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Rep. Garvin to File Bill to Combat Implicit Bias in Healthcare “South Carolina Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act” to require implicit bias training for health care staff

Rep. Garvin to File Bill to Combat Implicit Bias in Healthcare “South Carolina Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act” to require implicit bias training for health care staff Featured

Columbia, SC – Rep. Kambrell Garvin (D-Richland) will file the “South Carolina Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act,” which would require health care providers to implement an evidence-based implicit bias program to train health care staff.

“Every person should be entitled to dignity and respect during pregnancy and childbirth. Yet the facts show that we are in a state of crisis when it comes to maternal healthcare, especially black maternal healthcare,” Rep. Garvin said.

The bill notes that the United States has the highest maternal mortality rate among developed nations, with 700 women dying and an additional 50,000 women suffering severe complications every year. The maternal death rate is particularly high for black women, who suffer a maternal mortality rate nearly 4 times greater than white women. South Carolina’s maternal mortality rate is the 8th-highest in the country, with 26.5 mothers dying for every 100,000 births, compared to the national average of 20.7.

Implicit bias is a key cause of health disparities in communities of color. Currently, health care providers in South Carolina are not required to undergo any implicit bias testing or training. This bill would require hospitals to provide annual training in an evidence-based implicit bias program to all staff members involved in perinatal care. The bill defines “implicit bias” as a bias in judgment or behavior that results from subtle cognitive processes, including implicit prejudice and implicit stereotypes that often operate at a level below conscious awareness and without intentional control.

“It’s time we treat implicit bias for what it is: a matter of life and death. Training medical professionals to recognize these prejudices and stereotypes will save lives,” Rep. Garvin said. “By breaking down these barriers, we can make South Carolina one of the safest places for pregnancy and childbirth.”

The South Carolina House of Representatives will hold prefiling for the 2020 Legislative Session on Wednesday, November 20 and Wednesday, December 11.

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The State Capitol Report – 3/15/2019 Featured

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4000, the General Appropriation Bill, and H.4001, the joint resolution making appropriations from the Capital Reserve Fund, which together comprise the FISCAL YEAR 2019-2020 STATE GOVERNMENT BUDGET.  The $29.95 billion total budget includes $497 million in recurring state general fund revenue estimated for Fiscal Year 2019-2020, $159 million in nonrecurring surplus funds estimated for Fiscal Year 2018-2019, $177 million in the Fiscal Year 2017-2018 Contingency Reserve Fund, and $152 million in Capital Reserve Funds. 

The budget provides for $96 million in nonrecurring funds to be returned to the state’s taxpayers as rebates.  The Rebate Fund includes the $61 million in taxes collected on the winning Mega Millions lottery ticket sold in South Carolina last year.  The total allows for a $50 one-time rebate for each South Carolina income tax payer.

$614 million in recurring funds is transferred into the Tax Relief Trust Fund that provides for the residential property tax caps.

$41.4 million in recurring funds is used to provide a 2% state employee pay increase.  Employees of institutions of higher education and technical colleges that earn a base salary of at least $100,000 are not eligible to receive the increase in compensation.

$49.7 million in recurring funds is included to cover the increased costs of operating the state’s health and dental insurance plans so that employees will have no additional monthly premium costs.

A total of $32 million from the General Fund and $4 million in Education Improvement Act funds is devoted to the 1% increase in the employer contribution rates for the South Carolina Retirement System and the Police Officers Retirement System that is in keeping with the schedule for addressing the unfunded liability facing the state’s pensions established in Act 13 of 2017.

$2.8 billion in recurring funds is utilized to set State Aid to Classrooms at $3,846 per pupil.  Several funding lines are consolidated to form State Aid to Classrooms as a replacement for the Base Student Cost.

$159 million in recurring funds is devoted to raising the minimum teacher salary from $32,000 to $35,000 and providing across-the-board teacher pay increases of at least 4%.  To further recruitment and retention efforts, those who have been teaching for no more than four years are to receive raises ranging from 6% to 10%.  The budget’s teacher pay increase, the largest since 1984, places South Carolina above the Southeastern average teacher salary of $52,830.

Provisions are made for a Rural Teacher Recruitment pilot program at the University of South Carolina’s College of Education for the development of innovative and cost-effective teacher recruitment strategies, customized training for new teachers, and dedicated, ongoing mentoring support.

A Rural School District and Economic Development Closing Fund is established within the Department of Commerce to facilitate economic development and infrastructure improvements for projects that create a minimum of fifty jobs located within the twenty-eight school districts with the lowest Index of Taxpaying Ability (ITA) in the State of South Carolina. 

Provisions are made for the transfer of excess debt service funds in the amounts of $85 million to the Department of Commerce for the Rural School District and Economic Development Closing Fund and $50 million to the Department of Education for school district capital improvements.

$20 million in lottery funds is included for instructional materials.

$10 million in Education Improvement Act funds is allocated for school resource officers.  School districts with the lowest taxpaying ability are to receive priority consideration in the distribution of these funds.  The budget also includes provisions that waive South Carolina Police Officers Retirement System earnings limitations for retirees who return to work as school resource officers.

$14.8 million in Education Improvement Act funds is included to address S.C. Public Charter School District growth.

$19 million in lottery funds is provided for school buses.

From the funds appropriated to the Department of Education to fulfill black history instruction requirements, the instruction in grades 3 through 12 must include a cultural sensitivity component educating students about how they should interact with and be respectful of the beliefs and practices of people of a different race or creed.

Full funding is provided for the LIFE, HOPE, and Palmetto Fellows higher education scholarship programs through Education Lottery funds.

The budget includes a higher education tuition mitigation initiative in which a total of $44 million in additional recurring funds is distributed among the state’s institutions of higher learning.  In order to retain these appropriations, the institutions must comply with provisions for freezing in-state tuition and mandatory fees during the 2019-2020 academic year.  

The bulk of the Capital Reserve Fund is devoted to capital needs at the state’s colleges and universities, with a total of $100 million in these nonrecurring funds allocated among the institutions for repairs, renovations, and maintenance of various facilities. 

The University of South Carolina is directed to use a portion of the funds appropriated to or authorized for the university to recruit undergraduate African American students, to recruit African American students at the Medical School, and to recruit African American students at the School of Law.

The Commission on Higher Education is afforded $20 million in lottery funds for need-based grants, $10 million in lottery funds for tuition grants, $2.6 million in lottery funds for National Guard Tuition Repayment, and $6 million in in unclaimed prize money for the Higher Education Excellence Enhancement Program. 

$8 million in lottery funds is dedicated to technology for the state’s four-year and two-year colleges and universities and technical colleges.

The Board of Technical and Comprehensive Education is afforded $17 million in lottery funds and $11 million in in unclaimed prize money for SC Workforce Industry Needs scholarships that help provide full tuition at technical colleges for SC WINS recipients seeking degrees in industry sectors with critical workforce needs.

$26.8 million is allocated to the Ready SC Program which provides worker training at the state’s technical colleges that is customized to the needs of new and expanding business and industry.

$6 million in recurring funds is divided among the state’s technical colleges.

A study committee is established to develop a plan to determine the feasibility of transforming Denmark Technical College from a technical college to its original mission of an area trade school.

$3.7 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for the Deal Closing Fund that the Department of Commerce uses to recruit new business to the state.  The Department of Commerce is afforded $4 million in nonrecurring funds for the Locate SC Site Inventory, $1.5 million in recurring funds for innovation grants to accelerate growth in high tech applied research and emerging industries, $625 thousand in recurring funds and $750 thousand in nonrecurring funds for the Military Base Task Force, and $400 thousand for the state’s small and existing businesses.

$4 million is appropriated from the Capital Reserve Fund for Clemson University’s Center for Advanced Manufacturing.

$4 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for the Jasper Ocean Terminal Port Facility Infrastructure Fund.

The Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism receives $1 million in nonrecurring funds for coastal tourism advertising, $8.5 million from the Capital Reserve Fund for deferred maintenance at state parks, $2.5 million in nonrecurring funds for parks revitalization, $1 million in recurring funds for its sports marketing grants program, $1.5 million in nonrecurring funds for the Saluda River Greenway, and $1.5 million in nonrecurring funds for the SC Aquarium.

$1.5 million in recurring funds is appropriated to the Rural Infrastructure Authority for Water Quality Revolving Loan Fund match to update rural water and sewer systems.

The Department of Agriculture is afforded $1 million in recurring funds for agribusiness infrastructure grants and $500 thousand for food inspection and consumer safety.

Clemson PSA receives $1 million in recurring funds for its statewide extension programs, $2 million from the Capital Reserve Fund for water research facility renovation, and $750 thousand in recurring funds for livestock poultry health and regulatory programs.

SC State PSA is afforded $300 thousand for 1890 Program match for community outreach programs.

The Department of Health and Human Services is afforded $49.5 million in recurring funds for Medicaid maintenance of effort to address program cost growth, $7.4 million in nonrecurring funds for the Medicaid Management Information System, and $2.8 million recurring and $2.8 million nonrecurring for medical contracts.

The budget provides for the continuation of Medicaid accountability and quality improvement programs of the Healthy Outcomes Initiative for meeting the needs of chronically ill uninsured patients in settings outside the comparatively expensive emergency room through a Primary Care Safety Net utilizing such resources as Federally Qualified Health Centers and free clinics.

$5.5 million is appropriated to DHHS for the Children’s Health Insurance Program to allow more children to be eligible for CHIP coverage.  The new eligibility limits place South Carolina at the Southeastern average for this program that serves children whose parents’ income is too high to qualify for Medicaid, but low enough to make private health insurance largely unaffordable.

A family planning funds provision is included in furtherance of statutory provisions that have been enacted to prohibit state funds, directly or indirectly, from being utilized by Planned Parenthood for abortions, abortion services or procedures, or administrative functions related to abortions.  Having prevented Planned Parenthood from performing abortions with state funds, once the federal injunction is lifted, the Department of Health and Human Services may not direct any federal funds to Planned Parenthood.  An otherwise qualified organization may not be disqualified from receipt of these funds because of its affiliation with an organization that provides abortion services, provided that the affiliated organization that provides abortion services is independent of the qualified organization.  An independent affiliate that provides abortion services must be separately incorporated from any organization that receives these funds.  An organization that provides abortion services in compliance with the budget provision addressing the performance of medically necessary services under the Medicaid program is excepted from this restriction on state family planning funds and may receive state family planning funds.

The Medical University of South Carolina is afforded $2.2 million in recurring funds for the state’s telemedicine network and $1.5 million in recurring funds for statewide health improvements.

$15 million from the Capital Reserve Fund and $2 million in recurring funds is provided for the Rural Health Initiative partnership between DHHS and the USC School of Medicine to improve access to life-saving emergency room care in the wake of rural hospital closures.

$1 million in recurring funds is appropriated for the SC Children’s Advocacy Medical Response System at MUSC.

$2 million is appropriated from the Capital Reserve Fund for Clemson University’s health innovation extension programming.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control receives $1 million in recurring funds for its prescription drug monitoring program that is used by physicians and pharmacists to track the prescription and use of opioids.  DHEC is also afforded $500 thousand in recurring funds for communicable disease abatement, $202 thousand in recurring funds for mosquito borne disease abatement, $250 thousand in recurring funds for the orphan petroleum spills and releases contingency fund, $2 million in recurring funds for ocean outfalls, and $2 million in nonrecurring funds for Murrell’s Inlet channel clearing.

The Department of Mental Health is afforded $1.3 million in recurring funds for inpatient services contractual adjustments, $2.2 million in recurring funds for school mental health services, $1.6 million in recurring funds for information technology, $482 thousand in recurring funds for the sexually violent predator treatment program, and $37 million in nonrecurring funds for VA nursing homes certification state match.

