The Advocates: Who's Not Seeking Re-Election?

Who’s Not Seeking Re-Election?

Last week, House Majority Leader Gary Simrill of Rock Hill announced he would not seek re-election later this year. On Tuesday after the House passed the budget, Speaker of the House Jay Lucas announced he also wouldn’t be seeking re-election. Both of these announcements will set up a fairly large power vacuum for the remainder of the legislative year.

The front runner for Speaker of the House is current Chairman of Ways and Means, Murrell Smith, and the current front runner to fill the Ways and Means vacancy is Representative Bruce Bannister of Greenville. There are a lot of moving pieces that we will be keeping a close eye on over the next several months. We are learning that as many as 19 incumbents may not choose to run for re-election later this year. Times are changing…

2022-2023 State Budget

This week, the House debated the 2022-2023 state budget in record time. They gave the appropriations bill second reading on Monday and quickly gave it third reading on Tuesday before adjourning until Tuesday, March 29.

Here are a few highlights of the budget:

  • $13.9 billion spending plan
  • $350 million for the SC Ports Authority to complete the funding for the intermodal facility and barge operation
  • $6 million for completion of Trident Tech’s Berkeley Campus
  • Increase starting teacher’s salaries from $36K to $40K
  • Increase teacher’s average salary from $45,320 in 2019 to $52,504
  • State employees receive a 3% pay raise and a $1500 bonus
  • $38 million for law enforcement and correction officer pay increases 
  • $55.3 million to freeze tuition for in-state undergraduate students 
  • $465 million for maintenance and capital needs at the state colleges and universities 
  • $120 million for SCDOT to obtain matching federal funds though the new federal infrastructure package

Senate bill S.2 Update

Senate bill S.2, sponsored by Senator Harvey Peeler and would reform SCDHEC, received second and third reading this week. The bill would divide health and environmental functions of DHEC between two newly created cabinet agencies and consolidate other functions. The Department of Behavioral and Public Health would take DHEC’s health department and the functions of mental health and alcohol and other drug abuse services. The Department of Environmental Services would take DHEC’s environmental responsibilities and would absorb the water resources Division from SCDNR. The bill reassigns oversight of veteran nursing homes to the Department of Veterans Affairs and moves the state’s food safety program to the Department of Agriculture. The bill now moves to the House when they return in a couple of weeks. We will be following the progress of the bill as it moves through the House.

George Ramsey, Senior Director of Legislative Relations
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