State House Update

2022 State House Update – Sine Die

The 124th General Assembly adjourned Sine Die at 5:00 pm on Thursday, May 12,  finishing the second year of the two-year legislative session.  While several items made it across the finish line and to the Governor or into conference committees before the session deadline, other high priority legislative items from this session will have to be introduced again next year.  The legislature will return in June to finish consideration of any outstanding issues that remain.  Primary elections for House members and Constitutional Officers with opposition will be held on Tuesday, June 14th.

Sine Die Resolution Adopted

Both bodies gave their seal of approval to S. 1325, the Sine Die Resolution, this week, cementing their plans to return in June to take up outstanding regular session items as well as any Gubernatorial vetoes.  Under the resolution, the House and Senate will return June 15th – 17th to deal with the state budget, conference committee reports, redistricting legislation, and hold joint assemblies.  The legislature will also return June 28th – 30th to take up any budget or legislative vetoes and to finish consideration of any items that remain outstanding from their mid-June return.  The Sine Die resolution further stipulates that after June 30th the legislature can be called back by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House to consider any of the above listed items, as well as the introduction and consideration of any legislation in response to a decision of the Supreme Court in the Dobbs vs. Women’s Health Organization court case.


Leadership Changes Take Effect in the House 

The closing of the regular legislative session brought several leadership changes in the House with Representative Murrell Smith (R-Sumter) officially taking over as Speaker of the House as of 5:00 pm on Thursday and Representative Gary Simrill (R-York) taking over as House Ways and Means Chairman.  Representative David Hiott (R-Pickens) resigned his position as Chairman of House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and was elected as House Majority Leader on Tuesday.  Hiott, who has served in the House since 2005, is the owner of Hiott Printing Company and has long been considered a leader in the chamber.  On Thursday Representative Bill Hixon (R-Aiken), who has served in the House since 2011, was elected as the new Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee Chairman.


Failure to Pass

Senator Tom Davis (R-Beaufort) attempted to resurrect the medical marijuana legislation on the Senate floor Wednesday, attempting to add his bill to a pharmacy bill that had returned to the Senate earlier in the week.  Senator Billy Garrett (R-McCormick) raised the point of order that medical marijuana was not germane to the bill, and Senate President Thomas Alexander (R-Oconee) sustained Garrett’s point, killing the legislation for the year.


Other high priority legislative items that did not make it across the finish line this year include the repeal or reform of the state’s certificate of need process, the restructuring of the Department of Health and Environmental Control, and hate crimes legislation.


Items Left Outstanding

The state’s 2022-23 spending plan and House and Senate’s competing income tax proposals will be on the agenda when the legislature returns in June, with conferees from each chamber planning to work out the differences between the two versions of the legislation.  Representatives Murrell Smith (R-Sumter), Gary Simrill (R-York), and Todd Rutherford (D-Richland) and Senators Harvey Peeler (R-Cherokee), Thomas Alexander (R-Oconee) and Nikki Setzler (D-Lexington) were appointed as conferees on both bills.


conference committee on the education scholarship account legislation was also appointed before adjournment, with Representatives Shannon Erickson (R-Beaufort), Bill Whitmire (R-Oconee), and Jackie Hayes (D-Dillon) and Senators Greg Hembree (R-Horry), Larry Grooms (R-Berkeley) and Darrell Jackson (D-Richland) charged with working out the significant differences between the two versions of the legislation.  The Senate plan creates a permanent ESA program while the House program consists of a three-year ESA pilot.


Lawmakers must also finalize the amended House redistricting maps when they return.  Last week, the House entered into an agreement with the courts for the ACLU to drop its challenge to the maps if lines were adjusted in five counties.  While the House approved the amended lines on Wednesday, the Senate adjourned without taking up the new maps, which will apply for the 2024 House elections.