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Wrap-Up of the 124th Session of SC General Assembly

May 12, 2022

Whew. The 124th session of the General Assembly has concluded. Despite an unrelenting onslaught of bills attacking our rights, we have achieved some monumental victories 

During this legislative session, our network members took at least 70,000 advocacy actions! We are so proud of this incredible demonstration of our collective power.  

Here’s an overview of where we stand on our priority bills at the conclusion of the legislative session.  

VICTORIES! 

Paid Parental Leave for State Employees (S.11) passed the legislature and has been signed by the Governor! The act will take effect October 1, 2022. This act provides state employees up to 6 weeks of paid family leave for the birth or adoption of a child, or up to 2 weeks for placement of a foster child. This policy is not only good for the health and well-being of employees and their babies; it will also keep the state government workforce strong. Going forward, we will work to expand the paid leave to benefit even more of South Carolina’s workers.  You can celebrate this victory by sending a thank you note to the sponsors here. 

The Pharmacy Access Act (628) passed and is on the way to the Governor’s desk! The bill authorizes pharmacists to prescribe contraceptives, which will make contraceptive care more accessible and affordable by eliminating the need for a separate visit to a health care provider to obtain a prescription.   

End School Lunch Shaming (H 3006) passed and has been sent to the Governor. H. 3006 bans the use of debt collectors to collect debts for school lunch or breakfast accounts and prevent entities from assessing or collecting any interest, fees, or additional charges for outstanding debts. WREN is proud to support our partners at Wholespire on this legislation. More info at their website here https://www.wholespire.org/our-work/advocacy-center/ 

End the Subminimum Wage (S.533) passed and is being sent to the Governor for signature. This bill ensures that workers with disabilities will no longer be allowed to receive a wage below our minimum wage. WREN is proud to support our partners at ABLE SC on this legislation. Learn more about it at their website here https://www.able-sc.org/resource-library/legislative-updates/ 

IN LIMBO 

Healthcare Discrimination (H.4776) passed the Senate with amendments and the House did not concur which means the bill will now go to conference.  H.4776 would allow health care professionals to discriminate against their patients and refuse to provide them care. This dangerous and far-reaching bill permits any person participating in health care service to deny care to their patients for any reason, without a medical justification. The health consequences of such a sweeping law could be catastrophic.  

Anti-Transgender Student Athlete Bill (H 4708): Passed and is headed to Governor Henry McMaster’s desk.  We’re now urging Governor McMaster to do what six governors before him – including three Republican governors – have done: Veto this unnecessary, dangerous bill. To do anything less is to waste taxpayer dollars defending a bill that has already been ruled unconstitutional by two federal judges, including one in West Virginia. Can you join us in urging Gov. McMaster to veto this frivolous attempt to address a manufactured problem? Join us by clicking here and sending a message ASAP.  The vote to pass this shameful bill comes after more than two years of LGBTQ+ and allied South Carolinians resisting similar efforts to ban transgender youth from sports participation. Between 2020 and 2021 our powerful movement successfully defeated 10 different versions of this bill, demonstrating consistent and powerful leadership from transgender advocates in SC. 

Sine Die Resolution 

Every year the legislature passes a sine die resolution which is an outline of what policies may be discussed outside the regular session and it typically is very limited to budget items and bills that had to go to a conference committee. This year’s resolution, S.1325, included language that also will allow the speaker of the house and the senate president to call a special session for the introduction, receipt, and consideration of legislation in response to a decision of the United States Supreme Court in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. As outlined in the resolution this could happen any time between Friday, July 1, 2022, and Sunday, November 13, 2022. 

LOSS 

6-Week Abortion Ban (S1) – It’s hard to believe that it was only a little over a year ago, and in the midst of a raging pandemic, that the General Assembly rushed through an extreme and dangerous 6-week abortion ban. Our network came out to mobilize IN FORCE against the bill. Nearly 7,000 people contacted their legislators, and hundreds of you showed up for a “honk-through” protest around the Statehouse. The bill was quickly signed by Governor McMaster, but just as quickly blocked by a federal court because of its blatant unconstitutionality. At this time, S1 is still blocked by the Courts, and cannot be enforced until there is further action by the courts. This could very well happen when the Supreme Court issues its final opinion in the Mississippi abortion case. WREN and our partners are preparing for all possible scenarios when it comes to legal changes on abortion access and will keep our members informed. For now, abortion remains legal in the state of South Carolina!  

WHAT’S NEXT 

Over the next six months WREN will be working with our network partners and members to formulate our policy agenda for the next two-year legislative session, which will begin in January 2023. We will also continue to work on federal and local policies that align with our gender justice platform. 

Without a doubt, we will continue to prioritize Reproductive Freedom alongside our partners on the South Carolina Coalition for Healthy Families. The leaked draft opinion by the Supreme Court on the Mississippi abortion case indicates what we have long feared: that the end of Roe v Wade is near. However, our advocacy for abortion access will not stop. We will also need to intensify our efforts to increase access to the full spectrum of reproductive health for all South Carolinians, especially the people who will be most harmed by abortion bans. Please sign our petition in support of reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy.  

We will also continue to prioritize Economic Dignity and Justice, including efforts to improve working conditions and pay equity for working moms and all caregivers through our legislative advocacy and our Power Up initiative. 

We want to hear from you about what’s most important to you. Please reach out to us at info@scwren.org with your input on the issues that are most affecting you and your families. 

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