Did you know? 45 states allow “Open Carry”.

Next week, the House Judiciary Committee will debate H. 3096 . Simply put, the bill as currently written, would allow gun owner who have training to carry handguns in public.

This topic generates a lot of debate from both sides of the aisle and I’m curious to your thoughts?

Some think the bill doesn’t go far enough – asking “why should our 2nd amendment be restricted by having a training requirement”?

Others think the bill would lead to the “Wild West” and think we have too many guns on the street already.

During my research I’ve learned many things. One bit of information is the title of this post that means only 5 states do NOT allow Open Carry. That puts us (SC) with California, New York, Illinois and Florida. I also learned that technically a SC resident can OPEN CARRY a “long gun” (ie, rifle, shotgun) currently. Who knew?

Email me at NathanBallentine@schouse.gov and let me know your thoughts. Remember, if you’re a constituent, please put the word CONSTITUENT in the subject line and let me know your address so I know how those in our community feel.

Behind the Scenes: From the Floor of the State House

The Weekly Rewind – Week of February 16th

HOUSE WEEK IN REVIEW
February 19, 2021

The House approved, and the governor signed, S. 1 the “South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act,” which delays a pregnant woman from having an abortion until a doctor first checks her for a fetal heartbeat using ultrasound equipment. She may view this ultrasound while it is being performed.

Any doctor violating this requirement commits a felony punishable by a ten thousand dollar fine or imprisonment for up to two years, or both. These penalties do not apply in medical emergencies, or when no heartbeat is detected.

Once a fetal heartbeat is detected, no abortion can be conducted unless the pregnancy is the result of a rape or incest event, the pregnant woman’s life is at risk, or a fetal anomaly has presented, and the fetus has gestated for less than 20 weeks. Doctors are required to report rape or incest events to their county sheriff within 24 hours of performing those abortions. Doctors also have to tell pregnant women that they are making a report to the county sheriff. Doctors have to document these conversations.

Nothing in this Act prohibits the sale, use, prescription, or administration of any drug, device, or chemical for contraceptive purposes.

No pregnant women can be criminally prosecuted for violations of this Act. They are instead able to file a civil cause of action for Act violations, and recover their damages, attorney fees, and costs.

The House of Representatives concurred in Senate amendments to H. 3707, a joint resolution making appropriations for the state’s public health response to the COVID-19 virus, including vaccinations. The bill was ratified (R 4).

Under the legislation, a total of $208 million is appropriated from the Contingency Reserve Fund. $63 million is allocated to the Department of Health and Environmental Control and $45 million is allocated to the Medical University of South Carolina to allow DHEC and MUSC, in consultation, cooperation, and collaboration with the South Carolina Hospital Association, the South Carolina Primary Care Association and any other Federally Qualified Heath Centers, and other appropriate entities and associations, to: (1) expand statewide vaccination capacity; and (2) continue to administer the statewide COVID-19 testing plan. The use of these funds includes costs related to COVID-19 such as vaccination, continued testing and contact tracing, personal protective equipment and medical supplies, personnel costs, education and marketing campaigns, quarantine, transportation and storage, and mobile health units. Participation in contact-tracing programs shall be solely on a voluntary basis, and data collection must comply with confidentiality requirements and be limited to public health information. DHEC, in coordination with MUSC, the South Carolina Hospital Association, the South Carolina Center for Rural and Primary Healthcare, and other relevant stakeholders, shall implement a plan to reach rural and underserved populations who are eligible to be vaccinated. $100 million of the Contingency Reserve Fund appropriation is deposited in a COVID-19 Vaccine Reserve account that is created to pay for administering COVID-19 vaccines, addressing costs associated with such issues as staffing, facility rental, security, traffic control, storage, transportation, and mobile health units. Of these reserve account funds, up to $75 million is allocated to hospitals, or political subdivisions partnering with them, and up to $25 million is allocated to other COVID-19 vaccination providers that are enrolled and activated by DHEC, or political subdivisions partnering with them. In approving expenses, DHEC must give priority to

hospitals and other providers with a high demand for the vaccine and the ability to administer the vaccine in high quantities. No reserve account funds may be released to any vaccine provider that is not offering vaccine appointments to the general public. On the first day of each month, the Executive Budget Office must provide a detailed accounting of vaccine reserve account funds in a report that is to be transmitted to the Governor and the General Assembly and made available on the Executive Budget Office website. Additionally, any recipient must provide an accounting of the expenditures to DHEC and the agency must post the accounting on its website.

