- 1 Updates
- 2 Actions Taken by the State Government
- 3 Elected Officials
- 4 Key Upcoming Elections
- 5 Obamacare / ACA
- 6 Policing
- 7 Immigration
- 8 Voting Rights
- 9 Mass Incarceration
- 10 Tax Cuts for the Wealthy
- 11 Housing/Infrastructure
- 12 Women's Rights/Reproductive Justice
- 13 LGBTQ+ Issues
- 14 Educational Justice
- 15 Consumer Protections / Workers' Rights
- 16 Climate / Environment
- 17 Disability Rights
- 18 Organizations
- 19 Local News Sources
- 20 Relevant City and County Information
Actions Taken by the State Government
Legislation that Supports Equity and Justice
Important bills proposed by South Carolina lawmakers this legislative session that should be supported:
Harmful bills proposed by South Carolina lawmakers this legislative session that should be opposed:
- H 3184 "Blue Lives Matter" law, would include members of law enforcement in hate crime protections.
See also the main policy pages for federal legislative tracking.
South Carolina Executive
Governor Henry McMaster (R)
- The Honorable Henry McMaster
- Office of the Governor
- 1205 Pendleton Street
- Columbia, South Carolina 29201
Key Upcoming Elections
Click here to find out if you're registered to vote. Register to vote here. The deadline is 30 days before Election Day. Bring proof of identification the first time you vote. A non-photo ID is requested every time you vote.
- South Carolina US House District 5 elections will be held in 2017; primaries on May 2, general June 20 (filing deadline March 13).
- If there is a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, 202,284 people in South Carolina (or 4.1% of the population) are estimated to lose coverage, whereas 353,000 people (or 7.1% of the population) will lose coverage with a partial repeal. (Retrieved 1/26/2017 from ACA Repeal Impact, state-by-state.) This is because with a full repeal, premiums will not increase the way they would under a partial repeal, since insurance companies will be able to discriminate on the basis of preexisting conditions and won't be required to provide essential health benefits. Not covering preexisting conditions will disproportionately affect people with disabilities.
- The number of uninsured people in South Carolina is predicted to be 624,000 by 2021 under the ACA. Without the ACA, that number is expected to rise to 897,000, a 43.8% increase.
- South Carolina is among the states that lost the ability to place lifetime limits on coverage, because that practice is banned by the ACA; those limits are likely to be reinstated under a full repeal.
- Prior to the ACA's ban on gender-rating, women in South Carolina could pay up to 45% more for the same coverage, compared to men; an ACA repeal could bring back that coverage gap.
- Given that a repeal of the ACA would also change payment structures and subsidies, 29,000 jobs could be lost in South Carolina. When federal funding is cut, it creates a ripple effect that affects local and state revenue, thus creating losses in economic activity and employment.ACA Repeal Impact, state-by-state
- Under the ACA Repeal-and-Delay strategy, young adults in South Carolina could pay $766 more in 2018.
78 people were killed by the police in South Carolina from 2013 to 2016, which is the 20th highest per capita in the country. Black people were killed at a rate 1.25 times higher than the rate for all people in South Carolina.
- In 2013, South Carolina had 231,278 immigrants, making up 4.8% of the population.
- There are estimated to be 85,000 undocumented immigrants in South Carolina, making up 1.8% of the population.
Rights of Non-Citizens
- South Carolina does not allow undocumented immigrants to get drivers’ licenses.
- South Carolina bars undocumented immigrants from receiving the same in-state tuition rate as legal residents and citizens.
- In 2012, President Barack Obama signed an executive order (DACA) that defers deportation for children who were brought to the country as children. The action allows them to work lawfully but does not create a pathway to citizenship or give them legal status in the United States. In South Carolina, 10,442 individuals have benefited from this executive action.
- 3.9% of K-12 students in South Carolina had undocumented parents in 2014.
- Undocumented immigrants in South Carolina made up 2.6% of the labor workforce in 2014.
- If all undocumented workers were removed from South Carolina, the state would lose $1.8 billion in economic activity.
- Undocumented immigrants paid $33.4 million in state and local taxes in South Carolina in 2012.
- South Carolina has a law requiring police to demand identification during traffic stops if they have “reasonable suspicion” that a person lacks legal immigration status.
- South Carolina does not have any cities or counties with sanctuary policies.
