Friday, May 29, 2020
Gov. Henry McMaster issued a new Executive Order on Wednesday extending the State of Emergency for an additional 15 days as South Carolina businesses continued opening this past week.
The accelerateSC Committee met on Thursday and officially provided final recommendations to the governor on getting the economy moving again.
Several legislative committees met to discuss actions needed by the General Assembly to assist in the economic recovery.
McMaster extends state of emergency in South Carolina amid COVID-19 pandemic (The State, May 28): McMaster’s first declared state of emergency came on March 13, and each state of emergency extension lasts 15 days.
Spartanburg task force unveils benchmark goals and reopening campaign (GSA Business Report, May 29): The Bringing Back the Burg task force unveiled recovery resources in a joint campaign with Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System to encourage workplace safety.
Columbia plans to promote businesses that ‘pledge’ safe reopening plans (The State, May 28): The city’s businesses are asked to sign a pledge to reopen safely, and the city will issue posters that advertise the steps being taken to keep customers safe.
Sen. Lindsey Graham says unemployment benefits are holding Charleston economy back (Post and Courier, May 29): The S.C. DEW has instructed companies to report employees who are offered their jobs back but decline to return to work so they can be removed from unemployment rolls.
Columbia faces $20 million revenue shortfall due to coronavirus, mayor tells Congress (The State, May 29): Mayor Steve Benjamin, the former head of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, asked Congress for help in keeping municipal services functioning and cautioned that a 10% decline in municipal revenue across the nation could lead to a $240 billion fall in operating budgets, which could results in municipal employees losing their jobs.
Samsung seeks tariff exemption for SC-built washing machines ‘vital’ to coronavirus fight (Post and Courier, May 28): The Newberry plant seeks exclusions for five washing machine parts, as the washers would help COVID-19 relief by keeping clothes and reusable masks disinfected.
The accelerateSC Committee met Thursday and officially provided final recommendations to the governor on getting the economy moving again. The committee, created by Gov. McMaster, was tasked with creating a coordinated economic revitalization plan and included leaders of small and large businesses, healthcare professionals, local government officials and education professionals.
Committee Chairman James Burns discussed the 50-page document, which provides 42 specific recommendations, some of which have already been implemented. The plan consists of five components of analysis and effort: Response, Protection, Governance, Resources and Information.
The Resources Committee, chaired by former state Senator Chairman Greg Ryberg, was tasked with making recommendations on the expenditure of the $1.996 billion in federal funds from the CARES Act. These funds are to be used for necessary expenditures related to the response to COVID-19 between March 15 and December 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 was focused on identifying the process for dispersing the funding while providing maximum transparency. The committee’s recommendations include:
- $500 million to the Unemployment Trust Fund
- $160 million for five additional K-12 academic days
- $250,000 for a statewide broadband mapping plan
- $80 million for statewide broadband infrastructure
- $20 million for broadband hotspots and 100,000 devices
Treasury Department guidelines on use of the funds continue to evolve, but funds can be used for support for 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.
Gov. McMaster thanked the committee members for their efforts and called the report “terrific.” He will now take the task force recommendations and, along with any details he may add, submit them to the General Assembly, which is statutorily charged with appropriating the funds. It is anticipated that the General Assembly will reconvene in June to begin appropriating the funds, which is expected to be done in phases. More information can be found here.
For information about the accelerateSC committee and its members, visit the governor’s website here.
To view the committee’s final report, click here.
SENATE REOPEN SOUTH CAROLINA
“Reopen South Carolina,” a Senate committee tasked with accepting any recommendations made by Gov. McMaster’s accelerateSC task force, met again on Tuesday. The committee heard presentations from James Burns, Chairman of the accelerateSC Committee, and several of the subcommittee chairs on their proposed recommendations to the governor.
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 is 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).
Following the full committee meeting, the Business Liability Subcommittee met to discuss potential legislation for liability protections for businesses and healthcare workers.
