2023-2024 Legislative Update Week 17: Better Healthcare in SC
Updated: May 23
This week we achieved significant victories for healthcare and education in South Carolina. The House voted to make healthcare more accessible and affordable for patients by eliminating the burdensome Certificate of Need (CON) requirement. We also passed the Educator Assistance Act, to cut red tape for teachers and increase transparency in their contracts, so they can focus on preparing our children for success. These bills will positively impact our state in so many ways, and I am proud to have supported them both.
Next week is the final week of the first year of our 2-year session. We plan to finish strong in pushing several key House bills in the Senate. This week the Senate passed our House bill that provides paid family leave for teachers, and a statewide workforce development bill cleared a key Senate committee hurdle. Expect to see more bills crossover between the chambers next week.
We Repealed CON! - Lowering Costs and Providing Greater Access to Healthcare
On Tuesday the House passed S.164, which eliminates the Certificate of Need (CON) requirements for healthcare providers. Currently, these regulations require most healthcare providers to obtain government approval before expanding or establishing new healthcare facilities or services. This process is timely, costly, and makes it difficult for hospitals and surgery centers to expand in areas that need it most. Repealing CON requirements will increase competition and incentivize healthcare providers to improve quality and efficiency in order to attract patients, ultimately leading to better access to healthcare, lower costs for patients, and improved outcomes for patients. The amended bill was heard in the Senate on Wednesday, where it passed unanimously, and now goes to the Governor's desk for his signature. I am proud to have supported this bill that will soon be signed into law.
Improving Access to Telehealth and Telemedicine:
On Thursday I joined my House colleagues in unanimously passing H.4159, the South Carolina Telehealth and Telemedicine Modernization Act. This bill will improve access to healthcare services for all South Carolinians, especially those in remote or underserved areas. With the implementation of telehealth services, patients can receive quality medical care without having to visit a doctor's office in person. I strongly believe that telemedicine is a critical tool in today's digital age as it helps to bridge the gap, especially for those in rural areas of our state, and increase access to quality medical care. I was proud to support this bill as it will help modernize our healthcare system and make quality care more accessible to all South Carolinians.
Signed by the Governor - Expanding School Choice Thursday Governor McMaster signed S.39 into law that creates the Education Scholarship Trust Fund that will provide up to $6,000 per year per qualifying student to allow them to choose a school that may better fit their needs.
Supporting Our Educators:
As a strong supporter of our teachers I was proud to vote for H.4280, the Educator Assistance Act, which will help ensure professional treatment of our educators. This bill will establish a permanent teaching certificate in South Carolina, eliminating the paperwork currently required every five years for recertification. The bill would also give teachers 10 days from the date that a district posts their salary schedule to withdraw a contract without penalty, a provision that addresses the current reality that South Carolina statute requires teachers to sign contracts prior to knowing their salary. Educators play a crucial role in shaping the minds and values of the next generation, and they deserve to be valued and supported for the work they do.
Removing Barriers for Retired Law Enforcement Officers:
H.3425, The Police Officers Retirement System Earnings Limitation Bill, removes earning limitations currently placed on retired law enforcement who wish to return to work. With a shortage in law enforcement officers we should be encouraging those who have retired and wish to return to service to do so, not penalize them by placing limitations on their earnings. This bill passed out of the House Ways and Means Committee and will now head to the floor.
From the Senate:
H.3726, the SC Education and Workforce Development Act, aims to prepare 60% of South Carolinians with postsecondary degrees or industry credentials by 2030 by mandating measures such as preparing high school students for college-level math and reading, developing articulation agreements, and utilizing technical colleges for workforce training. The bill received a favorable report from the Senate LCI Regulatory and Local Government Subcommittee on Wednesday.
H.3908, the Paid Family Leave for school district employees bill will allow teachers who become new parents - either upon the birth or adoption of a child - six weeks paid leave, which is the same leave available to other state employees. Allowing new parents to take time off to care for their children without sacrificing their income or job security is critical in retaining experienced teachers and attracting new teachers. The bill passed the Senate by unanimous vote on Thursday.
H.3414, which bans ‘Carolina Squat Trucks’, a dangerous vehicle modification that raises the front end of a vehicle high enough that it impedes a driver’s ability to see over the hood, is one step closer to becoming law. On Thursday the Senate concurred with House amendments and passed the bill, sending it to the Governor for his signature.