The General Assembly convened last week for the 1st week of the 2021 legislative session.
FIRST WEEK – The first week of a new two-year session always starts slow. The first day was an organizational day. Senators were sworn in, received committee assignments for the 4-year session, and selected seats on the Senate floor.
Here are my committee assignments:
- Labor, Commerce and Industry
- Legislative Oversight
- Rules – Chairman
Senate Rules – The Senate also adopted a new set of governing rules on the first day. These rules define how the Senate will operate for the 4-year term. Most rules from the previous years remain in effect, but there are two significant changes. First, the Senate adopted a rule that will require the disclosure of earmarks, budget spending on local projects. The Senate will publish a list identifying local projects that are funded in the budget, an explanation of each project, the cost of each project, and the senator who requested funding for each project. I think this is an important step for transparency in budgeting. Second, the Senate altered the cloture rule. While senators are still allowed to have their say, the new rule will – and the new 30-member majority – will allow the Senate to move forward with business more so than in years past.
MAJORITY LEADER – My Senate Republican colleagues re-elected me as Leader. Since Republicans have a 30-16 majority, I will continue to serve as the Senate Majority Leader.
STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS – On Wednesday night, Governor Henry McMaster delivered his fourth State of the State address. You can read the speech here Governor Henry McMaster’s 2021 State of the State Address | S.C. Governor Henry McMaster or watch a replay here State of the State Address | South Carolina ETV (scetv.org).
UPCOMING SCHEDULE – Since this is the beginning of a new two-year session, all legislation starts over and must go back through the committee process. The Senate will spend a good bit of time during the first few weeks in committees, vetting legislation and trying to work out many issues before sending bills to the floor for consideration by the full Senate. Most Senate action this week, the week of January 18, will be in committees.
South Carolina’s response to COVID has not been good. The roll out of the vaccine has been worse. I know you’re frustrated. I’m frustrated. I will provide more information as I learn it, but here’s what I know now:
VIRUS NUMBERS – South Carolina’s infection rate is way too high. You can see the daily numbers here Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) | SCDHEC.
We have to do a better job of controlling the spread of the virus. Please wear a mask, avoid large crowds, and wash our hands frequently. We can all help this process if we take these steps.
TESTING SITES – You can find COVID testing locations near you here COVID-19 Testing Locations | SCDHEC.
VACCINE ELIGIBILITY – South Carolina is currently in Phase 1A of the vaccine distribution. Here’s who’s eligible to receive the vaccine under Phase 1A:
- Frontline healthcare workers who are high risk of exposure and mission-critical to the overarching goal of preventing death
- Residents and staff of long-term care facilities
- Admitted hospital patients who are aged 65 years and older
- Anyone 70 years and older
- State/local government employees and their contractors who are mission-critical for maintaining operations of COVID-19 vaccinations and testing
You can read more information about the phases and eligibility here COVID-19 Vaccine | SCDHEC.
WHAT IF I’M NOT ELIGIBLE UNDER PHASE 1A? – DHEC estimates that Phase 1b eligibility will begin near the end of February and the remaining phases will follow. You can see more information about phases and eligibility here COVID-19 Vaccine | SCDHEC.
HOW DO I GET THE VACCINE? – DHEC’s online map here VACCINE LOCATIONS FOR COVID-19 (arcgis.com) is live and updated daily. This online map shows the locations currently accepting appointments for COVID-19 vaccine and the map will provide the contact information for scheduling appointments at those locations. The map itself is not a way to schedule an appointment.
You can also call DHEC’s Care Line at 855-472-3432 for assistance in locating the contact information for scheduling an appointment. The Care Line cannot schedule an appointment but can help provide the phone numbers of locations offering vaccine appointments. If you do not have internet or an email address, DHEC says that this is the way to schedule an appointment.
Appointments should be scheduled because walk-ins may not be able to receive the vaccine.
You will be asked to provide a driver’s license or other form of ID at your appointment to confirm your age in order to receive vaccine.
The hours of operation for the appointment scheduling phone line for each location depends on the location — not DHEC.
Like all states, South Carolina currently has a limited supply of COVID-19 vaccine. Therefore, some locations offering vaccine may not have an appointment available for several days or weeks depending on the vaccine supply and demand.
WHAT IF YOU DO NOT HAVE ACCESS TO THE INTERNET OR EMAIL? – DHEC says that people without internet and/or email access should call the DHEC Care line at 855-472-3432 for help in connecting with a provider.
I’VE HEARD MY APPOINTMENT MIGHT BE CANCELED BECAUSE SC DOESN’T HAVE ENOUGH DOSES – DHEC says that the provider will cancel the appointment if vaccine is not available. Do not assume that your appointment is cancelled based on media reports about the vaccine supply.
HOW IS SOUTH CAROLINA DOING IN THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE VACCINE? – As of Sunday, January 17, South Carolina had received 313,100 doses and has administered 158,232. You can keep up with how many doses we have received and administered here COVID-19 Vaccine Allocations in South Carolina | SCDHEC. This site is updated daily.
SCDOT ROAD PROJECTS – SCDOT has an interactive map to allow citizens to see the road and bridge projects going on around the state. You can see that map here.
How is the gas tax being used? – SCDOT’s website allows you to view a detailed revenue statement and project list that is funded by the Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund (IMTF). SCDOT updates this site monthly as the revenue comes in. You can see that report here.
WANT TO SEE THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY IN ACTION? – The Senate meets in statewide session on Tuesdays at 2:00, Wednesdays at 12:00, and Thursdays at 11:00. Committees and subcommittees meet Tuesday mornings, Wednesday mornings, and Thursday mornings. You can watch live coverage of the Senate, House of Representatives, and committees here.
OUR SENATE DISTRICT – Senate District 25 consists of all of Edgefield County and parts of Aiken, Lexington, McCormick, and Saluda Counties. If you’d like to see the district map, go here.
SPEAKING WITH GROUPS – Several groups, clubs, and classes around our Senate district have invited me to attend their meetings and provide legislative updates. If you would like for me to come speak with your group, please let me know.
EMAIL UPDATES – If you know of people in or around District 25 who do not receive my updates but would like to get them, please email their names and email addresses to me. You can also forward this email to them and encourage them to sign up for the updates at www.senatormassey.com.
P.O. Box 551
Edgefield, SC 29824
Cell Phone: (803) 480-0419