Coronavirus Update – useful links

This past week we have all had to adapt to the “new normal” of social distancing, working from home, school closures, empty grocery stores, and new changes being implemented every day. I want to commend everyone for how you are handling these changes, the way our community is looking out for one another is one of the positives I have seen come out of this situation. Our executive branch, state agencies, and the legislature are working in sync to make the best decisions for the citizens of South Carolina. I have provided many state agency resources below to keep you up to date on important information.

SCDHEC Funding: H. 4014

On Thursday, the House returned for a special session to vote on a $45 million supplemental funding package to provide SCDHEC the funds to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. We quickly acted on Governor McMaster’s request to make funds available for DHEC and less than 15 minutes after we unanimously passed the legislation, Governor McMaster signed it into law. This is just the first step in what will be a long journey of protecting the citizens of our state in combating COVID-19.

This legislation appropriates $45 million from our Contingency Reserve Fund that is saved for emergencies like this and transfers it to the Executive Budget Office for use by DHEC:

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

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

– Staff Support ($5,282,420): 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): Cost to quarantine and support indigent patients.

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

– Contingency ($5,000,000): We have built in about 10% for unanticipated costs or changing assumptions based on disease spread.

This package also instructs DHEC to provide oversight and reporting of their expenditures to the State’s Executive Budget Office. We will continue to monitor the situation and do everything we can to provide financial assistance to those affected by COVID-19.

Below are links to help you navigate the many questions you and your family have during these extraordinary times.

If you have any questions that cannot be answered from the resources below, please email me directly and I will work to connect you to the appropriate agency or personnel to help you!

Pray. Stay safe. Look out for one another.

Nathan

COVID-19 Resources:

For the latest up-to-date information, visit:

www.coronavirus.gov

For general questions about COVID-19, call the DHEC Care Line at 1-855-472-3432. Staff are answering calls from 8am to 6pm every day.

For SCDHEC updates, visit:

www.scdhec.gov/covid19

For the latest news from the Governor including his executive orders, visit:

www.governor.sc.gov

Free Online COVID-19 Screenings (all use promo code “COVID19”)

– MUSC- https://campaigns.muschealth.org/virtual-care/index.html

– Prisma Health – https://www.prismahealth.org/virtual-visit/

– McLeod Health – https://www.mcleodhealth.org/services/care/telehealth/

– Roper St. Francis – https://www.rsfh.com/virtualcare/

Department of Education – All public schools are closed through March 31st

https://ed.sc.gov/newsroom/covid-19-coronavirus-and-south-carolina-schools/

Commission on Higher Education – Gov. McMaster recommended that all colleges and universities allow students to continue classes online for the duration of the semester.

https://www.che.sc.gov/HOME/Coronavirus(COVID-19)Information.aspx

Department of Revenue – Tax extensions because of COVID-19

https://dor.sc.gov/emergencies

Small Business Association – Disaster assistance loans of up to $2 million for affected businesses

https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources

Department of Employment and Workforce – Collecting unemployment because of COVID-19

https://dew.sc.gov/covid-hub

Information on avoiding Coronavirus scams from FTC

https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2020/02/coronavirus-scammers-follow-headlines

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.

Honored to serve you and our community!

Today, I filed paperwork to again earn the opportunity to represent you and our community in Columbia!

Years ago, on the eve of my first election, I remember having just my Mom and Dad with me as we put stamps on hundreds of postcards (Karen was at home with JC who was born only weeks earlier). I turned to my parents and said “Somehow, I don’t think this is what it’s like the evening before an election for most winning campaigns.”

Since then, many of you have joined me in our grassroots effort to focus on our message of People, Not Politics. I am thankful for everyone involved in our previous campaigns who pledged their support by putting up signs in your yard or helped me put up larger signs at places of business and in highly visible areas in the district. Some of you have helped me meet voters in neighborhoods and even on the side of the road. Family members, friends, and local high school and college students have accompanied me as I knocked on doors asking for the vote.