The Department of Disabilities and Special Needs receives $11.3 million in recurring funds to increase direct care staff starting salaries from $12 to $13 an hour.  $2 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for autism research at the Greenwood Genetic Center.

The Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services is afforded $6 million in nonrecurring funds for infrastructure improvements in its substance abuse provider system.

The Department of Social Services is appropriated $29 million in nonrecurring funds for the development of the child support enforcement system, $3.9 million in recurring funds for child welfare information systems, and $800 thousand in nonrecurring funds for criminal domestic violence programs.

A Department of Social Services reform committee is established to examine how the mission and responsibilities of DSS might be better fulfilled.

The State Law Enforcement Divisions is afforded $814 thousand in recurring funds for officer rank change.

The Department of Public Safety is appropriated $711 thousand in recurring funds for master trooper and officer rank change, $1.8 million recurring and $500 thousand nonrecurring for vehicle replacement, and $600 thousand in recurring funds for local law enforcement grants.

The Department of Corrections receives $10 million in nonrecurring funds for detention services and prison safety equipment upgrades, $10 million in recurring funds for the Hepatitis C treatment program, and $2.3 million in recurring funds for electronic health records and support for mobile data collection.

The Department of Juvenile Justice is afforded $1 million in recurring funds for salary increases for juvenile corrections officers and community specialists, $1 million for electrical grid conversion, and $170 thousand in nonrecurring funds for child advocacy centers.

The Department of Probation, Pardon and Parole Services is provided $1.9 million in recurring funds to address declining revenue collection from the Omnibus Crime Bill and $1.5 million in nonrecurring funds for information data technology connectivity services.

The Law Enforcement Training Council receives $2 million in recurring funds to increase the number of officers that can complete its basic training program each year by allowing four weeks of the training to be conducted in regional settings outside of the centralized Criminal Justice Academy.  $1.2 million recurring and $271 thousand nonrecurring is provided for a mobile training team that travels to provide officer training and recertification.

The Attorney General’s Office is appropriated $1.5 million in recurring funds for stability funding and $522 thousand in recurring funds for the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

$11 million in recurring funds is provided for judicial salary increases.

$4 million in recurring funds is provided for Judges and Solicitors Retirement System pension stabilization.

The Judicial Department is afforded $11.2 million in recurring funds for safety enhancements and $13 million in nonrecurring funds for case management modernization. 

$40 million in nonrecurring funds is provided to the Department of Administration for a new statewide voting system with the goal of having the new voting machines in place for the 2020 election cycle.

The State Election Commission receives $2.2 million in nonrecurring funds for the 2020 Presidential Primary.

$37 million is used to provide full funding for the constitutional reserve accounts that the state uses to cope with revenue shortfalls.

$254 million in recurring funds is provided for the Local Government Fund.  This includes an $11.1 million increase in recurring funds that is consistent with the revised approach to sending revenue to political subdivisions provided in H.3137, which was approved by the House earlier this year and sent to the Senate.  

$22 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for the state FEMA match for Hurricane Florence.

The Adjutant General receives appropriations of $250 thousand in nonrecurring funds for improvements at the state’s emergency operations center, $120 thousand in recurring funds for Emergency Management Division personnel, $2.2 million in nonrecurring funds for land management at the McEntire Joint National Guard Base, and $5.6 million in nonrecurring funds for armory construction and revitalizations.

The Forestry Commission is provided $1.5 million in recurring funds for recruitment and retention and $1 million in recurring funds and $1 million in nonrecurring funds for firefighting equipment.

The Department of Natural Resources $383 thousand in recurring funds for officer step increases and $714 thousand in recurring funds for statewide water monitoring and evaluation.

$5 million is appropriated from the Capital Reserve Fund for Francis Marion University’s Freshwater Ecology Center.

The Conservation Bank is afforded $1.5 million in recurring and $4 million in nonrecurring for conservation grants.

The Human Affairs Commission is appropriated $71 thousand recurring and $70 thousand nonrecurring for SC Pregnancy Accommodations Act training.

The Workers’ Compensation Commission receives $1.8 million in nonrecurring funds for information technology modernization.

The Department of Consumer Affairs is appropriated $118 thousand in recurring funds for an Assistant Consumer Advocate.

The Department of Motor Vehicles is afforded $4 million in nonrecurring funds for the final phase of REAL ID implementation costs.

The Department of Transportation receives $4 million in nonrecurring funds for upgrades to the state’s rest areas.

The Department of Administration is afforded $5 million in recurring funds, $27 million in nonrecurring funds, and $29 million from the Capital Reserve Fund for state-owned building deferred maintenance needs.

The Office of Revenue and Fiscal Affairs is provided $2 million in nonrecurring funds for a statewide aerial imagery project to update mapping used in disaster response and recovery efforts.

$114 thousand in recurring funds is provided for a Deputy Inspector General staff attorney position.

The Department of Archives and History receives $100 thousand in nonrecurring funds for the African American Heritage Commission’s Greenbook of SC.

$2.7 million is provided to Patriots Point for the USS Clamagore Veteran Memorial Reef.

The Arts Commission is afforded $865 thousand in recurring funds for community arts development and education grants.

$1 million in recurring funds is provided for aid to county libraries.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control is prohibited from using any appropriated funds to process and approve any license, permit, authorization, or certification related to the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam inconsistent with the state’s policy and the General Assembly’s intent of maintaining the existing water quality and navigability conditions of that portion of the Savannah  

If you have a comment or opinion concerning the matters discussed in this report, or if I may be of assistance to you at any time, please feel free to call your legislative office in Columbia (803-212-6875); my Richland Legislative Delegation Office (803-576-1908); or write P.O. Box 292434, Columbia, SC 29229.  Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in the House of Representatives.

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The State Capitol Report – 3/8/2019 Featured

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3759, the “SOUTH CAROLINA EDUCATION, CAREER OPPORTUNITY, AND ACCESS FOR ALL ACT”.  The legislation makes comprehensive revisions that are offered as a means of ensuring that the state’s public school students receive the training needed to meet 21st century demands.  New emphasis is placed on mathematics and technology that includes a requirement for each public high school in the state to offer at least one rigorous, standards‑based computer science course.  Enhancements are made to the SC Read to Succeed Initiative that focuses on crucial literacy skills.  Provisions are made to afford public school students a smoother transition into higher education and workforce opportunities.  These include expanded dual enrollment programs and improved access to state scholarship funding to cover training costs.  The legislation raises the minimum teacher salary statewide and offers an array of incentives geared towards attracting individuals to teaching and retaining those professionals in the classroom.  Some of the incentives focus on encouraging teachers to pursue their careers in schools that are failing to meet goals for academic performance and in areas of the state that are experiencing the greatest economic distress.  Enhanced accountability provisions are included to direct assistance to schools that are struggling academically and to transform or close chronically underperforming schools.  A school district consolidation protocol is established for merging less populous districts that are failing to meet standards for student performance.  Local school board members are subjected to ethics provisions.  A Special Council on Revitalizing Education is created to advise policy makers on ways to improve collaboration among state agencies and institutions and what steps should be taken to ensure that the state’s public education system is emphasizing skills demanded in the workplace.

Goals and Governance

The State of South Carolina establishes an overall statewide workforce readiness goal of at least sixty percent of all working‑age South Carolinians having a post‑secondary degree or recognized industry credentials before the year 2030. This goal is consistent with all students graduating and having the knowledge, skills, and characteristics contained in the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate.

A “Student Bill of Rights” is established to enumerate basic expectations including: students should expect that the General Assembly, Governor, State Superintendent of Education, State Board of Education, local school boards, local superintendents, principals, teachers, and parents to focus on improving education, and creating a system that puts them first; students should feel safe and secure in school; students should have educational choice; and the ability to challenge unfair treatment.  These provisions do not create or imply a private cause of action for a violation.

A “Teacher Bill of Rights” is established to enumerate those things that all certified public school teachers in South Carolina should be able to expect.  These include: working in an environment conducive to learning; the inclusion of their discretion with regard to disciplinary and instructional decisions; freedom from frivolous lawsuits, planning time; a competitive salary; no unnecessary paperwork; support from school administration.  These provisions do not create or imply a private cause of action for a violation.

Provisions are made for the South Carolina Teacher of the Year and a public school student appointed by the Governor to serve as non-voting advisory members of the State Board of Education.

Special Council on Revitalizing Education

The legislation establishes within the Office of the Governor the Special Council on Revitalizing Education (SCORE) which is created to: (1) monitor the state education and workforce pipeline to continually determine the education and training levels required by the state’s employers; (2) identify and recommend improvements regarding efficiency and cooperation of agencies and programs throughout the education and workforce pipeline; and (3) report findings and recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly on a continuous basis.

The Governor serves as the chairman of the ten-member council.  The Governor may, however, delegate the position of chairman and SCORE duties to the Lieutenant Governor.  The other council members are appointed to five-year terms, with SCORE being composed of: (a) three members appointed by the Governor; (b) one member appointed by the Speaker of the House; (c) one member appointed

by the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee; (d) one member appointed by the Chairman of the House Education and Public Works Committee; (e) one member appointed by the President of the Senate; (f) one member appointed by the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee; and (g) one member appointed by the Chairman of the Senate Education Committee.  Council members may not concurrently serve as a member of the General Assembly.  Appointed members must have a background in early childhood education, K‑12 education, higher education, business, workforce development, or economic development.  Two council members, one from the appointees allotted the House of Representatives and the other from the appointees allotted the Senate, must be current or retired highly‑effective teachers.  A member of the council may serve no more than two consecutive terms.

The Governor shall hire an executive director who must possess a background in at least one of the following: early childhood education, K‑12 education, higher education, business, workforce development, or economic development.

Before October 1, 2021, the council shall establish a series of benchmarks that must include, but are not limited to the following:

(1) access to quality early learning, as determined by the council, including the number of three and four‑year old children in quality early‑learning settings;

(2) third grade reading proficiency, including the percentage of third grade students who score ‘Meets’ or ‘Exceeds Expectations’ on the SC Ready assessment, or its successor;

(3) eighth grade mathematics, including the percentage of eighth grade students who score ‘Meets’ or ‘Exceeds Expectations’ on the SC Ready assessment, or its successor;

(4) high school graduation rates, including the percentages of students who graduated in four and five years;

(5) youth nonparticipation, including the percentage of South Carolina residents between sixteen and eighteen years of age who are not going to school on the secondary level or in adult education, not in the military, or not otherwise working;

(6) post‑high school enrollment, including the percentage of South Carolina high school graduates who are in postsecondary education the semester after graduation from high school or are gainfully employed; and

(7) post‑high school education attainment, including the percentage of South Carolina residents ages twenty‑two through sixty‑five who have completed a two‑or four‑year degree, or have received a nationally recognized certification as determined by the Department of Commerce.

With assistance and consultation from the Department of Administration, the council is charged with creating and maintaining a publicly accessible website that reports the benchmark information, explains the benchmarks, and provides an annual update to show the state’s progress toward meeting each goal.

Beginning in 2021, the council is required to make an annual comprehensive report to the Governor and General Assembly that specifically identifies areas within the education and workforce pipeline where state agencies and other publically funded entities are failing to meet the benchmarks. The council shall provide recommendations regarding ways that state and local efforts can be improved, ways that collaboration and cooperation among state and local agencies and resources can be increased, and efforts underway or being considered in other states that address the noted areas of concern. The council also shall recommend legislation it considers necessary.