- South Carolina was in the bottom 20% for refugee resettlement in 2013–14, with less than 6 refugees per 100,000 residents.
- South Carolina voters faced the first presidential election in 50 years without the full protections of the Voting Rights Act (VRA). The VRA was designed to prevent discrimination in voting. Overall, states are passing fewer laws to restrict voting rights. However, voter ID bills are the most common type of restriction.
- 14 states will have new voting restrictions in place for the first time in a presidential election. South Carolina is one of them.
- In 2014, 31,710 people were incarcerated in South Carolina, plus a probation population of 35,300 and parole population of 5,477.
- Of the prison population, 2,219 people were serving life sentences, and 988 were serving life sentences without parole.
- 672 juveniles were in custody in South Carolina in 2013.
- In South Carolina, a black person was 4.3 times more likely to be incarcerated than a white person in 2014.
- 15 people were incarcerated in private prisons.
- Corrections expenditures in 2014 were $619 million.
- Reports on how South Carolina's summary courts fail to protect constitutional rights.
Tax Cuts for the Wealthy
- South Carolina residents who face a tax increase under Trump’s plan:
- Households: 135,000
- Adults and children: 399,000
- Children: 242,000
- In 2015, an average of 379,992 households and 804,572 individuals received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps) in a given month in South Carolina. In 2011, approximately 18% of the population of South Carolina was receiving SNAP benefits. The average monthly benefit per South Carolina household was $260 per household and $123 per person in 2016.
- In 2016, an average of 21,013 households, including 9,536 families and 17,300 children, received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which is direct financial assistance, in a given month. The average monthly benefit for a single parent with three children residing in South Carolina was $282 in 2014. Average benefits in South Carolina have fallen in value by 7.5% since 1996.
- In 2016, an average of 27,756 women received funds from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in a given month.
- In December 2015, there were 8,068 Social Security recipients in the "aged" category receiving $268.83 per person on average, for a total of $2,169,000.
- 122,700 low-income households in South Carolina spent more than half of their income on housing.
- In 2014, South Carolina had 39 units of affordable and available housing for every 100 households categorized as “extremely low income” (at or below 30% of area median income.)
- In South Carolina, there were 5,051 homeless people in 2016, which is 0.92% of the total national homeless population.
- Of the homeless population, there were 409 families, 738 veterans, 246 unaccompanied young adults (18-24), and 988 people experiencing chronic homelessness.
- South Carolina received $391 million in federal rental assistance funding in 2014.
- In South Carolina, more than 67,000 families relied on federal rental assistance in 2014.
- Nearly all South Carolina households using federal rental assistance included children, elderly people or disabled people.
- In 2013, the Department of Transportation found that 20.7% of South Carolina’s bridges were structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and 40% of South Carolina’s roads were in poor or mediocre condition.
- Driving on these roads leads to an additional $255 per motorist per year in increased vehicle repairs and operating costs.
Women's Rights/Reproductive Justice
- South Carolina has two Planned Parenthood centers.
- In 2015, one center was in a rural, medically underserved, or health provider shortage areas.
- On average, there is one Planned Parenthood for 474,000 women of reproductive age.
Policy Solutions / Issues
- There were seven abortion providers in South Carolina in 2015.
- In 2014, 17 out of every 1,000 women of reproductive age in South Carolina had an abortion. The national abortion rate is 14.6.
Policy Solutions / Issues
- There is a 24-hour waiting period required after mandatory counseling.
- Parental consent is required for minors.
- Ultrasound requirements exist.
- Abortion is prohibited after 20 weeks except in cases of life or health endangerment.
- Medical abortion is limited.
- Private insurance coverage is limited.
- State Medicaid does not fund most abortions.
- TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws exist.
Women and Wages
- In South Carolina, 16.7% of women live in poverty. 41.9% of single mothers live in poverty, as do 11.1% of women age 65 and older.
- For every dollar made by men, women are paid $0.81, which is one cent above the national average of $0.80.
- African American women are paid $0.57 for every dollar paid to white men, while Latina women make $0.51 for every dollar made by white men.
- In 2011, South Carolina had the highest rate of women murdered by men in the US, more than double the national average.
- South Carolina has ranked in the top ten states for the rate of femicide in each of the past 17 years.
- On a single day in 2014, South Carolina domestic violence programs served 390 victims.