With your help, we can do anything. I’ll continue to roll up my sleeves, stay positive, and get to work – regardless of any negative political attacks.

I’ll again rely on so many of you – many of our earliest supporters (along with ones I’ve met along the way) to help us earn another opportunity to represent you at the State House.

The past two election cycles we’ve seen some overwhelming success: 84%-16% in the Republican Primary of 2016 (the largest margin of victory in the entire state) and again two years later winning 70%-25%-5% in a three-way Republican Primary.

Once filing closes, I’ll update y’all on the campaign – and ask for your help again!

Please join us to help keep the focus on People, Not Politics!

Thank you,

Nathan

School Closings – Corona Virus Update

Governor McMaster, Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman, and State public health officials issued a briefing today on the COVID-19/Coronavirus. All South Carolina K-12 schools, universities, and colleges will be closed starting tomorrow until the end of the month. Other closures will likely be announced in the coming days.

The Department of Education is working to provide internet access to students so they can participate in virtual learning. Superintendent Spearman announced that 3,000 school buses will be equipped with Wi-Fi and encouraged school districts to use their buses to drop off instructional materials along bus routes.

It is important for families to know Summer Food Service will be available to feed all children 4–18 state-wide. Two meals a day will be provided to ALL students regardless of “reduced lunch” eligibility. I will provide more information on how that will be implemented as soon as it becomes available.

I want to thank the public officials who have worked around the clock to ensure the health and safety of our state. It is important to set an example during these uncertain times with the goal being to reduce the opportunity for an outbreak in our respective communities. Let’s look at other areas around the world who are suffering and do what we can now to prevent that from happening here at home. Right now, as a community, we have the opportunity to slow the spread of this virus down by social distancing and taking certain preventive measures. All of us should try to do our part to flatten the curve.

I have listed information below surrounding closures, safety measures, and updates on the COVID-19/Coronavirus. I will continue to update you as more information is provided.

COVID-19/Coronavirus Updates

This DHEC page provides real time updates on the confirmed number of cases in our state, details on monitoring and testing, and other safety measures.

SCDHEC Coronavirus Update: Lexington County case confirmed

For latest updates and more information on COVID-19, please visit SCDHEC website by clicking this link

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 14, 2020

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) is investigating six additional cases of the COVID-19 novel coronavirus. This brings the total number of cases statewide to 19.

As the state’s case counts expectedly increase, DHEC will publicly report information about facilities and locations that impacted communities should be aware of where special precautions may be needed.

“We emphasize the importance of practicing disease prevention measures and following recommendations for social distancing to protect our community as a whole,” said Dr. Linda Bell, State Epidemiologist.

Preliminary information for new cases

Three new cases are from Beaufort County. Two cases are close contacts of each other and had known exposure to a confirmed case of COVID-19 from another state. The other case has no know connection to any other case and recently traveled internationally. All three cases are currently isolated at home.
Two new cases are from Kershaw County who have no identified source of exposure. Both are currently hospitalized and isolated.

One new case is from Lexington County who is currently hospitalized and isolated. This individual has no known exposure to another case and no recent travel history to an impacted area.
Impacted facilities

The Lexington County case was a resident of Lexington Medical Center Extended Care Skilled Nursing Facility. The source of this patient’s exposure is being investigated. DHEC is working with the facility to identify all contacts and is providing guidance about infection control measures to prevent spread.

“We are working closely with this extended care facility to immediately investigate possible exposures in an effort to mitigate any potential spread at this facility,” said Dr. Bell. “The facility is completely cooperative as we work through our contact investigation and staff are abiding by DHEC’s and CDC’s recommended actions for helping to protect this higher-risk population.”

Yesterday, in conjunction with Governor McMaster’s state of emergency declaration, DHEC immediately began restricting visitation to nursing homes and assisted living facilities, with the exception of end-of-life situations, to help better safeguard this vulnerable population against COVID-19.

