Friday Report - March 20, 2020
This week's Friday Report is being distributed by email only. If you have council or staff members who receive a mailed version of the Friday Report, please share this information with them.
The General Assembly convened this week for the very limited purpose of sending increased funding to the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) to combat the COVID-19 outbreak as well as to position a Continuing Resolution for future passage.
On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee took up H. 4014, stripped it of its original provisions which dealt with geothermal resources, and adopted an amendment to provide $45 million to the Executive Budget Office to be sent to DHEC to aid in the response to COVID-19. H. 4014 was approved as amended by the committee and the full Senate on Tuesday.
The Senate Finance Committee also amended H. 3411 to adopt a Continuing Resolution to provide for continued operation of state government should the General Assembly not adopt a budget by July 1, 2020. The Senate gave H. 3411 second reading and it is pending third reading on the Senate calendar. The Senate adjourned only to meet in perfunctory session for the remainder of the week. Senate President Peeler notified the body on Thursday that the Senate will not meet in session next week unless called back into session by the Senate President. Senate committees are permitted to hold meetings during this time at the discretion of the committee chairmen.
On Thursday, the House of Representatives met in full session and concurred in the Senate amendment to H. 4014. At the conclusion of their session, the House adjourned at the call of the chair. The Speaker announced that he expects the House not to meet for the next two weeks at a minimum. The Speaker did mention that that could change given the unpredictability of the response to COVID-19 and the need for the House of Representatives to return to address that response.
After the House adjourned the Governor quickly approved the bill and the funding is being provided to DHEC. A breakdown of the $45 million is as follows:
- $14,598,670 for additional staffing at DHEC to support COVID-19 disease surveillance and contact investigation, laboratory testing, and information phone lines.
- $14,806,800 for personal protective equipment for DHEC’s healthcare workers to prevent spread of infection.
- $5,282,420 for operating costs such as technology, lab supplies and reagents, travel, and facility cleaning.
- $2,500,000 for an education campaign to include TV/Radio airtime and printed materials.
- $1,703,580 for the cost to quarantine and support indigent patients.
- $1,394,958 for transportation costs to courier lab samples and distribute items from the Strategic National Stockpile.
- $5,000,000 in contingency funds for unanticipated costs or changing assumptions based on disease spread.
In an effort to better assist counties during this difficult time SCAC is offering virtual meeting space for your county staff meetings via GoToMeetings and traditional conference calls. We know many of the larger counties have this capability; however, we wanted to offer this to everyone. If you are in need of meeting virtually with your staff, please contact Susan Turkopuls at firstname.lastname@example.org or (803) 252-7255, ext. 315, or Anna Berger at email@example.com or (803) 252-7255, ext. 321, to discuss further or to schedule this for your staff.