South Carolina statehouse grounds

Update 2/23/23: Several adjustments were made to this summary to reflect developments that occurred this week.

It’s a busy week at the Statehouse as lawmakers are considering a number of bills dealing with education, healthcare and regulatory matters, both at the committee level and on the House and Senate floor. 

  • H.3591 – This is a proposed state constitutional amendment to repeal the ban on state government providing direct aid to religious or other private schools. It currently sits on the House floor under the contested calendar. As this is a state constitutional amendment, it needs a two-thirds majority vote to advance to the Senate. 
  • S.124 – This bill allows school districts to hire non-certified teachers with certain qualifications in a ratio of up to 10% of their teaching staff. The Senate Education Committee considered the bill Wednesday. Update: The committee advanced this bill to the Senate floor.
  • S.285 –  Known as the “ACE” program, this bill would drastically overhaul and expand South Carolina’s privately funded K-12 scholarship program. It would provide scholarships to four different student categories: (1) students with disabilities; (2) students from low-income families; (3) homeschool students; and (4) students generally. Scholarships could be used to pay for private school tuition and fees, or other education-related expenses, including homeschool expenses, depending on the student. The full Senate Finance Committee considered the bill Tuesday. Update: The committee advanced an amended version of the bill to the Senate floor. This summary has been updated to reflect some of the changes that were adopted. 
  • S.165 – This bill would remove barriers to obtaining a work license by preventing licensing boards from using vague terminology for evaluation purposes, along with other positive changes. It is currently on the Senate floor, however, it is designated as contested. A similar bill (H.3605) recently passed the House unanimously. 
Medical freedom
  • S.164 – This bill would eliminate state Certificate of Need (CON) requirements for most South Carolina healthcare facilities. CON forces healthcare providers to go through an extensive approval process before constructing or expanding facilities or making certain purchases, and the outcome hasn’t been great for healthcare. Repealing CON would give people more options for healthcare and result in lower prices because of increased competition. The full House 3-M Committee considered the bill Tuesday. Update: The committee heard public testimony and referred the bill to the subcommittee level to begin working on amendments.
Government transparency 

As of Wednesday morning, there were eight Senate and three House legislative committee meetings on the weekly calendar not scheduled for livestreaming. Committees often review bills more thoroughly than the full House and Senate, and when such meetings aren’t streamed, the public is left out of a critical stage of the legislative process. Under a recently filed House bill inspired by SCPC’s research, livestreaming would be required for all legislative committee meetings.

Here you can find the full list of House and Senate meetings for the week. 

State budget

The full House Ways and Means Committee met several times this week to work on the first draft of the state budget. In general, the full Ways and Means Committee sets budget amounts and makes proviso changes based on information gathered by the various House budget subcommittees, which met earlier in the session. The Senate, meanwhile, is still holding budget subcommittee hearings.

Senate K-12 budget subcommittee 2/23/23 10:00 AM – Hearing from John de la Howe, the Arts Commission, the State Library, and the Education Oversight Committee (livestream not scheduled)