A daily review of what’s making news in South Carolina state government.
Expect lots of orange in the South Carolina Statehouse on Tuesday.
Both the House and the Senate will honor the Clemson University football team for its 2017 College Football Playoff national championship win last month. Traditionally, the House honors championship teams (usually high school athletics) on its floor, giving players a chance to be recognized for their accomplishment. The football team was last honored after its 1981 title. The festivities begin at noon in the House chambers, where senators will also be in attendance for a special joint session.
— The director of South Carolina’s public health agency warns its laboratories are “functionally obsolete” and need to be upgraded soon in order to keep pace with emerging disease threats. Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) director Catherine Heigel made the comments last week while testifying before a state House Legislative Oversight Committee hearing. A 2016 assessment of the agency’s Bureau of Laboratories labs by the Association of Public Health Laboratories stated that the lab “has exceeded its useful life for testing capacity and safety.”
— A state Senate effort that would add synthetic opioids to list of drugs that can be treated as illegally trafficked in South Carolina will likely get more debate this week. The legislation gives law enforcement the ability to charge individuals with trafficking if they carry or sell synthetic opiates that are narcotics but not specifically barred under the state’s scheduled substance ban. The measure tries to get ahead of drug gangs that specifically change chemical compounds for heroin-type drugs so they still achieve the same result without actually violating state law.
— Construction of new solar farms is not happening at the moment in South Carolina because companies are holding out to see what kind of a tax break they might be able to get. Earlier this session, the state Senate passed legislation which would guarantee an 80 percent tax break on all future solar farms. The measure now sits in a House committee. According to The State newspaper, several solar companies are holding off and waiting for the bill to pass before building any more such farms.
— The Charleston Post & Courier reported Gov. Henry McMaster met with members of President Donald Trump’s administration last weekend as he sought to give state residents a break from new federal ID requirements. McMaster traveled to Washington, D.C., and met with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly to seek either a waiver or another extension for meeting the REAL ID Act of 2005. State leaders have refused to change South Carolina’s licenses or state-issued identification cards to meet the federal law’s criteria, believing it seeks too much personal information for a central database. However, the holdout means South Carolina photo identification will no longer be valid at federally-secured installations, such as military bases or office buildings where ID is required to enter, starting in June.