Update 1/11/24: Several adjustments were made to this summary to reflect developments that occurred during the week.
Hello! Year two of South Carolina’s 2023-24 legislative session starts today. To kick off the year, we are picking up where we left off with the Statehouse Update. Each week, SCPC brings you updates on legislation dealing with the budget, tax relief, government transparency, school choice and other important issues affecting freedom. Lawmakers are wasting no time getting to work in the second half of the session. As of Monday, Jan. 8, the following bills are on the Statehouse calendar.
CONTROVERSIAL RULES CHANGE
After facing public backlash, the full S.C. House appears to have backed down from a proposed rule change that could stifle debate by limiting the number of amendments that can be heard once cloture is invoked (cloture is a legislative procedure to bring debate to a close).
On Wednesday, SCPC attended the House Rules Committee meeting where the rule change was considered and passed. The meeting was not livestreamed, so we recorded the meeting in its entirety and posted the video online for transparency. SCPC will continue to put boots on the ground and monitor important meetings as they occur. Update: This section was updated Friday, Jan. 12.
The Senate Medical Affairs subcommittee takes up the following bills on Wednesday, Jan. 10, at 10am. Watch the livestream here.
- Healthcare market study committee (S.855)– This bill would establish a six-person healthcare market study committee, along with a 29-person advisory board made up of various medical professionals and community members. It’s tasked with studying a host of topics, such as price transparency, consumer-directed health plans, increasing the number of medical professionals, and expanding telemedicine. It must issue a report to the General Assembly by the end of the year with its findings. Update: The committee voted to carry over the bill.
- Acute care programs exempt from CON (S.858) – This bill would exempt acute hospital care at home programs from Certificate of Need review, making it easier for them to expand and provide patient care. Update: The committee voted to carry over the bill.
- 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 healthcare professionals to provide services, and expand access to care. The impact of this bill is not yet clear. Update: The bill was advanced to full committee.
- 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. Status: On the Senate floor, though it is currently contested.
- Shielding pension funds from ESG (H.3690) – This bill seeks to shield state retirement funds from ESG influence by requiring shareholder proxy votes to be cast based on “pecuniary factors” (meaning those affecting risk or return and excluding factors that promote ESG). It would also limit when the Retirement System Investment Commission can delegate proxy-voting rights to investment managers. Update: The bill has been set for special order for next week.
- 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.
TAXES AND FEES
- 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.
As of Monday, Jan. 9, almost every regular legislative meeting on the calendar this week is scheduled to be livestreamed. Only one committee meeting for both the House and Senate is not being streamed (and one is a budget hearing, unfortunately). Aside from that, this is a strong start to the year for transparency and hopefully a good sign for the rest of the session.
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:
- Constitutional subcommittee 1/9/24 & 1/10/24 upon House adjournment – Hearing from local government entities, the Procurement Review Panel, Council of Governments, and the Lottery Commission on Jan. 9; and hearing from the Comptroller General, Secretary of State, Inspector General, and State Auditor on Jan. 10. (livestream here)
- Criminal justice subcommittee 1/10/24 & 1/11/24 upon House adjournment – Hearing from the Attorney General’s Office, the State Ethics Commission, and the Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon on Jan. 10; and the Prosecution Coordination Commission and the Commission on Indigent Defense on Jan. 11. (livestream here)