The end of the legislative session is often hectic, but this year is a deck of wild cards.
The session ended officially on May 11, but the General Assembly did not pass a “Sine Die” resolution, which allows them to reconvene to address specific issues. Instead, the governor called them back last week for a special session, but once here they can take on any legislation they want.
The focus so far has been on the budget and the Senate’s “fetal heartbeat” bill, which passed the House with amendments which now goes back to the Senate, which can either accept the House version, or make more changes which would result in the creation of a conference committee. The governor also put on the plate enhancing penalties for illegal gun possession, passing bond reform, and, of course, passing a state budget.
Right now, the budget is up in the air. They have plenty of money to play with – the S.C. Board of Economic advisors revised upward their revenue estimates. It projects the state will have an additional $240 million in recurring (once an item is funded with recurring money, it can be in future budgets.) and an additional $564 million in non-recurring (“one shot”) funds.
Nevertheless, the conference committee formed to reckon the two versions of the budget is still wrangling over various items.
Without a deal, the House has announced that it will not meet this week while the Senate will debate the fetal heartbeat bill. Once the conference committee agrees on the budget the House and Senate will come back to approve it, but then the governor will likely veto aspects of the budget with which he disagrees. The General Assembly would have to return for override votes.
When this will happen is anyone’s guess. At this point what everyone agrees on is that the hard deadline is July 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year.