Last week, the SC General Assembly went back into session to take care of some unfinished business, primarily passing a Continuing Resolution and a Sine Die Resolution, along with a few bills that had support for quick passage. Here’s a look at what happened at the State House:

Continuing Resolution and Sine Die

The House returned to vote on a continuing resolution that ensures government will continue to function at current budget levels when the new fiscal year begins on July 1st, and until we better understand the fiscal impact of Covid-19. Many agree that the expected opportunities to address one-time needs with a once-expected large state surplus clearly won’t be happening now, but beyond that, many economic forecasters do not know what to expect at this time. Accurate forecasts are essential to pass a budget that doesn’t result in damaging shortfalls which would undermine a lot of progress we’ve made in recent years, especially with education funding.

The Sine Die resolution is passed by the General Assembly every year, setting a mandatory date and time where the legislature must conclude its business annually. Traditionally this date is set for early May once the state budget is adopted, but this year, we were forced to suspend business two months early with much incomplete, including the state budget.

In extending Sine Die , the House and Senate agreed to return for a minimal session in September, probably lasting two weeks. Much of that session will revolve around addressing a radically-rewritten state budget which takes into account the very different circumstances we are now facing.

While the planned two week session will not make up for two months of lost session, bills which passed either the House and Senate before the shutdown will be able to be considered by the other chamber. This will give some bills a chance to become law. As time will be limited, anything which did not get passed by either chamber will have to be re-filed in next year’s bi-annual legislative session.

Increased COVID Testing
 
We voted to set aside $25 million from our reserve accounts to allow for increased testing. This will give local and state health officials a more accurate picture of the spread of the virus, allowing us to better target the responses necessary to combat it.

Disaster Trust Fund
 
In the Continuing Resolution, legislators voted to set aside $20 million to serve as our state’s match for any federal disaster money or state of emergency funding. We also set aside $155 million for a COVID response reserve account to be used by the Governor should a quick response be necessary to address any emerging hot spots.
 
Funding Accountability
 
Legislators voted to require detailed reporting on how this money is spent by both state agencies and local governments who receive funds.

Election Safety and Absentee Voting
 
$15 million was authorized for election safety. This money will be used by the State Election Commission in both our primary and general election to provide adequate safety equipment to make sure the poll workers and the voters have a safe voting experience.

We also passed a separate bill allowing all voters to request and cast absentee ballots in both the primary and any primary run-off elections next month. This is a one-time exception as absentee voting is normally restricted to those who will be unable to vote for reasons such as work, travel or military service, as well as all senior citizens.

Other Issues

We were able to spend some time to send two vital bills to Governor McMaster for his signature:

·          One bill directs the State Law Enforcement Division to create and operate a statewide system for tracking sexual assault test kits. This system will ensure tracking of the location and status of sexual assault kits throughout the criminal justice process in order to further empower survivors with information and assist law enforcement with investigations and crime prevention.
·          Another bill will enact the “Armed Services Members and Spouse Professional and Occupational Licensing Act”. This legislation will allow the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation to expedite the issuance of professional and occupational licenses to spouses of military personnel transferred to South Carolina when the spouse holds a professional or occupational license issued by another state that has similar requirements.

We expect the Governor will sign both bills into law.

I will continue keeping in touch with state officials to keep on top of these matters and get ready for this upcoming short legislative session.

Also, please be sure to visit  https://accelerate.sc.gov  to see the work being done by state government to get us back to work, school, church, and play while still protecting the health of the people of our state.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me ANYTIME!
If you can donate any N-95 masks or gloves (latex or latex alternatives like vinyl) to local hospitals, which look like these, PLEASE do so! THANK YOU!!!
Paid for by Campaign to Elect Raye | 116 Mary Mack Lane, Fort Mill, SC 29715