The South Carolina General Assembly adjourned its regular session sine die on May 10 after having been in session since early January. However, the legislature reconvened three separate times for special sessions throughout the summer and late fall. During the sessions, the legislature overrode Governor Henry McMaster’s veto of a utility rate reduction bill, discussed taxes, and passed the state budget. The legislature debated bills on gun control, human trafficking penalties, restrictions on the South Carolina Conservation Bank, and education.
- Lawmakers authorized a general election ballot initiative that would have made the state superintendent of education a governor-appointed position, rather than an elected position. The initiative ultimately failed in the November general election.
- Lawmakers passed legislation increasing the penalty for offenders convicted of trafficking minors to a minimum of 45 years in prison.
- A law that will outlaw the use of drones near South Carolina prisons without proper authorization passed through the General Assembly in response to a rise in prisoners receiving contraband supplies via drone deliveries.
- Both chambers of the legislature approved legislation that will allow students to receive physical education credit for participating in the school’s marching band.
- Lawmakers reconvened for a two-day special session on June 27. During that time, lawmakers passed an $8 billion budget that includes a 1 percent salary increase for teachers. Additionally, lawmakers passed a bill that will cut utility rates that had been charged to South Carolinians to fund a nuclear power plant in the state.
This year, South Carolina voters went to the polls and re-elected incumbent Republican Governor Henry McMaster, defeating Democratic challenger James Smith Jr. Additionally, Republicans maintained a robust majority in the House of Representatives, capturing 80 seats to Democrats’ 44. In 2018, the South Carolina Senate was not up for election. Members of the 123rd South Carolina General Assembly will convene on January 8, 2019.