Primary Election Update, Public Health Guidance, and SC Chamber Testifies at SC House of Representatives COVID-19 Liability Protection Review Committee

Email to COVID-19 Mailing List: June 2nd

Today’s COVID-19 business information compiled by your SC Chamber Team includes: Primary Election Update, Public Health Guidance, and SC Chamber Testifies at SC House of Representatives COVID-19 Liability Protection Review Committee.

ICYMI: SC Congress united in the call for more rural broadband funding during coronavirus pandemic: Yesterday, all nine members of the SC federal delegation signed onto a letter calling for an investment in rural broadband expansion. SC Chamber President and CEO Ted Pitts remarked, “It’s one of those things that Democrats and Republicans, the federal delegation and state elected leaders can rally around. This situation sheds light on the need for infrastructure to fill these gaps in broadband.”


1. Primary Elections Are One Week Away – June 9th  

The South Carolina primary elections will occur on June 9th, one week from today. Voters may vote in person at their voting precinct on June 9th, or via absentee ballot (due to COVID-19). See details on exercising your right to vote below.

Absentee Ballot Voting Information

  • Absentee voting in person will take place until 5 pm on Monday, June 8th.
  • Absentee voting by paper ballot will take place until Friday, June 5th
  • All registered voters in South Carolina are eligible to vote absentee by selecting Reason 18-State of Emergency for the June primary election and any resulting runoffs.
  • Additionally, voters are not required to have their absentee ballot return envelopes signed by a witness for the June primary election and any resulting runoffs.
  • For more information on voting absentee, click here.
  • For more information on voting in person and safety measures at polling places, click here.

South Carolina Chamber Supports 17 Candidates in the June Primary Elections

  • As a reminder, the SC Chamber PAC has announced support for 17 candidates in the June 9th primary elections. Find a full list of the candidates here.
  • For information on the candidates we support, the business community’s top issues, and other election resources, visit our new SC Election Center.

​​​​​​​2. Update on Public Health Guidance for Businesses

With new COVID-19 cases reported every day in South Carolina, we encourage businesses that are re-opening to ensure they are following the most up-to-date public health guidance to keep their workplace safe for workers and customers. Below is a list of the latest federal and state public health guidance affecting businesses.

Center for Disease Control (CDC)

Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA)

SC Department of Health and Environment Control (SCDHEC)

#accelerateSC

  • The accelerateSC website contains many useful guidelines for specific businesses, including close contact businesses, manufacturers, and restaurants. You can find those guidelines here.

3.SC Chamber Testifies at SC House of Representatives COVID-19 Liability Protection Review Committee

Today, the House COVID-19 Liability Protection Review Committee met for the first time. Last week, SC House Speaker Jay Lucas announced the formation of a House committee to review potential legislation for liability protections for businesses. Members of the Committee are Representatives Tommy Pope (Chair), Justin Bamberg, Sylleste Davis, Jason Elliott, Lee Hewitt, Jay Jordan, Mandy Norrell, Russell Ott, and David Weeks.

SC Chamber President and CEO Ted Pitts, along with our partners from the SC Manufacturers Alliance, the SC Hospital Association, the SC Medical Association, and the SC Retail Association testified at the Committee about the need for targeted and limited liability safeguards, including:

  • Safe Harbor: Temporary and limited immunity from liability is needed to protect a business or industry from a person alleging exposure to COVID-19 if it followed public health guidance at the time. The standard of care should be a reasonable attempt to comply.
    • Safe harbor should begin at the pandemic onset and be valid to the end of the pandemic or the end of 2021, whichever is later.
  • No Protection for Bad Actors: The protection should not apply if the conduct is intentional or reckless, and the employer did not reasonably attempt to follow public health guidance.
  • Products Liability: A limited and temporary safe harbor from liability for manufacturers making PPE is needed, except for injuries resulting from reckless or intentional conduct.
  • Workers’ Compensation Claims: Clarification that on-the-job claims of exposure to COVID-19 by employees are exclusive to the workers’ compensation system, and do not go to civil court.

The Committee tentatively plans to meet again next Thursday.

The Senate Re-Open SC Business Liability Subcommittee meeting, initially scheduled for today, was postponed. Chairman Tom Davis provided a subcommittee update to the full Senate Re-Open SC Select Committee. He re-emphasized that any legislation should be temporary, have broad consensus, and transparent standards for how the business has upheld safety best-practices. They plan to meet next week.

As a reminder – we continue to encourage businesses to submit written testimony to both of the liability committees about the need for temporary and limited liability protection for all businesses. This legislation has little chance of passing if legislators don’t hear from employers about how protecting companies from unwarranted lawsuits is critical to the effective rebuilding of our state’s economy. Click here for a template for written testimony which you can customize as you deem appropriate.