- Our Work
- Get Involved
January 16th, 2024
By Megan Chase-Muller
The SC General Assembly has completed the first week of the Legislative Session, and while I normally love to witness the fanfare in person, I watched from quarantine as I recovered from the enigmatic virus that’s going around. Hope everyone is staying healthy and washing their hands out there!
Last week’s reunion of lawmakers brought excitement as well as hundreds of new bills and resolutions. There is a full plate of priorities and bills from 2023 that are still viable (you can find those here), and we’ll wade through these new bills carefully.
One bill introduced last week was the highly anticipated energy reform package from Senator Tom Davis (Beaufort). Senator Davis’ bill (S.909) is an omnibus form of legislation that weaves together a host of proposed changes to the way our electric systems generate and deliver power. This bill seems to be an answer to some of the questions brought up during months of hearings for the Electricity Market Reform Study Committee, and builds on ideas proposed by Spartanburg Senator Scott Talley’s Energy Independence and Risk Reduction Act (S.779) last May.
It also contains several proposals that warrant substantial discussion among clean energy advocates, utilities, ratepayers and lawmakers. There are ways to ensure South Carolinians receive power in the most efficient, clean, and affordable manner possible without sidestepping private property rights or basic environmental protections. We look forward to having those discussions in the coming weeks.
Senator Davis also introduced a resolution (S.912) to create a permanent office within the Department of Commerce to coordinate activities related to the SC Nexus, a recently designated “innovation hub” by the US Department of Commerce. The aim of the SC Nexus project, supported by this Senate Resolution, is to position SC as a leader in the development of distributed energy resources and burgeoning technologies like small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs).
Last Tuesday, the Senate welcomed two new members who won special elections to fill seats left by the tragic passing of Senator John Scott (Columbia) in August and the resignation of Senator Marlon Kimpson (Charleston). Former Columbia City Councilwoman Tameika Isaac Devine was sworn in Tuesday as the first female senator of District 19 and the sixth female state senator. She was joined by former Representative Deon Tedder, who was sworn in as the youngest member of the South Carolina Senate.
We were pleased to see that on day one Senator Tedder introduced an inclusionary zoning bill (S.891) to increase the availability of affordable housing. With their collective history of public service, we look forward to working with the new senators to protect South Carolina’s natural resources and communities.
Now is the time of year when lawmakers focus on drafting the State Budget for the next fiscal year, and the House Ways and Means Committee is responsible for initiating that process. Over the next few weeks, subcommittees will hear from state agencies on their general budget requests before developing the House version of an appropriations bill by the end of February.
Last week, the SC Office of Resilience presented its budget request of $4.2 million in additional recurring funds and $43 million in one-time funds for infrastructure and resilience projects. Chief Resilience Officer, Ben Duncan, spoke to lawmakers – and a full committee room – about the common issues between city/county planning and the flood risks that come from changing hydrology in intensive development.
Join us: Conversations with Conservationists Senate Briefing
Wednesday, January 17th at 10:00 am
As we mentioned last week, we are excited to participate in the SC Conservation Coalition’s Annual Senate Briefing, and invite you to join us or watch online!
This year, we will highlight:
Opportunities to get involved:
As the session gains momentum, stay tuned for opportunities to get involved and learn more about the legislative issues that affect our daily lives. We’ll continue to keep you informed on their progress and ways to get involved throughout the legislative session!
Until next week...
State Policy Director
Odds and Ends and Actions:
Did you receive this Update as a forward and want to sign up for it yourself? You can do so right here. The Legislative Update will hit your mailbox every week during session (January through May).
Did your senator or representative do something awesome this week? Tell them! Use this link to find out who represents you, and if you love a bill they are supporting, please let them know. You can also just use the link to tell them what is important to you.