Last week, our legislators returned to Columbia to address COVID-19 spending from the federal CARES Act allocation. If you were like me, you probably expected lawmakers from both chambers to be there all week with extended, circular debates. To the contrary, the Senate met on Tuesday and passed their COVID-19 spending budget in just a few hours. House members met on Wednesday, and with a handful of amendment proposals that did not move forward, they passed the Senate’s CARES Act budget with a 109 to 2 vote.
The speedy legislative action is a result of committee preparation and leadership coordination. AccelerateSC, a group of business, health, and elected officials appointed by Governor Henry McMaster, have been meeting for several weeks. With their recommendations and with the recommendations from the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees, the CARES Act allocation addresses public education recovery, COVID-19 testing and monitoring, broadband expansion, unemployment, and oversight of spending. You can take a closer look at specific allocations here.
Lawmakers are scheduled to return to the State House on September 15th. While new legislation can be introduced and referred to respective committees, they will focus on more CARES Act spending and legislation that is close to passage per the Sine Die Resolution.
Public Service Commission Update
In some exciting news, they have finally set a date for the Public Service Commission (PSC) appointments at the General Assembly!
On Sept. 23rd at noon, the General Assembly will vote for 4 new members of the PSC (out of the 7 total seats). This has huge implications for clean energy accountability, transparency, and the future of energy policy in SC. As the Public Utilities Review Committee moves forward with vetting candidates in anticipation of the appointments, we will keep you updated on how and when you can take action to make sure we have a strong, effective PSC. To learn more about the PSC and sign up for updates, check out this website.
Celebrating the Great Outdoors in the Lowcountry
This summer, we have an opportunity to pass a monumental piece of conservation legislation in Congress – the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA). This bill fully and permanently funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund and provides money to restore our national parks. In every single one of South Carolina’s counties (and every state in the country), the Land and Water Conservation Fund has protected places, ranging from vast wilderness areas to small community playgrounds, earning the title of America’s most successful conservation program.
The GAOA recently passed through the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support – and both of South Carolina’s US Senators stood behind it! What’s more, the Lowcountry’s Congressman Cunningham introduced the House version of the bill, which will be taken up this summer. Be sure to reach out to your Congressman to support this historic land and water protection bill and send a quick note thanking our Senators!
Click here to email your Congressman about the Great American Outdoors Act!
We took a break last week and this week from production of the Public Concern Podcast since our producer had to go out of town unexpectedly. We’ll be back!
As we continue to monitor the actions of our federal and state lawmakers this summer, know that we are hard at work shaping and supporting impactful conservation legislation. We know that we could not do this without you. Thank you for all that you do to ensure a healthy and safe South Carolina for all.