Chaired by Senator Tom Davis (R-Beaufort), the committee discussed the need for any legislation to have broad bi-partisan support, be narrowly drafted and be a temporary measure. The subcommittee will meet again next Tuesday.
HOUSE COVID-19 REGULATORY RELIEF COMMITTEE
The House COVID-19 Small Business Regulatory Relief Committee met in a virtual meeting again on Monday. The committee heard presentations from the SC Commission for Minority Affairs and Together SC, an organization focused on supporting and strengthening the state’s nonprofit community. 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.
HOUSE COVID-19 LIABILITY PROTECTION REVIEW COMMITTEE
House Speaker Lucas (R-Hartsville) announced the formation of a House committee that will review potential legislation for liability protections for businesses and healthcare workers. The Committee plans to have its first meeting next Tuesday.
The committee will be chaired by Speaker Pro Tem Tommy Pope (R-York). Other committee members are Justin Bamberg (D-Bamberg), Sylleste Davis (R-Moncks Corner), Jason Elliott (R-Greenville), Lee Hewitt (Murrells Inlet), Jay Jordan (R-Florence), Mandy Norrell (D-Lancaster), Russell Ott (D-St. Matthews) and David Weeks (D-Sumter).
HOUSE COVID-19 PUBLIC EDUCATION COMMITTEE
The House COVID-19 Public Education Committee held its first meeting 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. The committee will gather information and take testimony seeking recommendations to eliminate, suspend, or modify current statutes and regulations. The committee is chaired by Rep. Raye Felder (R-Fort Mill).
The committee will meet again next week to begin hearing testimony.
South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control Director Rick Toomey submitted his resignation at the SCDHEC Board of Directors meeting Wednesday afternoon. Toomey said he wants to spend more time with his family and also cited a new focus on his health. He took a leave of absence in March due to health concerns.
Marshall Taylor, the chief legal counsel for the agency, will serve as the agency’s interim executive director beginning June 11 as the DHEC Board begins a search for a permanent replacement.
DHEC is one of the leading state agencies responding to the pandemic.
The Department of Education’s accelerateED task force continues to meet. 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.
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 and other funding the state has received.
For more information, go 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 will continue operating in FY21 with the same funding as it received in FY20. It also:
- Allows provisos from last year’s budget to remain in effect
- Provides emergency powers to the Superintendent of Education
- Provides flexibility to institutions of higher learning relating to mandatory furloughs and employer contributions to the state retirement fund and earmarked or restricted revenue sources
- Prohibits state-owned utility Santee Cooper from undertaking any action that would undermine the General Assembly regarding its status
The General Assembly will likely return to Columbia in June for COVID-19 specific action and again in September to adopt a state budget for the remainder of FY20-21.
Gov. McMaster issued a new Executive Order on Wednesday extending the State of Emergency for an additional 15 days as South Carolina businesses continued opening this past week.
Outdoor youth and adult sports activities can begin on May 30 with competitive league play beginning June 15. None of the guidelines are mandatory. Business owners are urged to abide by CDC guidelines and recommendations of the accelerateSC Committee.
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.
For resources that might be beneficial to your organization’s preparedness efforts, visit the COVID-19 Resources page of Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd PA.
Reminder: Wash your hands. Cover your nose and mouth when you cough. Stay home if you’re sick.
SINE DIE RESOLUTION
The General Assembly has adopted a Sine Die Resolution S.1194, which will allow them 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. It further authorizes the General Assembly to meet again in statewide session on Tuesday, September 15, 2020, at noon and continue in statewide session until September 24, 2020, for the consideration of specific matters, including the annual General Appropriations Act. The General Assembly will likely return to Columbia in June for COVID-19 specific action and then in September to adopt a state budget for the remainder of FY20-21.
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 pm on Sunday, Nov. 8.
House and Senate COVID-19 committees will meet on Tuesday to discuss potential limited liability legislation.
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