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Special legislative session recap (5/16/20)

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

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

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

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2020 school year & COVID restrictions (4/22/20)

The General Assembly is still “on hold” and will continue to do so until we are called back by Governor McMaster, so we are – like many others – staying home and trying to keep safe, making the best of these challenging times. When we do go back, it will likely be to focus on the basics, such as the 2020-2021 state budget and supporting ongoing emergency and recovery efforts.

Much of what has been worked on during this two-year session on a wide range of issues prior to the shutdown may have to wait until next year to see further action. 

The 2020 Census is ongoing. Please be sure to fill out your census form. The information helps decide much of what happens in state, local and federal government. With the fast growth of York County, it’s crucial we get the most accurate population numbers. For more info, go online www.census.gov . To help keep you informed, here are some updates that I’m passing along: 

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Special session, COVID info and more (4/6/20)

It’s been a trying time the last few weeks and everything is so different from just a few weeks ago. The demands of responding to the coronavirus outbreak have placed burdens upon many. While I’m especially thankful for the first responders and health care professionals who go above and beyond the normal call of duty every day, it means so much to see how so many our community have rallied by donating needed supplies, supported local businesses and been supportive of those in need. Everything we do, no matter how big or small, matters.

I have never been more proud to represent this area in Columbia. We should all be proud of how we’ve not allowed these tough times to make us cold or uncaring. While we’re social distancing, many of us have become closer than before. We’ll emerge from this better as people and stronger as a community.

The General Assembly will meet for a brief session on Wednesday. Arrangements have been made to sanitize the chambers and arrange seating so members can distance themselves from each other. We plan to meet to do two things:

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Special Coronavirus and State Government Report (3/23/20)

In the last couple of weeks, it seems like our entire world has changed as we have all had to adapt to a new reality of “social distancing”, working from home, school closures, empty grocery stores, and then re-adapting as circumstances change yet again. For the time being, the General Assembly has postponed meeting aside from brief meetings to address urgent matters. While we are home, we are involved in regular meetings and briefings with state and local officials who are working to get ahead of the situation.

Although the legislature may be largely inactive for the time being, I will be sharing information that may be of importance to this area so watch for periodic updates via these emails.

I want to begin by sharing something positive that may not make headlines but is so vital to our ability to ride out this storm. I am deeply touched at the patience and charity shown by many in our community who have come together to help in this time of need. All of our first responders, health care organizations and professionals are working so hard to help everyone in need. Also, contrary to the friction we often see in Washington, the collaboration between state and local officials (as well as federal officials on the ground in our communities) has been nearly flawless.

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Update Feb. 27, 2020

Every week the General Assembly is in session, we’re busy on the House floor and attending non-stop committee and sub-committee hearings as well as other meetings. This week was an important one to me personally as much of what moved through the House was legislation related to education. As the Chair of the House’s K-12 Sub-Committee, working on education issues is very important to me. I was certainly glad to see the focus on education issues this week.

The House took a step towards confronting anti-Semitism this week with the introduction of House Bill 5287 . I was among several dozen House members who sponsored this legislation, which establishes the definition of anti-Semitism when the state’s Human Affairs Commission is investigating complaints of religious harassment and discrimination. The bill was sent to the House Judiciary Committee for their review and consideration.

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Update Feb. 13, 2020

This week saw the first round of one of the biggest decisions faced by the General Assembly in modern times: whether or not to sell the state-owned Santee Cooper utility company. This is a major decision worth billions of dollars. In addition to being a direct utility for some areas along the South Carolina coast, it is a major supplier of power to the state’s electric co-cops and owns the state’s two largest lakes: Lakes Marion and Moultrie.

This started with the introduction of House Bill 4940 , which was quickly passed by the House and sent to the Senate this week. This legislation will establish the formal framework by which three options will be considered: accept the best-qualified proposal to sell Santee Cooper to a privately-owned utility company, accept the best-qualified proposal Santee Cooper to be managed by privately-owned utility company or to keep Santee Cooper and attempt to reform the utility while keeping state ownership and management.

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Update Jan. 30, 2020

After much of the work of the House in the first few weeks focused upon gearing up for work on the state Budget, the House began working on other legislation this past week, working to move new legislation to the Senate for their action while considering bills the Senate passed last year. In addition to committee meetings, we had a lot of visitors at the State House this week, all of them talking about education:

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January 2020 Update #2: The State of the State Speech

Last week, Gov. Henry McMaster led South Carolina into the roaring 20’s with his State of the State speech which outlined a bold agenda. The Governor laid out his plan to move SC forward and build on the state’s robust economy where the unemployment rate just dropped again to an historic low of 2.3% compared to the national unemployment rate of 3.5%.

So here’s what Governor McMaster discussed in his speech:Governor McMaster’s agenda called for additional funding for public education and law enforcement, as well as enacting tax reform that would slash the state’s income tax.

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Update Jan. 20, 2020

January 2020 Update
Last week, the General Assembly began the second part of its two-year session. We’ll be in session through the spring, working until May. We’ll be working to address legislation that didn’t pass last year, new issues that come up as well as the annual state budget.

Last week, Governor McMaster released an overview of his budget priorities. While the General Assembly is responsible for controlling the state’s finances, it’s important to consider what our state’s Chief Executive believes to be top financial priorities for operating state government. The Governor will go into greater detail during the State of the State address next week (January 22), where he is to speak about continued education reforms, cutting taxes and our state’s economic growth.  His plan will also include his ideas on using a portion of this year’s budget surplus to send back to hardworking taxpayers. I am confident that the House and the Governor will work together on moving South Carolina forward.

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