Friday, Aug. 14, 2020
Plans are finalized for public schools to begin opening starting next week. The Senate Re-Open SC Committee met again. Democrats flipped a House seat in a Special Election in Charleston County.
accelerateSC is a one-stop website to help businesses and citizens connect to important information during this crisis.
SENATE RE-OPEN SC COMMITTEE
The Senate Re-Open SC Testing and Tracing Subcommittee met again Tuesday. The subcommittee adopted a report with 18 recommendations on COVID-19 testing with an emphasis on future actions needed to achieve mitigation and suppression strategies. Among the recommendations are:
- Designating DHEC as the lead agency for testing
- Increase the testing goal to 10% of state population monthly instead of the current 2% goal
- Require the Emergency Management Division (EMD) use stockpiles for smaller providers
- Create a Health Information Exchange for COVID-19 response for private healthcare provider collaboration
- Increase publicity for testing and types of events
- Expand those with authority to administer the tests
- Extension of the state employee earnings cap
- Leverage and maximize additional federal programs and funds
- Seek ways to automate testing results.
The recommendations also include appropriating additional funding for the following: expanded services to meet testing goals, assistance in development of saliva testing, expansion of testing to all public colleges and universities, and a PPE warehouse.
Subcommittee Chairman Tom Davis (R-Beaufort) noted recommendations relating to funding will be forwarded to the Senate Finance Committee for consideration. The subcommittee will meet again next week to discuss ways to improve efforts related to contact tracing.
To view the video archive of the meeting, click here.
Following the subcommittee meeting, the full committee met. In addition to adopting the recommendations from the Testing and Tracing Subcommittee, they heard presentations relating to K-12 and uncontacted students, the Department of Education gave an update on funding needs, the Office of Regulatory Staff gave an update on Broadband (see JBRC entry below), MUSC gave an update on testing efforts, and DHEC gave an update on a new initiative to ensure every county has testing sites open every week that will include expanding to private sector partners.
As schools prepare to open around the state, Gov. Henry McMaster announced Wednesday he is allocating $10 million from the state’s reserve account to help pay for personal protective equipment (PPE) to be distributed to schools at no cost to the districts.
State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman announced this week that:
- all 81 public school districts’ reopening plans have been approved by the Department of Education
- 17 school districts are opening on a 5 day-a-week plan
- 48 districts are opening using a hybrid model of part in-school, part virtual (A day/B day attendance)
- 14 school districts are opening virtual only
Start dates run through August, with the latest start dates on Sept. 8.
Detailed information on school reopening plans can be found here.
The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) unveiled a new online dashboard that provides detailed county-level data that helps provide a localized look at the impacts of the novel coronavirus in South Carolina. This new dashboard was developed by DHEC’s data analysts, GIS specialists and epidemiologists using information gathered through the agency’s expansive disease surveillance capabilities. It can be accessed here.
To view all of the governor’s 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.
Other helpful links:
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.
South Carolina Department of Commerce for small business information and assistance.
For additional resources that may be beneficial to your organization’s recovery efforts, visit Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd’s COVID-19 Resources page (Copper Dome Strategies is a subsidiary of HSB).
JOINT BOND REVIEW COMMITTEE
The Joint Bond Review Committee (JBRC) met Tuesday. The JBRC is comprised of Senate and House members and is authorized to approve capital projects. The committee approved several highway projects funded in part by the State Infrastructure Bank and several leases for state agencies. The committee also heard a report of the recently created Broadband Oversight Subcommittee. This subcommittee was recently created to begin assessing federal CARES Act funds to expand broadband access in rural areas. The full committee received an overview of Act 142 of 2020 from Nanette S. Edwards, Executive Director of the SC Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS), which oversees broadband regulation.
Edwards gave an update on hotspot procurement and distribution and progress to date on connecting students to broadband where possible. They have executed contracts with 13 vendor companies and received 94,000 orders from educational institutions. Estimated costs through December is $13.5 million of the $20 million authorized. There was discussion that Act 142 does not clearly define who has the authority for final approval of the broadband projects. JBRC Chairman Hugh Leatherman (R-Florence) stated he wanted to get that issue resolved and noted he wants the legislature to appropriate more funding to expand broadband service in rural areas. The committee will meet again Oct. 6. To view the video archive of the meeting, click here.
NEW HOUSE MEMBER
Democrat Spencer Wetmore won a state house seat on Tuesday, defeating Republican Josh Stokes in the special election to replace Republican Peter McCoy in House District 115. McCoy was recently appointed as U.S. Attorney by President Donald Trump. House District 115 includes James Island, Folly Beach, Kiawah and Seabrook Islands.
Wetmore serves as the City Administrator for Folly Beach. She began her career in public service as a prosecutor for the Charleston County Solicitor’s Office and is a graduate of Princeton University and Vanderbilt University Law School.
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 that began July 1, 2020. State government agencies are 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 adopted Sine Die Resolution S.1194, which allows 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. 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 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 Senate Re-Open SC subcommittee on Testing and Tracing will meet Wednesday.
Thank you for following SCACPA’s ‘The View from the Dome’ for State House Developments on Tax Issues Through SC’s 2020 Legislative Session. Here is a review of our weekly updates.