South Carolina Capitol
Jan 20, 2022

South Carolina 2022 Legislative Session Preview

The South Carolina General Assembly began the second year of a two-year legislative session on Jan. 11, 2022. The legislative session runs through the second Thursday in May, with the General Assembly expected to adjourn sine die on May 12. This legislative session is sure to include debate around redistricting, certificate of need, medical marijuana, COVID-19 mandates and the state budget. It will be the first session for new Senate President Thomas Alexander and the first session with new Senate Finance Chairman Harvey Peeler.

Redistricting

The General Assembly is tasked with approving new congressional lines every 10 years following the completion of the U.S. census. Each of the state’s seven congressional districts must be redrawn before the March deadline for the candidate filing period.

The House of Representatives began debate last week and moved forward a district map that critics say does not leave the state with any competitive districts and cements a 6-1 Republican majority within the state’s congressional delegation for years to come. The map now heads to the Senate for consideration and is expected to be on the Senate floor for debate within the next week.

The General Assembly passed new state House and Senate district maps in December 2021. These new districts are slated to take effect for South Carolina’s 2022 state legislative elections; however, two civil rights groups have already sued the state over the House maps, arguing the new districts are racially gerrymandered.

Certificate of Need

Members of the Senate wasted no time in advancing debate on the state’s certificate-of-need program, setting the legislation for special order last week. A growing number of Senators are pushing for full repeal of the program, arguing that healthcare providers should not have to request a certificate of need to build new facilities, expand beds or services, or purchase equipment. The Senate is expected to finish the certificate-of-need debate next week.

Medical Marijuana

South Carolina is one of 14 states that do not allow medicinal marijuana use, and Sen. Tom Davis has introduced a bill to change that. The bill would allow qualified patients and veterans with chronic pain, PTSD and other debilitating medical conditions to use marijuana as medicine. The Senate plans to debate the legislation on the floor in January.

COVID-19

Entering a third year of COVID-19, legislators will face debate over vaccine mandates, COVID-19 restrictions, mask requirements and other issues surrounding the pandemic.

State Budget

The General Assembly has more than $6 billion in additional revenue this year and must decide how to allocate it. The House Ways and Means budget subcommittees began hearing budget requests from agencies and other parties last week and will continue to do so in the coming weeks. The House Ways and Means Committee will debate the budget Feb. 22-24, and the full House plans to debate the budget on the House floor March 14-17.

On Jan. 10, Gov. Henry McMaster released his executive budget, outlining his priorities for the 2022-23 state budget and the state’s share of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) funding. Gov. McMaster’s priorities for the state budget include: $500 million for the state’s rainy day fund; $183 million for deferred maintenance at the state’s higher education institutions; $120 million for K-12 education reform; $177 million for a personal income tax cut; $20 million for the state’s nursing shortage; and $20 million for education savings accounts. Priorities for the state’s ARPA funding include: $500 million for water and sewer infrastructure; $400 million for broadband expansion; and $100 million for a new Department of Health and Environmental Control laboratory.

A Senate Finance ARPA subcommittee began discussions on its priorities for the state’s allocation of ARPA funding, highlighting its desire to also invest in rural water and sewer infrastructure and broadband expansion, similar to what Gov. McMaster proposed in his executive budget. The legislature is expected to allocate at least half of the state’s share of ARPA funding in the next few months.

2022 Elections

All 124 members of the South Carolina House of Representatives and all state constitutional officers will face an election this year. Candidate filing opens March 16 and closes March 30. Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman is the only constitutional officer who has announced she is not running for reelection.