SC Legislative Update
By Ben Homeyer
While session is officially over, the GA assembly and its committees continue to meet. The House Ways and Means Committee has been holding sub-committee hearings on the budget and will meet in full committee Wednesday June 2. At that time, they will present their second version of the budget but this time with roughly two billion more dollars appropriated than they did in March. Among items up for discussion are several hundred million for DOT for items such as interchanges and load bearing bridges. More dollars for technical colleges to increase the workforce in the state and numerous economic development projects. The full house is expected to take up the proposal June 8th in a one-day session and send it back to the Senate.
The Santee Cooper conference committee continues to meet to determine the fate of the embattled agency going forward. It is expected that they will finish their work this week and present a package to the General Assembly when they return in a few weeks. This is important for our members as many receive power from the utility, but their coal fired plants is a major source of fly-ash for the industry. The main issue left for the conference committee to discuss is a sale vs no sale provision in the legislation. A reform package is virtually assured.
Special committees have been formed in both bodies to allocate the expected $2.5 billion federal dollars for the cares act and the $600 million for a lawsuit against the Savannah River Site. DOT as well as all agencies are fighting for pieces of these dollars as the General Assembly feels they have no limitations on how they can spend the money. These committees will meet on and off over the summer, but the real work will not take place until September in another special session.
Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt has been presenting to both the House and Senate in the last week on Economic Development projects such as Gallo and others that are in the pipeline. The Senate is pushing for more transparency in the projects while the Agency as well as the House are concerned that too much information could keep companies from coming to SC if they must disclose financial information. It is an ongoing development to watch as all these facilities will use a massive amount of ready-mix concrete.
Positive numbers continue to fall, and the State has gone several days without any COVID related deaths over the last few weeks. The average for the week has been well under 200 each week testing positive. Venues are back to full capacity and almost no limitations are in place. With South Carolinians over 12 now able to receive Vaccines DHEC which oversees the testing expects numbers to continue to go down. At this point anyone in the State who is eligible for shot can get one with no trouble. Governor McMaster has removed mask mandates at the local level but left the option for businesses to require them on an individual basis.