April 28, 2022

The House gave second reading to H. 4568, Chemically Induced Abortion Reversal Medical Information, and it was ordered to third reading. If enacted, this proposed legislation would require a medical disclosure of specific effectiveness information to anyone seeking a mifepristone or misoprostol induced abortion, including, but not limited to a Plan B or a “morning after pill,” with a few stated exceptions.

The Senate amended, then returned to the House, H. 4919, an absentee ballot and other comprehensive voting reforms proposal. This bill would, among other things, establish Monday through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. early voting in South Carolina for the two weeks preceding any general election, and enact various other voting reforms as well. A county’s population and square mileage would determine the number of early voting locations to be established. After receiving the proposed Senate amendments to this bill, it was referred back to the House Judiciary Committee.

The House sent H. 5183, the Transparency and Integrity in Education Act, to the Senate. H. 5183 consists of three distinct concepts–a statement of legislative intent, a guide for non-biased instruction citing prohibited concepts that may not be included or promoted in the course of instruction in curriculum but also encourages a broad scope of history, and lastly, a uniform complaint process.

Legislative Intent
This section posits that South Carolina should have a fair and open education system where students, parents, educators, and the community are valued and included.
Students should have a positive learning environment that is welcoming, supportive and respectful.
South Carolina is fortunate to have teachers and administrators who strive to provide the best educational opportunity possible to students and parents.
Standards should be fair and well written to ensure a complete history of the state, nation, and world.
Ideological and viewpoint biases are not appropriate.
Students, parents, teachers, administrators, and communities should work together to support schools.
Parents are encouraged, but not required, to sign a “Pledge of Parental Expectations.”

Instruction should be non-biased and include a broad scope of history:
Instructional material and professional development should not promote that one race, sex, ethnicity, religion, color, or national origin is superior, inherently privileged, or determines moral character. Moreover, those traits should not cause the assignment of fault or bias to an individual or group.
Students and teachers cannot be required to attend gender or sexual diversity training unless it is part of a corrective action plan mandated by the district.
Districts are allowed to teach state academic standards, including concepts such the history of an ethnic group, the impartial discussion of controversial aspects of history, and the impartial instruction of the historical oppression of a group of people based on race, ethnicity, and other characteristics.
SDE must create and make model lesson plans accessible to districts.

Complaints and Appeals
The State Department of Education must create a complaint policy and process for districts to use.
Districts must report information regarding complaints to the General Assembly.
If a complaint cannot be resolved locally, an appeal can be made to the State Board for a final determination. If the district violates the law, it must work with SDE on a corrective action plan.
The Department may withhold funds from a district if it fails to adhere to the corrective action plan.
Extra time is added for review of instructional materials.
The House amended the bill to further strengthen and protect the procedures for corrective action if a LEA violates the Act, partly among them: no preliminary information gathered by the Department concerning misconduct reasonably believed to constitute grounds for disciplinary action, including the name and certificate number of the certified educator, may be disclosed to any third party.
In an effort to stem the tide of inappropriate materials, the House further amended the bill to hold that a “school may not accept teaching materials or technology which contains an application, link, or other access to pornographic or other prohibited materials. A school district that receives such materials must receive disciplinary action as stated in the complaint process.”

One amendment expanded the range of materials subject to this Act, while the final adopted amendment prohibited the instruction or instructional materials that create a narrative that the United States was founded for the purpose of oppression, that the American Revolution was fought for the purpose of protecting oppression or that United States history is a story defined by oppression.

The House made appointments to a conference committee to address its differences with the Senate on S. 1090, relating to the Department of Employment and Workforce’s authority to set a weekly maximum amount of unemployment benefits.

The House recalled S. 236 pooling city election precincts from the House Judiciary Committee. City election precincts could be pooled under this proposal, so long as the pooled precincts do not exceed three thousand voters. This new amount represents an increase from the former one thousand five hundred voters limit. In addition, these pooled municipal polling places could not be more than five miles, up from three miles, from the nearest part of any pooled precinct, if this legislation becomes law. It is now on the House calendar for consideration.

The House gave third reading and returned to the Senate with amendments S. 227, a bill that enacts the “Massage Therapy Practice Act.” Among many things, this bill updates and strengthens the licensure requirements for massage therapists. The bill adds an option of a completed approved program in place of a high school diploma or GED. “Massage therapy” means the application of a system of structured touch to the soft tissues of the human body with the hand, foot, knee, arm, or elbow, whether or not the structured touch is aided by hydrotherapy, thermal therapy, a massage therapy device, or application to the human body of an herbal preparation. Massage therapy includes, but is not limited to, bodywork modalities as approved by the board. The bill increases the massage therapy required educational hours and also requires passing the Federation of State Massage Therapy Board (FSMTB) or any other board-approved examination. No person shall use the words “massage therapy,” “bodywork therapy,” “massage-bodywork therapist,” “massage therapist” (MT), “bodywork therapist,” “massage or licensed massage therapist” (LMT) or any other words identified by the board in regulation unless the person is licensed. The bill requires a state criminal history records check, supported by fingerprints, by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, and a national criminal records check, supported by fingerprints, by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The bill outlines disciplinary actions if licensee is considered not to be in compliance. In addition, the bill replaces the Panel for Massage/Bodywork with the Board of Massage Therapy under the South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

The House gave third reading and returned to the Senate with amendments S. 1059, a bill that adds intermediate care facilities for persons with intellectual disability and nursing homes to the list of facilities authorized to allow unlicensed persons with documented medication training and skill competency evaluation. The bill also adds that for nursing homes only, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) shall develop a Medication Technician Certification Program. The program should include standards not limited to curriculum, training and competence and testing certification requirements. As a result, DHHS is to create and maintain a Medication Technician Registry.

The House gave third reading and returned to the Senate with amendments S. 506, a bill that allows home based food production operations to sell online and mail order or to retail stores including grocery stores. The bill expands the types of non-potentially hazardous foods that may be sold to include non-potentially hazardous foods. A home-based food production operation does not include preparing, processing, packaging, storing, or distributing low-acid canned goods or charcuterie boards. Any retail stores, including grocery stores, that sell or offer to sell home-based food products must post clearly visible signage indicating that home-based food products are not subject to commercial food regulations.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H. 3606 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation provides clarification on what sort of decks can be built by homeowners and what other kinds of improvements to residential property can be undertaken by owners for their homes without becoming subject to requirements for obtaining building permits, inspections, and licensure. The legislation also revises residential specialty contractor provisions including: increasing the minimum value threshold for repairs, improvements, and other undertakings from two hundred to five hundred dollars; adding solar panel installers to the listed areas of contracting; and, establishing provisions prohibiting residential specialty contractors from undertaking work outside the scope of their licenses or registrations, including employing, hiring, and contracting or subcontracting with others to perform such work on their behalf.

The House did not concur in Senate amendments to H. 3729, a bill addressing charges for storing towed vehicles.