Local, Politics

H. 5202 – Coronavirus Relief Fund Bill (Senate-Passed Version) Approved by the SC House of Representatives

By a vote of 102 – 2 House Bill 5202 was approved and sent to the governor for his signature. The bill was supported by the Gov.’s task force, AccelerateSC and had the full support of the governor.

Total Available: $1.905 billion
SFC Authorization: $1.237 billion
Residual for Phase II: $668 million
Unemployment Trust Fund – $500 million

• To replenish the rapid depletion of the trust fund due to unprecedented unemployment claims and forestall an increase in in unemployment insurance taxes on state businesses.

K-12 Education – $222.7 million

• $50.7 million for Academic Recovery Camp to be used for intensive instructional recovery summer opportunities in reading and math with students in grades kindergarten through third grade who are at risk of falling behind in their learning. The purpose of the ARC is to mitigate disrupted learning time and support educational recovery for students due to COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of schools on March 16, 2020. Students eligible for this program are those in kindergarten through third grade who need supplemental learning opportunities to access the essential skills for standards of instruction in reading and math. The proposal is to provide a face-to-face summer program to strategically work with students by providing instruction for 120 minutes a day in literacy and 50 minutes a day in math for four weeks.
• $160 million to allow for five additional instructional days at the start of the 2020-2021 school year for students in grades 4K-8. The additional learning preparation and instructional days at the start of the year will be used to prepare schools to return to operations and to assess where students are in order to open the school year with a plan for how to strategically engage in interventions and facilitate student learning.
• $12 million for the additional cost of cafeteria workers’ salaries and the cost of meals to students not already reimburse by US Department of Agriculture.
• The bill also instructs the State Department of Education to seek a waiver from all federally accountability-related testing and reporting requirements and suspends state-mandated accountability testing for the school year.

State and Local Government Expenditures – $270 million

• This allocation is for state agencies, higher education institutions, counties, municipalities, and special purpose districts seeking reimbursement of eligible COVID-19 expenditures incurred March, 2020 through June 30, 2020.

Statewide Testing and Monitoring – $42.4 million

• For further expenses of the statewide COVID-19 testing plan implemented by H. 3411, the Continuing Resolution.
• Funds will also be used for the support of the statewide nursing home and congregate living facilities testing program.
• May be utilized to support the monitoring of positive COVID-19 cases, which may include contact tracing. However, participation by individuals in the contract-tracing program shall be solely on a voluntary basis. DHEC and any individual conducting contact tracing collection are prohibited from using any applications created for such purpose on a cellular device. Any contact tracing technologies utilized for data collection must be restricted for the collection of public health information only and must be carried and maintained in a decentralized manner. Access to any information collected will be used for public health information purposes only and will comply with all confidentiality requirements contained in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Contact tracers must be properly trained and certified by the DHEC. The Department will conduct a public awareness campaign to explain the use of contact tracing and that individuals may decline to participate.

Personal Protective Equipment Stockpile and Supply Chain – $16.8 million

• The Emergency Management Division will procure and maintain a statewide, twenty-eight day supply of personal protective equipment and the language authorizes a resident vendor preference for the procurement of personal protective equipment, if allowable under the CARES Act.
• The statewide stockpile is intended for use by state and local governments, law enforcement, first responders, hospitals, and other medical providers.
• EMD is also directed to procure a vendor for the development of a supply chain plan and long-term strategy for acquiring personal protective equipment.

Hospital Relief Fund – $125 million

• First priority to hospitals that did not receive the employee retention credit.
• The remaining funds will be allocated to hospitals based on the pro-rata percentage of the annual hospital tax assessment. This amount would be the maximum amount allowed per hospital for reimbursement and hospitals must attest that the expenditures are not eligible for reimbursement from any other funding source.

Broadband Mapping and Planning, Infrastructure and Mobile Hotspots $50,000,000

• These funds direct Office of Regulatory Staff to secure a vendor to develop a broadband statewide mapping plan and to secure a vendor for the plan.
• Directs ORS to work with the State Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education to procure mobile hotspots and monthly service through Dec. 2020 for distribution to a minimum 150,000 households with an annual income of 250% or less federal poverty and a household that has an individual attending public or private K-12 or higher educational institution.
• Requires that reimbursable expenditures for infrastructure expansion must be necessary for the COVID-19 public health emergency and must increase capacity for distance learning, telework or telehealth.

Grant Management Oversight and Compliance – $10 million

• Authorizes $10 million of CRF funds to be used for continued grant management services for oversight and compliance of funds received through the CARES Act and any other available source of federal COVID-19 relief funds

Garry Smith is a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives and represents District 27. He currently serves as Chairman of the House Operations and Management Committee.
Follow him on Twitter @GarryRSmith.■

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