The legislation provides that all vaccines received by the state must be allocated to the four DHEC public health regions in a per capita manner with considerations taken into account for such factors as poverty level, infection rates, age, and high risk populations. MUSC shall coordinate with DHEC and partner with local healthcare providers to ensure that gaps in statewide vaccination delivery are covered, with priority given to rural and underserved areas. Under the planning process, available vaccines must be administered to South Carolinians as rapidly as possible, to ensure that no doses are permitted to expire, and to position South Carolina favorably in the event that any future federal allocations to states may be based in part upon a state’s ability to administer the vaccine expeditiously. DHEC is charged with record-keeping responsibilities and daily reporting requirements to keep the public informed of vaccine availability, doses administered, and progress towards attaining the state’s vaccination goals.

The legislation includes temporary authority for a wide array of health care professionals to administer COVID-19 vaccines that includes retired physicians and nurses, students at medical schools and nursing schools, as well as licensed dentists and optometrists who have completed COVID-19 vaccine training. These temporary exemptions from professional scope of practice provisions are set to terminate when South Carolina is no longer under a declared public health emergency concerning COVID-19.

The House gave second reading to H. 3610. This bill would provide revised accountability measures available to the state Superintendent of Education for public schools and public school districts, with provisions for assistance and intervention.

The following definitions are used throughout the bill:

“Turnaround plan” outlines goals for a school or district’s educational improvement. Plans must have specific strategies for improving student achievement.

“Underperforming school,” means:

An elementary school or middle school where fewer than twenty-five percent of its students are at “ meets” or “exceeds expectations” on the English/language arts and mathematics SC READY assessment works or its successor.

A high school where fewer than twenty-five percent of its students receive a grade of “D” or better on the End of Course assessments in English and mathematics, or fewer than twenty-five percent of its students fail to achieve at least a “bronze” level on the career readiness assessment.

“Underperforming district” means a district in which sixty-five percent or more of the schools in the district are considered an “underperforming school” (as defined in the “underperforming school” definition, see above).

“Chronically underperforming” school:

An elementary school or middle school where fewer than twenty-five percent of its students are at “meets” or “exceeds expectations” on the English/language arts and mathematics SC READY assessment works or its successor assessment for three consecutive years. (Emphasis added)

A high school where fewer than twenty-five percent of its students receive a grade of “D” or better on the End of Course assessments in English and mathematics, or fewer than twenty-five percent of its students fail to achieve at least a “bronze” level on the career readiness assessment for three consecutive years. (Emphasis added)

The bill creates a tiered system for assistance, professional development, and monitoring. The Superintendent must annually report to the General Assembly about the system’s progress relating to assistance provided to schools.

Once a school and district is determined to be underperforming, the State Department of Education must immediately place the school and district into a tiered status and provide assistance. The legislative delegation, parents, and students must be informed of the rating, and a public meeting must be held. The district must create a turnaround plan containing specific and measurable goals, and broad-based community input is required. The school and district’s strategic plan must be reviewed and revised. After the local school board adopts the plan, SDE must also approve. Plans must be posted on the SDE, district, and school websites, and parents must be informed of the school or district rating and turnaround plan. The Superintendent may seek a state-of-education emergency declaration for a school or school district. The state board must approve the declaration.

The following are the reasons and steps for the respective measures:

School Takeover

· Chronic underperformance, denial of accreditation, or an insufficient turnaround plan (or district refusal to submit a turnaround plan).

· Notification to the Governor, General Assembly, local board and superintendent.

· Assume management of the school.

· Appeal to administrative law court is available.

· State Board may end the emergency if the school sustains improvement for at least three years.

District Takeover

· Underperformance for three consecutive years or for five out of the last seven years. A year in which a report card was not issued shall be disregarded and not included in determining whether a declaration is authorized.

· Accreditation denial, turnaround plan is insufficient or fiscal emergency.

· Notification to the Governor, General Assembly, local board and superintendent.

