South Carolina 2024 Legislative Session Preview

Columbia, South Carolina, USA at the State House in the evening.

The South Carolina General Assembly convened on January 9 for the second half of its two-year session. Led by Senate President Thomas Alexander and House Speaker Murrell Smith, Republicans have maintained majorities in both chambers since 2001.

Lawmakers will address a wide range of issues through May 9, including the state budget, economic development, parental rights, and drug prevention.


In 2023, South Carolina reported a $3.8 billion surplus under Governor Henry McMaster, who has been in office since 2017. McMaster suggests allocating about $54 million of this surplus to bolster the state’s rainy day fund, in addition to proposing $99 million for new income tax cuts. 

Insurance and Health

Lawmakers have already introduced several bills to address healthcare administration, hospital regulation, and health insurance. One such bill, SB 863, seeks to clearly define what constitutes a hospital, specifying that residential mental health treatment facilities within a licensed psychiatric hospital do not fall under this definition.

Another bill, SB 844, proposes establishing a committee to study various facets of insurance coverage, including availability, premiums, and deductibles. This committee must report its findings to the House and Senate.

Additionally, SB 858 aims to define acute hospital care at home programs and services, exempting these from Certificate of Need provisions and placing their regulation under the Department of Health and Environmental Control. Meanwhile, HB 4688 focuses on immigration, mandating certain hospitals collect and report data on patients’ immigration status annually to the Department of Health and Environmental Control.

HB 4684 addresses the prescription of off-label medications, generally requiring their dispensation when prescribed. HB 4622 is concerned with patient billing, establishing requirements for detailed billing in healthcare services and supplies. HB 4630 suggests a measure for nursing homes and assisted living facilities to install cameras in patients’ rooms, allowing family members to monitor their loved ones remotely.

Furthermore, HB 4624 deals with the definitions of gender and sex, setting restrictions on gender transition procedures for minors under 18 (with specific exceptions), and prohibits the use of public funds for such procedures. This bill also restricts teachers and other public school staff from concealing a minor’s gender identity from their parents.

Lastly, the “Human Life Protection Act” (HB 3774) proposes to ban abortions in South Carolina, with certain exceptions, and outlines penalties for healthcare professionals who perform abortions. It also includes provisions to defund Planned Parenthood.

Education and Workforce Development

Governor McMaster is championing several initiatives to boost early education, higher education, and workforce development. These initiatives include a variety of funding requests.

As part of a broader safety and security effort in schools, he has suggested allocating $13 million for school resource officers. There’s a notable request of $70 million for higher education aimed at research and four-year colleges, particularly for need-based grants. The South Carolina Technical College System will receive $30 million for equipment needed to train students in high-demand jobs.

The commitment to evolving higher education is further highlighted by a proposed $3 million for a comprehensive study. This study will evaluate the future landscape of higher education, exploring potential consolidation across various programs, certificates, and degrees. To enhance accessibility to higher education, Governor McMaster has also proposed a significant $50 million to freeze tuition at public colleges and universities.

Workforce development is another focal area, with $95 million earmarked for technical and industry scholarships. This is supported by a $30 million investment in school choice funding to assist low-income parents. Moreover, there’s a proposal for $21 million to fund full-day pre-kindergarten for low-income families.

A substantial portion of the $365 million budget will be used for classroom needs. This allocation is intended to address various requirements, including instructional materials and teacher pay raises, underscoring the state’s dedication to enhancing the quality of education.

Infrastructure & Security

Lawmakers will consider several infrastructure, roads, security, and natural resources proposals. The governor’s proposals include:

  • $33 million for the preservation of culturally and environmentally significant properties, as well as beach renourishment projects
  • $500 million for bridge replacements and repairs
  • $50 million for training programs relating to electric vehicle jobs
  • $40 million for income tax credits to first responders
  • $18 million for law enforcement pay raises

Parents’ Rights

Senator Michael Johnson introduced SB 882 to strengthen parental rights by requiring legal guardians to be notified when a healthcare professional prescribes medication to a minor. It also proposes that pharmacists be prohibited from dispensing prescriptions to minors without parental permission and ensures parents’ access to their minor’s prescription history.

Furthermore, HB 4691, referred to the House Committee on Judiciary, affirms parents’ responsibilities in directing their children’s upbringing, education, healthcare, and mental health. This bill limits the state’s ability to burden parental rights and mandates parental consent in certain situations.

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