Legislative committee to reopen state meets for first time as lawmakers return to Columbia

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COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA)- South Carolina lawmakers are back in Columbia this week to work on the state’s budget and a special committee is also using this time to meet to continue discussions on reopening the state.

The special legislative committee heard from members of the Accelerate SC task force and discussed the challenges that have come up as Governor McMaster lifts more coronavirus related restrictions.

The Reopen South Carolina Committee’s first meeting Tuesday centered around 2 E’s: economy and education.

When it comes to the state’s economy committee members identified the challenges associated with “stay at home” orders being lifted and businesses reopening, like protecting businesses from customer lawsuits.

“What sort of protocols have to be followed best practices in order to insulate themselves from negligence and someone saying they caught the virus while on the premises,” explained Senator Tom Davis. The Beaufort County lawmaker serves on Accelerate SC also.

Members also discussed how to spend the $1.9 billion in federal aid to jump start states economy. Upstate Senator Ross Turner is hoping some of that money is used for unemployment.

“I remember coming out of the 2007 recession and 2008 and 2009 is that the state had mismanaged the trust fund it was had to get a federal loan and then trying to recover we put the burden of replenishing it on the businesses.”

Lawmakers then switched gears and focused on the state’s future workforce; our students. Members cited long-term goals to improve the state infrastructure to support broadband internet connectivity.

Senator Gerald Malloy serves in a district where connectivity is an issue. He explained why the state needs to be more proactive in updating the state’s infrastructure.

“We have had legislation we would try to pass every year that would say we would put a hot spot on a bus at Walmart but how far is the Walmart from some of these rural areas.”

Members want to also work towards making sure SC students are able to physically be in a classroom this Fall.

“The damage if they miss another semester. I’ve already watched it this semester if they go another semester it will be a lifelong problem for these children,” added Senator Vincent Sheheen.

Other areas members of the committee are planning to address include expanding testing capacity and upcoming elections and how to protect at risks residents.

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