It is an honor to serve you in Columbia again this session. This year has already been extremely productive, from passing a huge COVID-19 relief bill, to banning abortion in South Carolina, and much much more. I am writing to update you on some of these things and get into the swing of weekly updates. If you have any questions or comments about what we are doing in Columbia, feel free to give me a call.
Making History: Passing the Heartbeat Bill
The Heartbeat Bill, which outlaws abortions in the state of South Carolina after a heartbeat has been detected (around 6-8 weeks of pregnancy), passed the House last week and was signed into law by Governor McMaster. This long-anticipated bill passed the House last year only to burn out in the Senate. Once it was taken back up in the Senate and passed, I was ready to vote yes!
After what ended up being an emotionally explosive day, where most of the Democrat members walked out, the bill passed by a vote of 79-35. This bill is a huge step in the right direction of protecting the innocent life of the unborn and I am honored to be part of the largest pro-life bill to pass in South Carolina history.
A big item on the calendar this week was a bill to amend the Governor’s Executive Powers during a State of Emergency, such as we have experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill provides a legislative check to the Governor’s powers. After 30 days the power to extend, modify, or discontinue the order falls into the hands of the legislature. After 30 days, the Speaker of the House and President of the Senate may call the legislature back. Or, 10 of our 46 county legislative delegations can petition to bring the General Assembly back in to take action. At any rate, this bill allows for greater accountability to the wishes of South Carolina’s citizens. Debate was heard this week and I voted in favor of the bill on Thursday. The bill passed by a vote of 109-3 on second reading.
Education Scholarship Accounts (ESA)
Legislation was introduced this week to create Education Scholarship Accounts.
This aids low-income families by giving them access to educational options.
Each parent of eligible students will receive a flexible education grant to purchase education services from the provider of their choosing. This may include:
- Private school
- Instructional / Testing materials
- Special needs services
I look forward to supporting this legislation, spearheaded by my colleague Rep. Shannon Erickson to give parents a choice in how to best educate their children.
Transgender Women in Sports
Science is clear. There are physical differences between men and women. The Save Women’s Sports Act (H. 3477), sponsored by Rep. Ashley Trantham ensures that girls and women who play school sports are exclusively competing against other biological females. Sports serve as an outlet for many young women, and they deserve to compete comfortably and equitably. This common-sense legislation is not only supported by science. In a recent statewide poll, a majority of South Carolinians agree. I will support this bill when given the opportunity.
School Funding Gone Rogue
In some areas of our state, there is funding being provided for students, sometimes $15,000-$20,000 per student, per year. However, the dollars spent are not always working their way into the classroom. This week, I supported legislation that provides that the Department of Education can step in to manage an underperforming school district after 3 consecutive years of underperformance. This helps to ensure two things: 1) our students have the resources they need, even in impoverished and predominantly minority areas, and 2) that all the money spent is being accounted for.
Other Legislative News
- PASSED. This week, I helped pass a bill that reforms the transportation of Feral Hogs in our state. Feral Hogs have become an expensive nuisance to South Carolina’s farmers, and this bill aims to limit those detrimental effects.
- PASSED COMMITTEE: This week, the House Judiciary committee passed a bill that addresses limited availability of lethal injection in SC, by allowing electrocution of convicts when the lethal injection is not available. I support this matter.
- PASSED COMMITTEE: A bill that protects the ability to attend religious gatherings, even during a State of Emergency or lockdown, also passed the House Judiciary committee this week. I will vote in favor of this bill when it reaches the floor.
- PASSED SUBCOMMITTEE: Rep. Tommy Pope sponsored a bill that allows retired state employees, such as law enforcement officers, to return to work without the current $10,000 pay cap. This passed subcommittee on Wednesday and will move to full committee.
COVID-19 Vaccines Updates
WHO: Who is eligible to receive the COVID-19 Vaccine
- Frontline healthcare workers
- Anyone 65+ years
- State/local government employees who perform COVID-19 vaccinations/testing in SC
- A full list of those qualified can be found here.
To understand who is getting vaccinated in SC by demographic, visit the Vaccination Dashboard
WHAT: What are the numbers?
- Total Doses Given in South Carolina: 868,819
- Total People Vaccinated in South Carolina: 621,118
- People with 1 Vaccine dose: 619,248. People with 2 Vaccine doses: 248,924
- A new CDC study shows that during 13 weeks of in-person at K-12 schools, 7 of 4,876 students and 0 of 654 staff contracted COVID-19 at school
HOW: How can I protect myself and my family?
- SC DHEC provides recommendations for best COVID-19 safety practices, including wearing a mask, social distancing, and getting tested.
- To learn more, visit: https://scdhec.gov/covid19
WHEN: When will I be eligible to be vaccinated? When can we go back to school?
- Currently, South Carolina is in Phase 1A of the vaccination process.
- DHEC plans to transition to Phase 1B by early Spring.
- South Carolina obtains vaccinations from the Federal government, meaning the allocation is subject to change based on availability of vaccines.
- Recent CDC studies show that K-12 schools can safely have in-person learning with limited in-school COVID-19 spread if safety measures are taken.
WHERE: Where can I get vaccinated?
- Find a vaccine location near you here.
Contact your Representatives:
United States Congressman Joe Wilson — (202) 225-2452
United States Congressman Jeff Duncan — (202) 225-5301
South Carolina Senator Shane Massey — (803) 480- 0419
South Carolina Senator Tom Young — (803) 212-6000
South Carolina House of Representative Bill Hixon — (803) 279-8855
For more information about your state and national level representatives.
Resources and Helplines:
- DHEC Care Line: 1-855-472-3432
- COVID-19 Vaccine Information Line: 1-866-365-8110
- Find a vaccine location near you here: https://vaxlocator.dhec.sc.gov
- Information about qualifying for SBA loans: Click Here
- Mental health/substance abuse services related to COVID-19: 1-844-724-6737
- For other COVID-19 resources, visit the Accelerate SC website: https://accelerate.sc.gov
- To see if you may qualify for unemployment, visit: https://dew.sc.gov
- For updates from the Governor, visit https://governor.sc.gov
To follow committees, members, meetings, bills, get notifications, access calendars and journals, and live stream videos visit