Legislative Update Week #2 – Budget and Vaccine solutions

On Wednesday, the world watched the inauguration of the 46th President of the United States. Although President Biden and I may not agree on much, I was pleased to see the democratic transition of power happen peacefully. 

Overview of the week:

Nathan Ballentine

This week, legislative committee meetings were held virtually. This was able to happen due to a rule change passed last week. Although this change presented a unique set of challenges, we were happy that we were able to continue working. In particular, I serve on the House Budget Committee and this week, we met with many state agencies in law enforcement and criminal justice to hear their budget requests. Throughout these meetings, we hope to wisely invest your tax dollars. Many requests cannot be met due to budget constraints and so I ask for your prayers of discernment as we work on this monumental task. You can always watch live or recorded version of House meeting in video archives: https://www.scstatehouse.gov/video/archives.php.  

COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution:

On Thursday, an Ad Hoc Committee chaired by Rep. Weston Newton from Bluffton, met to study DHEC’s receipt and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine. The goal of this meeting was to improve the expediency and transparency of this process, but more importantly, to help save lives. Members of DHEC’s leadership team were present to answer questions about the distribution process, allowing the committee to assess what legislation is needed, if any, to expedite this process.  

Here are some major take-aways from this meeting:

–       SC is currently in Phase 1A of the vaccination process. In this group, there are an estimated 987,000 people. Once this group is vaccinated, we move to Phase 1B, which is an estimated 573,500 people. 1C follows with 2.9 million South Carolinians, including those aged 65-69 years old and those with underlying conditions. See diagram below for timeline. –       In our State, as of January 20th, over 337,000 doses of vaccines have been received by hospitals to administer. Over 186,000 of these have been administered. 

–       DHEC is working with the SC House and Senate on a joint resolution to authorize and expand personnel to administer the vaccination, including personnel with certifications, medical students, dentists, and other qualified medical personnel whether retired, inactive, or with expired licensing.

–       DHEC is working to create a Statewide Appointment System, replacing the flawed, federal Vaccine Administration Management Systems (VAMS). Improvements will include being easier to navigate, the ability to schedule first and second dose appointments, no email address requirement, and a more expansive call-center for those needing assistance.

–       DHEC says that any and all citizens of South Carolina who receive their first of the COVID-19 vaccine doses in South Carolina are guaranteed to receive their second dose within the medically required timeframe. 

–       You can watch a recorded version of this meeting in video archives here: https://www.scstatehouse.gov/video/archives.php 

COVID-19 Resources:

–       Use scdhec.gov/vaxlocator to see locations accepting appointments for COVID-19 vaccine. Pick a location and call the phone number listed to make an appointment. For more information, visit: https://scdhec.gov

–       SBA loans are available to qualifying businesses and help businesses keep their workforce employed during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.

Visit this website for more information about how your business can qualify: https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/coronavirus-relief-options/paycheck-protection-program#section-header-0 

–       For other helpful COVID-19 resources, visit the Accelerate SC website: https://accelerate.sc.gov Other Important Web Links:

–       For updates from the Governor, visit: https://governor.sc.gov 

–       To track a bill, live stream session or meetings, and other information, visit the State Legislature website: https://www.scstatehouse.gov/index.php

–       To download the SC Legislature Mobile app for iOS and Android devices, search “SC Legislature” on the App Store/Google Play.

 It is an honor and privilege to represent the families of House District 71 (Richland/Lexington counties) in Columbia! 

Please visit my website www.nathansnews.com to stay regularly informed with what’s going on in Columbia as well as around the community.

You can always call me at my State House Office 803-734-2969 or my home in Chapin 803-834-4613.