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SC General Assembly heads to special session

SC House of Representatives Wed. May 10, 2023
Russ McKinney
SC Public Radio
SC House of Representatives Wed. May 10, 2023

This year’s regular session of the General Assembly ended late Thursday, May 11, 2023. It ended where it began with Republicans attempting to enact a new, restrictive abortion bill.

A House committee this week approved and sent to the full House a six-week, heartbeat bill similar to a law the state Supreme Court overturned in January.

Gov. McMaster plans to call lawmakers back to Columbia next week, and House Speaker Murrell Smith vowed the House will pass the bill which has already been approved by the Senate.

The Supreme Court ruled the previous six-week law violated a woman’s constitutional right to privacy. Republican lawmakers think they have made adjustments to the current bill that will pass muster in the court. Democrats disagree. They oppose any abortion bill maintaining it represents an assault on women’s reproductive rights, and they say they plan to introduce hundreds of amendments to the proposed abortion bill in hopes of de-railing it.

In the final hour of this year’s session the House and Senate agreed on a bill that will completely re-structure DHEC the state’s giant health and environmental agency. DHEC will be split into two new cabinet agencies, a Department of Public Health and a Department of Environmental Services beginning in July, 2024.

Russ McKinney has 30 years of experience in radio news and public affairs. He is a former broadcast news reporter in Spartanburg, Columbia and Atlanta. He served as Press Secretary to former S.C. Governor Dick Riley for two terms, and for 20 years was the chief public affairs officer for the University of South Carolina.