Update 4/14/23: Several adjustments were made to this summary to reflect developments that occurred during the week.
The House is out this week, while the Senate has a packed calendar of bills in committee and on the floor. Bills dealing with legal reform, education and regulation (some good, some not-so-good) are making progress, and several are nearing the finish line. Learn more about our policy positions on these issues in our 2023-24 Legislative Agenda.
According to a Senate planning document, the full Senate will take up its version of the budget next week.
- S.305 – This bill would allow individuals who have at least five years of qualifying work experience to count that experience when obtaining a teaching certificate, which would entitle them to better pay. The full Senate Education Committee considers the bill Wednesday at 10 AM. Update: The full committee advanced the bill with amendment.
- H.3728 – This bill prohibits several concepts generally associated with critical race theory (CRT) from being taught in K-12 public schools. Among the prohibited concepts is the teaching that one ethnic/racial group is morally superior or inferior to another. A Senate Education subcommittee will take up the bill on Tuesday at 9:30 AM, while the full Senate Education Committee is expected to consider the bill Wednesday at 10 AM.
- S.208 – This bill would allow counties to impose additional driver’s license and motor vehicle licensing and registration fees on new residents (subject to a local referendum). We oppose this proposal and believe the state should not enact policies that will penalize future residents and deter economic growth. The bill is on the Senate floor, though it is contested.
- S.165 & H.3605 – These bills would remove barriers to obtaining a work license by preventing licensing boards from using vague terminology for evaluation purposes, and from considering charges against a person that have been dismissed, along with other positive changes. Both bills are currently on the Senate floor. Update: The Senate amended and unanimously passed the H.3605. It goes back to the House.
- S.260 – This bill would require anyone who serves alcohol to take a minimum four-hour class with a test and receive a certificate. It would also create a new state alcohol server training fund. While more education and training may be necessary for some, creating a new regulatory regime for all alcohol servers is not the correct approach to this issue. The bill is on the Senate floor, though it is contested.
- S.533 – This bill would require juries or judges to consider nonparties in addition to defendants when determining fault in civil cases. This change would ostensibly reduce the number of businesses forced to pay disproportionate damage awards, which is a major problem with South Carolina’s modified “joint-and-several liability” system. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee considers the bill Tuesday at 3 PM. We strongly support this bill. Read our analysis of it here.
- H.3532 – This bill would make changes to the criminal bond process and provide stronger penalties for a person who commits additional crimes while on pretrial release. The bill is on the Senate floor. Update: The Senate amended and unanimously passed H.3532. It goes back to the House.
- S.87 – This bill would increase the statutory civil liability limitation resulting from a single occurrence, taking it from $300,000 to $500,000 for a single person, and from $500,000 to $1,000,000 for the total sum. Additionally it would allow a party that files an offer of judgment, which, if not accepted, to recover from the offeree within certain conditions. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee considers the bill Tuesday at 3 PM.
- S.95 – This resolution would amend the S.C. Constitution so that the state comptroller general is appointed by the governor with Senate confirmation rather than being elected by voters. The proposed change comes after it was revealed the comptroller’s office is responsible for a $3.5 billion accounting error spanning at least a decade. The resolution is on the Senate floor and needs a two-third majority to pass.
ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL AND GOVERNANCE (ESG)
- S.583 – This bill would prohibit the S.C. Retirement System Investment Commission from casting shareholder proxy votes in order to further a “nonpecuniary” objective, which includes promoting an environmental, social or political goal or agenda. The Senate Judiciary subcommittee will take up the bill on Tuesday at 3 PM.
As of Tuesday morning, four of the Senate’s 11 scheduled committee meetings are scheduled to be livestreamed this week. Under a recent House bill inspired by SCPC’s research, all legislative committee meetings would have to be livestreamed.