SC Legislative Update

By Ben Homeyer

At 5:00 pm on Thursday, May 9th, the SC General Assembly gaveled out ‘Sine Die’, Latin for “without a day”, marking the end of the 2023-2024 Legislative Session. Members will return to Columbia for a few key dates in June to hold conference committees, including the budget, and for the budget veto session. 

More on the budget- it will be headed to conference committee in June to be hashed out and to come to an agreement between the House and Senate versions to produce a final product. The House originally set aside $200 million for DOT’s Bridge Program (the amount DOT requested and said was needed) in one-time general funds, but in their second bite at the apple decreased the amount to $100 million with the hopes to get back to the $200 million in conference committee as the Senate did $100 million under a different heading. The Senate funded CTC’s at $200 million in the budget and another $117 million for rural road safety initiatives. While the House did not fund those items, they set it up for both to potentially be included in the final version.  Final funding for USC’s new med school and Clemson’s new vet school were also included. Both bodies have prioritized infrastructure and that is good news for our rapidly growing state and for the concrete industry. It is expected that the conference committee will have roughly $475 million in new dollars when the BEA meets in June.  While the money is not guaranteed the BEA is confident that at this time it should be there next month.  

Some bills of interest that did and did not make it to the Governor’s desk. H5118, the Ten-Year Energy Transformation Act, and is House Speaker Murrell Smith’s primary bill for this session is headed to conference committee. The Senate returned the bill to the House with an attached resolution that acknowledged the state’s growing needs but believes a more comprehensive and calculated approach is needed. We will see what the energy bill looks like after the committee meets.  Both the Senate Majority and Minority Leader are on the conference committee and both have objected to major parts of the bill.  

Sitting on the Governor’s desk is H5023, Work Zone Safety and Training. This bill aims to improve safety in highway construction zones. Essentially, first time/initial driver’s license applicants must pass a section of the driver’s license examination proving their familiarity with the requirements to safely operate a vehicle through highway construction zone. The department of motor vehicles is tasked with implementing and overseeing the new regime. DMV will contract out this new program which also requires reviewing performance metrics. 

Medical marijuana legislation reducing unemployment insurance benefits, and an expedited permitting process all died this year. This session was the final year of the two-year calendar. All legislation that didn’t make it over the finish line will have to be reintroduced next year and start the process from the beginning.

The 2024 Election Dates are as follows: June 11th Primary Election, June 25th Primary Runoffs, November 8th General Elections. We must take this time as a reminder to support candidates that understand your needs, that are business friendly, and we’ll work towards our common goals. Every seat in the South Carolina General Assembly is up for grabs and this election year is as important as any in recent memory.