House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Darlington

S.C. House Speaker Jay Lucas said Tuesday he would not run for reelection this year after running the chamber for eight years.  

Lucas, a Hartsville Republican, took over as the top House leader in 2014 after then-Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston, was indicted for misconduct.  Lucas, known as a collaborative leader, “ran a kinder, gentler House and seemed to know the families, likes, dislikes and proclivities of each of the other 123 members,” according to the Associated Press.

The next House speaker is expected to be House Ways and Means Chairman Murrell Smith, a Sumter Republican who was widely seen as the only candidate for the job a few hours after the announcement by Lucas.

Meanwhile this week, candidates for House, Senate and statewide offices started filing for reelection.  Among those to file for governor were Gov. Henry McMaster, who isn’t expected to face Republican primary opposition, and state Sen. Mia McLeod, R-Richland.  She is expected to face former U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham of Charleston for the Democratic nomination.  Filing ends at noon March 30.

In other recent news:

S.C. House approves state’s $14B budget in one dayThe South Carolina House approved the state’s $14 billion budget in one day with little debate over big ticket items while knocking aside stricter abortion rules or worries about whether a state health card could be used as a COVID-19 vaccine passport. The budget included higher starting pay for teachers and raises for state employees.  More:  The StateWIS TVSC Public Radio.

S.C. Senate begins debate to break up sprawling DHEC.  State senators spent less than two hours discussing the bill to split up the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control before agreeing to give it a second reading, leaving amendments to be debated ahead of a final vote later.

Lawmakers look to change state’s sex offender registry laws. Last year, the state Supreme Court ordered South Carolina’s lifelong registry to be unconstitutional. Lawmakers have until June to create a way for offenders who are at low-risk to re-offend to petition to be removed from the registry.

Future of state’s affordable housing tax credit being debated. A successful program created under 2020’s South Carolina Workforce and Senior Affordable Housing Act offered tax incentives designed to spur much-needed affordable housing development across the state. Now, state lawmakers are looking to impose a cap on it after costs exceeded projections by millions of dollars.

Charleston’s Roper Hospital fails initial accreditation visit. The Joint commission, a nonprofit group enforcing health care standards, found a condition in Roper Hospital that “poses a threat to patients or other individuals served” after it inspected the health care facility in downtown Charleston. The group has taken the first step toward denying accreditation for the hospital, which could leave it unable to receive federal payments for its services.

This story originally appeared in Statehouse Report.

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