means Committee Plan Adopted
Feb. 28: House Members Have Upcoming Week to Study Budget Before Floor Debate
March 6: Education Reform Bill Moves from Senate to House; DHEC Tells of Coronavirus Resources
March 13: Senate Bills Make Progress for Conformity, Business Personal Property and Business License Tax Reform
March 20: A Look Inside the $45M COVID-19 Relief Package for DHEC; Return of Legislators is on Hold
March 27: Legislative Session Remains Postponed; Candidate Filing Period Ends on March 30
April 3: General Assembly Will Convene for One Day on April 8; State Elections Leader Suggests List of Voting Adjustments
April 10: Here are Details of General Assembly’s Unresolved Continuing Resolution Situation for State Operations Budget
April 17: McMaster Announces ‘Accelerate South Carolina’ Revitalization Plan, Details to Come
April 24: accelerateSC Revitalization Task Force Goes to Work
May 1: General Assembly Set to Return to State House on May 12
To keep up with the latest news of SCACPA Advocacy, turn to the SCACPA Blog and our social media outlets.