SC Chamber-Affiliated SC Chamber PAC Announces Support for 17 Candidates in the Primary and SC Elections Updates; Senate Re-Open SC Committee Holds First Hearing on Liability Protection, SC Education Updates

Email to COVID-19 Mailing List: May 27th

Today’s COVID-19 business information compiled by your SC Chamber Team includes: SC Chamber-Affiliated SC Chamber PAC Announces Support for 17 Candidates in the Primary and SC Elections Updates; Senate Re-Open SC Committee Holds First Hearing on Liability Protection, SC Education Updates

ICYMI:

  • Call Reminder: Call TOMORROW with US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler.
    • TOMORROW, May 28th, 10:30 am.
    • Description: The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released updated guidance to help facility operators and families properly clean and disinfect spaces. Developed in concert with the White House, the guidance provides step-by-step instructions for public spaces, workplaces, businesses, schools, and homes. It falls in line with the Opening up America Again guidelines. This call will include information on maintaining or restoring water in buildings with low or no use.
    • Participant Event Plus Toll-Free Dial-In: (866) 609-6049
      • Conference ID 8846499
  • Webinar Recap: If you weren’t able to join us today, be sure to check out our webinar presented by Michael Carrouth and Stephen Mitchell of Fisher & Phillips: “How Unions are Using COVID-19 for Organizing and What Employers Should Be Doing Now.” Access the audio of the presentation here or click here to view the slides.

1. SC Chamber-Affiliated SC Chamber PAC Announces Support for 17 Candidates in the Primary and SC Elections Updates

SC Chamber PAC Announces Support for 17 Primary Candidates: This week, the South Carolina Chamber PAC announced its support for candidates in upcoming contested primary races running for the SC Senate and the SC House of Representatives. Each Chamber PAC supported candidate has a proven track record working with the business community in the fight to make South Carolina the best state in the nation to live, work, and do business.

The following candidates have earned the business community’s support in the June 9th primary election:

  • SC House Incumbents
    • State Rep. Lucas Atkinson (District 57, Dillon, Horry & Marion Counties)
    • State Rep. Jimmy C. Bales (District 80, Kershaw & Richland Counties
    • State Rep. Bart T. Blackwell (District 81, Aiken County)
    • State Rep. Alan D. Clemmons (District 107, Horry County)
    • State Rep. Neal A. Collins (District 5, Pickens County)
    • State Rep. Westley P. “West” Cox (District 10, Anderson, Greenville & Pickens Counties)
    • State Rep. Heather Ammons Crawford (District 68, Horry County)
    • State Rep. Sylleste H. Davis (District 100, Berkeley County)
    • State Rep. L. Kit Spires (District 96, Lexington County)
  • SC House Primary Challengers
    • Vaugh Parfitt (District 8, Anderson County, Incumbent State Rep. Jonathon D. Hill)
  • SC Senate Incumbents
    • SC Sen. Richard J. Cash (District 3, Anderson County)
    • SC Sen. Ronnie W. Cromer (District 18, Lexington, Newberry & Union Counties)
    • SC Sen. Kevin L. Johnson (District 36, Clarendon, Darlington, Florence & Sumter Counties)
    • SC Sen. A. Shane Massey (District 25, Aiken, Edgefield, Lexington, McCormick & Saluda Counties)
    • SC Sen. Scott Talley (District 12, Greenville & Spartanburg Counties)
    • SC Sen. Ross Turner (District 8, Greenville County)
    • SC Sen. Kent Williams (District 30, Dillon, Florence, Horry, Marion & Marlboro Counties)

Learn more about the SC Chamber PAC’s methodology in supporting candidates here.

New SC Election Center: The Chamber PAC also announced the creation of a new election resource for citizens and businesses as the state nears the June 9th primary. The website, available at scelectioncenter.com, allows individuals to see who currently represents them at all levels, those running, and find out more about the Chamber PAC-supported candidates, including understanding how incumbents scored on pro-business legislation over the last several years.

