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South Carolina Legislative Report - February 8, 2013

February 8, 2013

 

On the Floor

Legislative Session

This week the House of Representatives gave final passage to H. 3340, a resolution that would shorten the annual legislative session. The resolution was approved and sent to the Senate for consideration. If enacted, the General Assembly would convene in February of each year rather than January and adjourn in May rather than June.

Texting while driving recommitted

H. 3121 a bill that would ban texting while driving was committed to the House Judiciary Committee this week after being given a favorable report by the Education and Public Works Committee.

House on Furlough

This coming week, the House of Representatives will be on furlough and will not meet in Columbia.  The Senate will continue to meet on a regular schedule.

Introduction of Notable Legislation

H. 3511 – Unemployment Trust Fund

H. 3522 – Sales Tax Exemption Reform

H. 3535 – Limits on General Fund Appropriations

S. 338 - 2013 Ethics Reform Act

 

In Committee

Health and Human Services Budget

This week the Healthcare subcommittee for House Ways & Means met to take testimony from Health and Human Services Director, Tony Keck, on his executive budget request. Overall, Director Keck said that the Medicaid agency was currently operating with a surplus that would be applied to a reserve fund and managing its budget well despite emerging from a multi-million dollar deficit.  He stated that the agency was successful in implementing a number of cost-savings strategies, like the Birth Outcomes Initiative.  He is seeking an increase of $123 million in state match dollars.

In addition to his budget testimony, Director Keck faced questions from the subcommittee as well as testimony from a large number of hospitals who were represented in the audience.  The question of accepting the federal Medicaid expansions provided in the Affordable Care Act was the topic of the afternoon.  The Governor has refused to accept the expansions despite hospitals arguing that the increase in coverage and federal dollars would assist in stabilizing their budgets.

Department of Administration

A Senate Finance subcommittee continued to debate the Department of Administration legislation this week. Senators took testimony on the legislation but did not vote.  As part of a deal among senators, the legislation will have a full committee hearing on February 19 before returning to the floor. The legislation effectively eliminates the Budget & Control Board in favor of a new department under the purview of the Governor.

Department of Insurance

The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee gave a favorable report to the appointment of Ray Farmer; Governor Haley’s pick to lead the Department of Insurance. Farmer is a former Vice President of the South East Region of the American Insurance Association. The Department has been without a director for 10 months.  Some senators have raised questions regarding Farmer’s expertise as a representative of the insurance industry as well as what some see as skyrocketing insurance premiums across the state. The committee will continue to meet next week.

 

In The News

Rural hospital payments rising, along with rhetoric at SC State House

Democrats call Haley’s plan ‘political theater’

Gov. Nikki Haley, who wants the state to reject expanding Medicaid, called a news conference Wednesday to draw attention to her plan for the state to pay 19 rural hospitals more for caring for uninsured patients.

SC Rep. Bakari Sellers facing DUI charges

State Rep. Bakari Sellers, considered a rising South Carolina Democratic star, said Wednesday that he was pulled over for driving under the influence after a South Carolina football game last fall.

Nearly 20 candidates file for 1st Congressional District

16 Republicans and three Democrats filed for the race, making it one of the most crowded House fields in South Carolina history. The primaries will be held on March 19, with a runoff election to be held on April 2 if necessary. The general election will be held on May 7.

 

Meetings

Monday, February 11th   

  • 9:00am – Room 207, Gressette – Public Service Commission State Regulation of Public Utilities Review Committee
  • 10:00am – Room 521, Blatt – House Ways and Means Proviso Subcommittee
  • 1:00pm – Room 433, Blatt – Education Oversight Committee

Tuesday, February 12th             

  • 9:00am – Room 207, Gressette – Public Service Commission State Regulation of Public Utilities Review Committee
  • 3:00pm – Room 105, Gressette – Senate Judiciary Committee

Wednesday, February 13th

  • 10:00am – Room 105, Gressette – Senate Judiciary Subcommittee
  • 10:00amm – Room 207, Gressette – Senate Higher Education Subcommittee
  • 11:00am – Room 408, Gressette – Senate Banking and Insurance Subcommittee           

Thursday, February 7th 

  • 9:00am – Room 308, Gressette – Senate Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee
  • 10:00am – Room 209, Gressette – Senate Corrections & Penology Committee
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For more information or to be added to our distribution list, please feel free to contact a member of our South Carolina Legislative team