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SC STATE HOUSE UPDATE

SUMMARY OF SC LEGISLATIVE ACTIONS - 2021

On Thursday, May 13, the South Carolina Legislature adjourned “Sine Die” (meaning indefinitely) to complete the legislative year.   Although the policymakers have gone home for now, this was the end of the first half of a two-year Session, so Committee hearings will proceed through the rest of 2021.  In addition, the Sine Die Resolution provides for continuing votes on issues related to Budget and Redistricting.

 

This legislative year was dominated by a newly emboldened conservative Republican majority that was filibuster–proof after they gained three new seats in the 2020 elections.   They entered the 2021 legislative session vowing to ban abortion, allow gun ownership without permits, and adopting anti-LGBT statutes.  Despite that agenda prioritized by the Republican Caucus, some of the very damaging proposals were defeated (or kept from being voted on), and some very positive policies passed or came close to passage.  Since we are in the 1st year of a 2-year Session, the state legislature will start business in early January 2022 as a continuation of this year – providing an opportunity to pass those positive policies with a little extra effort, but also a need for continued advocacy to defeat the damaging bills.

 

Although the SC Legislature Session has ended for the year, it is not the time to relax advocacy efforts.   A lot of activity that goes on between sessions.  In mid-June, the policy makers return to Columbia to work further on the state budget, and it is very possible that dangerous bills that were tabled during the regular session could be added as budget amendments.

 In addition, the 10-year redistricting process will begin where there will most certainly there will be attempts to create more Republican friendly districts as well as put some of our Democratic leaders’ reelection in jeopardy.  In addition, the lawmakers will address COVID-10 legislation, make appointments, and hold conference committees (negotiating a compromise when different versions of the same bill pass the House and Senate).   Committee and Subcommittee hearings can be continued throughout the “recess” so that when the Legislature reconvenes in January that legislative proposals are ready to be voted on early in the session.   This process can be an asset for those positive proposals where we can be proactive with the Committees and Subcommittees to complete their work prior to the 2nd Session.

ABORTION

The Republican Senate led by Beaufort Senator Tom Davis (R) prioritized banning abortion as its first order of business in the new legislative session.  Sen. Davis convened his Medical Affairs Subcommittee to pass S. 1, The Fetal Heartbeat Billl, by the end of the first week and by February  18, the fast tracked legislation was signed into law by the Governor.  During debate, an amendment was passed for exceptions in the case of rape and incest, although some legislators debated whether the bill went far enough.  The detection of a "heartbeat" is assumed to be about at the 6th week of pregnancy, often before a woman knows that she is pregnant.  Upon the Governor's signature, Planned Parenthood immediately filed a motion for the courts to stay the implementation of the new law until the legal process addressed whether The Fetal Heartbeat Bill was constitutional and the courts agreed.  Both those in support of the legislation and those opposed will now move to the litigative process where it is estimated the costs will exceed several hundred thousand dollars.

BUDGET

DEATH PENALTY

The pro-llife majority in the state legislature had no issue with adding methods different modalities of killing inmates on death row.   The death penalty is legal in South Carolina  but no inmate has been executed since 2011 due to the difficulty in the state obtaining the drugs necessary to execute.    In order to bypass this barrier, the SC legislature voted to restart executions in the state by adding firing squads and electrodution as additional options.  Governor McMaster noted he was proud to sign such a bill into law.

ELECTION LAW

ENVIRONMENT

FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE

HATE CRIMES 

LGBTQ+ DISCRIMINATION

MATERNAL AND CHILD HEALTH

OPEN CARRY OF GUNS

SANTEE COOPER