SC Legislative Update
By Ben Homeyer
The legislative session has officially ended Sine Die. Meaning the legislative session. But like most things related to the General Assembly it is not what it seems. The Governor has already called them back in to session to take care of unfinished business. The House will return Tuesday June 16th to take up multiple issues. The Senate will return shortly after as the House sends bills back to the Senate. Both bodies are scheduled to be in session the week of March 24th to debate what is expected in the final version of the budget and then vetoes will be the week after. It is expected that everything will be wrapped up by June 1.
DHEC Restructuring – S. 399. This bill would restructure DHEC create the “Department of Public Health” and would create the “Department of Environmental Services.” The bill would direct the Department of Administration to analyze and determine the best manner to restructure the agency effectively and efficiently and to submit a report to the General Assembly. The new structure would take effect July 1, 2024, after receipt of the report and approval by the General Assembly.
- 399 would do the following:
- The current process involving decisions on environmental permits or other approvals that give rise to a contested case hearing or the removal of an automatic stay would remain in place.
- Both the Department of Public Health and the Department of Environmental Services would become cabinet agencies with their directors being appointed by the Governor with advice and consent of the Senate; and
- Water Resources would be transferred from the Department of Natural Resources to the Division of Water within the Department of Environmental Services.
- The authority to manage certain veterans nursing homes would be transferred to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
- The food safety program would be transferred to the Department of Agriculture.
- The flood mitigation program currently housed with the Department of Natural Resources would be transferred to the Office of Resiliency.
The Budget has reached the final stages as the conference begins this week.
The House passed the revised version of the House budget Tuesday afternoon, following a new Board of Economic Advisors (BEA) estimate released earlier in the day, which presented slightly less new revenue than anticipated. The BEA increased non-recurring revenues by $564 million and recurring revenues by $240 million. Economic Development remains a priority, including more than $1 billion to help Scout Motors build a plant in Blythewood.
The DOT bridge funding was ultimately removed from the budget after much discussion. The DOT stated they have other sources of funding in which they can begin the bridge work as well as other projects. The State has done a good job of receiving dollars from other states as we have a mechanism in place for matching dollars. The budget includes a $250 million allocation to the County Transportation Committees (CTCs,) $50 million for SCTAC in Greenville, and several earmarked requests for various local projects. Also, additional money for the Department of Commerce was put forth for larger economic development programs.