SC Legislative Update

By Ben Homeyer

The first month of the 125th SC General Assembly comes to a close this week and it has been a very busy last few weeks.  Here are some of the top takeaways and things to keep on your radar. 

On January 17th SCDOT Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall announced her retirement that will be official March 31st. SCDOT Commissioners have named Justin Powell as the interim Secretary of Transportation to replace Hall. The appointment will become official after Senate confirmation.  

Secretary Hall and Interim Secretary Powell presented to the Senate Legislative Oversight Committee on January 31st. They reported that in their 10-year plan accomplishments that rural road safety has seen a 24% reduction in fatal and serious injury crashes in the areas that have completed projects. Paving projects are being completed in every county in the state with more than 7,747 miles to be completed. Of the 881 miles of interstate, 200+ miles have been completed or are near completion. 335 bridges have been completed or are in process. The 10-year target is to have 500 total bridges repaired and remain a major focus. SCDOT reported that $200 million annually in additional bridge funding is critically needed and is the budget request this year in recurring funds. Interim Secretary Powell said that 80% of new money is going into paving projects and fixing roads. The subcommittee will review the report and will meet again on February 22nd. On March 6th the Senate Finance Committee will hear SCDOT’s presentation. A date for SCDOT’s annual, State of DOT presentation has not yet been set.  

On January 5th, Governor Henry McMaster released his Executive Budget for 2024-2025.  Attached is the Governor’s 180 page budget as well as the more highlighted and condensed budget summary for your review.  The Governors total budget in recurring and non-recurring funds came out to be $1.643 billion dollars. He asked for $500 million in one time dollars to finish fixing the bridges, SCDOT’s request was $200 million in recuring money so that they could meet the $1 billion estimated needed in the next 5 years to complete the needed bridge repairs and replacements. The Governor also requested $50 million non-recurring for aeronautics to expand and renovate commercial airports. Energy, infrastructure, and workforce are the constant coming out of the Governor’s office as well as the SC General Assembly. He is also asking for $95 million to support workforce industry scholarships through SC WINS, $55 million to invest in the State Ports Authority for economic development and another $37 million to support the state’s economic recruitment strategies. All of that continues to be positive for our industry.  

Some bills of interest:  

S 533 Tort was heard in Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Wednesday morning, but no action was taken on the bill.  The committee heard ninety minutes from the department of insurance on the need for insurance reform.

 As far as what will be happening on the floor the next few weeks, you can expect the Senate to continue the debate that they started last week on guns and then on to charter schools and medical marijuana. The House will be covering alcohol issues, online data content and the budget.  

Another reminder that every seat is up for election this year so you can expect to see a plethora of fundraisers and events in Columbia and in the candidate’s hometown and district.