· Assume management of the district.

· Local board is dissolved, Superintendent assumes authority and responsibility of the district.

· If there is a sustained improvement for at least three years, the State Board may appoint an interim local board. The interim board must serve for a minimum of three years.

· After the emergency, SDE shall develop a plan and timeline for returning management to a local board.

· Fiscal authority (taxing and millage) is transferred to the county council until the emergency is over.

The House approved and sent to the Senate H. 3017, a bill that would provide that two-year institutions of higher learning and technical colleges be among institutions of higher learning whose students may be eligible for Palmetto Fellows Scholarships. Currently the Palmetto Fellows scholarship is available only to students attending an eligible four-year institution in South Carolina. The bill specifically deletes the current exclusion of two-year and technical institutions. Moreover, a student who uses the Palmetto Fellows scholarship to attend eligible two-year institution shall receive a maximum of four continuous semesters and may continue to use the scholarship to attend an eligible four-year institution.

The House approved (as amended) H. 3501, which creates a special commemorative license plate for the two hundred fiftieth (250th) year anniversary of the American Revolution. The biennial fee for this commemorative license plate is the regular license plate fee. The South Carolina Revolutionary War Sestercentennial Commission shall submit the design, emblem, seal, logo, or other symbols it desires to be used for this special license plate to the DMV for approval. The bill exempts this special plate from the requirement of a $6,800 upfront fee from the sponsoring individual or organization before seeking issuance of the plate. The bill’s effective date is January 1, 2022. This would provide sufficient time to design and implement the plate. The production of this plate will cease January 1, 2033.

The House approved and sent to the Senate H. 3689 (regarding the international registration plan). This bill would provide that if a commercial motor vehicle is registered through the international registration plan and is operated under a United States Department of Transportation (US DOT) number assigned to a person other than the vehicle’s owner, then the person to whom the US DOT number is assigned may register the commercial motor vehicle by submitting the appropriate application and fees to the Department of Motor Vehicles. This bill codifies existing agency procedures.

The House approved (as amended) and sent to the Senate H. 3029, a bill that would require the Midlands Technical College Enterprise Campus Authority to file certain documents with the Fiscal Accountability Authority regarding the sale of surplus property. The exemption provided only applies to the sale of the college enterprise authority property when the sale price is not less than market value and the transfer of title is by quitclaim deed. This bill would permanently authorize Act 189 of 2018 and repeal the sunset provision.

The House approved and sent to the Senate H. 3900, a joint resolution that went without reference. The resolution authorizes certain podiatrists to administer premeasured doses of the COVID 19 vaccine. The bill provides for podiatrists who have successfully completed the COVID 19 training programs available through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

COVID-19 Resources and Helplines

COVID-19 Resources and Helplines:

Who is eligible to receive the COVID-19 Vaccine?

– Frontline healthcare workers

– Anyone 65+ years

– State/local government employees who perform COVID-19 vaccinations and testing in SC

– A full list of those qualified can be found here: https://scdhec.gov/covid19/covid-19-vaccine

– To understand who is getting vaccinated in SC by demographic, visit the NEW Vaccination Dashboard: https://scdhec.gov/covid19/covid-19-vaccination-dashboard

What are the numbers?

– Total Doses Given in South Carolina: 705,776

– Total People Vaccinated in South Carolina: 528,480

– People with 1 Vaccine dose: 527,691

– People with 2 Vaccine doses: 177,126

(Numbers updated Feb. 18th)


Where can I get vaccinated?

– Find a vaccine location near you here: https://vaxlocator.dhec.sc.gov


When will I be eligible to be vaccinated?

– Currently, South Carolina is in Phase 1A of the vaccination process.

– DHEC plans to transition to Phase 1B by early Spring.

