Statehouse Update Feb 13-15

Statehouse Update Feb 13-15

Update 2/16/24: Several adjustments were made to this summary to reflect developments that occurred during the week.

Major developments this week! This afternoon, a Senate subcommittee considers a bill that would create a fairer, more balanced legal environment for our state’s small- and medium-sized businesses, while still providing justice for injured South Carolinians. Meanwhile, a panel of House lawmakers will look at a bill consolidating several state health departments under a new Executive Office of Public Health. 

  • Fairer liability system (S.533) – This bill would require juries or judges to consider nonparties in addition to defendants when determining fault in civil cases. It also strikes an existing rule that, under certain circumstances, allows businesses or individuals to be held fully liable for legal damages even if they are just 1% at fault for an injury. These changes would result in fewer South Carolina businesses paying excessive and disproportionate damage awards in civil cases. Read our analysis on this issue here. Update: The Senate Judiciary subcommittee heard public testimony and will meet again at the call of the chair. SCPC attended the meeting to show support for the bill. 

  • Insurance premiums study committee (S.844) – This joint resolution would create a study committee to examine South Carolina’s civil liability and insurance laws, particularly as they relate to the issue of rising liability insurance premiums. While we welcome debate on this issue, creating a study committee – which has until January 2025 to report its findings – would likely delay progress on existing bills, such as S.533. Status: A Senate Judiciary subcommittee considers the bill on Tuesday at 3pm or an hour after Senate adjournment.

  • State operated liquor liability insurance (H.5066) – This bill would create a government-backed option for liquor liability insurance. A new state fund, also created by the bill, would be used to back the policy. The bill would cram down numerous arbitrary policies on businesses wishing to participate in the program, such as early closing hours, a sales threshold on alcohol, and possibly the use of ID scanners, cameras and limits on drink specials. A full analysis of this proposal is forthcoming, so keep an eye on our website. Update: The Liquor Liability Ad Hoc Committee took public testimony and scheduled a subcommittee meeting to occur within the next two weeks.

  • Affordable housing initiatives (H.4552) – Relating to the definition of “redevelopment project” for federal military installations, to provide that a redevelopment project includes certain affordable housing projects. Update: The House 3M subcommittee passed the bill with an amendment.
  • Regulating lender practices (S.910) – This bill would ban, restrict or regulate a host of activities by anyone providing installment or deferred presentment loans, while exempting big banks and credit unions. The measures include heavy restrictions on marketing and mailed loan offers, limitations on when and how often loans can be renewed, and a requirement focused on borrowers and their ability to repay.

    These measures, though perhaps well-meaning, would limit consumers' access to credit, stifle competition in the financial industry, and create an environment that makes it difficult, if not impossible, for lenders to operate. Read our analysis of the bill hereStatus: On Feb. 8, the full Senate LCI Committee adopted a minor amendment and advanced the bill to the Senate floor. However, local reporting suggests it might be dead for the year.  



S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster recently signed the ESG Pension Protection Act into law, ensuring state pension funds are invested based on financial criteria to maximize shareholder value, not advance ESG objectives. SCPC supported the policy in our 2024 Roadmap to Reform. While the fight against ESG is far from over, protecting the public's assets is a commendable and significant first step. 


  • Executive Office of Public Health (H.4927) – This bill would consolidate several state health departments under a new Executive Office of Health. The office would consist of five sub-departments: the Department of Health Financing, the Department of Public Health, the Department on Aging, the Department of Intellectual and Related Disabilities, and the Department of Behavioral Health and Substance Abuse Services. A similar Senate bill was advanced through subcommittee last week Update: The House Judiciary Committee passed the bill with an amendment.


  • Constitutional Carry (H.3594) – This bill would allow adults who are lawfully permitted to own a handgun to carry that handgun, either openly or concealed, without the need for a concealed weapons permit. It would also impose stronger penalties for felons caught unlawfully possessing firearms. Update: The House and Senate in recent weeks have gone back and forth passing different versions of the bill, neither side agreeing with the other. After the Senate non-concurred with the House's amendments on Feb. 14, the bill is set for conference committee where members will try to reach a compromise. 



As of Monday afternoon, 11 of 15 House committee meetings are scheduled to be livestreamed, while only eight of 14 Senate committee meetings are scheduled to be livestreamed. Unfortunately, only one of four budget subcommittee hearings are scheduled to be livestreamed. To view the full committee calendar (showing which meetings are, and are not, being streamed), click here.



The legislative budget process starts with state agencies presenting their spending requests for the upcoming fiscal year to various budget subcommittees. The House subcommittees, which go first, have mostly finished with their work, so agencies are now presenting to Senate committees. 

Lawmakers will use the information gathered at these meetings to write the first draft of the budget. The following subcommittees meet this week:


  • Proviso subcommittee (House) 2/13/24 at 2:30pm – Hearing proviso requests (provisos are effectively mini-laws in the budget that direct how dollars must be spent.)

  • Higher Education subcommittee (Senate) 2/13/24 at 10am and 2/15/24 at 10am – Hearing from The Tuition Grants Commission and Winthrop University on the 13th; and hearing from University of South Carolina and the Lottery Commission on the 15th.

  • Criminal Justice subcommittee (Senate) 2/14/24 at 8:45am – No agenda available.

  • Constitutional subcommittee (Senate) 2/15/24 immediately upon Senate adjournment – Hearing from the Office of the Inspector General, the State Fiscal Accountability Authority, and  the Office of the State Auditor.