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Lawmakers return to State House, begin new legislative session

First orders of business include passing the congressional redistricting map and allocating billions of dollars in federal funds.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Lawmakers returned to the South Carolina State House on Tuesday, marking the official start of the 2022 legislative session. 

Members of the House of Representatives and the State Senate said they are excited to be back and look forward to all the work that needs to be done.  

"I feel great. I'm glad to be back and I think there's a lot of things that need to be done for the people of South Carolina," said Senator Nikki Setzler.

Senator Ross Turner echoed the excitement. "I'm glad to be back, and we've got a lot of work to do," said Turner.

Among that work is finalizing the congressional redistricting map and deciding how to spend billions in federal funds. 

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Because of the American Rescue Plan Act, South Carolina will have an additional $2.5 billion to allocate to different resources. 

On Monday, Governor McMaster revealed his plan for how South Carolina should spend that money. 

The proposal includes tax cuts, bonuses for bus drivers, raises for teachers, and money to replace the state's health lab. 

Setzler and Turner tell News 19 they haven't been able to take a detailed look at the Governor's plan yet. 

"He addressed some of the major issues. There may be differences how you do it, or implementing, or the amounts of money, but I think everyone realizes what the needs of South Carolina are," said Setzler.

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On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Subcommittee met to discuss where to use that money. Turner said his focus will be on infrastructure. 

"Broadband, water, sewer, helping municipalities and counties that need that help to make sure we kind of get ahead of the curve on those things," said Turner. "I think still, hopefully there's some money left over for roads." 

Lawmakers tell News 19 discussions will be long and thorough as both parties agree on the importance of spending these federal funds responsibly. 

“Whether it's roads, bridges, education, whatever it is, we need to make sure it is used in a reasonable and responsible way that benefits South Carolina long term,” said Setzler. 

The Senate Finance Subcommittee doesn't have a clear recommendation for the federal funds yet, but will continue to discuss it in the future.

The governor's budget will hit the house before it reaches the senate. 

The House will vote on the congressional redistricting map on Wednesday. It's unclear how long it will take for them to get to that decision. 

The Senate Redistricting Subcommittee has two proposed congressional plans to be considered by the subcommittee on Thursday

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