Lawmakers work to tackle employment issues amid the pandemic

South Carolina News

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCBD) – South Carolina lawmakers are working to tackle all of the issues in the way of the state returning to a sense of normalcy, from education to businesses reopening.

From implementing proper protocol if an employee tests positive for COVID-19 to finding pots of money to help small businesses recover financially, the house employment workforce and business recovery committee is working to address issues that are in the way of revitalizing the state’s economy.

At Wednesday’s meeting, members of the House COVID-19 Employment Recovery Committee learned more about the barriers stopping South Carolina’s economy from recovering.

For starters, a repeated issue lawmakers and task force members have heard from businesses is lack of guidance on worst case scenarios.

“I had a constituent call me 3 weeks ago and you could hear the fear in her voice,” said Representative Kirkman Finlay. “There’s a trainer who works for me she tested positive. What do I need to do, do I shut my business down?”

At the meeting, DHEC presented a plan that outlines what an employer should do if an employee tests positive or is in contact with someone who has child care as another obstacle.

Employees need child care to return to work. 39% of the state’s child care centers are still closed.

Michael Leach, DSS Director, said “Waiting for parents to return to work so it’s the supply and demand and it continues to be. Waiting on boards directors to discuss reopening and waiting for COVID numbers to decline.”

One of the biggest challenges for businesses is bouncing back financially. Committee members are hoping to find ways to give businesses that have closed and can’t reopen, because of financial hardships a boost.

“41% of minorities may have closed in April according to the Wall Street Journal, many of those weren’t able for many reasons not qualify for government assistance, so we need to see how we can keep those businesses open,” said Finlay.

The plan is for committee members to come up with a list of recommendations to present to the speaker of the house Jay Lucas, so the full body can review the proposals.

The Department of Social Services has been working on providing funding to child care centers to have a thorough cleaning to help with reopening and providing child care vouchers to essential workers. Lawmakers will be back at the state house in September.

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