Statehouse Update Jan 23-25

Statehouse Update Jan 23-25

Update 1/26/24: Several adjustments were made to this summary to reflect developments that occurred during the week.

This week, nearly two dozen state agencies will present their FY25 budget plans to House subcommittees, with numerous requests to spend more taxpayer money. Meanwhile, a House Judiciary subcommittee is looking at several election bills that could change how South Carolinians cast their ballots.  


Events happening this week

State of the State – Gov. Henry McMaster will deliver his 2024 State of the State Address at 7pm on Wednesday. The address can be viewed live through SCETV or on the Statehouse website.



Constitutional Carry (H.3594) – This bill would allow adults (18+) 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: On the Senate floor. Members debated the proposal throughout the week. 


  • Excessive lender regulations (S.910) – This bill deems a range of activities by installment and deferred presentment lenders unlawful and would micromanage the lending industry, while exempting big banks and credit unions. Lenders would need to analyze a borrower’s ability to repay a loan before it can be offered (something that already occurs and is therefore redundant), and subsequent loans or renewals would be prohibited/limited within certain timeframes to the same borrower.

    It would also heavily restrict lenders' abilities to market their products, which could make it unfeasible for them to operate in the state. 
    Rather than pass new regulations (which could shut down businesses), South Carolina should explore ways to improve financial literacy and make educational resources more widely accessible. Update: The Senate LCI Committee heard public testimony and will meet again for further public testimony.  

  • Restrictions on minors using social media (H.4700) – Regulating social media usage by minors. At least one potential area of concern: it would direct the S.C. Education Department to develop online safety and awareness programs that must cover "the distribution of disinformation and misinformation on social media." Do we want government in the business of defining terms like "disinformation"? UpdatePassed the House Judiciary Committee with amendment. On the House floor.

  • Mandatory alcohol training course (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 servers, creating a new regulatory regime for all alcohol servers is not the correct approach to this issue. Status: On the Senate floor, though it is currently contested. 



A House Judiciary subcommittee meets at 9am on Thursday to consider the following election reform bills (livestream here):  

  • Early Voting Hours (H.4590) – This bill extends the hours of operation to early voting centers.
  • Instant runoff voting (H.4022) – This bill would allow the instant runoff voting method to be used in municipal elections. 
  • Hand counted audits (H.4259) – This bill would require county boards of voter registration and elections to conduct hand counted post-election audits following every statewide general election. 
  • Eliminating early voting (H.4260) – This bill would require paper poll books to be used at all voting locations and ban the use of electronic poll books. It would also eliminate the two-week early voting period. 
  • Clean voter roll (H.4261) – This bill would require county boards of voter registration and elections to maintain a master file of all active electors, and a separate master file of all inactive electors. These would be used to produce an official list of registered voters by precinct prior to each election. 
  • Ranked choice voting ban (H.4591) – This bill would ban the use of ranked choice voting or instant runoff voting.
  • Municipal elections (H.4589) – This bill makes changes to municipal election laws regarding appeals and contests. 


  • Extending the legislative session (S.806) – Under this proposal, the regular legislative session would automatically be extended if the House fails to give the state budget third reading by March 10 (currently the House has until March 31). Additionally, if the budget or Capital Reserve Fund resolution are not completed by the last day of regular session, the House speaker and Senate president can call back their respective bodies into session at any time until the first Thursday in June. Update: The Senate Finance Committee advanced the bill. It heads to the Senate floor. 


  • Telehealth and telemedicine (H.4159) – This bill would create a new chapter of law governing telehealth with light regulations, such as ensuring telehealth practitioners are properly trained and that they only provide care within their scope of practice. It also amends current law governing telemedicine. In general, SCPC supports legislation to reduce patient costs, make it easier for doctors to provide services, and expand access to care, though the full impact of this bill is not yet clear. Update: Passed the Senate, returned to House for concurrence.


  • 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. Status: A Senate Medical Affairs subcommittee considers the bill on Wednesday at 10:30am and Thursday at 10am.


  • Teacher work experience (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. Update: Received roll call second reading from Senate.


  • Increased fees for new residents (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. Status: On the Senate floor, though it is currently contested.

  • Property tax exemption for disabled veterans (H.3116) – This bill would allow veterans who became disabled because of a service-connected disability to immediately claim a property tax exemption for their owner-occupied property in the year in which the disability occurs. Update: The Senate Finance Committee advanced the bill. It heads to the Senate floor. 



As of Monday, Jan. 22, 19 of 24 House committee meetings are scheduled to be livestreamed, while only seven of 15 Senate committee meetings are scheduled to be livestreamed. Fortunately, all House 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 House budget subcommittees. Lawmakers will use the information gathered at these meetings to write the first draft of the budget. The following subcommittees meet this week:

  • Transportation and Regulatory subcommittee 1/23/24 1.5 hours after House adjournment – Hearing from the Board of Financial Institutions, Department of Employment and Workforce, State Accident Fund, and the Aeronautics Commission.

  • Economic Development subcommittee 1/23/24 thirty minutes after House adjournment – Hearing from the Department of Parks, Recreation, & Tourism, the Department of Revenue, the Jobs-Economic Development Authority.

  • Criminal Justice subcommittee 1/24/24 at 9– Hearing from the Conservation Bank, the Department of Juvenile Justice, and the Department of Natural Resources.

  • Constitutional subcommittee1/23/24 at 3 & 1/24/24– Hearing from the Department of Administration, the Governor’s Office – Mansion & Grounds, and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs on Jan. 23; and the Judicial Branch, the Administrative Law Court, and the Legislative Audit Council on Jan. 24.

  • Healthcare subcommittee 1/23/24 1.5 hours after House adjournment & 1/24/24 at 10am – Hearing from MUSC Hospital Authority, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Department of Mental Health on Jan. 23; and hearing from the Department of Social Services, the Department on Aging, and the Department of Children’s Advocacy on Jan. 24.