Enhancements to Academic Rigor to Improve Student Preparation

Computer Science and Mathematics Coursework and Incentives

The State Board of Education is charged with conducting, at least every five years, a cyclical review of grade appropriate standards for computer science, computational thinking, and computer coding for grades kindergarten through grade twelve.

No later than the beginning of the 2020‑2021 School Year, each public high school and public charter high school must offer at least one rigorous, standards‑based computer science course.  The course is to be made available in a traditional classroom setting, in a dual‑enrollment course, blended‑learning environment, online‑based, or other technology‑based format tailored to meet the needs of each participating student.

Beginning in the 2020‑2021 School Year, the Department of Education shall:

(1) employ one experienced full‑time employee whose sole responsibility is to coordinate and lead the South Carolina Computer Science Education Initiative; 

(2) support K‑12 academic and computer science teachers in designing interdisciplinary, project‑based instruction and assignments that engage students in applying literacy, math, and computational thinking skills to solve problems;

(3) design career pathways that connect students to postsecondary programs, degrees, or postsecondary credentials in such high demand career fields as cybersecurity, information systems, informatics, graphic design, computer engineering, and software development;

(4) offer professional development and teacher endorsements to new teachers who will teach computer science;

(5) provide information and materials which identify emerging career opportunities in computer science and related fields to parents, students, teachers, and guidance counselors; and

(6) assist districts in developing partnerships with business, industry, higher education, and communities to provide afterschool and extracurricular activities that engage students in computer science.

By August 1, 2021, the State Department of Education shall develop a technology plan that addresses wireless Internet access for all public schools and must provide a report to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate.

Statewide Assessment Program Revisions

The legislation removes summative assessments not required by federal accountability law.  This includes eliminating the eighth grade science assessment, all grades 3-8 social studies assessments, and the United States History end-of-course assessment.

Early Childhood

The Office of First Steps and the State Department of Education (SDE) must provide a report to the General Assembly regarding how to increase the number of children attending state-funded four-year-old kindergarten programs.

Read to Succeed Initiative Enhancements

The State Board of Education is charged with approving no more than five reliable and valid early literacy and numeracy screening assessment instruments for selection and use by school districts in kindergarten through third grade.

Assessments must be given at the beginning of the school year.  For students who need additional assistance, the screening will also occur during the middle and end of the school year.  Assessment results must be reported to the State Department of Education which is responsible for monitoring student progress.

Read to Succeed are revised to require that districts provide appropriate in-class intervention until all students are at grade level.

Students are to be retained if their SC Ready scores are at the “Does Not Meet” level.  This is more rigorous than the current “Not Met 1” level.

The reading portfolio exemption for retention is strengthened.

When exemptions from retention are granted because of appeals by students’ parents or guardians, school districts are required to report on the number of appeals made, the number granted, and the outcome of the students whose appeals are successful.

More specific job duties and position requirements are established for reading coaches.

The State Department of Education must screen and approve reading coaches for districts where more than one-third of the students score at the lowest achievement level.

Early childhood, elementary, and special education teachers must pass a test regarding reading instruction before they can be certified.

Professional development required for compliance with Read to Succeed must be offered at no cost by the school districts.

The Commission on Higher Education and the Learning Disorders Taskforce are charged with examining the effectiveness of teacher education programs in regard to diagnosing and assisting students with reading difficulties.

Transition into Higher Education and Workforce Opportunities

The legislation provides for an expansion of dual enrollment opportunities so that students who want to go to college already have at least one year of college credit by creating a uniform, statewide credit articulation agreement between K-12 and higher education.  The Advisory Committee on Academic Programs is required to develop a statewide dual enrollment articulation agreement that will replace all locally created agreements between K-12 and higher education.

Students desiring an Education Lottery scholarship must, in addition to existing requirements, take a math and English course during their senior year of high school to maintain these skills prior to entering college.

The legislation emphasizes an accountability system that should let parents know if schools are successful in preparing students for eventual success in college or on the job.  To further this effort, the State Department of Education must continuously monitor student

progress in grades K-12, and provide parents and students with lexile and quantile scores derived from assessments.  In addition to using Lexile and Quantile scores, high school equivalency assessment thresholds may also serve as common admission scores to technical colleges.  A test in an English/language arts and mathematics course may be used to satisfy the requirement.  A test for every course is not required.

The legislation revises and updates the Education and Economic Development Act (EEDA).  The State Department of Education, the Technical College System, the Commission on Higher Education, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Employment and Workforce must collaborate to ensure that workforce needs are aligned with career pathways and K-12 curriculum.

High schools or career centers must have a minimum of three career pathways, with at least one pathway in a high-skill, high-demand area.  Pathways must be reviewed every three years and updated as needed.  School districts must coordinate with each other to ensure student access to multiple pathways.  Upon Department approval of bus routes, districts may provide transportation for students.

The State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education (SBTCE) must establish, and technical colleges must recognize, common admission scores.  (Scores may be differentiated for certain programs of study.)  Students who do not meet the minimum admission score should be encouraged to enter a noncredit program that awards a national recognized business or industry credential.  Education Lottery Tuition Assistance is available for individuals who enroll in a noncredit, credential awarding program provided they enroll within seven years of the first time they entered the ninth grade.

Incentives for Teachers and Educator Development and Satisfaction

The state’s minimum teacher salary is increased to thirty‑five thousand dollars.

The legislation provides that no tuition may be charged for a period of four school years by any state‑supported college or university or any state‑supported vocational or technical school for children of full‑time certified classroom teachers with at least five years of teaching service who are employed in schools that have an absolute rating of unsatisfactory for at least three of the previous four years.  The teacher must serve as a full‑time classroom teacher during the time the child is receiving the tuition free higher education.  The benefit is retained even if the school’s academic performance improves.

An income tax credit is established that covers all of the property taxes paid for five years on a residence for a K-12 public school teacher who lives and teaches is a county designated as a Tier IV economically distressed county.

In order to better understand the demands of the 21st century workplace, public school teachers who work in grades 6-12 are encouraged to become interns for up to 80 hours per year.  Employers who hire teachers for these summer internships are eligible for a $2,000 tax credit for each teacher they employee.

The board of trustees of a local school district may authorize the daily mileage reimbursement of a teacher who must travel more than twenty‑five miles each way between home and school.  This reimbursement may not exceed the existing federal rate.

Local school boards of trustees may establish policies allowing teachers to enroll their children in the schools where they teach regardless of the student’s zoned area of attendance, and if space is available at the receiving school.

Each classroom teacher and full‑time librarian is entitled to at least a thirty‑minute daily planning period free from the instruction and supervision of students.  Each school district may set flexible or rotating schedules for the implementation of this duty‑free planning period.  Implementation may not, however, result in a lengthened school day.

The legislation includes provisions for colleges and universities to create alternative teacher preparation programs that are not nationally accredited.  Such programs must, however, provide specifically mandated evidence of effectiveness.

The State Board of Education must review educator preparation programs at least once every five years.

The SDE must provide each teacher preparation program with information regarding the performance of its graduates.  The programs are required to protect the confidentiality of the data, and the information is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

To provide for accountability in teacher preparation programs, both traditional and alternative, the legislation creates the South Carolina Teacher Preparation Report Card to examine the number of students completing the program, the performance of teacher candidates on basic skills examinations, and the effectiveness of the programs’ graduates in the classroom setting.

The existing teacher satisfaction survey currently administered is now statutorily required.  Results must be complied, analyzed, and reported for each school and district.  This data should be shared with policy makers on a yearly basis, and the Department will publish those results on its website.

Enhanced Accountability

Assistance for students in underperforming schools

The legislation reinforces accountability act provisions regarding assistance for struggling schools or districts.

Local school boards with below average or unsatisfactory performance records are required to establish renewal plans that must be approved by the State Board of Education.  These plans must include professional growth plans for teachers and principals.  A report on the assistance provided to the schools must be provided to the General Assembly on a yearly basis.  Stakeholder groups that include mental health, social services, and law enforcement must be asked for input into renewal plans.

When a school receives an overall rating of unsatisfactory for three out of four years, the school is considered to be chronically underperforming’ and one of the following must occur:

(1)        the school will be reconstituted immediately after the end of the school year in which the annual report is published; and:

            (a)         the State Superintendent shall make all personnel decisions for the reconstituted school and shall have the authority to determine whether to terminate the principal, faculty, and staff;

            (b)        the State Superintendent of Education shall hire the new principal and staff for the reconstituted school if necessary; and

            (c)         the department shall contract with a public or nonprofit entity that has a proven record of success in working with underperforming schools and districts.  The entity shall use research‑based strategies to assist schools with their operations and oversee the administration of the school until the overall rating of the school improves; provided, if the overall rating does not improve within three years then the school either must be restarted under the management of a high‑performing charter management organization selected by the State Superintendent of Education or must be governed by the South Carolina Transformation School District, and all state, local and federal funds generated by the students must follow the students to the charter management organization or to the South Carolina Transformation School District; 

(2)        the school must be closed and restarted under the management of an existing charter school authorizer or a nonprofit educational management organization selected by the State Superintendent; provided, if the school is a Title I school, the Department of Education will award competitive grants as authorized under federal law to support these new schools and all state, local and federal funds generated by the students follow the students to the charter school authorizer or to the educational management organization. The authorizer or management organization has the authority to terminate any and all employees of the school and hire employees at its discretion; or 

(3)        the school must be closed and its students must be transferred to higher‑performing schools in the district.

The South Carolina Transformation School District is established as part of State Department of Education to operate and manage unsatisfactory schools. 

The Superintendent of Education is directed to utilize lower child to teacher ratios as a strategy to assist chronically unsatisfactory schools.

The legislation establishes a school district consolidation protocol which provides that, before August 1, 2023, local school districts whose kindergarten through grade twelve student population is less than one thousand, and where greater than fifty percent of the students attend schools whose report card ratings are below average or unsatisfactory, shall be merged with a district in the same county in which it is located.

School Board Ethics Provisions

The State Board of Education must adopt a model code of ethics that shall be adopted by local districts by July 1, 2020.

A person may not serve on a local school board if a family member is employed by the district as a superintendent, principal, assistant principal, or member of the district administrative staff.  This requirement may be waived for districts with a student population under 3,000.

School board members may not their position for personal or family advantage.  Expectations for board members are codified.

The State Ethics Act, including the requirement to file a statement of economic interest, is applied to local board members.

Local school boards must adopt an annual training programs for members that includes instruction on school law, ethics, school finance, nepotism, board relations, and conflicts of interest.  Completion of the training must be reported to, and retained by the State Department of Education.

In addition to other statutory authority relating to the removal of officers, the Governor may remove a member of a school district board of trustees in a case involving fraud, misappropriation of funds, nepotism, violation of election or procurement laws, or a combination of these. 

A protocol is established that allows board members to be removed by the Governor if the district loses accreditation for school governance reasons.

Cost-Benefit Analysis of Federal Programs and Grants

The Legislative Audit Council is directed to study publish a report by August 1, 2020, identifying and detailing federal funding streams for programs and grants in elementary and secondary education in this state in total and breaking out the cost of overhead, compliance, and reporting incurred by the State Department of Education, school districts, and local schools.

