With a roll call vote of 40-3, the South Carolina state Senate’s Business COVID-19 Liability Safe Harbor Bill has passed and been sent to the House. This bill provides safe harbor for businesses that complied with CDC and DHEC COVID-19 safety protocols. Further, this bill also protects healthcare providers and education institutions who act in good faith. This bill was a top priority for both businesses and lawmakers. Many state and local leaders see this bill as a significant win for the business community, and a key step in ensuring employment for South Carolinians and helping businesses to remain operational.
Additional items being discussed at the State House include:
State Ports Authority $550 Million Economic Development Bond Bill
A joint resolution authorizing the issuance of a $550 million bond related to State Ports Authority infrastructure needs has been referred to the Ways and Means Committee. In addition to the infrastructure updates this would finance for the Port of Charleston, one of the largest ports by volume, in the nation. Additionally included is the discussion of the Jasper Port. There is discussion of a joint port partnership between Georgia and South Carolina to develop this port.
COVID-19 Vaccines and Phases
While the state has encouraged a return to face-to-face instruction for students, there has been debate over when teachers would fit within the COVID-19 vaccination phases. The state has now moved to Phase 1b, which will by nature, include a vast majority of teachers. State Superintendent Spearman is working to seek guidance from DHEC on whether teachers will be prioritized under this new phase.
Minimum Wage Bill
The House Ways and Means General Government subcommittee has adjourned debate on H.3480 that would increase the state’s minimum wage to $13 per hour or at a minimum wage set by FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act), whichever is greater.
Open Carry with Training Act
The House Judiciary Committee is currently discussing the Open Carry with Training Act (H.3094) which would allow open carry of handguns in the state. Once approved, anyone with a concealed weapon permit would be allowed to openly carry that gun – including in their vehicle or on their person. South Carolina is currently one of the only five states without legislation allowing the open carrying of handguns.
Financial Literacy in Public Schools
The South Carolina Senate adopted a corrective amendment that high school graduation requires the completion of basic personal finance. The amendment changed the effective date to those entering 9th grade beginning in the 2023-24 school year. This course will be in place of a half-credit of economics and applies to students in public high schools and charter schools.
Evaluation of the SC Power Grid
Given the recent power issues during the winter storm in Texas, a measure has been introduced that would require Santee Cooper and the electric cooperatives to participate in a PSC docket to provide information to ORS on the measures to mitigate impacts of threats to utility services. They must assist in the effort to review the public and private power grid to evaluate its ability to withstand dangerous weather conditions. This measure has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Upcoming Items from the Legislature
- Emergency Rental Assistance Program (H.3770)
- Charter School District Funding (H.3608)
- Teacher Step Increase (H.3609)
For more information, please contact us or your regular Parker Poe Consulting contact.