By Copper Dome Strategies
Friday, April 10, 2020
The General Assembly returned to Columbia on Wednesday for a one-day session but left without a plan to keep the government operating beyond June 30.
Gov. Henry McMaster issued a mandatory “Home or Work” order on Monday and an order on Wednesday authorizing payments for employers and furloughed workers.
South Carolina’s public schools will remain closed through the end of April.
Keep up with all SCACPA updates specific to the Coronavirus/COVID-19 situation at www.scacpa.org/covid-19-response-and-resources.
The General Assembly returned to Columbia for one day on Wednesday. What was supposed to be a brief session to adopt an agreed upon Continuing Resolution to provide for the continued operation of state government beginning July 1 took an unexpected turn as the day progressed.
The House adopted the CR, which had been negotiated by House and Senate leadership, by a vote of 108-0, adjourned and went home. Shortly thereafter, several senators objected to a provision in the CR dealing with state-owned utility Santee Cooper. The nearly two-year debate over the fate of Santee Cooper was halted along with other legislative priorities when the General Assembly stopped meeting as COVID-19 started to spread. House and Senate leadership had agreed to put restrictions on Santee Cooper in order to allow the debate to continue when the session resumes.
But after nearly five hours of debate, the Senate amended the Santee Cooper provisions in the CR and returned it to the House, forcing them to return to Columbia at a future date once again for adoption. After the Senate’s vote, House Speaker Lucas (R-Hartsville) texted through a spokeswoman: “Today’s vote in the Senate is a shameless abdication of leadership.”
In addition to funding state government at its current levels, the Continuing Resolution:
- Provides $200 million from the Contingency Reserve Fund to establish a state COVID-19 disaster response reserve account, of which $15 million is directed for the health and safety of poll workers and voters for the June primary and November general elections
- Provides emergency powers to the Superintendent of Education in response to COVID-19
- Allows higher education institutions to implement mandatory furloughs if experiencing significant decreases in funding
- Allows state agencies and higher education institutions to spend earmarked or restricted funds to maintain critical programs with prior approval of the Executive Budget Office
- Extends provisions of Act 95 in relation to state-owned utility Santee Cooper.
The Senate then adopted a Sine Die Resolution that would allow the bodies to return to Columbia at any time after the adjournment date of May 14. Items to be debated would include the state budget, budget vetoes, appointments, virus response and any bills that have passed one chamber or the other. It also allows for an extended session Sept. 15 through 24.
Since the Senate amended the Continuing Resolution, the House must now return to Columbia to concur with the amendment for it to take effect and to address the Sine Die Resolution. Or, the Senate could return and adopt the previously passed House version of the CR.
As of this writing, it is unclear if either chamber will agree to come back into session. If they decide not to return to Columbia, the governor has the authority to call them into a Special Session after May 14 to address the continued operation of state government.
REMINDER: Wash your hands. Cover your nose and mouth when you cough. Stay home if you’re sick.
Gov. Henry McMaster issued an Executive Order on Monday, which includes a mandatory “Home or Work” order and mandates capacity limitations to retail businesses still operating.
On Wednesday, the governor issued an Executive Order authorizing support payments for employers and directs the Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW) to interpret furloughed employees as being unemployed for the purpose of unemployment compensation.
The governor issued an Executive Order 2020-16 last week that closed public access to all beaches. The order also closes access to all public boat ramps and landings on all lakes, rivers and waterways and an Executive Order 2020-17, which orders the closure of non-essential businesses throughout the state in order to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Business owners who have a question as to whether they qualify as essential should complete the Essential Business Clarification form from the South Carolina Department of Commerce. Questions can also be sent to email@example.com, or business representatives can call 803.734.2873.
Gov. McMaster and State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman previously announced that all South Carolina public schools will remain closed for the month of April. The governor’s Executive Order applies to all K-12 schools and the state’s public colleges, universities and technical colleges. They encouraged all institutions to maintain existing plans to provide instruction through virtual learning.
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.
South Carolina Department of Commerce for small business information and assistance.
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 (Copper Dome Strategies is a subsidiary of the law firm).
BOARD OF ECONOMIC ADVISORS
South Carolina’s Board of Economic Advisors presented data on Thursday afternoon that show state tax revenue estimate is being reduced by $643.5 million as result of significant disruptions on the economy from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Because of South Carolina’s strong economy prior to the pandemic and its considerable surplus revenue, state revenues for the current fiscal year are not affected. However, Thursday’s move ensures the previously passed House version of the FY20-21 in no longer valid and must be adjusted. BEA economists cautioned they are making considerable assumptions because it is impossible to know when the economy will again approach normalcy.
The BEA will meet again May 14 and will likely again revise the estimate at that time. The General Assembly is expected to return to Columbia to adopt the FY20-21 state budget in September.
The board agreed to lower the projected revenue estimate by $643.5 million for FY20-21. Instead of new recurring revenue previously estimated at $888 million, the FY20-21 projection is $244 million
The estimated surplus of $567 million is now at $40 million. South Carolina has $305 million in its Contingency Reserve Fund.
The BEA is statutorily charged with providing the General Assembly with the official revenue estimate for lawmakers to draft the annual state budget. The board’s 22 pages of Thursday’s handouts can be found here.
INTRODUCTIONS OF INTEREST
H.5412 (Reps. Allison, Alexander, Anderson and others) Concurrent Resolution congratulating the 36 South Carolina technical college students named to the 2020 Academic All-State team by Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. The Concurrent Resolution was adopted, ordered returned to the House.
We will keep you apprised as to any updates regarding the state’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic and the actions of the General Assembly.
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
To keep up with the latest news of SCACPA Advocacy, turn to the SCACPA Blog and our social media outlets.