SC House to discuss Senate absentee bill during special session, massive education bill unlikely to pass

Updated: Sep. 15, 2020 at 8:25 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The South Carolina House of Representatives will return to the State House for the first time in several weeks, Tuesday, Sept. 15 after the legislative session was interrupted by the pandemic.

House Majority Leader Gary Simrill spoke with WIS-TV and helped to break down what’s on the agenda. He says, members of the SC House of Representatives will likely take up the bill passed by the Senate earlier this month regarding absentee voting ahead of Election Day, Nov. 3.

State senators unanimously passed a bill which would allow all South Carolina registered voters to vote absentee for the upcoming elections because of the pandemic. Representative Simrill is hopeful the House will also move forward with the bill to ensure voters are safe.

He said the legislation will resemble, “what we did back in May prior to the June primaries dealing with COVID-19 so you can vote absentee for any reason.”

Representative Simrill adding the importance of avoiding any delay in election results.

“The fact that the outer envelopes for absentee balloting normally aren’t opened early, the fact that there will be so many more people voting absentee this year due to COVID and other reasons – that those outer envelopes would be opened two days prior,” said the representative from Rock Hill.

The House is scheduled to meet at noon.

Right before that, at 11:30 a.m., the group Carolina for All is expected to meet on the steps of the State House to ask lawmakers to consider what left out of that Senate bill, like eliminating the witness signature requirement for absentee ballots, authorizing voters to apply for absentee ballots online and allowing ballots to be submitted through drop boxes.

This latest two-year legislative session was supposed to end in May but after disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic, lawmakers agreed to return in September. Tuesday is the start of a scheduled two-week special session, which will also be one of the last opportunities for SC lawmakers to finalize any bills still on the table including that massive education reform bill.

“We will certainly have discussion on it, but I think what you’ll see with those bills is that January ends up being the time that they will get debated,” said Representative Simrill who continued that, “If a bill has not passed the House or the Senate, November 3, the Election Day, starts an entirely new General Assembly. So, any piece of legislation that is either still in committee, still on the calendar, it has not passed both bodies will be null and void.”

The Senate will also meet at noon, Tuesday, and is expected to take up the state budget.

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