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South Carolina General Assembly

  • National advocacy groups and hundreds of demonstrators have descended on the grounds of the South Carolina Statehouse grounds to testify before lawmakers considering new abortion-related measures after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. A 21-year-old college student speaking against abortion access Thursday shared the story of her own birth, when doctors advised her parents to get an abortion after an ultrasound showed a severely underdeveloped leg and a cyst on her brain. In his testimony against additional restrictions, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Joe Cunningham noted the story of a 10-year-old rape victim in Ohio who recently traveled out-of-state for an abortion.
  • When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last month it stated that it was time to return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives, meaning state or federal lawmakers. Surveys by news organizations indicate that about half of the states are now expected to restrict or enact laws making abortion illegal. South Carolina is among them, and later today in Columbia the legislative process to do that will begin with a public hearing by a special State House of Representatives Committee.
  • The South Carolina General Assembly has overturned many of Gov. Henry McMasters budget vetoes. But they did agree with the biggest one, taking $25 million out of the $13.8 billion spending plan to try to help bring a super computer to Columbia. The money was set aside for what supporters called a quantum computing operation and set up a nonprofit to rent time on the machine to researchers and others. Both the House and Senate continued Tuesday afternoon to consider the 73 vetoes issued by the governor, taking about $53 million from from the nearly $14 billion budget set to start July 1.
  • The South Carolina General Assembly is returning to Columbia on Tuesday to consider nearly $53 million in local projects that Gov. Henry McMaster wants out of the $13.8 billion state budget. All the money went toward items put in by lawmakers for local concerns, like $25 million to help pay for a quantum computer facility in Columbia, $7 million for a cultural welcome center in Orangeburg and $500,000 to improve the stadium at Summerville High School. McMaster says he allowed projects where lawmakers detailed exactly who got the money and where it was going.
  • Supporters of a bill to allow women in South Carolina to get birth control pills at a pharmacy without a doctor's prescription are trying to get it passed before this year's session ends. A House subcommittee on Wednesday approved the bill, sending it to the chamber's full medical committee. The bill has already passed the Senate, but there are just nine regular legislative days left in the General Assembly's 2022 session. Supporters say it is another logical step to reducing the number of abortions in the state by stopping unwanted pregnancies. Pharmacists could choose whether to participate in the program.
  • With just nine legislative days remaining in this year’s session of the state legislature, lawmakers are focused on enacting a handful of priority bills ahead of next month’s adjournment.
  • The chances of having early voting in upcoming elections in South Carolina appears to be dying after the state House and governor accused the Senate of a power grab. The Republicans aren't happy with fellow Republicans in the Senate changing the bill so they can confirm the governor's selections for the state elections board. The bill unanimously passed both the House and Senate. But with Gov. Henry McMaster's backing, House leaders say they may send the bill back to committee to kill it. Both blame Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey. Massey says the approval is a needed check because the governor didn't punish the board or executive director for poor choices made about ballot drop boxes and whether to require absentee ballot signatures during the 2020 elections.
  • The South Carolina Senate has unanimously passed a bill to expand early voting. Wednesday's vote gave key approval to a bill that unanimously passed the House in early March. But there may be one big snag between Republicans. Gov. Henry McMaster and House leaders aren't happy senators added a provision giving them power to confirm the governor's choices for not just the director, but also the five members of the board of the South Carolina Election Commission. McMaster says if the bill fails to pass voters will know to blame Senate leaders and Democrats. Lawmakers are trying to get the new rules in place for the statewide primaries on June 14.
  • Five University of South Carolina trustees who some powerful lawmakers feel are responsible for interference in daily affairs won't be allowed to run for reelection next month. The legislative board that screens university trustees is refusing to send chairman C. Dorn Smith as well as trustees Thad Westbrook, C. Edward Floyd, John von Lehe and Charles Williams to a May 4 election by the General Assembly. The decision comes as the state Senate prepares to review a House-approved bill that would fire all current trustees at the end of June 2023 and redraw their districts, cutting the board from 20 members to 13.
  • South Carolina's budget will likely face intense negotiations in the Legislature after Senate budget writers advanced a $12.6 billion plan based on $2 billion in income tax cuts and rebates. The Post and Courier reports lawmakers in the Senate Finance Committee adopted the spending plan unanimously Wednesday. The Senate version doesn't include the $1,500 one-time bonus for state employees suggested in the House version. Senators also want to raise teachers' minimum pay to $38,000, compared with the $40,000 proposed by the House. Spokespeople for Gov. Henry McMaster and the Palmetto State Teachers Association say the Senate's teacher pay proposals aren't high enough.