“Our top priorities remain preventing the spread of the disease and protecting the public health,” Bell said. “This includes working to control spread and measures that best protect all individuals. We encourage the public to maintain their daily routines of protecting against illness by practicing good hygiene and handwashing, and individuals with signs of illness are asked to take seriously the recommendation to stay home from school and work and not attend public gatherings.”

People with symptoms such as fever, cough or shortness of breath should call their healthcare provider. If an individual doesn’t have a primary care physician, several healthcare systems are providing telehealth services so residents may be evaluated by a healthcare provider without having to leave their homes. If it’s determined an individual should be tested, they will be instructed where to go to be tested. Individuals with minor illness are advised not to go to emergency departments.

Learn more about the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’s guidance for infection control in healthcare facilities here. For more information about COVID-19, visit scdhec.gov/COVID19 or the CDC website here.

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The Weekly Rewind – Week of March 10th

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 12, 2020

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.5201, the General Appropriation Bill, and H.5202, the joint resolution making appropriations from the Capital Reserve Fund, which together comprise the FISCAL YEAR 2020-2021 STATE GOVERNMENT BUDGET. The budget includes $9.6 billion in recurring state general fund revenue, after $629 million is transferred to the Tax Relief Trust Fund that provides for the residential property tax caps. The budget’s nonrecurring funds include $568 million in surplus funds estimated for Fiscal Year 2019-2020, $350 million in the Fiscal Year 2018-2019 Contingency Reserve Fund, and $162 million in Capital Reserve Funds.

$128 million in nonrecurring funds is used for providing one-time income tax credits that amount to $100 for each filer, and $120 million in recurring funds is devoted income tax relief by reducing the top income tax bracket by 0.2%.

The budget provides for an accelerated statewide farm-to-market road paving program to allow for paving on an estimated statewide total of 240 miles of these farm-to-market secondary roads within the state highway system, with projects in every county of the state. The paving program includes $77 million in nonrecurring funds allocated through the Department of Transportation and $23 million in nonrecurring funds distributed among the County Transportation Committees.

$50 million in nonrecurring funds is appropriated to begin a Disaster Relief and Resilience Reserve Fund that is to be used for disaster relief assistance, hazard mitigation and infrastructure improvements, and statewide resilience planning.

$10 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for the state FEMA match for Hurricane Dorian.

To allow South Carolina to take advantage of measures approved by the U.S. Congress to combat the coronavirus, the budget includes authorization for state agencies to receive funds from the federal government to be expended for COVID-19 preparedness and response.

$42 million in recurring funds is provided for a state employee recruitment and retention initiative that affords agencies flexibility in providing merit-based pay raises and bonuses. Funding for the initiative is equivalent to a 2% salary increase.

$38.9 million in recurring funds is included to cover the increased costs of operating the state’s health and dental insurance plans and to provide coverage for adult well visits with no additional monthly premium costs.

A provision is included to revise retirement benefits after returning to covered employment under the South Carolina Retirement System and the Police Officers Retirement System to establish a protocol that allows retirees to return to covered employment without being subject to the ten thousand dollar earnings limitation.

A total of $32 million from the General Fund and $4 million in Education Improvement Act funds is devoted to the 1% increase in the employer contribution rates for the South Carolina Retirement System and the Police Officers Retirement System that is in keeping with the schedule for addressing the unfunded liability facing the state’s pensions established in Act 13 of 2017.

$213 million in recurring funds is used to provide a teacher salary increase of $3,000 per teacher. The increase allows the state’s teacher pay to exceed the Southeastern average by $2,456 and places South Carolina in the top half of states in the nation for average teacher salary.

$26 million in recurring funds is appropriated to increase the base student cost to $2,500 per pupil.

In order to receive the increased funding for the base student cost, a school district must implement a policy that prohibits the use of cellphones and other personal electronic communication devices by students during direct classroom instructional time.

$76 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for instructional materials.

