What We’re Working On Now
The 124th session of the South Carolina General Assembly started on Tuesday, January 12, 2021. In this legislative session WREN will continue to protect the health, economic well-being, and rights of women, girls, and gender-expansive people in South Carolina.
WREN’s Legislative Agenda 2021-2022
WREN is committed to advancing the health, economic opportunity, and rights of women, girls, and their families in South Carolina. WREN promotes policies that will help ensure South Carolina’s women and girls have every opportunity to live up to their full potential, which will in turn strengthen families, communities, and the overall well-being of our state.
Act to Establish Pay Equity (H. 3183 and S.514)
These sister bills would make pay discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sex, gender identity, age, national origin or disability illegal in South Carolina.
Paid Family Leave for State Employees (H. 3560 and S.11)
This bill would provide state employees with 12 weeks of paid family leave for the birth or adoption of a child. Paid family leave is crucial to supporting working families’ economic security and promoting gender equity in workplaces. No one should have to risk their job or face financial loss when they need to welcome a new child.
Increasing Voter Access (H.3822)
H. 3822 is a comprehensive bill that would bring to South Carolina absentee voting provisions that have been successful in other states through many election cycles.
End Lunch Shaming Bill (H.3319)
This bill would provide equity in school lunches and protect students from punitive measures if they have accrued meal debt.
Pharmacy Access Act (S.628)
This bill would authorize pharmacists to prescribe contraceptives, which can make contraceptive care more accessible and affordable by eliminating the need for a separate visit to a health care provider to obtain a prescription. Expanding pharmacists’ scope of practice to include prescribing birth control helps alleviate many of the obstacles to finding and seeing a doctor that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Community Development Tax Credit (S.436 and H.4093)
S.436 and H.4093 would allocate $2 million in CD Tax Credits in 2021 and $3 million each year after. Allocating these tax credits would allow community development corporations (CDCs) and community development financial institutions (CDFIs) to attract private capital to support critical services in their communities such as affordable housing, financial counseling, and loan capital to small, women-led, and minority-led businesses.
Female Health and Wellness Act (H.3747 & S.574)
The Female Health and Wellness Act, H 3747, would exempt feminine hygiene products from sales tax. The removal of the tax on period products would alleviate the additional monthly expense of paying a luxury tax on a necessary medical product.
Prohibit Paying Sub-Minimum Wages to People With Disabilities (S.533)
S.533 would assemble a taskforce to create a three-year transition plan to phase out subminimum wage by August 1, 2024. Currently, the United States still operates under a law in the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which grants certain employers a 14(c) certificate to pay people with disabilities less than the minimum wage—sometimes pennies an hour. In South Carolina as of 2020, approximately 1,200 people with disabilities are making less than the minimum wage. Several states have already restricted the use of subminimum wage, and South Carolina looks to be the next state to eliminate this.
Confidentiality Bill (S.340 & H.4009)
This bi-partisan bill provides that non-profit sexual assault and domestic violence provider organizations are not required to disclose certain confidences acquired by clients during the provision of services to those clients. Certain exceptions are necessarily provided.
Paid Sick Leave Act (H.3469)
This bill would provide earned paid sick leave to employees statewide.
Dignity in Pregnancy and Childbirth Act (H.3225)
H.3225 would create an intentional study committee dedicated to addressing the disparities in Black maternal health that has buy-in from the legislative leaders in our state.
South Carolina Equal Pay for Equal Work Act (H.3188)
This bill prohibits on the basis of sex paying wages to employees of one sex at a lesser rate than the rate paid to employees of the opposite sex for comparable work in jobs which require the same, or essentially the same, knowledge, skill, effort, and responsibility.
Voting Restrictions (H.4150)
H.4150 provides for but restricts in-person no-excuse early voting as well as greatly reduces the existing excused-absentee voting criteria for mail-in or hand delivery. This would lead to poor access for some voters.
SC Minor Child Compassion and Protection Act (H.4047)
This bill would prohibit transgender people under the age of 18 from receiving essential medical care and create a school climate where they are unable to be themselves. The bill would make it a felony for medical professionals to provide transition-related care to transgender minors. Conviction could result in up to a 20-year prison sentence for the medical provider. The bill also requires teachers and staff at schools in South Carolina to share with students’ parents if they learn that a student’s “perception of [their] gender or sex is inconsistent with the minor's sex.” In effect, the bill essentially requires teachers to “out” transgender students to their parents, potentially before they are ready to share. A nearly identical bill is pending in Alabama.
“Save Women’s Sports” Act H.4153
This dangerous bill would ostracize transgender students from their peers by banning their participation in interscholastic activities that align with their gender identity. Participation in gender-segregated activities would be determined by the student’s sex assigned at birth on their birth certificate. This bill would further stigmatize transgender youth and exclude them from the enormous physical, mental, and social benefits of playing sports.
Special Exemptions For Melting Plastics Industry (H.3753 and S.525)
WREN is committed to ensuring that all communities live in safe, healthy environments with the resources necessary to thrive because health does not begin and end at care and coverage. Good health and the decision of when or how to parent are intrinsically tied to other conditions, including access to safe drinking water, adequate housing, education, safe working conditions, and living free from violence. H.3753 and S.525 puts health and safety of communities at risk by removing the State’s authority to regulate pollution caused by plastic trash facilities.
6-Week Abortion Ban (S.1)
S.1 was passed by the South Carolina Legislature and signed into law by Governor McMaster on February 18th, 2021. A lawsuit was immediately filed against it and as a result, a federal judge issued an order blocking S.1 from taking effect. S.1 is not currently enforceable in South Carolina, abortion is still legal, and patients can still access abortion services in our state. S.1 was intended to ban abortion as early as 6 weeks, regardless of a pregnant person’s needs and circumstances. S.1 poses a serious threat to the health, freedom, and dignity of pregnant people. This was a far-reaching bill drafted by extremist politicians whose goal is to eliminate all abortion in South Carolina.