The House approved S.326 and ordered the legislation enrolled for ratification.  The joint resolution directs the State Law Enforcement Division to distribute two hundred fifty thousand dollars to the South Carolina State Firefighters Association to provide for POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER INSURANCE AND PROGRAMS FOR FIREFIGHTERS.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3294, a bill increasing the age limit in SAFE HAVENS FOR ABANDONED BABIES provisions that designate locations, such as hospitals, police stations, and fire stations, where someone may leave an infant under certain circumstances without criminal penalty.  The legislation provides that the safe haven provisions apply to infants who are up to one year old rather than the current standard of no more than sixty days old.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3973, a bill establishing the CRIME OF FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION.  The legislation establishes felony criminal provisions that apply to the mutilation of the genitalia of females who are under the age of eighteen or older females who are unable to consent to the procedure.  A violation is punishable with a fine of up to twenty thousand dollars and/or imprisonment for not more than twenty years.  In addition to these criminal penalties, professional licenses or certifications are permanently revoked for physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals who engage in criminal female genital mutilation.  The legislation also revises the Children’s Code to add female genital mutilation to provisions addressing child abuse and harm.  

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3263, the “ARMED SERVICE MEMBERS AND SPOUSES PROFESSIONAL AND OCCUPATIONAL LICENSING ACT”.   The legislation establishes a protocol that allows the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation to expedite the issuance of professional and occupational licenses to spouses of military personnel transferred to South Carolina when the spouse holds a professional or occupational license issued by another state that has similar requirements.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3200, the “SOUTH CAROLINA LACTATION SUPPORT ACT”.  As a means of promoting public health and benefitting South Carolina’s economy by keeping nursing employees in the workforce, the legislation requires employers to make reasonable efforts to provide workers with reasonable unpaid break time and space to express milk at work.  The legislation does not require employers to compensate employees for breaks taken to express breast milk unless the employer already provides compensated breaks and does not require employers to create a permanent or dedicated space for use by pumping employees.  The South Carolina Human Affairs Commission is charged with certain responsibilities for educating employers, employees, and employment agencies about their rights and responsibilities under the legislation.   A timeline is established for workplace compliance.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3586, a bill revising and updating the COORDINATED STATEWIDE 911 EMERGENCY TELECOMMUNICATIONS SYSTEM.  The legislation charges the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office with creating, updating, and implementing a comprehensive strategic plan, including operating standards, for a coordinated statewide 911 system to address changing technology, services, and operating efficiency and effectiveness.  The standards must be developed and updated with comments and recommendations from the South Carolina 911 Advisory Committee, local officials, service providers, and the public.  The plan must be approved by the board and may be amended as necessary.  The legislation includes provisions for auditing local governments on the use of the “Emergency Telephone System” Fund, requiring local governments to restore 911 funds that were inappropriately used and allowing the withholding of funds to local governments that fail to comply with audit provisions.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3601, a bill establishing a procedure that allows a court to grant a CONDITIONAL DISCHARGE FOR A FIRST TIME OFFENDER CHARGED WITH PUBLIC DRUNKENNESS AND DISORDERLY CONDUCT.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3029, a billEXPANDING STATE POLITICAL PARTY EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE JURISDICTION TO INCLUDE COUNTY OFFICERS.  The legislation expands political party state executive committee authority so that it includes hearing protests and contests in county officer, and less than county officer, elections.  The legislation repeals provisions for hearings by county executive committees and appeals from decisions of county executive committees.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4157, a joint resolution to extend the deadline to submit offers for a solicitation for a STATEWIDE VOTING SYSTEM solution for the South Carolina Elections Commission and to create a special evaluation panel to evaluate and score each proposal for new voting machines.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4054, a joint resolution to allow for the submission of less than three qualified applicants to the Governor to serve as EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT AND WORKFORCE.

The House rejected H.3031, a bill revising VOTER REGISTRATION DEADLINES.

If you have a comment or opinion concerning the matters discussed in this report, or if I may be of assistance to you at any time, please feel free to call your legislative office in Columbia (803-212-6875); my Richland Legislative Delegation Office (803-576-1908); or write P.O. Box 292434, Columbia, SC 29229.  Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in the House of Representatives.

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The State Capitol Report – 3/13/2020

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.5201, the General Appropriation Bill, and H.5202, the joint resolution making appropriations from the Capital Reserve Fund, which together comprise the FISCAL YEAR 2020-2021 STATE GOVERNMENT BUDGET.  The budget includes $9.6 billion in recurring state general fund revenue, after $629 million is transferred to the Tax Relief Trust Fund that provides for the residential property tax caps.  The budget’s nonrecurring funds include $568 million in surplus funds estimated for Fiscal Year 2019-2020, $350 million in the Fiscal Year 2018-2019 Contingency Reserve Fund, and $162 million in Capital Reserve Funds.

$128 million in nonrecurring funds is used for providing one-time income tax credits that amount to $100 for each filer, and $120 million in recurring funds is devoted income tax relief by reducing the top income tax bracket by 0.2%.

The budget provides for an accelerated statewide farm-to-market road paving program to allow for paving on an estimated statewide total of 240 miles of these farm-to-market secondary roads within the state highway system, with projects in every county of the state.  The paving program includes $77 million in nonrecurring funds allocated through the Department of Transportation and $23 million in nonrecurring funds distributed among the County Transportation Committees.   

$50 million in nonrecurring funds is appropriated to begin a Disaster Relief and Resilience Reserve Fund that is to be used for disaster relief assistance, hazard mitigation and infrastructure improvements, and statewide resilience planning.

$10 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for the state FEMA match for Hurricane Dorian.

To allow South Carolina to take advantage of measures approved by the U.S. Congress to combat the coronavirus, the budget includes authorization for state agencies to receive funds from the federal government to be expended for COVID-19 preparedness and response.

$42 million in recurring funds is provided for a state employee recruitment and retention initiative that affords agencies flexibility in providing merit-based pay raises and bonuses.  Funding for the initiative is equivalent to a 2% salary increase.

$38.9 million in recurring funds is included to cover the increased costs of operating the state’s health and dental insurance plans and to provide coverage for adult well visits with no additional monthly premium costs.

A provision is included to revise retirement benefits after returning to covered employment under the South Carolina Retirement System and the Police Officers Retirement System to establish a protocol that allows retirees to return to covered employment without being subject to the ten thousand dollar earnings limitation.

A total of $32 million from the General Fund and $4 million in Education Improvement Act funds is devoted to the 1% increase in the employer contribution rates for the South Carolina Retirement System and the Police Officers Retirement System that is in keeping with the schedule for addressing the unfunded liability facing the state’s pensions established in Act 13 of 2017.

$213 million in recurring funds is used to provide a teacher salary increase of $3,000 per teacher.  The increase allows the state’s teacher pay to exceed the Southeastern average by $2,456 and places South Carolina in the top half of states in the nation for average teacher salary.

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$26 million in recurring funds is appropriated to increase the base student cost to $2,500 per pupil.  

In order to receive the increased funding for the base student cost, a school district must implement a policy that prohibits the use of cellphones and other personal electronic communication devices by students during direct classroom instructional time.

$76 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for instructional materials.

The budget provides for a statewide expansion of full day 4K early childhood education which includes $37.6 million in Education Improvement Act funds through the State Department of Education, $15 million in EIA funds through the First Steps program, and $2 million in EIA funds for early childhood assessments. 

$3 million in Education Improvement Act funds is allocated to First Steps for the enhancement or expansion or evidence-based programs that serve at-risk children and their families from birth to age three. 

$60 million in nonrecurring funds is allocated for capital improvements in the most economically challenged school districts.

Eligibility is expanded for the Rural School District and Economic Development Closing Fund established within the Department of Commerce to facilitate economic development and infrastructure improvements.

$10 million in recurring funds is allocated for school resource officers.

$5.5 million in Education Improvement Act funds is included to address S.C. Public Charter School District growth.

$2.6 million in recurring funds is devoted to the SC Virtual Schools Program.

$3 million in recurring funds, $22.5 million in nonrecurring funds, and $500,000 in lottery funds is provided for school buses. $7.9 million in funds from the Volkswagen Environmental Trust is allocated for purchasing school buses. 

The budget includes a higher education tuition mitigation initiative in which a total of $47.6 million in additional recurring funds is distributed among the state’s institutions of higher learning.  In order to retain these appropriations, the institutions must comply with provisions for freezing in-state tuition and mandatory fees during the 2020-2021 academic year.

The Capital Reserve Fund is devoted to capital needs at the state’s colleges and universities, with a total of $160 million in these nonrecurring funds allocated among the institutions for repairs, renovations, and maintenance of various facilities. 

A provision is included to require all public institutions of higher learning to prepare a report listing any fee increases assessed in the current fiscal year and the reason for the increase.  The report must be submitted by November 30 to the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

The Commission on Higher Education is charged with determining which of the state’s public institutions of higher learning are in compliance with the statutory provisions for required instruction on the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Federalist Papers.  A report on compliance with this instruction on American founding documents must be submitted to the Chairman of the House Education and Public Works Committee and the Chairman of Senate Education Committee by November 1. 

Full funding is provided for the LIFE, HOPE, and Palmetto Fellows higher education scholarship programs through $326 million in Education Lottery funds.

The Commission on Higher Education is afforded $28.4 million in lottery funds for need-based grants, representing an approximate 40% increase from last year.

$51 million in lottery funds is provided for tuition assistance through the Commission on Higher Education and the Board of Technical and Comprehensive Education

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The Board of Technical and Comprehensive Education is afforded $17 million in lottery funds for SC Workforce Industry Needs scholarships that help provide full tuition at technical colleges for SC WINS recipients seeking degrees in industry sectors with critical workforce needs.

The Board of Technical and Comprehensive Education is provided $11 million in lottery funds for workforce scholarships and grants, $12.5 million in unclaimed prize money for high demand job skill training equipment.

$8 million in nonrecurring funds and $2.5 million in capital reserve funds is allocated to the Ready SC Program which provides worker training at the state’s technical colleges that is customized to the needs of new and expanding business and industry.

$10 million in recurring funds is provided for instructional programs at the state’s technical colleges.

$10 million in nonrecurring funds is appropriated for career and technology education centers which will assist school districts, two- and four-year colleges, and the business community in creating a new model for delivering career and technical education and dual enrollment opportunities.

The budget includes a provision establishing the Workforce and Education Data Oversight Committee to support the mission of the Coordinating Council for Workforce Development by collecting data from various state government agencies and institutions and analyzing the compiled data to improve the effectiveness of the state’s educational delivery system in providing economic opportunities.

The Department of Social Services, Vocational Rehabilitation Department, Denmark Technical College, and the State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education are charged with exploring the feasibility of developing and implementing a residential workforce development program for foster and disabled youth at least 18 years of age to provide higher educational and transitional employment opportunities.

$3.7 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for the Deal Closing Fund that the Department of Commerce uses to recruit new business to the state.  The Department of Commerce is afforded $4 million in nonrecurring funds for the Locate SC Site Inventory, $1.5 million in nonrecurring funds for the SC Association for Community Economic Development, and $9 million in nonrecurring funds for the SC Technology and Aviation Center.

The Rural Infrastructure Authority is afforded $2 million in recurring funds for the Rural Infrastructure Fund and $4.3 million in nonrecurring funds for the Water and Sewer Regionalization Fund.

The Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism receives $1 million in recurring funds for tourism recovery advertising, $2 million in recurring funds and $1 million in nonrecurring funds for destination specific tourism marketing, $10 million in nonrecurring funds for film incentives, $1.1 million in nonrecurring funds for SC Association of Tourism Regions, $3 million in nonrecurring funds for state parks revitalization, $1.7 million in nonrecurring funds for the SC Aquarium, and $10 million in nonrecurring funds to rebuild the state’s welcome centers.

The Department of Transportation receives $10 million in nonrecurring funds for upgrades to the state’s rest areas.

The State Ports Authority is afforded $1 million in nonrecurring funds for the Jasper Ocean Terminal Port Facility Infrastructure Fund and $200, 00 in nonrecurring funds for a Port of Georgetown engineering study.

