What’s passed and what hasn’t after key deadline at SC State House

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Published: Apr. 8, 2022 at 6:46 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 8, 2022 at 8:06 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - With just over a month left in the second year of the current two-year legislative session, it’s a race to the finish at the South Carolina State House.

The end of this week marks the close of “crossover week” at the capital, the deadline by which bills have to pass one chamber and cross over the lobby to be considered in the other chamber.

If they did not beat that deadline, legislation has to receive two-thirds approval from the chamber in which they originated instead of just a simple majority, as they had before, so more partisan and controversial bills may not get through.

“Crossover is just kind of an arbitrary deadline to get things across, but there are a number of things that you do still want to finish up before we adjourn in early May,” Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, R – Edgefield, said. “So far, we’re still OK, but we’ll see how things work out by the end of the session.”

Among the bills that have passed in the Senate, medical marijuana legalization, the voucher-like “Education Scholarship Account” program to give families state money to send their children to private schools, a repeal of the hospital certificate of need process, and the bill to dissolve DHEC into two new cabinet-level agencies all crossed over and are now under consideration in the House.

In that chamber, election reform legislation and the “Save Women’s Sports Act,” prohibiting transgender girls and women from competing in girls’ and women’s sports at the middle, high school, and college levels in South Carolina, both were approved, along with the budget, which includes raises for state employees and to the state minimum salaries for teachers, plus tax cuts for most taxpayers. All those bills now lie with senators.

House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, D – Richland, expects the House will spend significant time debating the medical marijuana bill, which just passed out of committee Thursday, once members return to the State House on April 19 after a week off ahead of Easter.

“There are people that have put up a thousand amendments to stop that. That’s going to take a long time to get through,” Rutherford said.

Two of the remaining five weeks in the session will likely be devoted to the budget in the Senate, according to Massey, who anticipates the House election reform legislation will also come up for debate as well.

“The last few weeks are really going to be chaotic. You’re trying to wrap up, get the agreements on everything in order to get them to the governor,” Massey said.

Among the legislation that did not get through in the House ahead of the crossover deadline were two controversial and much-discussed bills: One that would restrict what South Carolina schools can teach, including regarding race, and another that would require doctors disclose information about “abortion reversals” to patients getting an abortion, a procedure OB-GYNs have called unproven and potentially dangerous.

“It’s not necessarily a win overall because we know that those bills can still be taken up, but it does help to know that it’d be harder for them to take them up, knowing that they needed two-thirds,” Rutherford said.

If a bill does not make it to the governor’s desk by the end of the session in May, it dies and has to be re-filed at the beginning of next year, starting the legislative process over again.

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