The Advocates: Education Bill Keeps Moving, Santee Cooper Questions Remain

WRITTEN BY Charleston Chamber 2 weeks ago

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In Columbia, the week started with a bang; at least for fans of a certain team that wears orange. During a Joint Assembly, Clemson Head Football Coach, Dabo Swinney, fresh off the 2018 National Championship, addressed members of the House and Senate. He shared a message about the unifying power of sports. It was a great day for Tiger fans!

Now on to updates on key legislative items:

Last week, Governor McMaster, House Speaker Jay Lucas and Senate Education Chairman Greg Hembree held a press conference where the Governor asked Speaker Lucas to move his K-12 Education Reform Bill (H.3759) before the House tackles the budget, which is expected to happen two weeks from now.

So right on cue, Wednesday afternoon, the House Education and Public Works Committee met on the K-12 Education Reform Bill. With a vote of 15-1, the Education Reform Bill now moves to the House floor where it will be debated next week ahead of the 2018-2019 State Appropriations Bill.

The most discussed aspect in Committee was the proposed new advisory committee that will study education issues from early childhood through college. Several members argued that the new committee will duplicate roles that the Department of Education, Commission on Higher Education and Oversight Committees already have. Proponents of the new committee believe it will break down silos in state government. We expect this will be one of the sticking points during floor debate next week.

The Senate Education Committee will propose some changes to their version of the bill when they meet next week. They are also scheduling stakeholder meetings around the state. Chairman Hembree hopes to finish the Education Reform Bill by the end of March.

Also on Wednesday afternoon, the Public Service Authority Evaluation and Recommendation Committee met to discuss what to do next with Santee Cooper. In a 5-4 vote, the Governor and House members prevailed over Senate opposition and authorized the Co-chairman to continue to evaluate bids for sale or management of the state-owned utility. Richmond, VA-based consulting firm ICF is contracted on this project. There is still a long way to go to determine what, if anything, will happen with Santee Cooper. As of today, the Senate doesn’t have the votes to sell the utility. We will keep you up-to-date as this progresses through the spring and into the summer.

Have a great weekend!

George Ramsey,
CMCC Business Lobbyist

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