The Weekly Rewind – Week of March 17th

Nathan’s News readers are aware that I regularly share a “Week in Review” update which is prepared by legislative staff. It’s straight forward, no spin, not partisan…just the facts.

If you want a more personable read, be sure to read a similar update that I write each week in The New Irmo News. Representative Huggins and I rotate weeks throughout the session so that the entire Irmo/Chapin community can stay informed!

*To read the text of any bill mentioned below, please visit www.scstatehouse.gov and enter the bill number in the search box *

HOUSE WEEK IN REVIEW
March 20, 2020

The House of Representatives concurred in Senate amendments to H.4014, a bill APPROVING FUNDING TO COMBAT THE COVID-19 VIRUS. The bill was ratified by the General Assembly and signed into law by the Governor, effective immediately. The legislation allocates $45 million from the Fiscal Year 2018-2019 Contingency Reserve Fund for use by the Department of Health and Environmental Control for the coordination of the state’s public health preparedness and response to the COVID-19 virus. DHEC is afforded the funding to cover an array of costs:

• Staffing ($14,598,760): paying the additional staff that DHEC needs to support COVID-19 disease surveillance and contact investigation, laboratory testing, and information phone lines.

• Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) ($14,806,800): purchasing the protective equipment for DHEC’s healthcare workers to prevent spread of infection.

• Staff Support ($5,282,420): covering operating costs such as technology, lab supplies and reagents, travel, and facility cleaning.

• Education Campaign ($2,500,000): Support for TV/Radio airtime and printed materials.

• Quarantine ($1,703,580): addressing costs to quarantine and support indigent patients.

• Transportation ($1,394,958): covering costs to courier lab samples and the distribution of items from the Strategic National Stockpile.

• Contingency ($5,000,000): around 10% is allocated for unanticipated costs or changing assumptions based on disease spread.

A separate COVID-19 Response account is established for these funds and other funds that may be appropriated later. A reporting protocol is established for tracking expenditures. DHEC is authorized to expend funds from other sources for its coronavirus initiatives.

DHEC is afforded emergency authority to address disease hotspots rapidly by reallocating supplies and employees to meet the demands of hospitals and other medical providers who receive Medicaid or other state funds that are located within specific areas of this state where COVID-19 infections are most concentrated.

The legislation provides temporary authority for retirees in the South Carolina Retirement System and the Police Officers Retirement System to be hired as part of the state’s response to COVID-19 without being subject to the maximum earnings limitations imposed upon retirees who return to covered employment.

After passing this legislation, the House of Representatives voted to adjourn to next meet at the call of the Speaker of the House. The Speaker announced that, unless circumstances change, he does not anticipate calling for House Members to return during the next two weeks, the week of March 23 and the week of March 30.