Did you know? The Palmetto State is ranked 4th in the United States for the number of women-owned businesses, with 170,000 calling South Carolina their home.

This week, the South Carolina Senate had ‘Budget Week’, reviewing, debating, and amending the budget the House sent them a few weeks ago. When the Senate returns their version of the budget back to us, we will meet to review their amendments. We are hopeful that the Senate will send us a fiscally conservative budget that reflects the needs of our post-pandemic State economy. 

Though this year’s legislative session officially ends May 13, the Speaker of the House introduced a Sine Die resolution that schedules us back in the capitol in June to finalize the State budget, review conference committee reports, and assess any vetoes to the budget by the Governor. We will also be back in late Summer/early Fall in an effort to complete our once-a-decade task of reapportionment. I will continue to update you throughout the summer, but this is a quick synopsis of the current plan.  

Representative Chip Huggins District 85 Serving Chapin and Irmo Chairman, Regulations and Administrative Procedures Committee

In the House

In recent weeks, I have reported to you about a bill by Representative Tommy Pope that allows law enforcement to receive worker’s compensation for PTSD and other stress-related mental illnesses caused by traumatic events while on duty. This week, we added firefighters to the bill, which then passed the House. This is a great effort to take care of our law enforcement and first responders, and I was proud to vote in favor of this bill. 

It’s Electric. 

This week, the House passed a group of incentives to help drivers of electric vehicles by ensuring that when they produce electricity, they are not considered to be a utility, as the law currently states. We passed an amendment that creates a study committee to investigate aspects of electric vehicles such as the reliability of the grid system, electricity security, and the impact of electric cars on infrastructure, bridges, and roads. 

Tuition Rates for Veterans 

Currently, a veteran can enroll in a public institution of higher education within 3 years after the veteran’s discharge and receive educational assistance. Our veterans deserve better. I was proud to support S. 241 this week, which eliminates the time requirements for South Carolina’s veterans to receive a reduced tuition rate for higher education. This unanimously passed the House. 

Other Legislative News

S. 685 – This bill allows college athletes to be compensated for the use of their name, image, or likeness. This passed the House by a vote of 103-15. 

H.3591- This bill requires every educator preparation program to publish a report card that details how the program is preparing their student teachers for success in the classroom. The report card must include a variety of data that provides a comprehensive picture of how well each educator preparation program prepares effective educators and meets state goals. This passed by a vote of 110-1. 

On the Governor’s Desk: Education Reform

This year is a year full of education reforms. Although improving our schools is always a top priority, the pandemic has highlighted the urgency of many educational issues. This week, the Governor signed a bill that originated in the House, sponsored by Representative Rita Allison. I voted in favor of this bill and I am glad the Governor signed it into law. This bill is important, as it allows for more “Schools of Innovation’’ to arise around the state, giving students more opportunities to succeed. The House also received Representative Sylleste Davis’ bill back from the Senate, which allows Palmetto Fellow Scholarship recipients to use their scholarship at a Technical College (which is currently not allowed). The House sent the bill to the Governor’s desk and it takes effect upon his signature. 

In Case you Missed It.

On Wednesday night President Biden addressed Congress in a joint session to review what has happened in his first 100 days of presidency. Directly after, our Senator, Tim Scott gave the Republican response. As a former member of the South Carolina House Republican Caucus, Senator Scott explained our Republican values on a personal level, bringing a message of hope and unity to the American people. Thank you Senator Scott for your leadership and honorable representation of South Carolina. 

Weekly COVID-19 Update

– South Carolina is in Phase 1C of the vaccination process. Under these guidelines, anyone 16+ is eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine with an appointment. 

– Visit https://scdhec.gov/covid19/covid-19-vaccine/ to make a vaccination appointment at a provider near you.

– 41.4 percent of South Carolina citizens have started the vaccination process. 30.6 percent of SC citizens are fully vaccinated. 2,861,716 vaccines have been given to South Carolina residents to date.

– Want to see how our area is doing in the fight against COVID-19? Visit the interactive ‘Vaccination Dashboard’ by following this link, https://scdhec.gov/covid19/covid-19-vaccination-dashboard.

*Numbers updated April 29. 

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 803-331-8468.