2021-22 State Budget
This week, the House Ways and Means Committee worked diligently putting the final touches on our state’s budget to send to the full House for consideration. The Committee unanimously passed a conservative bill that will likely hit the floor the week of March 22nd for debate. We took into account the recommendations made in Governor McMaster’s executive budget that focuses on COVID-19 relief, pay raises for law enforcement and rebuilding our state’s reserve fund.
This year’s budget recognizes the uncertainties caused by the pandemic. It also invests millions of dollars in K-12 education and our state’s struggling hospitality industry to recover from devastating COVID-19 impacts.
Here are some of this year’s budget highlights:
- $500M Fund for pandemic stabilization
- Relief fund allocating $50M in the case of a devastating natural disaster
- 30% expansion of the state’s 4K program
- Funding for a school nurse in EVERY South Carolina school
- Step Increase Pay Raises for Law Enforcement Officers
- PTSD treatment for Law Enforcement and Firefighters
- $30M to expand broadband internet access in rural and underserved areas
- Grants for Tourism Marketing following COVID-19 pandemic’s hit on tourism industry
Open Carry with Training Act
This week, the Open Carry with Training Act (H. 3094) passed the full House Judiciary Committee. This bill, introduced by Rep. Bobby Cox, protects the right of citizens to openly carry a firearm given sufficient training and appropriate certifications. There are many not satisfied with this compromise – but that usually means we must have done something right. Some feel there are “too many guns” already and think passage of the bill would lead to the “wild west”. Others feel there should be NO training restrictions in place. I’ve heard from many of you and it seems most are practical by understanding training (very much like current training to carry a concealed weapon) is acceptable.
Teachers & Law Enforcement to be Vaccinated Beginning Monday
This week, the Governor announced the great news that South Carolina is moving into Phase 1b of the COVID-19 vaccination plan. Additionally, we have seen many more vaccination sites opening around the state and with this week’s approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccination, we are finally arriving on the other side of the pandemic. Here is what we know:
Starting March 8th, the following groups may schedule an appointment to receive their vaccine:
- Anyone over the age of 55
- People 16 and over who have a high-risk medical condition
- Teachers, store clerks, law enforcement and other frontline jobs that put an individual within 6ft of other people for more than 15 minutes
Visit https://scdhec.gov/covid19/covid-19-vaccine-allocation for more information
As of March 4th, over 995,309 doses of the COVID-19 vaccination have been given in South Carolina. This is due to the hard work and sacrifice made by volunteers, medical professionals, the National Guard, and many other folks in our State. I am proud and thankful for the progress we continue to make and the fellowship our state has shown during these tough times.
COVID-19 NEWS: On Friday, Governor Henry McMaster modified his COVID-19 emergency orders, returning remaining state employees back to the workplace full-time. Additionally, the face-covering requirement in state government building and offices has been dissolved to a recommendation. For more info, https://sc.gov.
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: https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources
- 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
As always, please call my office (803)734-2969 anytime you need assistance with state government OR anytime you have suggestions/advice on how to improve our quality of life. It’s an honor to serve you and your family in Columbia and I hope you’ll call me anytime you need help!