WREN’s Legislative Agenda 2023-2024

The 125th session of the South Carolina General Assembly began on Tuesday, January 10th, 2023.  

WREN’s 2023 legislative agenda reflects our commitment to advancing the health, economic well-being, and rights of women, girls, gender expansive people, and their families in South Carolina. 

Each year, WREN fights for tangible CHANGE. We believe freedom, equality, and justice should not depend on where we live, how much money we have, or how we identify. WREN is working to build a future that affirms all people and where all of our families and communities, are safe, healthy and thriving.  

What We’re Working On Now

WREN’s 2024 legislative agenda builds on our past successes. Priorities include economic dignity, workplace rights and the freedom to make decisions for ourselves and our bodies.

Policy Priority

In Vitro Fertilization Protection Act

In response to the recent Alabama Supreme Court ruling, new South Carolina bills clarify that fertilized human eggs or embryos outside the uterus are not considered human beings under state law. WREN supports protecting IVF as part of our commitment to comprehensive healthcare access. In addition to providing clarity, the legislation also reinforces individuals’ right to decide on pregnancy and parenting.

Policy Priority

Campaign Funds for Caregiving

Currently, candidates and officeholders in South Carolina cannot use campaign funds to cover dependent care expenses incurred during official and campaign business. No parent or family caretaker should be barred from running for office and representing their community because of the cost of caring for their loved ones. Caregiving is a societal responsibility, not just an individual one, and allowing campaign funds to cover caregiving costs recognizes that.

Policy Priority

Reproductive Freedom Bill of Rights Act (S. 29, H.3911)

The Reproductive Freedom Bill of Rights Act is a bold commitment to improving the health and lives of South Carolinians. The bills (S.29 & H. 3911 ) would repeal existing restrictions on abortion care and affirm the rights to contraception, in vitro fertilization, sex education, and all other forms of reproductive health care. Full access to reproductive health care is essential for the health, education, economic security, and equality of all South Carolinians. 

Policy Priority

passed

Decriminalize Self-Managed Abortion

South Carolina is currently one of only two states that criminalizes self-managed abortion. The threat of criminalization unfairly targets marginalized communities and can lead to wrongful punishment for common pregnancy outcomes such as miscarriage. Safe, effective abortion options including self-managed abortion should be widely available and not criminalized.

Policy Priority

Removing Tax from Essential Products (S. 149, H. 3109, H.3110, S.300, H.3563)

Millions of South Carolinians are being taxed for essential products like tampons and diapers because they’re categorized as luxury products. S. 149 + H. 3109 would remove the tax on menstrual products, diapers and incontinence products and S. 300 would remove the tax on baby food. Women and families should not incur additional costs on these essential goods.

Policy Priority

Increasing Paid Parental Leave (S. 27, H.3617)

Parental leave is crucial to supporting health, economic security, and gender equity in the workplace. No parent should have to choose between bonding with their child and financially providing for their family. In the 2021 legislative session, WREN led efforts to secure South Carolina’s first parental leave legislation, guaranteeing 6 weeks of paid leave for over 55,000 state employees. In the 2023 session, WREN will fight to expand paid leave to a 12-week standard and expand the number of South Carolinians who have access to the benefit.

Policy Priority

Uniform Antidiscrimination Act (H.3738)

This bill would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity as well as make it unlawful to discriminate against certain facial features, hair textures, hair types, and hairstyles associated with race. WREN believes that this bill is an important step towards ensuring equity in the workplace, and continues to promote the standard of judging employees by their ability and performance.

Policy Priority

Paid Leave for Education Workforce (H.3429, H.3908, S. 552)

South Carolina’s 56,000 teachers make up one of the largest workforces in the state. Parental leave is essential to a healthy and functioning economy; no parent should have to choose between bonding with their child and financially providing for their family. WREN will lead efforts to ensure teachers are included in the state’s parental leave benefits.

Partner Bill

Free School Meals for Children

Nearly 490,000 South Carolinians face hunger. Of those, over 153,000 are children. With students in school 5 days a week, schools could be providing 10 meals a week to these students. Along with our partner Wholespire, WREN supports S. 148. This bill will increase the use of the community eligibility provision under the USDA and allow children in South Carolina schools to have healthy meals where they learn.

In Opposition

Censorship in Schools (H.3728)

H. 3728 could prevent public educators from teaching the full truth, subject them to undue surveillance of their instruction, burden them with unnecessary complaint processes, and risk the loss of a significant amount of state funding. WREN is committed to transforming schools into places where every woman, girl, and gender expansive student feels safe, valued, and included. WREN supports educators and students’ rights to talk about race, sex and gender in schools. All students deserve educational materials and information that accurately describes our history, including the history of underrepresented and marginalized people.

In Opposition

Abortion Bans (S.240, H.3490, H.3549, H.3552, S.366, H. 3774, S.474)

The rights to control our own bodies and personal health care decisions are fundamental to our health, dignity, and freedom. People, not politicians, should be in control of those decisions. When people can make decisions about their own reproductive health care, they are healthier and more economically secure. Access to safe abortion is an essential part of health care and medically unjustified bans put lives and families in danger.

In Opposition

Bans on Gender Affirming Care (S.243, S.274, H.3551, H.3730)

The rights to control our own bodies and personal health care decisions are fundamental to our health, dignity, and freedom. People, not politicians, should be in control of those decisions. WREN will fight against legislation that threatens the freedom for individuals and families to make personal decisions for themselves and medical decisions with their doctors.