The Division of Aeronautics receives $2 million for airport improvement projects.

The Department of Archives and History receives $3.7 million in nonrecurring funds for community development grants, $1.5 million in nonrecurring funds for historic preservation, $1 million in nonrecurring funds for the SC Revolutionary Wary Sestercentennial Commission,   $100,000 in nonrecurring funds for the African American Heritage Commission’s Greenbook of SC.

The State Museum is provided $3.7 million to begin the second phase of its exhibit renovations.

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The Arts Commission is afforded $1 million in recurring funds for community arts development, $1 million in nonrecurring funds for arts organization facilities upgrades, and $500,000 in nonrecurring funds for community arts development and education grants.

The Department of Agriculture is appropriated $1.1 million in recurring funds for federal hemp farming compliance and $630,000 in nonrecurring funds for hemp testing laboratory equipment.

Clemson PSA receives $1.1 million in recurring funds and SC State receives $802,600 in recurring funds for their extension programs.

The Forestry Commission is provided $1 million in nonrecurring funds for firefighting equipment.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control receives $1 million in recurring funds for the additional newborn screenings of Dylan’s Law, $5 million in recurring funds for salary increases for critical position retention, $997,000 in recurring funds for vaccine funding for disease control response, $1 million in recurring funds for hazardous waste emergency response, $1.95 million in recurring funds for the air quality program, $1 million in recurring funds for ocean outfalls, and $2.2 million in nonrecurring funds for its nursing program expansion.

The Department of Health and Human Services is afforded $47.3 million in recurring funds for Medicaid maintenance of effort to address program cost growth, $13.9 million in recurring funds for the community long term care census and assistance to the CLTC program that allows aging and disabled individuals to receive care in their communities instead of nursing homes and other institutional settings, $7.9 million in recurring funds for healthcare provider reimbursement rates, $6.7 million in recurring funds for disproportionate share hospital allotment increase, $492,000 in recurring funds for the SC Office of Rural Health, $150,000 in nonrecurring funds for cervical cancer awareness, $7.4 million in nonrecurring funds for the Medicaid Management Information System, and $1.7 million in nonrecurring for medical contracts.

The budget includes a provision for the Department of Health and Human Services to transfer $1 million to the Medical University of South Carolina Hospital Authority to develop a comprehensive approach to advancing the awareness, detection, treatment, and scientific knowledge of sickle cell disease and trait within South Carolina.  The MUSC Hospital Authority is authorized to partner with independent research entities to advance curative therapies for sickle cell disease and trait and is authorized to endow one or more nationally leading academic research centers with a research chair named the “Rena N. Grant Endowed Chair for Hematology” in furtherance of this goal.  Additionally, to improve the quality of care provided to sickle cell patients, the authority is charged with performing statewide cultural competency training in all hospitals, including urgent care centers, in this state in order to educate and increase the awareness of health care professionals that are most likely to treat sickle cell patients on the symptoms and stigma associated with sickle cell disease and trait, especially pain relief.

Funding is continued for the Rural Health Initiative partnership between the Department of Health and Human Services and the University of South Carolina School of Medicine which includes an emphasis on rural residency placement and infrastructure improvements in underserved areas.  $2 million in recurring funds is provided to enhance Telemedicine operations and $5 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for infrastructure. 

As part of the Rural Health Initiative, the South Carolina Center for Rural and Primary Healthcare is charged with studying how to develop a coordinating system for mobile health clinics operating within the state to ensure that they are serving the entire state, including rural and underserved areas.

The Department of Mental Health is afforded $5 million in recurring funds for inpatient services, $7.98 million in recurring funds for workforce sustainability initiatives, $600,000 in recurring funds for school mental health services, $625,897 in recurring funds for the sexually violent predator treatment program, $46.8 million in nonrecurring funds for VA nursing homes certification state match, and $400,000 in recurring funds for emergency department telepsychiatry.

The budget includes a mental health crisis stabilization initiative which provides for the Department of Mental Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Health and Environmental Control, Department of Alcohol and 

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Other Drug Abuse Services, and all other relevant agencies coordinate their efforts to ensure that the statewide system for the delivery of mental health services

The Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services is charged with creating pilot programs with rural community-based nonprofits to provide counseling services to combat the opioid crisis.  DAODAS is authorized to create a trust fund, which may receive donations from public and private sources, that is to be used to award grants to rural community-based nonprofits.

The Department of Social Services receives $14 million for child welfare efforts which includes staff equity increases, case worker staffing, increased Group Home Board Payments, and increased Foster Family Board Payments.  $2.6 million is provided for adult advocacy staff and emergency stabilization beds.

The Department of Disabilities and Special Needs is afforded $10.1 million for various rate increases and $2 million for the Greenwood Genetic Center for Autism Research.

The Department of Corrections receives $100 million in nonrecurring funds for security and prison safety equipment upgrades, $7.5 million for fire alarm replacement, $9 million in recurring funds for recruitment and retention, $9 million in recurring funds for critical need health services positions, $5 million in recurring funds for the Hepatitis C treatment program, $3 million in recurring funds for the expansion of the gang enforcement security team, and $3 million in recurring funds and $1 million in nonrecurring funds for long term programming and reentry needs. 

The Department of Juvenile Justice is afforded $5 million in nonrecurring funds for safety and security upgrades and $9.8 million in nonrecurring funds for security updates and renovations at the Broad River facility.

The Judicial Department is afforded $5 million in nonrecurring funds for case management modernization and $1.4 million in nonrecurring funds for its digital courtroom recorder project.

The Attorney General’s Office is provided $1.6 million for crime victim compensation funding.

$1 million in recurring funds and $2.5 million in nonrecurring funds is appropriated for Circuit Solicitor Prosecution Case Management System and IT infrastructure.

Indigent Defense is afforded $2.8 million for Criminal Justice System Workload Parity.

The budget emphasizes salary increases for law enforcement officers across multiple agencies.

The State Law Enforcement Division is afforded $1.8 million in recurring and $1.5 million in nonrecurring funds for technology equipment.

$2.3 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for local law enforcement grants through the Department of Public Safety.  $1 million in recurring funds is provided for DPS vehicle replacement.

The Department of Motor Vehicles is afforded $5 million to modernize its database and $5 million for salary adjustments and other employee retention initiatives.

The budget includes an $11.6 million increase in recurring funds for the Local Government Fund that is consistent with the revised approach for sending revenue to political subdivisions established in Act 84 of 2019. 

A budget provision precludes counties from obtaining the tax relief offered for solar panels and other renewable energy equipment by excluding this renewable energy resource property from county property tax collection.  

$2 million in recurring and $5 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for Conservation Bank Trust grants. 

The State Library is afforded $1 million in recurring funds for Aid to County Libraries, increasing the per capita distribution from $2.00 to $2.25.

The State Election Commission receives $9.3 million in nonrecurring funds for completion of the new voting system.

The Adjutant General is afforded $2 million for armory revitalization and $7.5 million for the Aiken Readiness Center.

The Department of Administration is appropriated $1.5 million for statewide employee recruiting and retention initiatives, $2.5 million recurring and $8.1 million nonrecurring for the SC Enterprise Information System, and $5 million for state-owned building capital needs.

The budget enhances funding for the constitutional reserve accounts that the state uses to cope with revenue shortfalls.  An additional $13.6 million is used to fully fund the Capital Reserve Fund.  $122 million is provided for the General Reserve Fund, which exceeds the constitutionally-required $34 million contribution.   

The House made appointments to a conference committee to address its differences with the Senate on S.601, a bill SUBJECTING EMPLOYEES OF RESIDENTIAL CHILD CARE FACILITIES TO CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECK REQUIREMENTS.

The House made appointments to a conference committee to address its differences with the Senate on S.76, a bill that makes provisions for EXTENDING THE ENERGY EFFICIENT MANUFACTURED HOMES INCENTIVE PROGRAM for five additional years.

Having completed its work on the state government budget and sent the legislation to Senate, the House of Representatives will not meet during the upcoming week of March 16-20.  This furlough week for House Members is a cost-saving measure for South Carolina’s taxpayers, and it affords legislators additional time to consider pending legislation on the future of Santee Cooper which the House is scheduled to take up after it returns on March 24.

If you have a comment or opinion concerning the matters discussed in this report, or if I may be of assistance to you at any time, please feel free to call your legislative office in Columbia (803-212-6875); my Richland Legislative Delegation Office (803-576-1908); or write P.O. Box 292434, Columbia, SC 29229.  Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in the House of Representatives.  

The State Capitol Report – 3/6/2020

The House of Representatives and the Senate adopted the conference committee report on S.16, legislation that relates to EMERGENCY REFILLS OF PRESCRIPTIONS BY PHARMACISTS, and the bill was enrolled for ratification.  Current law provides authority for pharmacists to dispense an emergency prescription refill of up to a ten-day supply of a medication once within a twelve-month period.  The bill increases the maximum amount of a medication that may be dispensed for an emergency prescription refill to a fourteen-day supply.  If the qualifying medication is packaged in a way that it is not possible to dispense a fourteen-day supply, the pharmacist may dispense up to a thirty-day supply.

The House returned S.635 to the Senate with amendments.  The legislation authorizes the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue “DRIVERS FOR A CURE” SPECIAL LICENSE PLATES to support medical research that combats cancer.  Proceeds from the plates must be distributed evenly between the Medical University of South Carolina Hollings Cancer Center and the Duke Cancer Institute.  The legislation also authorizes the issuance of AIR MEDAL SPECIAL LICENSE PLATES to those who have been awarded the medal in the course of their military service.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4663, legislation AUTHORIZING PHARMACISTS TO ADMINISTER FLU VACCINES TO CHILDREN YOUNGER THAN TWELVE YEARS OLD in accordance with a protocol issued by the Board of Medical Examiners upon recommendation of the Joint Pharmacist Administered Vaccines Committee.  The legislation builds upon current provisions that authorize pharmacists to administer the influenza vaccine, without a physician’s order, to those who are at least twelve years old. 

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4776, a bill addressing RESTRICTIONS ON REPRESENTING PARTIES BEFORE THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION IMPOSED UPON FORMER COMMISSIONERS AND PSC EMPLOYEES.  The legislation prohibits representing a party in a Public Service Commission proceeding for a period of four years, in the case of a former commissioner, and a period of one year, in the case of a former PSC employee.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4724, a joint resolution establishing a temporary COMMITTEE TO STUDY CERTAIN ISSUES AFFECTING VETERANS that is charged with examining the prevalence and root causes of veteran homelessness in South Carolina.  The committee’s study must address such issues as: the approximate number of homeless veterans in the state; how many of South Carolina’s veterans have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); the availability of services for the state’s most economically disadvantaged veterans; and, reasons why traditional Veterans Affairs Services are not alleviating homelessness, particularly with regard to job placement services.  The committee is composed of: three members of the Senate, appointed by the President of the Senate; three members of the House of Representatives, appointed by the Speaker of the House; and, the Secretary of the South Carolina Department of Veterans’ Affairs or his designee.  The legislation requires the committee to submit its report to both houses of the General Assembly and to the Governor by the end of 2021 and provides for the committee to dissolve after this deadline.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4694, a bill EASING SCHOOL BUS TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS.  The legislation revises the blanket prohibition that makes it unlawful for a school bus to pass another school bus by establishing an exception which provides that a school bus may pass another school bus on a multilane highway.  The legislation also eliminates a provision that sets maximum speed limits for school buses.     

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4454, a bill that revises the criminal offense that applies to drivers ENDANGERING EMERGENCY SERVICES PERSONNEL at accident scenes so that tow truck operators responding to emergency incidents are included among the emergency services personnel.

