Friday, May 22, 2020
Gov Henry McMaster signed into law a Continuing Resolution to keep the state’s government operating. The governor also issued a new Executive Order that lifted restrictions on tourist attractions such as museums, aquariums, planetariums, indoor children’s play areas and bingo halls beginning Friday, May 22.
The accelerateSC Committee met again to discuss recommendations to the governor on getting the economy moving.
Close contact businesses began opening.
BUDGET – CONTINUING RESOLUTION
Gov. McMaster signed into law Continuing Resolution H.3411 on Monday 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.
- Allows provisos from last year’s budget to remain in effect
- Appropriates from the Contingency Reserve Fund $175 million to the COVID-19 Response Reserve Account
- Appropriates $25 million to MUSC for statewide COVID-19 testing
- Appropriates $1.5 million to the Department of Administration for oversight and compliance of COVID-19 CARES Act funds
- Provides instructions for medical providers and hospitals receiving grants or reimbursement
- 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.
SINE DIE RESOLUTION
The General Assembly adopted a Sine Die Resolution S.1194 last week, which will allow the House and Senate 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, Sept. 15, 2020, at noon and continue in statewide session until Sept. 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, 2020.
The House COVID-19 Small Business Regulatory Relief Committee met in a virtual meeting again on Monday. The committee heard presentations from the SC Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance, Farm Bureau and the South Carolina Trucking Association. All groups offered recommendations on providing regulatory relief both for during the pandemic and for the future. Recommendations included:
- Provide Safe Harbor legislation for limited liability protections
- Mitigate impacts on businesses from Unemployment Trust Fund insolvency
- Pause new regulations for the immediate future
- Enact S.486 relating to E-notarization
- Provide more transparency in the regulatory process by including more stakeholder participation
- Extend time frames for permits and other regulatory matters
- Consider making agencies reference statutes in development of regulations
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 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
“Reopen South Carolina,” a Senate committee tasked with accepting any recommendations made by Gov. Henry McMaster’s accelerateSC task force, met again Thursday.
The committee heard a presentation from Dan Ellzey, Executive Director of the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce. Ellzey said in the past nine weeks, the total number of initial unemployment claims has risen to 515,595 in South Carolina. The agency has paid more than $1.35 billion in a combination of state UI benefits and CARES Act programs, FPUC ($600) and PUA.
The committee also heard from Dr. Rick Toomey, Director of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and Dr. Patrick Cawley, VP of Health Affairs at the Medical University of South Carolina.
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).
Gov. McMaster issued a new Executive Order on Wednesday that lifts restrictions on tourist attractions such as museums, aquariums, planetariums, indoor children’s play areas, mini golf and bingo halls beginning Friday, May 22. The order also allows for day camps, bible schools and scouting activities. Outdoor youth and adult sports activities can begin on May 30, with competitive league play beginning June 15.
The governor’s extended State of Emergency remains in effect until May 27. Close contact businesses began opening this week, including hair salons, tattoo parlors, nail salons, gyms and pools. None of the guidelines are mandatory. Business owners are urged to abide by CDC guidelines and recommendations of the accelerateSC Committee.
The Department of Health and Environmental Control has developed a statewide program to begin universal testing of all 194 nursing homes in South Carolina that will test 40,000 people by the end of the month. DHEC has also issued an RFP to augment their contact tracing efforts.
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.
The accelerateSC Committee met to discuss recommendations to the governor on getting the economy moving again.
The committee, created by Gov. McMaster, is tasked with creating a coordinated economic revitalization plan and includes leaders of small and large business, healthcare professionals, local government officials and education professionals. The plan consists of five components of analysis and effort: Response, Protection, Governance, Resources and Information. 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 citizens.
The Response Committee gave an update identifying challenges related to workforce capacity, workforce re-entry, critical industries, capital requirements, regulatory issues and supply chain/logistics. The subcommittee is focused on how to respond to COVID-19 and safely reopen businesses. They discussed best practices for hotels/tourism, attractions, child care centers and summer camps.
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. We are in the first phase of testing all nursing home populations. Efforts continue to deploy 200 testing sites statewide and will be implemented with $118 million in federal funds the state received this week.
The Governance Committee, chaired by Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd attorney and Greenville mayor Knox White, reviewed potential regulatory or legislative changes that may be needed (Copper Dome Strategies is a subsidiary of Haynsworth Sinkler Boyd PA). They include mechanisms for local governments to deal with their budget challenges and potential regulatory relief for higher education institutions. White noted there has been an estimated $203 million economic impact to higher education to date with $75 million in clean-up costs alone. On the positive side, he reported 1,100 nurses have graduated due to online clinical classes. He said the state has exceeded its goal of 1,000 contact tracers in place by June. Long-term regulatory relief and limited liability legislation will be included in the committee’s recommendations.
The Resources Committee, chaired by former state Senator Chairman Greg Ryberg, is 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 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.
The subcommittee discussed some of the estimated costs that have been incurred and projected estimates through Dec. 30. Projections include:
- $144 million – State agencies
- $273 million – Higher education institutions
- $613 million – Public and private hospitals
- $138 million – County governments
- $31 million – Municipal governments
The committee also discussed the following potential recommendations:
- $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 backbone
- $20 million for broadband hotspots and 100,000 devices
Chairman Ryberg noted the Treasury Department guidelines on use of the funds continues 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. He said many of the costs incurred can be reimbursed through other federal funds the state will be receiving, particularly in the area of testing, tracing and mitigation.
The Department of Administration has issued an RFP seeking a third-party vendor to assist the state with the oversight, transparency and accountability of the CARES funds. The vendor must be experienced in financial accounting procedures and federal grant administration. They hope to have a vendor in place within the next few weeks.
The Information Committee reported a state call center will be deployed next week in conjunction with the accelerateSC website for citizens and businesses, which serves as a comprehensive, one-stop web site for citizens and businesses. The site can be found here.
The full committee will hold one final meeting next week and then forward its recommendations to the governor. Gov. McMaster has said that after he reviews the committee’s recommendations, he will provide his recommendations to the General Assembly, which is statutorily charged with appropriating the funds. It is expected the General Assembly will reconvene in June to appropriate the funds.
For further information about the accelerateSC committee and its members, visit the governor’s website here.
The Department of Education’s accelerateED task force met again THursday. 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 pandemic and providing recommendations on how schools and districts can best restart.
The meeting focused on summer school programs. State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman told the committee she requested to the accelerateSC committee of $115 million for the summer programs but only $13 million has been budgeted. She assured the committee they would have adequate funding. The committee also discussed the need to have a nurse in every school. Currently, 198 schools statewide do not have a full-time nurse. No decisions have been made to date regarding returning 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 and other funding the state has received.
For more information, go here.
The accelerateSC full committee will hold its final meeting next week.
Thanks 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.