The budget provides for a statewide expansion of full day 4K early childhood education which includes $37.6 million in Education Improvement Act funds through the State Department of Education, $15 million in EIA funds through the First Steps program, and $2 million in EIA funds for early childhood assessments.

$3 million in Education Improvement Act funds is allocated to First Steps for the enhancement or expansion or evidence-based programs that serve at-risk children and their families from birth to age three.

$60 million in nonrecurring funds is allocated for capital improvements in the most economically challenged school districts.

Eligibility is expanded for the Rural School District and Economic Development Closing Fund established within the Department of Commerce to facilitate economic development and infrastructure improvements.

$10 million in recurring funds is allocated for school resource officers.

$5.5 million in Education Improvement Act funds is included to address S.C. Public Charter School District growth.

$2.6 million in recurring funds is devoted to the SC Virtual Schools Program.

$3 million in recurring funds, $22.5 million in nonrecurring funds, and $500,000 in lottery funds is provided for school buses. $7.9 million in funds from the Volkswagen Environmental Trust is allocated for purchasing school buses.

The budget includes a higher education tuition mitigation initiative in which a total of $47.6 million in additional recurring funds is distributed among the state’s institutions of higher learning. In order to retain these appropriations, the institutions must comply with provisions for freezing in-state tuition and mandatory fees during the 2020-2021 academic year.

The Capital Reserve Fund is devoted to capital needs at the state’s colleges and universities, with a total of $160 million in these nonrecurring funds allocated among the institutions for repairs, renovations, and maintenance of various facilities.

A provision is included to require all public institutions of higher learning to prepare a report listing any fee increases assessed in the current fiscal year and the reason for the increase. The report must be submitted by November 30 to the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

The Commission on Higher Education is charged with determining which of the state’s public institutions of higher learning are in compliance with the statutory provisions for required instruction on the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Federalist Papers. A report on compliance with this instruction on American founding documents must be submitted to the Chairman of the House Education and Public Works Committee and the Chairman of Senate Education Committee by November 1.

Full funding is provided for the LIFE, HOPE, and Palmetto Fellows higher education scholarship programs through $326 million in Education Lottery funds.

The Commission on Higher Education is afforded $28.4 million in lottery funds for need-based grants, representing an approximate 40% increase from last year.

$51 million in lottery funds is provided for tuition assistance through the Commission on Higher Education and the Board of Technical and Comprehensive Education

The Board of Technical and Comprehensive Education is afforded $17 million in lottery funds for SC Workforce Industry Needs scholarships that help provide full tuition at technical colleges for SC WINS recipients seeking degrees in industry sectors with critical workforce needs.

The Board of Technical and Comprehensive Education is provided $11 million in lottery funds for workforce scholarships and grants, $12.5 million in unclaimed prize money for high demand job skill training equipment.

$8 million in nonrecurring funds and $2.5 million in capital reserve funds is allocated to the Ready SC Program which provides worker training at the state’s technical colleges that is customized to the needs of new and expanding business and industry.

$10 million in recurring funds is provided for instructional programs at the state’s technical colleges.

$10 million in nonrecurring funds is appropriated for career and technology education centers which will assist school districts, two- and four-year colleges, and the business community in creating a new model for delivering career and technical education and dual enrollment opportunities.

The budget includes a provision establishing the Workforce and Education Data Oversight Committee to support the mission of the Coordinating Council for Workforce Development by collecting data from various state government agencies and institutions and analyzing the compiled data to improve the effectiveness of the state’s educational delivery system in providing economic opportunities.

The Department of Social Services, Vocational Rehabilitation Department, Denmark Technical College, and the State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education are charged with exploring the feasibility of developing and implementing a residential workforce development program for foster and disabled youth at least 18 years of age to provide higher educational and transitional employment opportunities.

$3.7 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for the Deal Closing Fund that the Department of Commerce uses to recruit new business to the state. The Department of Commerce is afforded $4 million in nonrecurring funds for the Locate SC Site Inventory, $1.5 million in nonrecurring funds for the SC Association for Community Economic Development, and $9 million in nonrecurring funds for the SC Technology and Aviation Center.