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The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4938, a bill addressing EXEMPTIONS FROM ELECTRONIC PRESCRIPTION REQUIREMENTS FOR CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES included in Schedules II, III, IV, and V.  The legislation adds to the electronic prescription requirements exemptions list: a practitioner who writes a prescription for a controlled substance included in Schedules II through V that does not exceed a five-day supply for the patient; and, a practitioner who issues an oral authorization in the case of an emergency situation.  The legislation revises an existing exemption that addresses hospital discharges so that it also applies to state mental health facilities.  Another existing exemption is revised so that it also applies to controlled substances administered in a home infusion pharmacy. 

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4669, a bill that narrows the exemption from ELECTRONICALLY FILING DEATH CERTIFICATES by removing from the exemption physicians who certify fewer that twelve deaths per year and funeral homes that perform fewer than twelve funerals per year.  By subjecting these individuals to requirements for the electronic filing of death certificates, only those who act, without compensation, as a funeral director on behalf of a deceased family member or friend remain covered by the exemption from electronic filing.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4937, a bill revising provisions for CHARITABLE RAFFLES.  The legislation makes revisions to provisions authorizing raffles conducted by nonprofit organizations that include: allowing charitable raffles to continue by eliminating the upcoming sunset date when these provisions are set to expire; increasing prize amounts; consolidating reporting requirements; authorizing a nonprofit organization to compensate members for services rendered in a fundraising event that may include raffle costs related to entertainment, such as the costs of a disc jockey, band, auctioneers, support staff, waiters, bartenders, and wait staff utilized to conduct the fundraising event; and removing a prohibition so that raffle funds may be used for the provision of athletic facilities and equipment. 

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4963, a bill relating to ALCOHOL SAMPLES.  The legislation establishes a protocol that allows a producer or wholesaler to furnish samples of wines, cordials, and distilled spirits to a retailer.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4710, a bill to strengthen provisions enacted last year as updates to the Youth Access to Tobacco Prevention Act and public school tobacco-free campus policies that take VAPING into account.  The legislation also applies Clean Indoor Air Act restrictions to vaping.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4800, a bill REAUTHORIZING THE JOINT CITIZENS AND LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE ON CHILDREN through 2030.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4078, a bill that revises requirements for the ELECTRONIC SUBMISSION OF REPORTS to the General Assembly so that these requirements also apply to reports that are required to be sent to a legislative standing committee or other committee created by the General Assembly.  The legislation implements a recommendation arising from the House Legislative Oversight Committee’s study of the South Carolina Commission on Indigent Defense.

The House gave Special Order status to H.5201, the General Appropriation Bill, and H.5202, the joint resolution making appropriations from the Capital Reserve Fund, so that consideration of the FISCAL YEAR 2020-2021 STATE GOVERNMENT BUDGET is set to begin on Monday, March 9. 

If you have a comment or opinion concerning the matters discussed in this report, or if I may be of assistance to you at any time, please feel free to call your legislative office in Columbia (803-212-6875); my Richland Legislative Delegation Office (803-576-1908); or write P.O. Box 292434, Columbia, SC 29229.  Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in the House of Representatives.

The State Capitol Report – 2/28/2020

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4431, a bill to enact the “SOUTH CAROLINA BUSINESS LICENSE TAX STANDARDIZATION ACT” as a means of: reducing the complexity of complying with the business license taxes imposed by counties and municipalities by bringing statewide uniformity to the deadlines, application forms, and various other parts of the process; enhancing convenience for businesses by allowing them to pay taxes owed in multiple jurisdictions using a one-stop-shopping online portal; and, allowing counties and municipalities to receive the full amounts they are owed for business licenses without subtracting the portion that has been charged in fees by third parties collecting the taxes. The legislation imposes statewide standardization upon many aspects of the business license taxes imposed by counties and municipalities, including: a single timeline for issuing and renewing licenses and imposing penalties; standards for computing taxes based upon the gross income of the business; a uniform business license application established and provided by the Director of the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office; a protocol for issuing refunds to businesses; requirements for taxing jurisdictions to make use of the Standardized Business License Class Schedule as recommended by the Municipal Association of South Carolina and adopted by the Director of the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office; requirements for the Municipal Association to determine and revise this Standardized Business License Class Schedule every even year using the latest available nationwide Internal Revenue Service statistics for the calculation of profitability of businesses and using the latest business classification codes of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS); and, a protocol that allows county and city councils to approve reasonable sub-classifications.  Provisions are made for a centralized online portal hosted and managed by the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office which businesses may use to pay the various license taxes imposed in multiple jurisdictions.  In addition to allowing a payment through the business license tax portal, a taxing jurisdiction shall allow a taxpayer to file and pay its business license tax in person at a location within the taxing jurisdiction, by telephone, or by mail.  The legislation imposes a prohibition on a private third-party assessing or collecting business license taxes or requiring businesses to remit confidential tax data on behalf of a taxing jurisdiction.  Restrictions are imposed on how a taxing jurisdiction may contract with a third party to assist in the collection of business license taxes.  The legislation disallows arrangements where a private sector auditing firm or other third party is paid on a contingency fee or success basis.  Enforcement measures are provided which authorize the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs award to civil penalties to taxpayers for violations.  The legislation provides an exemption from business license taxes for charitable organizations that covers their nonprofit activities.  

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4761, a bill providing for “SOUTH CAROLINA READ TO SUCCEED ACT” ENHANCEMENTS that emphasize early intervention for students who are having difficulty learning to read so that they can receive needed instruction before reaching the time when a low score on a literacy assessment can require a student to repeat the third grade.  Under the legislation, the State Board of Education is charged with approving no more than five reliable and valid early literacy and numeracy screening assessment instruments for selection and use by school districts in kindergarten through third grade.  Assessments must be given at the beginning of the school year.  For students who need additional assistance, the screening will also occur during the middle and end of the school year.  Assessment results must be reported to the State Department of Education which is responsible for monitoring student progress.  Read to Succeed Act provisions are revised to require that districts provide appropriate in-class intervention and at least thirty minutes of supplemental intervention by certified teachers who have a literacy add on endorsement until all students are at grade level.  School districts must offer a summer reading camp as intervention for any student enrolled in the first or second grade who is substantially not demonstrating proficiency in reading, based upon the universal screening process.  The legislation replaces the current “Not Met 1” benchmark for student retention, and provides, instead that a student must be retained in the third grade if the student fails to demonstrate reading proficiency at the end of the third grade as indicated by scoring at the lowest achievement level on the state summative English/language arts assessment which indicates that the student needs substantial academic support to be prepared for the next grade level.  Districts are encouraged to develop policies for intensive support and retention of students in kindergarten through second grade if it is determined 

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to be in the student’s best interest.  The reading portfolio exemption from retention is strengthened.  When exemptions from retention are granted because of appeals by students’ parents or guardians, school districts are required to report on the number of appeals made, the number granted, and the outcome of the students whose appeals are successful.  More specific job duties and position requirements are established for reading coaches.  The State Department of Education must screen and approve reading coaches for districts where more than one-third of third grade students score at the lowest achievement level on the state English/language arts assessment.  Early childhood, elementary, and special education teacher candidates must pass a test on reading instruction and intervention before they can be certified.  The Commission on Higher Education and the Learning Disorders Taskforce are charged with examining the effectiveness of teacher education programs with regard to diagnosing and assisting students with reading difficulties.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3328, a bill revising SCHOOL LUNCH provisions.  The legislation provides that students eligible for free and reduced meal benefits must be offered the same federally reimbursable meal as students not eligible for these federal free and reduced meal provisions.  Federally reimbursable meals must be offered even if the student owes money for previous meals.  Schools that offer food and beverages separate from federally reimbursable meals may not allow students to accrue a balance when purchasing items, and only may accept cash payment or allow funds to be electronically drawn from a prepaid balance.  A school or school district may not invoke penalties for failing to pay for a school lunch, such as prohibiting students from attending field trips, participating in graduation or other recognition ceremonies, or attending other academic-related activities.  The State Department of Education is charged with developing and providing a model policy and template to each school district regarding the collection of school meal debt.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4765, a bill imposing LIMITATIONS ON COLLECTING SCHOOL MEAL PROGRAM DEBTS.  The legislation prohibits a public school or school district from using a debt collection service to collect debts owed on a school lunch or breakfast account of a student.  A public school or school district may not assess or collect any interest, fees, or other such monetary penalties for outstanding debts on student school lunch or breakfast accounts.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4758, a bill providing authority for ALTERNATIVE PROGRAMS FOR EDUCATOR PREPARATION AND CERTIFICATION as a means of addressing current teacher shortages.  Under the legislation, educator preparation programs housed within an institution of higher education may submit a separate and distinct educator preparation program for alternative preparation to the State Board of Education for approval.  The board shall promulgate regulations concerning the granting of approval, cyclical review, and revocation of approval for alternative educator preparation programs.  The State Department of Education is charged with providing each college of education and state-approved educator preparation program with information evaluating the performance its graduates on a yearly basis so that this information may be used to improve education services.

If you have a comment or opinion concerning the matters discussed in this report, or if I may be of assistance to you at any time, please feel free to call your legislative office in Columbia (803-212-6875); my Richland Legislative Delegation Office (803-576-1908); or write P.O. Box 292434, Columbia, SC 29229.  Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in the House of Representatives.  KHG/jhm

The State Capitol Report – 2/21/2020

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3197, the “STUDENT LOAN BILL OF RIGHTS ACT”, which establishes consumer protection measures for those who obtain loans to finance postsecondary education or other school-related expenses.   The legislation provides for the licensure and regulation of student loan servicers by the Department of Consumer Affairs.  A list of prohibited activities is established for student loan servicers to address such misconduct as: defrauding or misleading student loan borrowers; knowingly or recklessly providing inaccurate information to a credit bureau; charging unauthorized fees; and, placing student loan borrowers in forbearance or default without determining whether they are eligible for income-based repayment programs.  The legislation authorizes the Department of Consumer Affairs to conduct investigations and examinations and empowers the department to address fraud and other violations through such means as: suspending, revoking, or refusing to renew licenses; imposing fines, cease and desist orders, and other equitable and injunctive relief; and bringing civil actions.  A student loan ombudsman position is created within the Department of Consumer Affairs to provide timely assistance to borrowers by performing such duties as: receiving, reviewing, and attempting to resolve complaints from student loan borrowers; compiling and analyzing data on these complaints; answering questions about student education loans; disseminating information and conducting educational programs; and, advising on policy and law changes.  The department is required to submit an annual report on these student education loan consumer protection initiatives to the Senate Education Committee and the House Education and Public Works Committee. 

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3455, a bill that provides for the licensure and regulation of SWIMMING POOL INSTALLERS by classifying them as residential specialty contractors.  The legislation adds swimming pool installers to the list of those classified as residential specialty contractors, who are independent contractors who contract with licensed residential builders, general contractors, or individual property owners to do certain construction work, repairs, improvement, or re-improvement which requires special skills and involves the use of specialized construction trades or craft.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4974, a bill providing for ADDITIONAL CIRCUIT COURT AND FAMILY COURT JUDGES.  The legislation provides for the election of two additional resident circuit court judges: one for the Fourteenth Circuit and one for the Fifteenth Circuit.  The legislation provides for the election of two additional resident family court judges: one for the First Circuit and one for the Sixteenth Circuit.

If you have a comment or opinion concerning the matters discussed in this report, or if I may be of assistance to you at any time, please feel free to call your legislative office in Columbia (803-212-6875); my Richland Legislative Delegation Office (803-576-1908); or write P.O. Box 292434, Columbia, SC 29229.  Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in the House of Representatives.

