Scene from the South Carolina Statehouse lobby on March 29, 2022. (Travis Bell/STATEHOUSE CAROLINA)

The S.C. General Assembly passed 129 new laws during the 2022 session, including measures to spend lots of money, redraw legislative districts, allow early voting, ban vaccine mandates and keep transgender students from playing women’s sports.

All but 17 have been signed into law. Gov. Henry McMaster vetoed seven bills, all dealing with county school matters, but the legislature overrode four. Among the three that were not overridden was a House-initiated measure seeking partisan school board elections in Lancaster County. For now, the county’s school board elections remain nonpartisan.

Each of the remaining 17 bills was sent to the governor May 18 following the end of the session last week. Those bills, including a measure establishing minimum requirements for registers of deeds, are expected to be signed into law in coming days.

Among the new laws in South Carolina:

Reapportionment. In keeping with federal law to redraw state House, state Senate and congressional districts, the General Assembly reapportioned district lines in a measure that drew a lawsuit from the ACLU and NAACP for being rife with gerrymandering favoring Republicans. To settle the lawsuit, state representatives agreed to redraw maps that the ACLU said will “restore Black voters’ opportunity” in Orangeburg, Richland, Kershaw, Dillon and Horry counties. 

Convention of states. Lawmakers approved a resolution calling for a convention of the states to make amendments to the United States Constitution on fiscal restraints on the federal government as well as limits on its power, terms of members and jurisdiction. As of this month, 19 states passed the measure — 15 short of what’s needed for a convention to be called.

Religious Freedom Act. The law provides for the “protection of the exercise of religion during a state of emergency [and] to define necessary terms to provide that religious services are deemed to be essential services during an emergency that must be allowed to continue operating,” along with other provisions. 

Vaccine mandates. The law says the state or its political subdivisions may not enact a vaccine mandate and may not terminate or suspend a first responder based on vaccination status, with other provisions.

Election reform. State lawmakers included several election law changes, including codifying early voting up to two weeks before primary or general elections.

Pandemic relief spending. Legislators authorized more than $2 billion of spending of federal pandemic relief monies, including $453 million to the state Department of Transportation to speed road projects, $900 million to the Rural Infrastructure Authority for community water and sewer improvements, and $400 million to the Office of Regulatory Staff to extend broadband networks.

Family leave. The General Assembly approved paid parental leave for “eligible state employees.” Birth mothers can get up to six weeks of paid leave at 100% of the employee’s base pay, while non-birth partners can get up to two weeks of leave, with several provisions and restrictions.

Teacher planning. A new law allows public school teachers to have 30 minutes of unencumbered time for planning.

Sports act. Another law bans transgender students from playing women’s high school and college sports.

Solid waste. The legislature approved new solid waste policy, management and recycling regulations, including measures related to solar panels and projects.

Do not resuscitate. This law allows parents or guardians to request or revoke do-not-resuscitate orders for emergency services for children, with exceptions.

Lawmakers will return to Columbia in June to finish the state budget and deal with any gubernatorial vetoes.

Andy Brack is publisher of Charleston City Paper. Have a comment? Send to: feedback@charlestoncitypaper.com.

This story originally appeared in Statehouse Report.


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