The Rural Infrastructure Authority is afforded $2 million in recurring funds for the Rural Infrastructure Fund and $4.3 million in nonrecurring funds for the Water and Sewer Regionalization Fund.

The Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism receives $1 million in recurring funds for tourism recovery advertising, $2 million in recurring funds and $1 million in nonrecurring funds for destination specific tourism marketing, $10 million in nonrecurring funds for film incentives, $1.1 million in nonrecurring funds for SC Association of Tourism Regions, $3 million in nonrecurring funds for state parks revitalization, $1.7 million in nonrecurring funds for the SC Aquarium, and $10 million in nonrecurring funds to rebuild the state’s welcome centers.

The Department of Transportation receives $10 million in nonrecurring funds for upgrades to the state’s rest areas.

The State Ports Authority is afforded $1 million in nonrecurring funds for the Jasper Ocean Terminal Port Facility Infrastructure Fund and $200, 00 in nonrecurring funds for a Port of Georgetown engineering study.

The Division of Aeronautics receives $2 million for airport improvement projects.

The Department of Archives and History receives $3.7 million in nonrecurring funds for community development grants, $1.5 million in nonrecurring funds for historic preservation, $1 million in nonrecurring funds for the SC Revolutionary Wary Sestercentennial Commission, $100,000 in nonrecurring funds for the African American Heritage Commission’s Greenbook of SC.

The State Museum is provided $3.7 million to begin the second phase of its exhibit renovations.

The Arts Commission is afforded $1 million in recurring funds for community arts development, $1 million in nonrecurring funds for arts organization facilities upgrades, and $500,000 in nonrecurring funds for community arts development and education grants.

The Department of Agriculture is appropriated $1.1 million in recurring funds for federal hemp farming compliance and $630,000 in nonrecurring funds for hemp testing laboratory equipment.

Clemson PSA receives $1.1 million in recurring funds and SC State receives $802,600 in recurring funds for their extension programs.

The Forestry Commission is provided $1 million in nonrecurring funds for firefighting equipment.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control receives $1 million in recurring funds for the additional newborn screenings of Dylan’s Law, $5 million in recurring funds for salary increases for critical position retention, $997,000 in recurring funds for vaccine funding for disease control response, $1 million in recurring funds for hazardous waste emergency response, $1.95 million in recurring funds for the air quality program, $1 million in recurring funds for ocean outfalls, and $2.2 million in nonrecurring funds for its nursing program expansion.

The Department of Health and Human Services is afforded $47.3 million in recurring funds for Medicaid maintenance of effort to address program cost growth, $13.9 million in recurring funds for the community long term care census and assistance to the CLTC program that allows aging and disabled individuals to receive care in their communities instead of nursing homes and other institutional settings, $7.9 million in recurring funds for healthcare provider reimbursement rates, $6.7 million in recurring funds for disproportionate share hospital allotment increase, $492,000 in recurring funds for the SC Office of Rural Health, $150,000 in nonrecurring funds for cervical cancer awareness, $7.4 million in nonrecurring funds for the Medicaid Management Information System, and $1.7 million in nonrecurring for medical contracts.

The budget includes a provision for the Department of Health and Human Services to transfer $1 million to the Medical University of South Carolina Hospital Authority to develop a comprehensive approach to advancing the awareness, detection, treatment, and scientific knowledge of sickle cell disease and trait within South Carolina. The MUSC Hospital Authority is authorized to partner with independent research entities to advance curative therapies for sickle cell disease and trait and is authorized to endow one or more nationally leading academic research centers with a research chair named the “Rena N. Grant Endowed Chair for Hematology” in furtherance of this goal. Additionally, to improve the quality of care provided to sickle cell patients, the authority is charged with performing statewide cultural competency training in all hospitals, including urgent care centers, in this state in order to educate and increase the awareness of health care professionals that are most likely to treat sickle cell patients on the symptoms and stigma associated with sickle cell disease and trait, especially pain relief.

