January 15, 2021

On Tuesday, January 12, 2021, lawmakers gathered in Columbia to commence the 124th South Carolina General Assembly.

The House of Representatives adopted H.3581, a resolution for House rules changes that allow for its committees to conduct online virtual meetings, rather than in-person gatherings, in order to minimize the risk of coronavirus spread. The revised rules provide authority for House Committee Chairmen to designate alternative meeting arrangements and procedures, which may only be implemented in the event that extraordinary circumstances, such as natural disasters, severe weather, and Acts of God, render them necessary. The alternative meeting arrangements and procedures must: (1) provide for public observation or participation as required by House Rules and state statutes; (2) provide both a video and audio component that is publicly accessible; and, (3) record the meeting, in its entirety, and make the recording available on the General Assembly website, as soon as practicable following the meeting.

The Speaker of the House announced that committees and subcommittees will be conducting business remotely over the next few days through the virtual meetings authorized under the new House Rules. The House adjourned to meet again in statewide session at the Capitol upon the call of the Speaker.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3481, a joint resolution suspending a transfer of funds to the South Carolina Retiree Health Insurance Trust Fund for Fiscal Year 2020-2021. The suspension allows the Public Employee Benefit Authority to retain these funds and continue to use them to address claims, which PEBA anticipates will be increasing following the delays in scheduling elective surgeries caused by COVID-19 shutdowns.

The House recalled from the Committee on Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs H.3602, a bill directing the Department of Health and Environmental Control to temporarily authorize qualified health care workers to administer approved COVID-19 vaccinations regardless of whether the health care workers are otherwise prohibited from doing so under any professional scope of practice or unauthorized practice provision of law.