South Carolina lawmakers return for budget special session


State Rep. Gary Clary wears a face mask he made from a Clemson University banner during a special, one-day session of the South Carolina Legislature on Wednesday, April 8, 2020, in Columbia, S.C. This year’s session has been paused for several weeks amid the new coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina lawmakers are returning to Columbia to take up how the state spends its money, voting and whatever other loose ends remain in a session disrupted by COVID-19.

The General Assembly set aside two weeks starting Tuesday. The Senate will immediately take up alterations to the state budget, which include setting aside $500 million for any shortfall in revenue if the COVID-19 economic downturn continues and $1,000 hazard pay bonuses for lower-paid state employees who had to work through the pandemic.

The House plans to start Tuesday with changes the Senate approved in voting for November’s election including no excuse absentee voting.

Legislators can take up any other matters that passed at least one chamber before lawmakers stopped meeting regularly in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Matters like changes to how local governments issue and collect fees for business licenses and changes in liquor laws to help restaurants with carry out and outdoor dining changes because of the pandemic could also come up.

This is the final year of the session, so any bills not passed by the time the special session ends Sept. 24 are dead. That likely includes two different versions of massive education overhaul bills passed by the House and Senate.

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