Funding is continued for the Rural Health Initiative partnership between the Department of Health and Human Services and the University of South Carolina School of Medicine which includes an emphasis on rural residency placement and infrastructure improvements in underserved areas. $2 million in recurring funds is provided to enhance Telemedicine operations and $5 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for infrastructure.

As part of the Rural Health Initiative, the South Carolina Center for Rural and Primary Healthcare is charged with studying how to develop a coordinating system for mobile health clinics operating within the state to ensure that they are serving the entire state, including rural and underserved areas.

The Department of Mental Health is afforded $5 million in recurring funds for inpatient services, $7.98 million in recurring funds for workforce sustainability initiatives, $600,000 in recurring funds for school mental health services, $625,897 in recurring funds for the sexually violent predator treatment program, $46.8 million in nonrecurring funds for VA nursing homes certification state match, and $400,000 in recurring funds for emergency department telepsychiatry.

The budget includes a mental health crisis stabilization initiative which provides for the Department of Mental Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Health and Environmental Control, Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services, and all other relevant agencies coordinate their efforts to ensure that the statewide system for the delivery of mental health services

The Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services is charged with creating pilot programs with rural community-based nonprofits to provide counseling services to combat the opioid crisis. DAODAS is authorized to create a trust fund, which may receive donations from public and private sources, that is to be used to award grants to rural community-based nonprofits.

The Department of Social Services receives $14 million for child welfare efforts which includes staff equity increases, case worker staffing, increased Group Home Board Payments, and increased Foster Family Board Payments. $2.6 million is provided for adult advocacy staff and emergency stabilization beds.

The Department of Disabilities and Special Needs is afforded $10.1 million for various rate increases and $2 million for the Greenwood Genetic Center for Autism Research.

The Department of Corrections receives $100 million in nonrecurring funds for security and prison safety equipment upgrades, $7.5 million for fire alarm replacement, $9 million in recurring funds for recruitment and retention, $9 million in recurring funds for critical need health services positions, $5 million in recurring funds for the Hepatitis C treatment program, $3 million in recurring funds for the expansion of the gang enforcement security team, and $3 million in recurring funds and $1 million in nonrecurring funds for long term programming and reentry needs.

The Department of Juvenile Justice is afforded $5 million in nonrecurring funds for safety and security upgrades and $9.8 million in nonrecurring funds for security updates and renovations at the Broad River facility.

The Judicial Department is afforded $5 million in nonrecurring funds for case management modernization and $1.4 million in nonrecurring funds for its digital courtroom recorder project.

The Attorney General’s Office is provided $1.6 million for crime victim compensation funding.

$1 million in recurring funds and $2.5 million in nonrecurring funds is appropriated for Circuit Solicitor Prosecution Case Management System and IT infrastructure.

Indigent Defense is afforded $2.8 million for Criminal Justice System Workload Parity.

The budget emphasizes salary increases for law enforcement officers across multiple agencies.

The State Law Enforcement Division is afforded $1.8 million in recurring and $1.5 million in nonrecurring funds for technology equipment.

$2.3 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for local law enforcement grants through the Department of Public Safety. $1 million in recurring funds is provided for DPS vehicle replacement.

The Department of Motor Vehicles is afforded $5 million to modernize its database and $5 million for salary adjustments and other employee retention initiatives.

The budget includes an $11.6 million increase in recurring funds for the Local Government Fund that is consistent with the revised approach for sending revenue to political subdivisions established in Act 84 of 2019.

A budget provision precludes counties from obtaining the tax relief offered for solar panels and other renewable energy equipment by excluding this renewable energy resource property from county property tax collection.

$2 million in recurring and $5 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for Conservation Bank Trust grants.

The State Library is afforded $1 million in recurring funds for Aid to County Libraries, increasing the per capita distribution from $2.00 to $2.25.

