2024 State Legislative Session Takeaways: South Carolina

Written by Ian Thompson

The South Carolina Legislature adjourned on May 9 with 2,565 bills being introduced and 210 being enacted. Twenty-five (25) bills still need Governor Henry McMaster’s (R) approval. Although the legislature has adjourned bills still in conference committee are eligible for consideration as a resolution was passed in March allowing the legislature to address them until November 10.

Here’s what you may have missed:


On January 12, 2023, Representative Bill Taylor (R) introduced HB 3690, the “ESG Pension Protection Act.” This bill requires the state retirement system to consider only pecuniary factors when making investment decisions and restricts the proxy voting ability for representatives of the fund. It further specifies that the state retirement commission may only make investments based on maximizing shareholder value. This bill made it through the legislature with little controversy and was only amended in the house to include the proxy voting provisions. It passed the house on April 5, 2023, by a vote of 103-5 and was not addressed again until the 2024 legislative session when the senate passed it by a unanimous vote on January 16, 2024. It was signed on February 5, with McMaster stating, "This bill is yet another example of our commitment to responsible financial stewardship and it will safeguard the interests of our retirees and taxpayers from the liberal ESG agenda."

Anti-ESG legislation has been a common across the United States. Anti-ESG legislation like South Carolina’s bill is currently pending in Arizona, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.


House Republicans have made energy reform a priority as the state’s population and economy continue to grow. According to Representative G. Murrell Smith Jr. (R) “This is one of the most crucial issues that we face, and it’s real. This is not hyperbole that we are about to run out of capacity to serve our citizens.”

In response to this growing crisis the chamber brought forward HB 5118, the “South Carolina Ten-Year Energy Transformation Act.” Provisions of this bill included regulatory changes to streamline the permitting process for energy infrastructure, allowing two state utilities to partner to transform coal plants into natural gas plants, and create a small modular reactor pilot program to increase nuclear energy production.

The bill passed the house but faced a more tepid reaction in the senate as members acknowledged the energy crisis South Carolina may face in the future, but ultimately decided against this course of action. The measure was amended into a resolution to study energy production during the interim. It now awaits consideration in a conference committee.


On January 5, 2024, McMaster unveiled his FY 2024-2025 budget. In this proposal, he highlighted the need for $12.3 billion in funding for education, workforce development, health care, capital projects, and energy.

On March 3, 2024, the house responded to the proposal by introducing HB 5100, the state budget. The budget includes $13.2 billion in appropriations, including provisions that would increase teachers’ salaries, address infrastructure, provide property tax relief, improve healthcare by creating an integrated health information exchange, further opioid abuse research, ban the use of TikTok on school-owned devices, and increase funding for SC Nexus to further research into energy storage and demand response systems.

The budget was amended and passed the house on March 12, 2024. It was then sent to the senate where it was amended and then passed on April 24, 2024. The house refused to concur with the senate’s amendments sending the budget to a conference committee. The conference committee will meet this summer to further negotiate the budget.

Future Outlook

The South Carolina Legislature will be meeting this summer and fall to address bills left pending in conference committees. These issues include the budget, the energy transformation bill, uniform money services, and organized retail theft.

The legislature has faced sharp divisions between the house and senate. Both chambers are Republican led, but the house has seen ideological divisions largely from members of the Freedom Caucus. The Freedom Caucus is a more conservative faction and has utilized chamber rules to their advantage tanking bills during session.

South Carolina will hold elections in 2024 for the house and senate. While the presence of the Freedom Caucus may cause more intraparty conflicts, Republicans will keep their strong majorities in both chambers.

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