Public Service Commission Reform & Funding for Opioid Misuse Treatment & Students with Exceptional Needs
On Thursday, the House passed legislation to reform the Public Service Commission (PSC) by a vote of 108-1. The legislation (1) strengthens ethical standards to limit outside utility influence, (2) requires stricter questioning of parties by commissioners before making a decision, (3) provides ability to inspect utility construction sites and (4) staggers the election terms for current commissioners.
The PSC is the agency authorized by the legislature to regulate utility companies and set power rates. Indeed, the PSC is also the entity responsible for approving nine SCE&G rate increase adjustments used to fund the VC Summer project. The reforms adopted by the House this week give the PSC a more defined role with the goal of preventing another massive debacle in the future.
On Tuesday, a House Ways and Means subcommittee heard requests by members of the House Opioid Abuse Prevention Study Committee for additional funding beyond what some agencies tasked with curbing the opioid epidemic already receive. The full House Ways and Means Committee will begin budget deliberations next week and I will continue to keep you updated on this important process. Reducing the number of opioid-related deaths continues to be a priority for my colleagues and me.
The House also gave initial approval to legislation granting permanent status to Exceptional SC, a program that allows students with exceptional needs to receive an education that meets their needs. The bill codifies and makes permanent what South Carolina has been doing by annual budget proviso the past few years. This new step gives certainty to the program so parents, students, and donors know it’s going to be there next year and the year after without fail. Currently, the program exists as a tax credit capped at $11 million annually. Throughout this process, we learned of additional donors above the $11 million level who have expressed interest in participating in the program. The next step is to increase the $11 million tax credit, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to accomplish this in the future.
It is an honor and a privilege to serve you in Columbia. If you need help navigating state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact me.