The State Election Commission receives $9.3 million in nonrecurring funds for completion of the new voting system.

The Adjutant General is afforded $2 million for armory revitalization and $7.5 million for the Aiken Readiness Center.

The Department of Administration is appropriated $1.5 million for statewide employee recruiting and retention initiatives, $2.5 million recurring and $8.1 million nonrecurring for the SC Enterprise Information System, and $5 million for state-owned building capital needs.

The budget enhances funding for the constitutional reserve accounts that the state uses to cope with revenue shortfalls. An additional $13.6 million is used to fully fund the Capital Reserve Fund. $122 million is provided for the General Reserve Fund, which exceeds the constitutionally-required $34 million contribution.

The House made appointments to a conference committee to address its differences with the Senate on S.601, a bill SUBJECTING EMPLOYEES OF RESIDENTIAL CHILD CARE FACILITIES TO CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECK REQUIREMENTS.

The House made appointments to a conference committee to address its differences with the Senate on S.76, a bill that makes provisions for EXTENDING THE ENERGY EFFICIENT MANUFACTURED HOMES INCENTIVE PROGRAM for five additional years.

The Weekly Rewind – Week of March 3rd

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 6, 2020

The House of Representatives and the Senate adopted the conference committee report on S.16, legislation that relates to EMERGENCY REFILLS OF PRESCRIPTIONS BY PHARMACISTS, and the bill was enrolled for ratification. Current law provides authority for pharmacists to dispense an emergency prescription refill of up to a ten-day supply of a medication once within a twelve-month period. The bill increases the maximum amount of a medication that may be dispensed for an emergency prescription refill to a fourteen-day supply. If the qualifying medication is packaged in a way that it is not possible to dispense a fourteen-day supply, the pharmacist may dispense up to a thirty-day supply.

