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Legislative Updates: January 16 - 20

January 24th, 2023
By Megan Chase-Muller

Welcome to the 2023 Legislative Session!

Highlights: 

  • Deep Dive: State Budget
  • Money for water, sewer, and stormwater upgrades
  • Join us next week at the Statehouse

Although we’re just two weeks into the Legislative Session, it is never too early to start engaging with your legislator! This year, we are encouraging citizens to get involved in the issues that affect our daily lives – clean air, water, public greenspace access, and affordable and clean energy.

Is there an issue that you want to learn more about? Our catalog of past Legislative Updates is a great place to start – you can find those here.

Unsure how to get involved or what to say to your legislator? You can find tips on how to contact your legislator here.

Stay tuned for more guidance and opportunities to get involved throughout the session!


Deep Dive: The State Budget 

Now is the time of year when lawmakers are focused on the colossal task of drafting the State Budget for the next fiscal year. With Greenville Representative Bruce Bannister now at the helm of the Ways and Means Committee, we are paying close attention to how the process unfolds. There are new faces from the Upstate on the Committee, like Spartanburg Representative Max Hyde, sitting alongside long-serving members like Greenville Representative Chandra Dillard, and we are confident in the Committee’s ability to prioritize budget items that serve Upstate communities and all South Carolinians.

Here’s the general timeline:

House Ways and Means subcommittees will hear from state agencies during the first weeks of session on their general budget requests and will develop the House version of an appropriations bill by the end of February. After the bill is passed on the House Floor in mid-March, the Senate will take up the budget and will make changes to the House version. With an estimated $3.8 billion in surplus revenue, we are once again positioned to make transformational changes in the state.

Our goals in this process are:

  1. to make sure state agencies (e.g., DNR, DHEC, Energy Office, Office of Resilience, and Public Service Commission) have sufficient funds and staff to carry out their responsibilities, and
  2. to encourage lawmakers to make creative investments where economic development and conservation goals align.

Join us: Conversations with Conservationists Senate Briefing 

Wednesday, January 25th at 10:00 am

Upstate Forever is part of the South Carolina Conservation Coalition, an alliance of over 40 organizations working together on legislative issues that are important to our thousands of members across the state. Each year, the Coalition kicks off the session with a Senate Briefing to present our priorities. This year, we will highlight:

  • Ways to support a transition to clean energy
  • Support for a strong environmental permitting agency
  • A call to double the amount of protected land in South Carolina through several legislative and funding mechanisms.

Please consider joining us in person! You can RSVP here and find the agenda here.

If you would rather tune in online, the briefing will be streamed on the Statehouse website here on January 25th at 10:00 am.

Please also invite your Senator! A personal invitation from a constituent is a great way to get connected to your legislator. 

You can email me at mchase@upstateforever.org if you would like to coordinate travel or have any other questions.


News from the Statehouse

Right out of the gate, Ways and Means passed a bill out of committee (H.3604) to spend the remaining $586 million in unspent ARPA dollars on water, sewer, and stormwater infrastructure needs.

In a January 12th hearing, the SC Rural Infrastructure Authority informed the subcommittee that they received 306 competitive applications totaling over $2 billion in requests to help address needs like aging infrastructure, resilience and storm protection, water quality issues, and capacity expansion.

The funds authorized in this bill for RIA would help cover these costs, 40% of which are already designated for rural and small water systems. That bill received second reading in the House on Thursday and is expected to move through the Senate quickly.


As the session gains momentum, stay tuned for opportunities to get involved and learn more about upcoming legislative issues. We’ll continue to keep you informed on their progress and ways to get involved throughout the legislative session! 

Until next week...

Megan Chase-Muller
State Policy Director
mchase@upstateforever.org


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.

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