South Carolina statehouse grounds

Update 3/3/23: Several adjustments were made to this summary to reflect developments that occurred this week.

Important bills related to school choice, healthcare access and regulation are on the move this week, all of which are key issues on our 2023-24 legislative agenda.

  • S.285 –  Known as the “ACE” program (formerly PACE), 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. This bill is on the Senate floor and could be voted on this week. Read more about it hereUpdate: The Senate did not vote on the bill this week.
  • H.3591 – This proposed state constitutional amendment would repeal the ban on state government providing direct aid to religious or other private schools. It currently sits on the House floor. As this is a state constitutional amendment, it needs a two-thirds majority vote to advance to the Senate. Update: The House passed the proposal 83-27.
  • 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. Update: The Senate passed the bill 39-1.
  • H.3843– This bill requires school boards to adopt some form of an open enrollment policy, allowing students to attend schools other than those they are normally designated for. The full House Education and Public Works Committee considers the bill Tuesday at 10 AM. Update: The full committee advanced the bill.
  • S.361 – This bill would remove a requirement that the SCDOT Commission give approval before construction contracts can be extended, which will cut down on government red tape and help speed up road work projects. The House Education and Public Works Committee considers the bill Tuesday at 10:00 AM. Update: The full committee advanced the bill.
  • S.260 – This bill would require anyone who serves alcohol to take a minimum four-hour class with a test and receive a certificate. Each certificate would cost $15. It would also create a new state alcohol server training fund. While more education and training may be necessary for some, creating a new regulatory regime for all alcohol servers is not the correct approach to this issue. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee is considering the bill Tuesday after Senate adjournment. 
Medical freedom
  • S.343 – This bill would exempt all crisis stabilization unit facilities from Certificate of Need (CON) requirements. Currently, only these facilities which are operated by or in partnership with the Department of Mental Health, and offer services to adults, are exempt from CON. The Senate Medical Affairs Committee considers the bill Thursday at 9:00 AM. Note: a previous version of this summary incorrectly stated the bill would subject these facilities to CON requirements, which has since been updated.

Government transparency 

As of Tuesday morning, less than half (11 of 28) of the House and Senate legislative committee meetings this week are scheduled to be livestreamed. With so many going unstreamed and unrecorded, the public has little opportunity to stay engaged with what is happening at the Statehouse. Under a recent House bill inspired by SCPC’s research, all legislative committee meetings would have to be livestreamed. 

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

State budget (highlights)

Senate Finance Health & Human Services subcommittee

  • 2/28/23 3:00 PM – Hearing from the Medical University of South Carolina, Hospital Authority, Department of Health and Environmental Control and the Retirement System Investment Commission (livestream not scheduled)
  • 3/1/23 9:30 AM – Hearing from the Commission for the Blind and the Department of Mental Health (livestream not scheduled)

    Previous weeks
  • Feb 21-23
  • Feb 14-16
  • Feb 7-9
  • Jan 31-Feb 2
  • Jan 24-26
  • Jan 17-19
  • Jan 10-12