The House returned S.635 to the Senate with amendments. The legislation authorizes the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue “DRIVERS FOR A CURE” SPECIAL LICENSE PLATES to support medical research that combats cancer. Proceeds from the plates must be distributed evenly between the Medical University of South Carolina Hollings Cancer Center and the Duke Cancer Institute. The legislation also authorizes the issuance of AIR MEDAL SPECIAL LICENSE PLATES to those who have been awarded the medal in the course of their military service.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4663, legislation AUTHORIZING PHARMACISTS TO ADMINISTER FLU VACCINES TO CHILDREN YOUNGER THAN TWELVE YEARS OLD in accordance with a protocol issued by the Board of Medical Examiners upon recommendation of the Joint Pharmacist Administered Vaccines Committee. The legislation builds upon current provisions that authorize pharmacists to administer the influenza vaccine, without a physician’s order, to those who are at least twelve years old.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4776, a bill addressing RESTRICTIONS ON REPRESENTING PARTIES BEFORE THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION IMPOSED UPON FORMER COMMISSIONERS AND PSC EMPLOYEES. The legislation prohibits representing a party in a Public Service Commission proceeding for a period of four years, in the case of a former commissioner, and a period of one year, in the case of a former PSC employee.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4724, a joint resolution establishing a temporary COMMITTEE TO STUDY CERTAIN ISSUES AFFECTING VETERANS that is charged with examining the prevalence and root causes of veteran homelessness in South Carolina. The committee’s study must address such issues as: the approximate number of homeless veterans in the state; how many of South Carolina’s veterans have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); the availability of services for the state’s most economically disadvantaged veterans; and, reasons why traditional Veterans Affairs Services are not alleviating homelessness, particularly with regard to job placement services. The committee is composed of: three members of the Senate, appointed by the President of the Senate; three members of the House of Representatives, appointed by the Speaker of the House; and, the Secretary of the South Carolina Department of Veterans’ Affairs or his designee. The legislation requires the committee to submit its report to both houses of the General Assembly and to the Governor by the end of 2021 and provides for the committee to dissolve after this deadline.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4694, a bill EASING SCHOOL BUS TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS. The legislation revises the blanket prohibition that makes it unlawful for a school bus to pass another school bus by establishing an exception which provides that a school bus may pass another school bus on a multilane highway. The legislation also eliminates a provision that sets maximum speed limits for school buses.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4454, a bill that revises the criminal offense that applies to drivers ENDANGERING EMERGENCY SERVICES PERSONNEL at accident scenes so that tow truck operators responding to emergency incidents are included among the emergency services personnel.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4938, a bill addressing EXEMPTIONS FROM ELECTRONIC PRESCRIPTION REQUIREMENTS FOR CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES included in Schedules II, III, IV, and V. The legislation adds to the electronic prescription requirements exemptions list: a practitioner who writes a prescription for a controlled substance included in Schedules II through V that does not exceed a five-day supply for the patient; and, a practitioner who issues an oral authorization in the case of an emergency situation. The legislation revises an existing exemption that addresses hospital discharges so that it also applies to state mental health facilities. Another existing exemption is revised so that it also applies to controlled substances administered in a home infusion pharmacy.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4669, a bill that narrows the exemption from ELECTRONICALLY FILING DEATH CERTIFICATES by removing from the exemption physicians who certify fewer that twelve deaths per year and funeral homes that perform fewer than twelve funerals per year. By subjecting these individuals to requirements for the electronic filing of death certificates, only those who act, without compensation, as a funeral director on behalf of a deceased family member or friend remain covered by the exemption from electronic filing.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4937, a bill revising provisions for CHARITABLE RAFFLES. The legislation makes revisions to provisions authorizing raffles conducted by nonprofit organizations that include: allowing charitable raffles to continue by eliminating the upcoming sunset date when these provisions are set to expire; increasing prize amounts; consolidating reporting requirements; authorizing a nonprofit organization to compensate members for services rendered in a fundraising event that may include raffle costs related to entertainment, such as the costs of a disc jockey, band, auctioneers, support staff, waiters, bartenders, and wait staff utilized to conduct the fundraising event; and removing a prohibition so that raffle funds may be used for the provision of athletic facilities and equipment.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4963, a bill relating to ALCOHOL SAMPLES. The legislation establishes a protocol that allows a producer or wholesaler to furnish samples of wines, cordials, and distilled spirits to a retailer.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4710, a bill to strengthen provisions enacted last year as updates to the Youth Access to Tobacco Prevention Act and public school tobacco-free campus policies that take VAPING into account. The legislation also applies Clean Indoor Air Act restrictions to vaping.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4800, a bill REAUTHORIZING THE JOINT CITIZENS AND LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE ON CHILDREN through 2030.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4078, a bill that revises requirements for the ELECTRONIC SUBMISSION OF REPORTS to the General Assembly so that these requirements also apply to reports that are required to be sent to a legislative standing committee or other committee created by the General Assembly. The legislation implements a recommendation arising from the House Legislative Oversight Committee’s study of the South Carolina Commission on Indigent Defense.

The House gave Special Order status to H.5201, the General Appropriation Bill, and H.5202, the joint resolution making appropriations from the Capital Reserve Fund, so that consideration of the FISCAL YEAR 2020-2021 STATE GOVERNMENT BUDGET is set to begin on Monday, March 9.

Recognizing the Chapin Eagles 2019 5A Competitive Cheer State Champions

Trying something new : Podcasting (is that a word?)


(Click photo to hear podcast)

While my website may be more than 10 years old, I try to stay up-to-date with best ways to share information in this over-connected world we live in.

11 years ago, I was one of the first SC elected officials to get on Twitter . Also, around that time, I gave live updates during the floor debate of the House budget . So I’m not afraid to try new things or be a trailblazer!

Recently, I started something at my paying job. I decided to start recording podcasts.

I’m debating if I should take podcasting into the political realm as well. You can listen to my latest “episode” by clicking here . Let me know if you’d like me to do something similar for politics as well!

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

Since I’m not a medical expert, I’ll leave my commentary out of this and simply share the link to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.