Statehouse Update Feb 20-22

Statehouse Update Feb 20-22

Update 2/23/24: Several adjustments were made to this summary to reflect developments that occurred during the week.

After weeks of smaller budget hearings, the full House Ways and Means Committee begins work on South Carolina’s FY25 spending bill this afternoon. With billions of dollars in taxpayer money on the line, SCPC recommends a hard limit on the new budget so that surplus funds can be used to speed up tax relief. Want updates on today's meeting? Follow us on X (formerly Twitter) @scpolicycouncil. The full House is meanwhile on furlough, so no floor activity will take place. 

Meanwhile, a Senate panel will reconvene Wednesday to hear a multitude of bills that would revise South Carolina’s judicial selection process. We are highlighting S.178, which would overhaul the Judicial Merit Selection Commission and foster more competition in judicial races, among other things. Keep up the pressure on this fight – it's working! To get up to speed and find out how you can make an impact, visit our new Judicial Reform Action Page.  




A Senate Judiciary subcommittee meets Wednesday at 11:30am to consider 16 bills relating to judicial selections. Below are several bills of significance. To see the full list of bills in committee, click here.  

  • S.178 – This bill would reduce the size of the Judicial Merit Selection Commission (from 10 to seven members) and allow the governor to appoint six of its members. The seventh member would be the governor or his designee. It would also prohibit members of the General Assembly, their immediate family members, or their business associates from serving on the commission, and repeal a cap that prevents more than three judicial candidates from being nominated per open seat. 

  • S.249 – This joint resolution would amend the S.C. Constitution and provide that the governor shall appoint judges following their nomination by the JMSC. This is perhaps the most significant change on the table; however, it is unlikely to advance based on the committee’s remarks. We will provide updates should it make progress. 

  • S.248 – This bill would serve as enabling legislation and codify the gubernatorial appointment of judges should S.249 pass. 

  • S.482 – This bill would require judicial candidates to receive a majority vote from both the House and Senate to be elected as judge (currently, candidates only need a numerical majority of the joint 170-member body). This change is one of SCPC’s seven proposed judicial reforms. The bill also makes changes to magistrate selections.

  • S.130 – This bill would expand the JMSC to 13 members and give the governor five appointments, while repealing the three-person cap on judicial nominees per seat. It would also require judicial candidates to receive a majority vote from both the House and Senate to be elected as judge. 

Update: The committee discussed many bills but did not action on them. Members said they want to narrow down the list of bills and take out those which are duplicative or require amending the state Constitution. Importantly, S.178 (backed by SCPC) is a unique proposal that would not require amending the S.C. Constitution. We believe the bill must be advanced.



A Senate Finance subcommittee will meet on Tuesday and Thursday to discuss several bills that relate to tax credits and deductions. For the complete list of bills, click here for Tuesday and here for Thursday. 

  • Golf club dues tax exemption (H.3880) – This bill would prevent admissions tax from being charged or collected on annual or monthly dues paid for a golf club membership. Update: A Senate Finance subcommittee advanced the bill.

  • Skill based hiring (S.859) – This bill would require the Office of Human Resources to conduct periodic reviews of jobs in the executive branch. The goal is to eliminate the requirement of having a four-year degree for jobs where it is unnecessary.  Update: A Senate Finance subcommittee advanced the bill.

  • Low income housing property tax exemption (S.1017) – Relating to a property tax exemption for certain nonprofit housing corporations, so as to ensure the exemption only applies to the percentage of property equal to corporation’s ownership in the property. Status: A Senate Finance subcommittee considers the bill Thursday at 9:30am. 


  • Name image and likeness (S.993 & H.4957) – These two bills would substantially revise the NIL standards for collegiate athletes across the state. These bills would allow state universities to facilitate NIL deals for student athletes. For more information about the proposals, click hereStatus: A Senate Education subcommittee considers the bill Wednesday at 9am. 


  • Executive Office of Health and Policy (S.915) – This bill would consolidate several state health departments under a new Executive Office of Health and Policy. 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. Update: The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 44-1.  The bill now moves to the house.  


  • 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. Status: 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 last week, the bill is set for conference committee where members will try to reach a compromise. Though as of Feb. 20, the Senate has not appointed its conference members. 



As of Tuesday morning, the sole House committee meeting on the calendar is scheduled to be livestreamed, while only seven of 22 Senate committee meetings are scheduled to be livestreamed. Unfortunately, only one of seven budget committee hearings are set 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 now finished with their work, so the full House Ways and Means Committee will take up the budget. Meanwhile, the Senate subcommittee process is still ongoing. 

The following committees and subcommittees meet this week:

  • Full Ways and Means Committee (House) 2/20/24 at 1pm – Using data gathered by its various subcommittees, the full Ways and Means Committee begins work on the first draft of the FY25 budget.

  • Higher Education subcommittee (Senate) 2/20/24 at 10am and 2/22/24 at 10am – Hearing from Coastal Carolina University and the College of Charleston on the 20th; and hearing from Francis Marion University and South Carolina State University on the 22nd. 

  • Heath and Human Services subcommittee (Senate) 2/20/24 at 3pm or upon adjournment of the Senate and 2/21/24 at 10am – Hearing from the South Carolina Vocational Rehabilitation, the Department of Social Services, and the  Department of Disabilities and Special Needs on the 20th; and hearing from the Retirement System Investment Commission, the Department of Children’s Advocacy, and the Department on Aging on the 21st.

  • Criminal Justice subcommittee (Senate) 2/21/24 at 8:45am – Hearing from the Administrative Law Court, Department of Corrections, and the Department of Juvenile Justice.