– South Carolina obtains vaccinations from the Federal government, meaning the following chart is subject to change based on availability of vaccines. To see the vaccine flowchart, visit: https://scdhec.gov/covid19/covid-19-vaccine

Additional information:

– DHEC Care Line: 1-855-472-3432

– COVID-19 Vaccine Information Line: 1-866-365-8110

– Find a vaccine location near you here: https://vaxlocator.dhec.sc.gov

– Information about qualifying for SBA loans: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program#section-header-0

– Mental health/substance abuse services related to COVID-19: 1-844-724-6737

– For other COVID-19 resources, visit the Accelerate SC website: https://accelerate.sc.gov

– To see if you may qualify for unemployment, visit: https://dew.sc.gov

– For updates from the Governor, visit https://governor.sc.gov

Outside the State House: Home Office

Want to continue to give y’all a behind the scenes look at your Representative. Over the years, we’ve had thousands of new residents in Chapin, Dutch Fork and Irmo, and I want to let you see a side of me in 2021 you may not see normally. These clips will be about a minute long. No idea what the next one will be. Just thought might be good to see the “normal” side of me. I’m not all suit/tie and State House 24/7/365.

Earlier videos:

Outside the State House: F3 Lake Murray

Outside the State House: Movement Mortgage

Outside the State House: White Tail Deer Hunting

Irmo Chamber of Commerce Monthly Meeting: Feb 10th

February Chamber Luncheon
Wednesday, February 10th
11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
St. Andrews Presbyterian Church
6952 St. Andrews Rd., Columbia, SC 29212

This month we will welcome our friend, Cynthia Giles with Cut Throat Marketing to our podium to discuss the ins and outs of using social media to promote your business in this competitive marketplace for 2021. .

THANK YOU to our Diamond partner at Lexington Medical Center for presenting this event. Cut Throat Marketing will be providing our AV and the live stream will be facilitated by Raynet Technologies!

PLEASE NOTE: We have a limited number of tickets available for this event so that we can maintain social distancing guidelines inside the fellowship hall. Masks are required for entry into the event and will be required at all times except when eating or drinking. Additionally, Oxi-Thyme Sanitation Service, one of our newest Marketing partners, will sanitize and disinfect the room prior to the event using EPA registered Hydrogen Peroxide.

Tickets are $10 and all tickets to the event MUST be purchased in ADVANCE with a credit/debit card. If you are a Marketing, Emerald or Diamond Partner, Law Enforcement or First Responder OR a Lunch Card Holder, please email Kerry to reserve your lunch.

No cash or walk ups will be accepted.

We apologize for the inconvenience and abundance of rules but we’re just trying to be responsible while continuing to grow this amazing and supportive Irmo Business Community!!

The Weekly Rewind – Week of February 2nd

HOUSE WEEK IN REVIEW
February 5, 2021

The House approved and sent the Senate H. 3609, a joint resolution restoring teacher salary step increases that were suspended by Act 135 of 2020, enacted by the General Assembly due to financial uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 virus. The legislation appropriates $50 million dollars from the 2018-2019 Contingency Reserve Fund to provide for teacher step increases for the 2020-2021 School Year.

The House amended, passed and sent to the Senate H. 3589, a bill that would re-designate certain schools from their previous designation as a “schools of choice” to “schools of innovation.” This designation would relieve a school from following certain statutes, rules, and regulations in allowance and recognition of nontraditional approaches. The bill outlines the steps a school district must follow to achieve the status of exemption. In order to earn this exemption, a district must identify each law, regulation, and policy from which the school is requesting exemption. The bill would allow that public school districts may establish multiple (but a limited number) schools of innovation. (Districts may not name all schools in a district as a school of innovation). This has to be approved by a two-thirds vote of the local board and a two-thirds vote of the State Board of Education. Any change in a request that is pending approval by, or has been approved by, the State Board of Education must be made in the same manner as provided for initial requests. The designation must be renewed every four years through the same process as for the initial approval.

The House passed as amended and sent to the Senate H. 3613, revisions to the Read to Succeed Act. This bill (involving early literacy and numeracy screening assessment instruments) would amend the Read to Succeed Act (Act 284 of 2014) and contains most of the changes that were adopted last year by the House in the Omnibus Education Reform and H. 4761 of 2020. The bill would provide that the SC Department of Education shall approve no more than five reliable early literacy and numeracy screeners. A district would administer the universal screening process in the first “thirty days of the school year and repeat, if and only if, the student demonstrates literacy and numeracy deficiencies at midyear and at the end of the school year to determine student progression in reading and numeracy in kindergarten through third grade.” Waivers can be granted for alternative instruments.

