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S.C. House Speaker Says Calendar is Full for End of 2021 Session

Gilda Cobb-Hunter Garry Smith History Course South Carolina
Jeffrey Collins/AP
State Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg, left, listens as Rep. Garry Smith, R-Simpsonville, right, talks about a bill that would require a semester course on America's founding for college students on Thursday, April 15, 2021, in Columbia, S.C. The bill passed 91-12. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina House members have been told to hold no more committee meetings with just two weeks left in the 2021 session and a calendar full of bills to consider.

“We cannot possibly finish what we have on the calendar now. I’m telling committee chairman from here to not meet next week. We cannot do your bills," House Speaker Jay Lucas said Thursday.

Lucas also told lawmakers to expect to return to Columbia several times for special sessions after the regular session ends May 13.

Lucas expects the House to return June 8 to take up what leaders have been calling “Budget 2.0,” a review of the extra $1.7 billion written into the 2021-22 spending plan by state senators after forecasters said the economic downturn from COVID-19 wasn’t as dire as anticipated.

House members are expected to come back around June 22 to deal with bills where senators and House members work out their differences and around June 29 to deal with any vetoes in the budget by the governor.

Lucas said he expects another special session in the fall to draw new lines for state and U.S. House districts based on the 2020 U.S. Census, but he can’t give a more specific timeframe because it isn’t clear when that data will be released.

Lawmakers want to have the new districts drawn and finish any judicial review before next year’s statewide primaries scheduled for June 14, 2022.

“If you're wondering when you can take a vacation," Lucas told his colleagues. “I would recommend July or August.”