The week began with a huge development for the future of our state-owned utility Santee Cooper. I encourage you to read House Speaker Jay Lucas’s op-ed in the Post & Courier that summarizes how the House is working towards making the best decision for ratepayers and taxpayers. 

Other pieces of legislation making big strides this week are the Convention of States resolution that puts constitutional limits on the federal government and a bill that would close a current loophole for inmates on death row. Currently, state law allows death-row inmates to pick lethal injection or electrocution but mandates using lethal injection if inmates do not make a choice. Manufacturers that make lethal injection drugs have stopped selling them to prisons so this bill fixes the loophole by making the electric chair the default method. 

Representative Chip Huggins District 85 Serving Chapin and Irmo District 85 Serving Chapin and Irmo

Next week, my colleagues and I will be working on the state budget.

Education Update
After eight weeks of debate and over 300 amendments, the State Senate finally passed their education reform legislation. It addresses many of the same issues which were covered in the education reform legislation I voted for last year. I look forward to the upcoming debate on this bill and will work tirelessly with Governor McMaster, the Senate, and my colleagues in the House to ensure we pass a comprehensive education reform bill.

Other Legislative News:
We sent the following bills to the Senate this week:

H.4710 amends the Youth Access to Tobacco Prevention Act of 2006, adding vaping to the definition of smoking and requiring vaping to be covered under existing Tobacco-Free campus policies.

H. 4963 would allow wholesalers of wine to provide samples in small amounts, not to exceed three liters a year. The ability to provide product samples is allowed in most other forms of businesses so it seems fair to allow a minimal amount of wine samples.

H. 4663 would allow registered pharmacists to administer flu vaccines without a prescription. The bill currently awaits a hearing in the Senate Medical Affairs Committee.

H. 4724 would create a Veteran Study Committee to study the issue of homelessness among military veterans. The bill currently awaits a hearing in the Senate Family and Veterans’ Services Committee.

H. 4776 would not allow anyone who has worked for a public utility company to be appointed to the state’s Public Service Commission, which regulates utility companies and approves rate requests, until at least three years after they have left those jobs. The bill currently awaits a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Governor McMaster met with state and public health officials earlier this week to address concerns over COVID-19 and review South Carolina’s response and preparedness plans. Currently, there are no known cases of coronavirus in SC, but we are preparing for the inevitable. DHEC has been closely monitoring the situation and has information on what each of us can do to best protect ourselves and others. 

How is coronavirus prevented?

Wash your hands often. 
Avoid touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoid contact with sick people. Stay home while you are sick;
Avoid others. 
Cover mouth/nose with a tissue or sleeve when coughing or sneezing. 

Visit www.scdhec.gov/COVID19 for more information. 

Also, The House of Representatives and the Senate adopted the conference committee report on S.16, legislation that relates to EMERGENCY REFILLS OF PRESCRIPTIONS BY PHARMACISTS, and the bill was enrolled for ratification.  Current law provides authority for pharmacists to dispense an emergency prescription refill of up to a ten-day supply of a medication once within a twelve-month period.  The bill increases the maximum amount of a medication that may be dispensed for an emergency prescription refill to a fourteen-day supply.  If the qualifying medication is packaged in a way that it is not possible to dispense a fourteen-day supply, the pharmacist may dispense up to a thirty-day supply.

The House returned S.635 to the Senate with amendments.  The legislation authorizes the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue “DRIVERS FOR A CURE” SPECIAL LICENSE PLATES to support medical research that combats cancer.  Proceeds from the plates must be distributed evenly between the Medical University of South Carolina Hollings Cancer Center and the Duke Cancer Institute.  The legislation also authorizes the issuance of AIR MEDAL SPECIAL LICENSE PLATES to those who have been awarded the medal in the course of their military service.
The House approved and sent the Senate H.4694, a bill EASING SCHOOL BUS TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS.  The legislation revises the blanket prohibition that makes it unlawful for a school bus to pass another school bus by establishing an exception which provides that a school bus may pass another school bus on a multilane highway.  The legislation also eliminates a provision that sets maximum speed limits for school buses.    

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4454, a bill that revises the criminal offense that applies to drivers ENDANGERING EMERGENCY SERVICES PERSONNEL at accident scenes so that tow truck operators responding to emergency incidents are included among the emergency services personnel.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4938, a bill addressing EXEMPTIONS FROM ELECTRONIC PRESCRIPTION REQUIREMENTS FOR CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES included in Schedules II, III, IV, and V.  The legislation adds to the electronic prescription requirements exemptions list: a practitioner who writes a prescription for a controlled substance included in Schedules II through V that does not exceed a five-day supply for the patient; and, a practitioner who issues an oral authorization in the case of an emergency situation.  The legislation revises an existing exemption that addresses hospital discharges so that it also applies to state mental health facilities.  Another existing exemption is revised so that it also applies to controlled substances administered in a home infusion pharmacy.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4669, a bill that narrows the exemption from ELECTRONICALLY FILING DEATH CERTIFICATES by removing from the exemption physicians who certify fewer that twelve deaths per year and funeral homes that perform fewer than twelve funerals per year.  By subjecting these individuals to requirements for the electronic filing of death certificates, only those who act, without compensation, as a funeral director on behalf of a deceased family member or friend remain covered by the exemption from electronic filing.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4937, a bill revising provisions for CHARITABLE RAFFLES.  The legislation makes revisions to provisions authorizing raffles conducted by nonprofit organizations that include: allowing charitable raffles to continue by eliminating the upcoming sunset date when these provisions are set to expire; increasing prize amounts; consolidating reporting requirements; authorizing a nonprofit organization to compensate members for services rendered in a fundraising event that may include raffle costs related to entertainment, such as the costs of a disc jockey, band, auctioneers, support staff, waiters, bartenders, and wait staff utilized to conduct the fundraising event; and removing a prohibition so that raffle funds may be used for the provision of athletic facilities and equipment.

Special Guest
The House met in Joint Session with the Senate on Wednesday to hear from Bill Oxford, the National Commander of The American Legion. He praised South Carolina’s efforts to support veterans as well as it’s long legacy of service to country and freedom, noting that the state is home to eight military bases and has over 50,000 men and women currently serving in the military. He also pointed out that 38 Medal of Honor recipients have been South Carolinians. We should be proud of those who have answered the call of duty and stand behind them.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4800, a bill REAUTHORIZING THE JOINT CITIZENS AND LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE ON CHILDREN through 2030.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4078, a bill that revises requirements for the ELECTRONIC SUBMISSION OF REPORTS to the General Assembly so that these requirements also apply to reports that are required to be sent to a legislative standing committee or other committee created by the General Assembly.  The legislation implements a recommendation arising from the House Legislative Oversight Committee’s study of the South Carolina Commission on Indigent Defense.

Don’t Forget!
The time change is this weekend so don’t forget to move your clocks ahead an hour on Saturday night!Thank you for allowing me to serve you in the South Carolina House of Representatives and please feel free to contact me via email at [email protected] or my 24-hour phone line at 331-8468.