In addition, the bill creates the South Carolina Reading Panel, and determines the composition, functions, and duties of the panel. Moreover, the bill establishes definitions concerning the universal screening processes used in public school districts for students experiencing academic or social-emotional difficulties and provides that all related screening tools must be capable of identifying students with dyslexia or other reading disorders. Reading interventions must be evidence-based, follow a multi-tiered system of support, and holds that professional development on reading practices be scientifically based. The bill clarifies that district reading plans must provide inappropriate in class interventions.

Also, regarding the Read to Succeed Office, the bill revises the requirements concerning coursework necessary for literacy add-on endorsements and revises requirements for professional development for certified reading/literacy coaches and literacy teachers. The coursework must be founded on scientifically based reading practices and evidence-based interventions, including how to use the data to identify struggling readers and inform instruction).
The bill also revises the requirements for screening and diagnostic assessments and interventions relating to mandatory student retention provisions of the Read to Succeed Act, to revise criteria for retention and exemptions from retention, to eliminate an appeals process, and to revise criteria for intensive instructional services and support provided to retained students. The bill would remove the requirement that reading/literacy coaches be employed in all elementary schools, revise requirements concerning the roles and functions of reading/literacy coaches, and provide certain reading and literacy support services to schools identified as having certain levels of lowest achievement on English/language arts summative assessments by third grade students. Section ten clarifies the roles and requirements of reading coaches. SDE will hire reading coaches for schools where more than one-third of third-grade students score at the lowest achievement level on SC READY. Reading coaches will be employees of the Department, but assigned to specific schools. The remaining schools may use state appropriated funds for reading coaches, reading interventionists (who can assist with instructing students), or scientifically-based reading professional development. The Department must monitor their spending, and schools that do not use the funds for these specified purposes will lose reading coach funding.

The House approved and sent the Senate H. 3586, a bill establishing a Department of Insurance Fraud Division. The legislation provides for the transfer of insurance fraud duties and obligations from the Attorney General’s Office and houses them in a new Fraud Division established within the Department of Insurance.

The House passed and sent the Senate H. 3222, a bill enabling the Department of Health and Environmental Control to suspend a waste tire processing facility from accepting waste tires when it is determined that the capacity at the facility is exceeded. In an effort to address concerns dealing with the incompliance of permitted capacity for recycling tire facilities, the bill outlines steps along with timeframes to allow a facility to come into compliance prior to being suspended. The bill also requires DHEC to maintain a list of facilities known as the Waste Tire Rebate Facility List. The Waste Tire Rebate Facility List shall include permitted waste tire processing facilities. In addition, DHEC has the ability to remove any facility whose permit has been revoked or suspended, until the permit has been reinstated.

The House amended, passed and sent H. 3071, a Joint Resolution that creates the Equine Industry Support Measures Study Committee. This Resolution examines the potential for further growth of the equine industry and the resulting economic impact. The committee shall study the potential for equine business growth in South Carolina, outlining steps to encourage growth, as well as identifying any barriers that exist and how to eliminate or reduce them. The committee is to compare South Carolina’s incentives and barriers to other Southeast states (as well as nationally). The study shall investigate any fees, assessments, reimbursements, as well as mills and feed. This seven-member study committee will include two members of the House of Representatives appointed by the chairman of the Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee; two members of the Senate appointed by the chairman of the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee; two members from the equine industry, with one appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives and one appointed by the President of the Senate, upon the recommendation of the South Carolina Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association; and the Commissioner of Agriculture, or his designee. The study committee shall provide a report outlining its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly by February 15, 2022. The study committee dissolves upon receipt of its report.

The House passed and sent to the Senate H. 3054, a bill relating to the Department of Natural Resources’ mailing requirements for the Notice of Suspension of Privileges. Currently, when licenses are suspended, the Notice of Suspension is sent by certified mail to ensure that the notice was received and acknowledged. This bill allows the department to mail notifications through the first class mail service. As a result, the change in this requirement provides a cost savings to the agency.

