With only four weeks remaining in the 2021 Legislative Session, we’re beginning to see things slow down with the introduction of new legislation.
However, we continue to remain vigilant in our efforts to keep South Carolina safe and healthy for all of its residents as we keep a watchful eye on the state budget and active legislation.
What’s up this week
Senate Budget - The Senate has a full week. This morning, the Senate Finance Committee will meet in full committee at 10 am to discuss the state budget. H.4100 and H.4101 will be taken up, and we expect there will be intense debate amongst members of the committee as our state leaders continue to respond to the yearlong pandemic. You can tune in here.
As always, we will keep you updated on how the state’s budget progresses. We expect it to be deliberated on the Senate floor next week.
Santee Cooper Reform - We will also likely see S.464 debated on the Senate floor. As mentioned in last week’s update, this legislation is a Santee Cooper reform bill that includes compromises to address solar procurement, an evaluation of clean energy and early coal retirement in integrated resource plans, a PSC assessment of resource plans, and language providing for an equitable transition from coal for workers and communities.
DHEC Reform - After a Senate Medical Affairs Subcommittee canceled meetings two weeks in a row to discuss S.2 - a bill that will split apart the Department of Health and Environmental Control – the subcommittee will finally meet Wednesday, April 21st, 30 minutes after the Senate adjourns for the day. You can watch it here.
The SC Conservation Coalition has shared concerns with Senator Peeler, the legislation’s lead sponsor, about S.2 to ensure key legal tools are preserved and to open discussions on improved public engagement and environmental justice.
Overall, we are pleased to see that the environmental permitting functions of DHEC remain within a single Environmental Services agency. The Coalition believes that one of the key goals of the agency should be to improve the effectiveness of environmental permitting by providing that agency decisions are based on both the best science, information, and robust public engagement in order to ensure the protection of South Carolina’s communities and natural environment.
We will be closely monitoring S.2 and will keep you informed as we learn more about how you can engage on this important piece of legislation.
Nurdles – Last week, S.596 unanimously passed the full Medical Affairs Committee. It now moves to the Senate floor. While we don’t anticipate this bill passing out of the legislature this year, we are celebrating its forward momentum.
Electric Vehicles – Introduced by Senators Climer and Fanning, S.304 will be taken up tomorrow at 9 am in a House Labor, Commerce, and Industry Subcommittee after passing out of the Senate before crossover. As more and more South Carolinians begin to purchase and drive electric vehicles, we see this bill as a proactive endeavor as it will increase the number of electric vehicle charging stations throughout the state.
You can tune in here to watch the discussion on S.304.
Electronic Waste - H.4035 will be heard in a full Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday, April 22nd at 10 am. Tune in here. This bill extends the electronic waste legislation passed in 2011 that was set to sunset this year. With this extension, we’ll have more time to work with stakeholders and DHEC to make improvements in the management and disposal of electronic waste. We will continue to work with partners around the state to ensure that the path remains equitable and just.
Earth Week - Make sure to keep an eye on our social media pages this week! We’ll be hearing from conservationists, both familiar and new, about what it means to be green here in South Carolina with our Earth Week Interviews. Also, we’ll have some fun quizzes and ways that you can take action.
While we’re entering the home-stretch of this “more normal” legislative session, we still have a lot of time ahead of us. With 4 weeks left in session, anything can (and often does) happen. We’ll be in the lobby of the Statehouse fighting for the air, land, and water of South Carolina. We’re glad you have our back and appreciate all of your actions that help make our work with lawmakers better and more productive.