KHG/jhm

The State Capitol Report – 2/14/2020

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4940, a joint resolution creating a temporary ELECTRICITY MARKET REFORM MEASURES STUDY COMMITTEE to examine whether the legislature should adopt market reform measures affecting the provision of electric service in South Carolina and study the public benefits associated with such measures.  The legislation provides for the study committee’s membership of six legislators, three members of the House of Representatives, all serving ex officio, appointed by the Chairman of the House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee and three members of the Senate, all serving ex officio, appointed by the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  The committee includes a non-voting advisory board made up of representatives from the electrical power industry, alternative energy and renewable power developers, consumer groups, pertinent government agencies, economic sectors, and conservation advocates.  Provisions are made for the study committee to engage third party, independent, expert consultants.  The legislation sets a deadline of January 12, 2021, for issuing a report to the General Assembly and provides for the study committee to dissolve after making its final report.

The House returned S.601, a bill SUBJECTING EMPLOYEES OF RESIDENTIAL CHILD CARE FACILITIES TO CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECK REQUIREMENTS, to the Senate with amendments.  The legislation enacts recommendations of the Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children to bring South Carolina into compliance with federal requirements by extending the criminal background checks that are required before the Department of Social Services may place a child in a foster home or adoptive home so that these background checks are also required for employees working in residential facilities, such as child caring institutions, emergency shelters, group homes, and wilderness therapeutic camps.  The legislation also expands this foster home, adoptive home, and residential facility background screening by requiring a check of the registry of child abuse and neglect in every state where an individual has previously resided, rather than those states where an individual has lived within the past five years.  

The House amended and gave second reading approval to H.4974, a bill providing for ADDITIONAL CIRCUIT COURT AND FAMILY COURT JUDGES.  The legislation provides for the election of two additional resident circuit court judges: one for the Fourteenth Circuit and one for the Fifteenth Circuit.  The legislation provides for the election of two additional resident family court judges: one for the First Circuit and one for the Sixteenth Circuit.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3066, a bill making provisions for the DESTRUCTION OF ARREST RECORDS IN CASES OF MISTAKEN IDENTITY.  This legislation establishes requirements for the destruction of records of those arrested because of mistaken identity, establishing a 180-day deadline following the completion of investigations that prove arrests were due to mistaken identity.  No investigating authority can charge or collect fees for these arrest record destructions.  Provisions are included that authorize law enforcement and prosecution agencies to retain arrest and booking records, associated bench warrants, mug shots, and fingerprints under seal so that this information is exempt from disclosure, except by court order.  The legislation also establishes a protocol for DISMISSING CHARGES FOR CERTAIN OFFENSES LEFT UNRESOLVED for more than five years and destroying records relating to arrests.  Under the legislation, someone charged with certain listed offenses may petition the county solicitor for dismissal of the alleged offense that has not been adjudicated by trial or guilty plea, or otherwise disposed of or dismissed, after five years.  If the petitioner has no other pending charges unrelated to the subject charge and no criminal convictions subsequent to the alleged offense, the solicitor must approve the dismissal of the offense charged and must do so within thirty days of receipt of the petition.  The listed offenses include third degree simple assault and battery, public intoxication, disorderly conduct, breach of trust with fraudulent intent, open containers of alcohol in motor vehicles, trespassing, misdemeanor fraudulent check offenses, misdemeanor shoplifting, driving under suspension, simple possession of controlled substances, and similar local and state offenses that are similar to these listed crimes, in the opinion of the prosecutor.  Upon dismissal of the offense, the solicitor is required to notify the State Law Enforcement Division and SLED 

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is required to remove the pending charge from the petitioner’s criminal record within ten days.  Additionally, any arrest and booking records, associated bench warrants, mug shots, and fingerprints of the person must be destroyed and no evidence of the record pertaining to the charge or associated bench warrants may be retained by any municipal, county, or state agency.  An employee who intentionally violates these requirements is guilty of contempt of court.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate to H.5062, a bill that allows the option of obtaining HARD CARD HUNTING AND FISHING LICENSES and other wildlife permits and tags from the Department of Natural Resources that are made of plastic or similar materials so that they will be more durable than paper versions.  Those who select this option are subject to a six-dollar fee of which the issuing vendor may retain one dollar.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.5015, a bill ADDING SCHEDULE IV DRUGS TO THE LIST OF SUBSTANCES THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES MAY USE FOR THE CAPTURE AND IMMOBILIZATION OF WILDLIFE.  The legislation expands this list of tranquilizing agents and other approved substances so that DNR will be able to use a new drug, classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance, that is particularly effective for deer and bear immobilization. 

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4702, a bill restoring AUTHORIZATION FOR THE RICHLAND-LEXINGTON AIRPORT COMMISSION TO OPERATE A FOREIGN TRADE ZONE that was inadvertently removed from statutory language.

If you have a comment or opinion concerning the matters discussed in this report, or if I may be of assistance to you at any time, please feel free to call your legislative office in Columbia (803-212-6875); my Richland Legislative Delegation Office (803-576-1908); or write P.O. Box 292434, Columbia, SC 29229.  Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in the House of Representatives.

KHG/jhm

The State Capitol Report – 2/7/2020

The House of Representatives and the Senate adopted the conference committee report on H.3357 and the bill was enrolled for ratification.  The legislation allows for a HEARING IMPAIRMENT NOTATION ON A MOTOR VEHICLE REGISTRATION as a means of providing law enforcement officers with information that could prevent misunderstandings during traffic stops and other interactions.  The legislation establishes a procedure that allows drivers who are deaf or hard of hearing to apply to the Department of Motor Vehicles to have a notation added to their private passenger‑carrying motor vehicle registration.  This special motor vehicle registration notation would only appear when a law enforcement check is run on the vehicle’s license plate through the department’s online interface with law enforcement to alert the officer that the driver may be deaf or hard of hearing.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to S.996 and the legislation was ratified and signed by the Governor.  This joint resolution authorizes an EXTENSION OF SOUTH CAROLINA PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION CANDIDATE SCREENING to provide an opportunity to find additional qualified candidates to present to the General Assembly for election to the commission that oversees public utilities.  The legislation authorizes an extension in screening for candidates for PSC Seats 1, 3, 5, and 7 that allows the Public Utilities Review Committee to accept applications for a time period beginning Monday, February 3, 2020, through noon on Friday, February 28, 2020.  Provisions are made for advertising these positions.  In screening candidates for the PSC and making its findings, the Review Committee is directed to find the best qualified people by considering candidates’ ability, dedication, compassion, common sense, and integrity as well as their race, gender, and other demographic factors to assure nondiscrimination, inclusion, and representation to the greatest extent possible of all segments of the population of this state.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4209, a bill that creates the SOUTH CAROLINA FARM AID FUND to receive appropriations from the General Assembly along with private donations and establishes a protocol for using this fund to operate a grant program for providing financial assistance to farmers should the state again experience disastrous flooding or another type of catastrophic weather event.  Under the grant program, financial assistance is limited to farmers who experience a verifiable loss of agricultural commodities of at least forty percent due to a catastrophic weather event.  A grant may not exceed twenty percent of the farmer’s verifiable loss with a total cap of one hundred thousand dollars.  Grant awards must be used for agricultural production expenses and losses due to the catastrophic weather event which demonstrate an intent to continue the agricultural operation, such as the purchase of seeds and fertilizer.  The financial assistance may not be used to purchase new equipment.  A Farm Aid Advisory Board is established to make recommendations and assist the Department of Agriculture in the administration of the grant program.

The House approved S.525 and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation eliminates the sunset date for an environmental impact fee so that it will no longer expire on December 31, 2026, and will instead continue to fund the SUPERB ACCOUNT, which is used to address environmental clean up costs should an underground petroleum tank leak.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4831, a bill STRENGTHENING LEGAL PROTECTIONS FOR NATIVE REPTILE AND AMPHIBIAN POPULATIONS to counter illicit trade operations that collect these animals, notably South Carolina’s box turtles, and export them for sale.  With certain exceptions, the legislation makes it unlawful for someone to sell, purchase, trade, exchange, barter, export, ship, transfer the possession of, rehome, remove, or attempt to remove from this state any native reptile or amphibian species, including parts, products, eggs, offspring, and derivatives.  The Department of Natural Resources is authorized to establish possession limits for reptile and amphibian species by regulation in order to protect designated species from commercial exploitation and other pressures on these populations.  The legislation also includes provisions making it unlawful for someone to release from captivity wildlife that is not native to this state.  The Department of Natural Resources is authorized to promulgate regulations to prohibit or otherwise restrict

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certain species of nonnative wildlife in this State, including species that have the potential to become established in this state in sufficient numbers so as to become a nuisance and those that pose a demonstrable deleterious and widespread threat to wildlife, agriculture, or human health and safety.  The legislation enhances penalties for violations.     

The House approved S.474 and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation revises catch limits and size limits for estuarine and saltwater finfish, to provide that it is unlawful for someone to take or have in possession more than ten SPADEFISH (Chaetodipterus faber) in any one day, not to exceed thirty spadefish in any one day on any boat.  The legislation provides that it is unlawful to take, possess, land, sell, purchase, or attempt to sell or purchase spadefish of less than fourteen inches in total length.

The House approved S.475 and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation revises catch limits and size limits for estuarine and saltwater finfish, to provide that it is unlawful for someone to take or have in possession more than three TRIPLETAIL (Lobotes surinamensis) in any one day, not to exceed nine tripletail in any one day on any boat.  The legislation provides that it is unlawful to take, possess, land, sell, purchase, or attempt to sell or purchase tripletail of less than eighteen inches in total length.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4737, a bill revising PERSONAL WATERCRAFT AND BOATING SAFETY provisions by increasing distance limits between a watercraft operating in excess of idle speed upon certain lakes and rivers of this state and a moored or anchored vessel, wharf, dock, bulkhead, pier, or person in the water.  The doubling, or in the case of Lake Wylie tripling, of the current fifty foot minimum distance requirement on these lakes and portions of rivers  is offered to afford greater protection from wakes generated by personal watercraft, notably sport boats used for waterskiing and wakeboarding.  

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.5018, a bill facilitating ELECTRONIC PROCESSING OF WATERCRAFT AND OUTBOARD MOTOR TITLES through the Department of Natural Resources.  The legislation allows for the transmitting and receiving titles and liens and the discharging of liens online using electronic documents.

If you have a comment or opinion concerning the matters discussed in this report, or if I may be of assistance to you at any time, please feel free to call your legislative office in Columbia (803-212-6875); my Richland Legislative Delegation Office (803-576-1908); or write P.O. Box 292434, Columbia, SC 29229.  Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in the House of Representatives.

