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COVID relief

  • South Carolina Senate President Harvey Peeler has sent a letter to senators canceling the special session set to begin Oct. 12. They were supposed to debate how to spend billions of dollars in federal COVID-19 relief money and redistricting. Peeler says the a subcommittee working on the new state Senate districts won't have the maps ready. And since the House doesn't plan to take up the pandemic money until January, there was no need to pass that bill now.
  • Gov. Henry McMaster and transportation officials say the state should use $360 million of its federal pandemic relief funds to jumpstart the widening of Interstate 26. The state already plans to expand parts of the 70-mile stretch between Columbia and Charleston. But officials say an influx of cash would speed up the process by six years and help save the state money in construction costs. The heavily-trafficked corridor has seen regular accidents and delays as motorists mingle with trucks taking goods to and from the Port of Charleston. Lawmakers will likely decide whether to include the I-26 project in the state's $2.5 billion share of federal COVID-19 money this fall.
  • Small towns in South Carolina are one step closer to getting $435 million in pandemic relief money. The state Department of Administration requested the funds from the federal government last week after a directive from Gov. Henry McMaster. The money is part of the nearly $8.9 billion flowing into the state through the federal American Rescue Plan Act.
  • The Medical University of South Carolina wants lawmakers to give the hospital system $400 million of federal COVID-19 relief money to expand mental health therapy and heart and respiratory treatment across the state. MUSC officials told a Senate panel reviewing how the state should spend the $2.5 billion of federal help that they would partner with other hospital systems so the new programs could help everyone in South Carolina.
  • Some Republican governors are using federal pandemic assistance to promote school choice programs, including charter schools and vouchers for private schools. The money comes with few strings attached, and it lets them sidestep legislative approval.
  • A judge has dismissed a lawsuit by four jobless South Carolinians against Gov. Henry McMaster over his decision earlier this summer to exit the federal unemployment programs providing extra money to residents. State Judge Lawton McIntosh wrote in a Friday order that it was up to state officials to leave the coronavirus pandemic assistance programs that provide additional federal funds to the jobless.
  • A small group of South Carolina senators is starting discussions on how to spend $2.5 billion of federal COVID-19 relief. The Senate American Rescue Plan Act Subcommittee met for the first time Tuesday.