South Carolina 2024 Legislative Session Update

Raleigh, North Carolina, USA State Capitol Building.

We’ve crossed the halfway point of the South Carolina legislative session, with lawmakers advancing a variety of bills, including several about healthcare and the state budget. Here’s a brief update of key legislative actions:

Executive Office of Health and Policy Initiative

SB 915 would overhaul South Carolina’s health and policy framework by establishing the Executive Office of Health and Policy. This new entity would consolidate several departments under the leadership of a single agency and its Governor-appointed Secretary. 

The bill also would expand the grievance mediation process, mandate the appointment of a Director to oversee the Department on Aging, and streamline mental health services by integrating them into the new entity for improved efficiency and coordination. Additionally, the bill introduces a program targeting alcohol and drug abuse in public schools. The Senate passed SB 915 on February 21 with a 44-1 vote and referred it to the House Committee on Judiciary. 

A companion bill (HB 4927) offers a detailed blueprint for the proposed changes, ensuring seamless integration into the state’s existing legal and organizational structure. HB 4927 was passed in the House on February 29 and sent to the Senate for consideration. 

South Carolina Compassionate Care Act

SB 423 would create the South Carolina Medical Cannabis Program, enabling medical cannabis sales to patients with qualifying medical conditions (e.g., cancer, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy), allowing non-smokable forms like oils, salves, patches, and vaporizers. The Senate passed SB 423 on February 14 with a 24-19 vote and referred it to the House Committee on Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs.

Blood and Organ Donation Regulations

HB 5060 would require testing of donated blood, tissues, and organs for high-count spike proteins from long COVID-19 or gene therapy biologics, with appropriate labeling before use in medical procedures involving transfusion or transplantation. It requires hospitals and medical facilities to use state-approved labs for testing and allows patients to refuse contaminated donations. Introduced in the House on February 7, the bill has yet to be heard in the Committee on Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs.

Unemployment Benefit Adjustments

In response to evolving economic conditions, HB 4710 proposes to adjust the duration of unemployment benefits based on state unemployment rates, reducing benefits when unemployment is low. The House passed HB 4710 on February 7 with a 113-1 vote and referred it to the Senate Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry.

Budget Proposals

Following several public hearings, the House Ways & Means Committee approved a proposed General Fund budget of $13.19 billion last week, earmarking funds for tax relief, teacher pay raises, veterans’ support, and infrastructure improvements. The budget will likely receive final approval shortly before the legislative session ends on May 9.

Looking ahead, all eyes will be on Crossover Day (April 10), the last day that bills can pass in their originating chamber to remain viable for this session. Crossover Day offers much-needed clarity on which bills may head to the governor’s desk to get signed into law.

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