KHG/jhm

The State Capitol Report – 1/31/2020

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4760, a bill revising the STUDENT ASSESSMENTS that are administered in the state’s public schools as a means of: ensuring that standardized testing is not unnecessarily burdensome; improving notification about upcoming assessments; and, affording parents, guardians, and teachers with timely access to test results so that this information might be better used to improve student achievement.  The legislation eliminates the summative assessments in social studies and United States History that are not required under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act accountability provisions.  In addition to streamlining summative testing, which is conducted at the end of a school year to determine what a student has learned in a course of study, the legislation also places limits and conditions on formative testing, which is conducted during the course of a school year to determine what progress a student is making towards mastering particular subjects.  With certain exceptions, the legislation provides for students to be administered no more than one state or locally procured formative assessment, and for that one standardized test to be given no more than three times during an academic year.  A protocol is established that requires schools to provide notification to parents and guardians about upcoming formative assessments and their purpose at least one week before testing.  No more than one week after the administration of a formative assessment, schools are required to provide teachers, parents, and guardians with test results.  In addition to test scores, the material that parents and guardians receive must include information on how the formative assessment aligns with state standards and summative assessments, and suggestions for how to support the child’s learning at home.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4753, a bill providing for TEACHER INCENTIVES.  The legislation establishes a “Teacher Bill of Rights” to enumerate those things that all certified public school teachers in South Carolina should be able to expect.  These include: working in an environment conducive to learning; the inclusion of their discretion with regard to disciplinary and instructional decisions; freedom from frivolous lawsuits; unencumbered daily planning time; a competitive salary; no unnecessary paperwork; and, support from school administration to meet performance standards and professional expectations.  These provisions do not create or imply a private cause of action for a violation.  The legislation provides that each classroom teacher and full time librarian is entitled to at least a thirty minute daily planning period free from the instruction and supervision of students.  Each school district may set flexible or rotating schedules for the implementation of this duty free planning period.  Implementation may not, however, result in a lengthened school day.  The legislation offers a tax incentive for attracting teachers to areas where they are most needed in the form of an income tax credit that covers all of the property taxes paid for five years on a residence for a K-12 public school teacher who lives and teaches in a Tier IV economically challenged county.

The House appointed a conference committee to address its differences with the Senate on S.455, the “ARMED SERVICE MEMBERS AND SPOUSES PROFESSIONAL AND OCCUPATIONAL LICENSING ACT”.

The House returned S.996 to the Senate with amendments.  This joint resolution authorizes an EXTENSION OF SOUTH CAROLINA PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION CANDIDATE SCREENING to provide an opportunity to find additional qualified candidates to present to the General Assembly for election to the commission that oversees public utilities. 

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4936, a bill that eliminates the prohibition on possessing GAME FISH DEVICES while possessing or using nongame devices.  The change allows someone to have an authorized game fish device, such as a rod and reel, while using authorized nongame devices, such as set hooks, trotlines, eel pots, jug fishing devices, and traps. 

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The House approved and sent the Senate H.4945, a bill that revises coastal zone management provisions governing construction seaward of the baseline to allow for certain EROSION CONTROL STRUCTURES to have their damage assessment based on a single distinct continuous seawall or bulkhead rather than on a lot by lot basis.

If you have a comment or opinion concerning the matters discussed in this report, or if I may be of assistance to you at any time, please feel free to call your legislative office in Columbia (803-212-6875); my Richland Legislative Delegation Office (803-576-1908); or write P.O. Box 292434, Columbia, SC 29229.  Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in the House of Representatives.

KHG/jhm

The State Capitol Report – 1/27/2020

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4404, a bill enacting the “VETERANS NURSING DEGREE OPPORTUNITY ACT” as a means of both addressing the state’s nurse shortage and smoothing the transition for veterans from military life to professional civilian careers.  The legislation establishes programs to enable veteran military clinical personnel, such as medics and corpsmen, to accelerate the process at participating South Carolina public and independent colleges and institutions for obtaining associate’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees in nursing by awarding academic and clinical credit or waivers for relevant education, experience, and skills acquired from their military service.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3199, a bill REQUIRING INSTRUCTION ON STUDENT LOANS IN HIGH SCHOOL FINANCIAL LITERACY PROGRAMS.  The legislation expands high school financial literacy program requirements so that they also include instruction on college and education loans, key loan terms, monthly payment obligations, repayment options, credit, and education loan debt.  The State Board of Education is directed to incorporate these new instructional topics with the adoption of the next revisions scheduled for the social studies academic standards under cyclical review.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3257, a bill that provides for updating public school INSTRUCTION ON MENTAL, EMOTIONAL, AND SOCIAL HEALTH under the Comprehensive Health Education Act.  The legislation provides that, at the next cyclical review of the health standards, the State Board of Education shall continue to revise existing age appropriate standards and concepts that address mental, emotional, and social health.  Before September 1, 2020, in addition to the current standards, the board shall continue to make standards aligned instructional materials available to districts.  Districts shall continue to adopt or develop curriculum locally.  Beginning with the 2020-2021 School Year, each seventh grade student must be offered one unit of instruction in mental health and wellness based on the instructional unit selected or adopted by the board, and each ninth grade student shall receive and successfully complete a one unit course of study in mental health and wellness based on the instructional unit selected or adopted by the board.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4403, a bill revising provisions relating to BULLYING PROHIBITION POLICIES that must be adopted by school districts.  The legislation provides for a more expansive definition of “harassment, intimidation, or bullying”.  Procedures are established for responding to and remediating allegations of bullying.  The legislation requires an appeals procedure.  Local districts are required to adopt policies for the prevention of harassment, intimidation, or bullying that are at least as stringent as the model policies developed by the State Board of Education.  A procedure is established that requires the state board to approve local policies to ensure that they meet the minimum requirements.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4076, a bill REQUIRING BOARD AND COMMISSION MEMBERS TO SIGN STATEMENTS ACKNOWLEDGING THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES AND AUTHORITY.  The legislation establishes a protocol under which an agency or instrumentality in the executive branch of state government or a public institution of higher learning with a governing board or commission is required to have its board or commission members sign a written document outlining statutory duties and powers.  Board or commission members are not eligible to receive mileage, subsistence, or per diem unless these documents are signed in a timely manner.  Repeated refusal to sign the required documents constitutes grounds for removal from office by the Governor for persistent neglect of duty.  The bill implements recommendations arising from the House Legislative Oversight Committee’s study of the South Carolina Commission on Indigent Defense.

The House amended and gave second reading approval to S.996, a joint resolution authorizing an EXTENSION OF SOUTH CAROLINA PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION CANDIDATE SCREENING to provide an opportunity to find additional qualified candidates to present to the General Assembly for election to the commission that oversees public utilities.  The legislation authorizes an extension in screening for candidates for PSC Seats 1, 3,

 5, and 7 that allows the Public Utilities Review Committee to accept applications for a time period beginning Monday, February 3, 2020, through noon on Friday, February 28, 2020.  Provisions are made for advertising these positions.  In screening candidates for the Commission and making its findings, the Review Committee is directed to give due consideration to race, gender, and other demographic factors to assure nondiscrimination, inclusion, and representation to the greatest extent possible of all segments of the population of this state.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4504, a bill to provide the Department of Health and Environmental Control with more effective means of regulating WASTE TIRE FACILITIES, particularly those facilities that amass large quantities of tires without 

recycling them in a timely manner.   The legislation authorizes DHEC to promulgate regulations to protect human health and safety of the environment from the adverse effects of improper, inadequate, or unsound management of waste tires.  DHEC is authorized to conduct inspections and investigations, obtain records of waste tire processing, storage, or hauling activities, obtain samples, and conduct research regarding the operation and maintenance of any waste tire management facility.  A protocol is established for DHEC to place a facility under a suspension when it exceeds its permitted capacity and to sanction a facility that violates a suspension by accepting additional waste tires.  DHEC is charged with maintaining a Waste Tire Rebate Facility List that includes only facilities that are in compliance and fulfill the requirements of a waste tire recycling facility.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4811, a bill revising beachfront management restrictions placed on erosion control structures or devices seaward of the setback line to allow for the placement of shoreline perpendicular WINGWALLS that extend landward at a ninety degree angle from the ends of existing erosion control structures or devices that are consistent in height and composition with the existing erosion control structures to which they are attached subject to any special conditions imposed by the Department of Health and Environmental Control.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4202, a bill requiring the state registrar of vital statistics at the Department of Health and Environmental Control to issue, upon receipt of certain documentation, a CERTIFICATE OF FOREIGN BIRTH for a child with United States citizenship who is born in a foreign country to a parent who is a resident of South Carolina.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4286, a bill revising requirements for PRESCRIPTION DRUG LABELS to provide that the lot number of the prescription must be indicated on the label, patient receipt, or bar code.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3695, a bill establishing provisions that make MOTORCYCLES OR MOTORCYCLE THREE-WHEEL VEHICLES ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE HIGH MILEAGE TAX DEDUCTIONS.

The House appointed a conference committee to address its differences with the Senate on H.3357, a bill allowing for a HEARING IMPAIRMENT NOTATION ON A MOTOR VEHICLE REGISTRATION. 

If you have a comment or opinion concerning the matters discussed in this report, or if I may be of assistance to you at any time, please feel free to call your legislative office in Columbia (803-212-6875); my Richland Legislative Delegation Office (803-576-1908); or write P.O. Box 292434, Columbia, SC 29229.  Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in the House of Representatives.

KHG/jhm

The State Capitol Report – 1/17/2020

Lawmakers returned to the State House on January 14, 2020, to commence the second regular session of the 123rd South Carolina General Assembly.

The House of Representatives approved S.11 and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation provides that, if the United States Congress amends federal law to authorize states to observe DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME year round, it is the intent of the South Carolina General Assembly that daylight saving time be the year round standard of the entire state and all of its political subdivisions.

The House returned S.194, a bill addressing PROSTITUTION AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING, to the Senate with amendments. The legislation makes revisions to prostitution crimes that include an increase in the fines for second and subsequent misdemeanor offenses relating to soliciting prostitutes or abetting prostitution.  An enhanced felony offense is established for violations involving a prostitute who is severely or profoundly mentally disabled.  The legislation revises offenses of engaging in prostitution to establish an affirmative defense against prosecution for a violation when the defendant is a victim of human trafficking.  The legislation adopts recommendations for eradicating human trafficking from the organization Shared Hope International.  These initiatives include: the establishment of criminal offenses for combatting sex tourism enterprises more effectively; the inclusion of human trafficking among the offenses for which law enforcement may seek a court order authorizing wiretapping or the interception of electronic communications to further their criminal investigations; provisions for appointing special advocates trained in handling human trafficking cases to assist minor victims; and, enhancements to training on trafficking in persons and sex trafficking for law enforcement personnel, prosecutors, and judges.   

The House appointed a conference committee to address its differences with the Senate on S.16, legislation that increases the maximum amount of a medication that may be dispensed through EMERGENCY REFILLS OF PRESCRIPTIONS BY PHARMACISTS. 

The House amended Senate amendments to H.3174 and returned the bill to the Senate.  This bill establishes technical specifications for ELECTRIC‑ASSIST BICYCLES and bicycles with helper motors and provides that those who operate these low-speed electrically assisted bicycles are subject to all statutory provisions that apply to bicyclists.  The legislation includes labelling requirements for these bicycles to indicate their wattage and maximum electrically assisted speed.  The legislation specifies that electric-assist bicycles and bicycles with helper motors are not mopeds.

The House amended Senate amendments to H.4244 and returned the bill to the Senate.  The legislation makes revisions related to VEHICLE SERVICE CONTRACTS and theft protection program warranties that include requirements for disclosures to consumers and provisions for how service contract providers establish their financial security to pay claims.

The House returned S.580 to the Senate with amendments.  This bill revises provisions governing the South Carolina Life and Accident and Health Insurance Guaranty Association to adopt national model standards for addressing IMPAIRED OR INSOLVENT INSURERS.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4533, a bill renaming the state’s Commission for Minority Affairs the COMMISSION FOR MINORITY AND MULTICULTURAL AFFAIRS.

If you have a comment or opinion concerning the matters discussed in this report, or if I may be of assistance to you at any time, please feel free to call your legislative office in Columbia (803-212-6875); my Richland Legislative Delegation Office (803-576-1908); or write P.O. Box 292434, Columbia, SC 29229.  Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in the House of Representatives.

KHG/jhm