COLUMBIA, S.C. — State House lawmakers are preparing for debate on issues which could affect you like education, income tax, and healthcare.
Lawmakers will return to the State House just two weeks into 2020, with several high-profile debates likely in the election year.
Education will continue to be a dominating topic as the Senate considers the education reform bill.
The Senate bill, which has already passed the House, needs approval to become law and at least one senator hopes they get to it quickly.
“My hope is that this will be the first thing out of the gate... Because that's going to allow the Senate to start off with really where most people want to focus this year and that is on the education reform aspect,” said Edgefield Republican Shane Massey in late 2019.
The Senate version of the bill changes course requirements, reading programs, and the state school board. It also reduces standardized tests and includes other reforms, some of which are controversial with the teacher group, SCforEd.
At the same time, Governor Henry McMaster wants lawmakers to give teachers a raise.
“The one I'm proposing is $3,000 or more, but at least $3,000 across the board for every teacher. And that will be particularly beneficial to the new teachers who start off a little lower than we would like them to. If we're going to have good teachers, we have to pay them good money,” McMaster said at the end of 2019.
State Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman has also included a teacher raise in her budget proposal for this year.
But, education won't be the only contentious item at the State House in 2020.
The Senate is also expected to debate the fetal heartbeat abortion ban. The proposed bill would ban abortions across the state after a fetal heartbeat is detected.
It's already passed the House and been the subject of intense debate amongst members of both legislative bodies.
Governor McMaster also said he wants lawmakers to consider lowering state income tax from seven percent to six percent, due to another state budget surplus expected this year.
Lawmakers return to the State House on January 14, 2020.