The House passed and sent the Senate H. 3056, a bill that implements recommendations from the House Legislative Oversight Committee’s 2018 study of the Department of Natural Resources to modernize statutes. As a result, the bill deletes outdated Department of Natural Resources commissions and fish and game clubs that are no longer part of the laws and practices of the Department. The bill also deletes language regarding Legislative Delegations appointing game warden for counties, such as, but not limited to, the Prestwood Lake Wildlife Refuge Board, Catawba-Wateree Fish and Game Commission, Cherokee Fish and Game Club, Darlington County Advisory Fish and Game Commission, and the Lee County Legislative Delegation to Protect Fish and Game in Lee County.

The House passed and sent the Senate H. 3059, a bill that repeals provisions relating to the authority of the Department of Natural Resources to issue Heritage Trust Revenue Bonds. In 2006, the General Assembly allowed the Department to issue bonds against the Heritage Trust Account. Those bonds that were issued are now retired and the authority to issue the bonds had a sunset date of 2008. This bill just deletes that authority language. This bill does not affect the Heritage Trust Fund, which is still in effect.

The House passed and sent to the Senate H. 3740, a local bill that went without reference. The bill relates to the Lancaster County Commission for Higher Education and would provide for the Commission’s receipt and administration of Lancaster county millage-derived funds, which must be set aside and used exclusively for the benefit of the University of South Carolina, Lancaster.

In addition, the bill would provide that the Dean of the University of South Carolina Lancaster must be an ex officio member of the commission. The bill also clarifies the commission’s role relating to the offering of post-secondary courses, removes certain archaic language, and requires the Commission to submit an annual report to Lancaster County Council.

The House approved and sent the Senate H. 3585, a bill implementing regular updates and revisions for Department of Insurance provisions.

The House approved and sent the Senate H. 3587, a bill providing a technical correction in reduction in insurance coverage provisions.

The Weekly Rewind – Week of January 26th

HOUSE WEEK IN REVIEW
January 29, 2021

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H. 3707, a joint resolution that would make appropriations for the state’s public health response to the COVID-19 virus, including vaccinations.

The House appropriated a total of $208 million from the Contingency Reserve Fund. The House allocated $63 million to the Department of Health and Environmental Control and $45 million to the Medical University of South Carolina to allow DHEC and MUSC, in consultation, cooperation, and collaboration with the South Carolina Hospital Association, the South Carolina Primary Care Association and any other Federally Qualified Heath Centers, and other appropriate entities and associations, to: (1) expand statewide vaccination capacity; and (2) continue to administer the statewide COVID-19 testing plan. The use of these funds includes costs related to COVID-19 such as vaccination, continued testing and contact tracing, personal protective equipment and medical supplies, personnel costs, education and marketing campaigns, quarantine, transportation and storage, and mobile health units. Participation in contact-tracing programs shall be solely on a voluntary basis, and data collection must comply with confidentiality requirements and be limited to public health information. DHEC, in coordination with MUSC, the South Carolina Hospital Association, the South Carolina Center for Rural and Primary Healthcare, and other relevant stakeholders, shall implement a plan to reach rural and underserved populations who are eligible to be vaccinated. $100 million of the Contingency Reserve Fund appropriation is deposited in a COVID-19 Vaccine Reserve account that is created to pay for administering COVID-19 vaccines, addressing costs associated with such issues as staffing, security, traffic control, storage, transportation, and mobile health units. Of these reserve account funds, up to $75 million is allocated to hospitals and up to $25 million is allocated to other COVID-19 vaccination providers that are enrolled and activated by DHEC. In approving expenses, DHEC must give priority to hospitals and other providers with a high demand for the vaccine and the ability to administer the vaccine in high quantities. No reserve account funds may be released to any hospital that is not offering vaccine appointments to the general public.

