Lawmakers tackle state budget, elections and fire fighter protections in Tuesday’s session

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COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA)- South Carolina lawmakers got a lot accomplished Tuesday in their special called session.

The General Assembly returned to the State House to deal with the state’s immediate needs like funding state government, the ongoing coronavirus crisis and elections that are right around the corner.

Senators and representatives spent hours in the chambers making sure their time away from the state house doesn’t impact the state’s operations.

A continuing resolution was passed to fund the state past June 30th, the date the current budget expires.

More than $100 million was included for the coronavirus crisis, focusing on expanding COVID-19 testing.

“Depending on what report you listen to that is something South Carolina is lagging behind the rest of the country in testing. So we want to ramp that up,” said Senator Scott Talley.

Money was also put aside for the upcoming elections. Lawmakers voted to expand absentee voting to all South Carolina voters for the June Primary.

Representative Seth Rose explained the move behind the vote. “We’re in the middle of a global pandemic. We needed to adapt. We needed to adjust. We are in a state of emergency. We needed people to feel confident to cast their vote and that it will count without being in harm’s way.”

Lawmakers used some of the time Tuesday to move bills lingering on the State House forward, including a bill that creates an insurance fund for firefighters to pay for cancer treatment.

Senator Talley added, “Particularly in a time like this when first responders are out there protecting us they wanted to make sure there was in coverage in place as people throughout that line of work are exposed to many different situations over time”

Another bill lawmakers passed Tuesday requires law enforcement to track rape kits. That bill is now heading to the governor’s desk.

South Carolina lawmakers are planning to return to the state house in September to deal with the state’s 2020 budget.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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