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March 14th, 2023
By Megan Chase-Muller
The “Spring Forward” time change over the weekend marked the halfway point in the Legislative Session. With proposals that advance land conservation, farmland protections, and clean energy initiatives, we are very optimistic about the outcome of this year’s legislative work.
The week began with the House Economic Development and Utility Modernization Ad Hoc Committee meeting Monday to hear from Congressman Jeff Duncan, who gave a presentation on the energy landscape in SC. After his presentation, the Committee met in executive session to discuss upcoming legislation which we’re hoping will address the demand by SC residents and businesses for clean, affordable energy.
In preparation for this week’s House floor votes, the House Ways and Means Committee hosted a budget briefing Wednesday. You can access the presentation slides here.
The conversation surrounding oversight for electric cooperatives continued this week in both House and Senate subcommittee hearings. This legislation (S.523/H.4048) would require Central Electric Cooperative, which provides electric service to all 20 electric co-ops in the state - including four in the Upstate - to submit all proposed contracts and plans for electricity generation to the SC Public Service Commission, Joint Bond Review Committee, and the State Public Utilities Regulatory Committee. During last week’s hearings, Senate Judiciary Chairman Luke Rankin and House LCI subcommittee chairman Jay West continued to ask tough questions of Central Electric’s CEO Rob Hochstetler.
While these Legislative Updates provide opportunities to contact your legislator about key issues through email and online action centers, by far the most effective way to communicate with elected officials is in-person.
Please join the SC Conservation Coalition, a statewide alliance of over 40 conservation organizations, on Wednesday, April 5th for our 20th annual Conservation Lobby Day at the Statehouse. You’ll get the chance to meet fellow advocates, legislators, and staff who value conservation and help us make a positive impact at the Statehouse. The best part? The day will end with an Oyster Roast at 701 Whaley Street!
Participation in this event is free, but we do request that you register online. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions.
Monday (3/13) - Wednesday (3/15): With the House in session today, House Budget week is already underway, which means long days of debating the Appropriations Bill (H.4300) on the House Floor. We’ll keep a close eye as the process unfolds to ensure budget provisions that prioritize land and water protections remain. You can learn more about our budget priorities here and find Ways and Means budget documents here.
Wednesday (3/15) at 9 am and Thursday (3/16) at 9:15 am: A Senate Finance subcommittee will hear agency budget requests. The subcommittee will hear first from the Department of Natural Resources and the Conservation Bank, followed by the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism. We’re expecting these agency conversations to largely mirror those from the House last month.
Wednesday (3/15) at 10 am: A Senate Medical Affairs subcommittee will meet to hear from agencies and advocates on the DHEC Reform Bill (S.399). Wednesday’s hearing will kick off a series of three meetings to consider how to restructure our state’s health and environmental permitting agency, which has struggled to retain staff, keep up with permit requests, and implement federal regulatory changes. Upstate Forever and our partners at the SC Conservation Coalition have remained committed to ensuring DHEC has the resources it needs to make scientifically-sound decisions regarding our state’s natural resources.
Click here for a Deep Dive we did on this legislation last year.
Click here to access the live stream for this hearing on Wednesday at 10:30 am.
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...
State Policy Director
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