The legislation provides that all vaccines received by the state must be allocated to the four DHEC public health regions in a per capita manner with considerations taken into account for such factors as poverty level, infection rates, age, and high risk populations. MUSC shall coordinate with DHEC and partner with local healthcare providers to ensure that gaps in statewide vaccination delivery are covered, with priority given to rural and underserved areas. DHEC shall allocate vaccines so that they are distributed in a manner that ensures that each of its four public health regions shall receive a per capita allocation. Provisions are made for a COVID-19 Vaccine Regional Advisory Panel in each of the four public health regions to make recommendations to DHEC on vaccine deployment. Under the planning process, available vaccines must be administered to South Carolinians as rapidly as possible, to ensure that no doses are permitted to expire, and to position South Carolina favorably in the event that any future federal allocations to states may be based in part upon a state’s ability to expeditiously administer the vaccine. DHEC is charged with record-keeping responsibilities and daily reporting requirements to keep the public informed of vaccine availability, doses administered, and progress towards attaining the state’s vaccination goals.
The legislation includes temporary authority for a wide array of health care professionals to administer COVID-19 vaccines that includes retired physicians and nurses, students at medical schools and nursing schools, as well as licensed dentists and optometrists who have completed COVID-19 vaccine training. These temporary exemptions from professional scope of practice provisions are set to terminate when South Carolina is no longer under a declared public health emergency concerning COVID-19.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H. 3194, a bill addressing the future of Santee Cooper. The legislation makes provisions for continuing negotiations on a possible sale of this state-owned electric utility and makes provisions for governance reform at the South Carolina Public Service Authority.

Consideration of the Sale of All or Part of the Public Service Authority
The legislation authorizes the sale of the Public Service Authority and establishes a procedure for considering and approving proposals to sell all of Santee Cooper or certain PSA components. A special legislative committee, composed of three members from each house of the General Assembly, is created to consider offers for the sale of some or all of the assets of the Public Service Authority and to conduct further negotiations on the terms and conditions of any offers. The committee’s recommendation and report may be accepted and approved by each house in the same manner conference committee reports are accepted and approved. Upon approval by the General Assembly, the report must also be transmitted to the Governor for approval. No purchase offer may be accepted that is contingent upon the reenactment of the Base Load Review Act or the adoption of comparable provisions. The special legislative committee is set to expire after ten years.

Alternate Public Service Authority Governance
The legislation makes provisions for governance reform at the Public Service Authority. The legislation provides for the directors of the Public Service Authority to be approved with the advice and consent of the entire General Assembly, rather than the Senate, alone. The legislation revises the composition of the PSA Board, requiring that two of the directors from the congressional districts must have substantial work experience within the operations of electric cooperatives or substantial experience on an electric cooperative board, including one of the two who must have substantial experience within the operations or board of a transmission or generation cooperative. The board shall also have one director recommended to the Governor by the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance to represent industrial customers of the authority, and one director recommended to the Governor by the governing authority of the authority’s largest wholesale customer; provided however, these two directors may not be an employee, counsel, or board member of a customer served by the authority. In making appointments to the Board of Directors, the Governor and the General Assembly in its advice and consent capacity must give due consideration to race, gender, and other demographic factors to assure nondiscrimination, inclusion, and representation to the greatest extent possible of all segments of the population of this state. The legislation provides for staggered five-year terms for board members. Members shall not serve more than two consecutive terms. The following shall be nonvoting ex officio members of the board of directors: (1) the Chair of the Board of Central Electric Cooperative; (2) the Secretary of Commerce or his designee; (3) a designee of the Chairs of the Senate Judiciary Committee and the House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee. The legislation establishes qualifications criteria for board members and includes provisions to preclude conflicts of interest. Directors shall owe a fiduciary duty of care to the state of South Carolina during their service. The legislation provides for the establishment of subcommittees of the board of directors to include Finance and Audit, Public Information, Water Services and Resource Management, Generation and Power Supply Planning, and Executive and Governance. The Public Service Authority shall explore joint cost-saving opportunities through joint agreements with a privately-owned electrical utility for the purpose of advancing system economy and reliability and generating cost savings to its customers. The legislation makes provisions for the PSA to update its reform plan submitted under to Act 95 of 2019. The Public Service Authority must submit an integrated resource plan for review by the Public Service Commission. A revised process is established for approving PSA rate increases, with appeals of board decisions on rate increases made to the South Carolina Supreme Court. The Public Service Commission Office of Regulatory Staff is afforded authority to investigate the Public Service Authority. The Public Service Authority must apply to the Public Service Commission for approval of the proposed issuance of long-term revenue obligation securities representing new debt. All major utility facilities proposed by the Public Service Authority must be submitted to the Public Service Commission for approval.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3602, a Joint Resolution giving individuals, notwithstanding any professional scope of practice or unauthorized practice of law, the authority to administer premeasured doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. With conditions, the authorized individuals are unlicensed personnel with current certification by the South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners; students of an accredited medical school, physician assistant school or program, or a nursing school or program with appropriate instruction; Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses who have retired, become inactive, or whose licenses have lapsed within the last five years; Physicians and Physician Assistants who have retired, become inactive, or whose licenses have lapsed within the last five years; dentists licensed in good standing by the South Carolina State Board of Dentistry and optometrists who have successfully completed the following COVID-19 training programs. The joint resolution also outlines that South Carolina-licensed Advanced Practice Registered Nurses, Physician Assistants, and Registered Nurses in good standing may delegate COVID-19 vaccine dose administration to any individual authorized by South Carolina law to administer vaccines or identified in this provision as authorized to administer COVID-19 vaccines. This Resolution is no longer effective when South Carolina is no longer under a declared public health emergency concerning COVID-19.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H. 3608 , a joint resolution addressing a funding shortfall for the Public Charter School District as a result of the General Assembly enacting Act 135 of 2020 due to financial uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 virus. The legislation appropriates $9 million dollars from the 2018-2019 Contingency Reserve Fund to the Department of Education for distribution to the Public Charter School District, including the Charter Institute at Erskine, for per pupil funding for the 2020-2021 School Year. The legislation provides that, in the current fiscal year, a charter school sponsor may, but is not required, approve charter applications that meet statutory requirements.

