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2022 Statehouse Report #15

Restructuring DHEC 

As your Representative, one of my goals is to make government and its agencies run more efficiently. House Ways and Means met on Thursday to discuss a bill that, done right, will do just that by breaking up the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. S. 2 is a bill that will (as of July 1, 2024) break DHEC into:

  1. the Department of Behavioral and Public Health (which will be the public health arm of the current DHEC) and,
  2. the Department of Environmental Services (which will be the environmental side of current DHEC)

The Department of Mental Health and the Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services will be operating as usual until the Department of Administration reaches their conclusion on how to incorporate these departments, and the General Assembly votes on it. This legislation passed out of House Ways and Means and will likely make its way to the Floor next week.


Cutting Taxes in SC

During this year’s session, the House already passed an impressive state income tax overhaul that restructured our state's convoluted and outdated tax bracket system. It provides significant relief to almost all taxpayers with a focus on relief for the working middle-class people. Once fully phased in, this plan will cut over $1 billion in taxes for South Carolina taxpayers and exempts all military retirement from taxable income. 


S. 1087 was the Senate's response to our tax plan. When comparing the House and Senate plans, our plan saves more money for more South Carolinians - period. We are not focused on just bringing down the top tax rate, but rather, we are focused on collapsing the middle rates to help hard-working middle-class people - where most South Carolinains find themselves. This is why during a meeting of the full House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday, the committee voted to strike the Senate language and insert our tax plan, sending it to the Floor for a vote.


I look forward to getting the chance to support this legislation, which will significantly lower state income taxes for the majority of South Carolinians.


Save Women’s Sports

The House recently passed legislation that bans biological men, despite sexual identity, from participating in women’s sports. Upon passage in the House, it was sent to the Senate for approval. The Senate passed the bill with some tweaks, which will soon be back in the House for review. I look forward to supporting this legislation once again to outlaw these dangerous situations in our daughters' locker rooms and sports teams from taking place.


Teacher Appreciation Week and S. 946 

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week! Our teachers keep our State moving. Oftentimes, teachers are so much more than educators: they are role models, a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, and they truly shape the lives of our children. This week, my colleagues and I voted to unanimously pass a bill that entitles elementary school teachers to ‘unencumbered’ time. Essentially, this is duty-free time to eat lunch, and have some downtime to regroup before returning to educate our children. 


Supporting our Veterans

Giving back to those who sacrificed it all to protect us is one of my top priorities as an elected representative. This week, I was proud to support a bill (S. 968) that establishes the Veterans Service Organization Burial Honor Guard Support Fund. This fund offsets the cost of South Carolina veterans service organizations that help provide honor guard detail at veteran burials. I was glad to see this bill pass the House without opposition.


South Carolina: an Agriculture State!

According to the South Carolina Department of Agriculture, agribusiness, agriculture, and forestry drives our economy - creating over 212,500 jobs with a $41.7 billion yearly impact. It’s important that, as elected officials, we support our farmers. This week, I supported a bill that expands the South Carolina grain producers guaranty fund (existing self-assessment commodity program paid for by SC Farmers) to cotton farmers. Additionally, it establishes the SC Agriculture Commodities Commission, which will advise the Department of Agriculture on how to administer the fund. I am always happy to support and encourage our South Carolina agriculture industry and farmers. This legislation was passed by a vote of 103-1 and was sent back to the Senate.

Forrest For House
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