State House News: May 28 - June 3
Tomorrow is the last day of regular legislative session. Both the House and Senate must adjourn by 5:00 pm this Thursday, June 6, and are scheduled to return in several weeks to finish unresolved business.
Doctors of the Day
Thanks to Christina Andrew, MD (Florence) and Tommy Rowland, MD (Columbia) for their volunteer service at the State House last week!
Budget Bill Closer to Final Passage
The Senate wrapped up their work on the FY 2013-14 General Appropriations Act, H. 3710, on Tuesday of last week after over 7 hours of roll call votes on all 118 individual sections of the bill and three weeks of debate.
It is now apparent that a House/Senate budget conference committee will not have time to work out the differences between the two versions of the budget by this Thursday, the last day of regular session, and the legislative calendar will continue past the constitutionally mandated adjournment date of the first Thursday in June. The Senate last week also adopted a Continuing Resolution to keep government operating at current funding levels should legislators fail to finalize a budget before the fiscal year begins July 1.
Update on Health Care Legislation
S. 117 (Sen. Hayes), the “Adult Health Care Consent Act”, received 2nd reading in the House last week by a vote of 76-32. After receiving routine final reading, the bill is now enrolled for ratification to be sent to the Governor.
By a vote of 104-7, the House on Tuesday amended and gave second reading approval to S. 341 (Sen. Alexander, others) enacting the “Emerson Rose Act”. The bill requires each birthing facility in the state to perform a pulse oximetry screening on every newborn when the baby is twenty-four to forty-eight hours of age, or as late as possible if the baby is discharged from the hospital before reaching twenty-four hours of age. The bill now goes back to the Senate for concurrence.
By a vote of 61-47 last week, the House tabled a joint resolution that would have created the “Free Health Care Study Committee”. H. 4009 (Rep. Jefferson) would have created a study and provided a report on the extent to which medical professionals volunteer at free medical clinics and the variety of services offered.
Charleston Senator Resigns Amid Ethics Allegations
Senator Robert Ford (D-Charleston) resigned from the state Senate last Friday amidst allegations that he improperly used campaign funds for personal use. The Senate Ethics Committee conducting the investigation has since turned the matter over to the State Attorney General’s Office.
Sen. Ford had served in the state Senate for over twenty years. A former civil rights activist, he had become known during his 21 years in the Senate for his often irreverent comments and clashing with leaders of his own party on issues like school choice and the Confederate flag.
Open filing for the District 42 Senate seat is set to open June 21. Any primaries would be held August 13, and the special election itself October 1, 2013.
Introductions of Interest
H. 4260 (Rep. Horne) - amends the CON review process to exempt the requirement of review for a hospital to add new beds as long as the new beds are to be used for mental health services.
Referred to House 3M Committee.
S. 748 (Sen. Cleary) - provides immunity from liability for providing free health care services within the scope of the Good Samaritan Act.
Read the first time and referred to the Senate Medical Affairs Committee.