The House passed, as amended, and sent to the Senate H. 3612, the “South Carolina Computer Science Education Initiative Act.” This bill would provide for the expansion and enhancement of computer science education in public high schools through the creation of a statewide computer science education plan. The bill recognizes the value in expanding “computer science learning experiences to all students because computer science supports literacy, math, problem-solving, and technological skills, and advances productivity in every discipline, industry, and profession.” An amendment was adopted that creates a specific career pathways system for information technology (aligning with state and regional workforce needs as determined by the Department of Commerce). In addition, elementary grades are to have the opportunity to learn coding and computer programming. The goals include increased access for computer science education opportunities in rural areas and methods to increase the number of computer science educators. At least every five years, a cyclical review will be conducted of grade appropriate standards for computer science, computational thinking, and computer coding for grades kindergarten through grade twelve. Beginning with the 2022-2023 school year, the bill would require that each public school offer at least one computer science course that meets certain criteria. Subsequently, the Department of Education shall develop guidelines for use by school districts and schools outlining the educational and degree requirements appropriate for computer science teachers. SDE shall promulgate regulations to create certification pathways for computer science teachers. The Department of Education is annually to issue a report to the General Assembly.

The House amended and gave second reading approval to H. 3609, a joint resolution restoring teacher step salary increases that were suspended by Act 135 of 2020, enacted by the General Assembly due to financial uncertainties caused by the COVID-19 virus. The legislation appropriates $50 million dollars from the 2018-2019 Contingency Reserve Fund to provide for teacher step increases for the 2020-2021 School Year.

The House approved and sent the Senate H. 3691, a bill to adopt revised Volume 1A and 14A, Code f Laws of South Carolina, 1976, to the extent of their contents, as the only general permanent statutory law of the State as of January 1, 2021.

The General Assembly ratified H.3481, (R. 1), a joint resolution suspending a transfer of funds to the South Carolina Retiree Health Insurance Trust Fund for Fiscal Year 2020-2021. The suspension allows the Public Employee Benefit Authority to retain these funds and continue to use them to address claims, which PEBA anticipates will be increasing following the delays in scheduling elective surgeries caused by COVID-19 shutdowns.

Koon Road Bridge Update – NO interchange coming

After fielding many calls, and at request of a constituent, I wanted to get message out there to save y’all some time.

There is NO interchange coming to the Koon Road bridge/location on I26. There will be a REBUILT bridge on Koon Road though.

What you see is DOT removing trees so that we will have 3 lanes (in both directions). A lot of work going on for these changes that are coming. You may also have noticed a lot of work as you head towards Chapin and on to Newberry. There WILL BE new interchanges there as well as rebuilt bridges.

This rather large project is scheduled to be completed in 2024.

D5 Returns to 5 Day In-Person