SC Elections Updates:

  • As a reminder, the General Assembly appropriated $15 million in the 2020 Continuing Resolution (H.3411) to protect poll workers and keep polling places safe and clean during the June 9th primary election.
  • The General Assembly also passed S.635, which expands absentee voting, allowing the COVID-19 pandemic to be an acceptable reason for requesting an absentee ballot. This particular provision of the bill expires on July 1st, so it will apply to the primary elections and any resulting run-offs, but not the General Election, scheduled for November 2nd, 2020.
  • On Monday, May 25th, US District Judge Michelle Childs issued a preliminary injunction stating that due to COVID-19, South Carolina cannot require a person voting absentee by mail to have their ballot envelope signed by a witness. More details, as reported by The State, can be found here.

** For more information about voting in June 9th primary, including how to vote absentee, check out scelectioncenter.com.


2. Senate Re-Open SC Business Liability Committee Holds First Hearing

Senate Re-Open SC Business Liability Subcommittee: Today, this subcommittee, announced last Thursday, met for the first time to discuss potential legislation to protect businesses from liability as they reopen and resume operations. The meeting was mostly organizational. However, Subcommittee Chairman Tom Davis and members Senators Malloy, Sheheen, and Turner agreed that a bill coming out of the subcommittee would need to be temporary, have broad consensus, and clear standards for how business has upheld safety best-practices.

It appears the goal is for the subcommittee to agree on a bill and have legislation passed when the General Assembly expects to return in mid-June.

The next subcommittee meeting will be on Tuesday, June 2nd, upon adjournment of the Senate Re-Open SC Select Committee. They will be accepting written testimony in advance, so we encourage any business which is concerned about this issue to send a letter urging the Senate to pass liability protection legislation for businesses to Martha Casto at marthacasto@scsenate.gov before Tuesday!

House Forms COVID-19 Liability Protection Review Committee: SC House Speaker Jay Lucas recently announced the formation of a House committee, which will also review potential legislation for liability protections for businesses. Members are Representatives Tommy Pope (Chair), Justin Bamberg, Sylleste Davis, Jason Elliott, Lee Hewitt, Jay Jordan, Mandy Norrell, Russell Ott, and David Weeks. The Committee plans to have its first meeting next week.


3. SC Education Updates and Message to Graduates

House Education & Public Works COVID-19 Public Education Committee: Today, the SC House Education & Public Works (EPW) COVID-19 Public Education Committee held its first meeting. Members of this special-called Committee are Representatives Ray Felder (Chair), Terry Alexander, Rita Allison, Wendy Brawley, and Tommy Stringer.

The meeting started with SC House Speaker Jay Lucas explaining that the group’s charge is to compile education recommendations from existing groups/committees/task forces, taking testimony, and compiling a report with final recommendations for the House to consider. These proposals should focus on ensuring students’ educational needs are being met, identifying any barriers to delivery of education, making sure teachers have the resources to continue to instruct students, and creating a path forward for the state.

Chair Felder started by establishing the following subcommittees:

  • Building & Student Services – Chair; Rep. Stringer
  • Instructional & Broadband – Chair: Rep. Brawley
  • Operations/Student Accountability – Chair: Rep. Allison
  • Regulations & Statutes – Chair: Rep. Alexander

Topics of discussion on current concerns outlined by Committee members were:

  1. Student Accountability – need an update on the 40,000+ students that have had no instructional touch since March 13th, 2020.
  2. Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding – how are the State Department of Education (SDE) and the districts planning to spend the funds, how much accountability/flexibility will they have with the funds? Also, what legal authority does the state have over how the districts spend the funds?
  3. How many districts have plans for both summer learning and returning to school in August? 

The Committee will meet weekly on Wednesdays or Thursdays. Potential speakers include:

  • SC Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman
  • A large and small school district (Williamsburg and Charleston mentioned as possibilities)
  • The Governor’s Office – Melanie Barton or someone to speak specifically on broadband
  • The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or a state health official

Congratulations to 2020 Graduates: The SC Chamber wants to congratulate ALL the recent 2020 high school and college graduates! This time has been a trying for everyone, but certainly for our state’s students. The Chamber congratulates the graduates and wishes them well in their future endeavors!