South Carolina is opening back up and you can feel it. Just a couple of weeks ago, I could drive to Columbia with very little traffic. This week felt like business as usual as I drove to Columbia and throughout the Upstate.

The accelerateSC meeting on Tuesday brought the five sub-groups together (Response, Protection, Governance, Resources, and Information) for a summary of their findings and recommendations to Governor McMaster. His team will take all of the information and consolidate it into a report to be presented to the legislature. We expect to receive the full report in the next couple of weeks.

Now that the legislature will be in charge of the appropriation of the $1.9 Billion CARES Act money, we are getting updated information on the agency needs. On Thursday I was part of the Senate OpenSC Committee meeting, where we heard presentations from DEW, DHEC, and MUSC. DEW’s concerns were primarily centered around the Unemployment Trust fund, while the presentations from DHEC and MUSC were centered more around testing and how we move forward.

Not discussed at this meeting, but starting to come to the surface, is the fear of lawsuits that are about to hit us. The first class action suit hit this week in Columbia, where students are suing USC for not providing the education experience they paid for. We have seen other suits coming from employees saying they weren’t provided a safe work environment.

We have talked about building the confidence of customers and employees, but it’s time to give employers confidence that if they are attempting to follow the ever-changing CDC and OSHA rules, they don’t have to worry about frivolous lawsuits or class action lawsuits that try to cast a net over everyone. This isn’t just about protecting businesses. Churches, non-profits, home owners associations (HOA’s), etc. are also vulnerable to these lawsuits.

Providing protection to all employers is essential to growing our economy. North Carolina and Alabama have already passed legislation in favor of employers and we must do the same.

The Senate OpenSC Chairman Thomas Alexander (Oconee) created a subcommittee, to be chaired by Sen. Tom Davis (Beaufort). The goal of this subcommittee is to come up with a recommendation and possible bill to help our churches, non-profits, and businesses operate with confidence and and with assurance that if you are trying to do the right thing, you can’t be sued. Chairman Alexander also named Sen. Vincent Sheheen (Camden), Sen. Gerald Malloy (Darlington), and myself to this subcommittee. We will have our first meeting next week.

Finally, this is Memorial Day Weekend. Over the last couple of months, everyone has made sacrifices to help us get through this pandemic. These sacrifices pale in comparison to those that gave it all for us to be able to live as a free country. I hope we all take time to pay our respects to our fallen soldiers, thank God for the USA and for allowing us to live in South Carolina. I hope you and your family have a great Memorial Day!

As always, it is an honor to represent District 8 in the SC Senate. If you need help navigating state government, please contact me or my assistant, Ja’vell Bynoe at (803)212-6148.