- An estimated 19% of South Carolina women will experience stalking in their lifetimes.
Religious freedom law
Religious freedom laws protect people's right to practice their religion and limit laws imposing on that right, and were intended to protect religious minorities. A State Religious Freedom Act was enacted in South Carolina in 1999 for that purpose, but it has been recently used to claim that the rights of individuals or business owners are violated if they are not allowed to deny service to LGBTQ+ people.
South Carolina lacks nondiscrimination laws protecting LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, adoption, foster care, credit, education, insurance and jury selection.
South Carolina also lacks laws protecting LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in parenting, including laws relating to second-parent adoption, surrogacy, foster care, parental presumption for same-sex couples, and consent to inseminate.
Hate crime laws
- South Carolina does not have certain laws protecting LGBTQ+ youth, including transgender inclusion in sports, protection from conversion therapy, laws to address LGBTQ+ youth homelessness, LGBTQ+ inclusive sex education laws, and LGBTQ+ inclusive juvenile justice policies.
- South Carolina does have a law that restricts inclusion of LGBTQ+ topics in schools.
Health and safety laws
- South Carolina does not have laws protecting the health and safety of its LGBTQ+ citizens, including nondiscrimination protections in the ACA exchanges, a ban on insurance exclusions for trans health care, trans-inclusive health benefits for state employees, gender marker change on identifications documents, health data collection, and gender-neutral single-occupancy restrooms.
- South Carolina does have laws that discriminate against LGBTQ+ people in ensuring their health and safety, such as sodomy laws and laws that criminalize HIV/AIDS.
- HIV criminalization laws are those that make it illegal for an HIV-positive person to “knowingly expose” another person to HIV—in some states, this means that it is illegal not to disclose HIV-positive status to a sex partner, but many laws criminalize behaviors that are unlikely to lead to transmission. Because the laws focus on disclosure, not actual transmission, they serve no real purpose. All states have other, non-HIV-specific laws that can be used to prosecute transmission of HIV, so these laws just needlessly single out and stigmatize HIV-positive people and reinforce the image of them as “dangerous.” It also allows the saliva or blood of an HIV-positive person to be classified in court as a “deadly weapon.” HIV criminalization laws also disproportionately target people of color, mainly Black people, and gay men.
- South Carolina is ranked 33rd in per-pupil spending as of 2013, with an average expenditure of $9,514 per student.
- As of 2013, South Carolina ranked 39th in teacher pay, with teachers earning an average of $47,924 per year.
- 90% of students in South Carolina attend public schools. As is the case in other states, students who attend private schools come from wealthier families, with private school families earning an average 75% higher income.
- As of 2014, public charter school enrollment accounted for 3.2% of total public school enrollment.
- 83% of white students, 77% of Hispanic students, 76% of Black students, and 88% of Asian/Pacific Islander students graduate from high school in four years. These rates are approximately equal to or slightly above nationwide averages.
Consumer Protections / Workers' Rights
- South Carolina has no state minimum wage, so the minimum wage in the state is the same as the federal minimum wage of $7.25.
- South Carolina has no state law for paid sick leave.
- South Carolina has no state law for paid family leave.
- South Carolina has Right-to-Work laws, which means that the state can prohibit unions that collectively bargain on behalf of both members and nonmembers from requiring union fees for the services they provide to all workers they represent. Such laws are designed to reduce unions' income and power.
- South Carolina is a state with an at-will exemption. "At-will" means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason, except an illegal one, or for no reason, without breaking the law. Likewise, an employee is free to leave a job at any time for any or no reason with no adverse legal consequences.
- South Carolina also has a public policy exemption, meaning that an employer may not fire an employee if it would violate the state's public policy doctrine or a state or federal statute, including refusing to perform an act that state law prohibits (e.g., refusing an employer's request to commit perjury at a trial), reporting a violation of the law (e.g., reporting an employer's fraudulent accounting practices or use of child labor), engaging in acts that are in the public interest (e.g., joining the National Guard or performing jury duty) and exercising a statutory right (e.g., filing a claim under the state workers' compensation law).
- South Carolina does allow for implied contract exemptions.. An implied contract can be created in several different ways: oral assurances by a supervisor; or handbooks, policies or practices as written assurances by the employer. This means that if there is no written contract between the employer and employee, that employee may have an exception of fixed term or even indefinite employment based on an employer's statements. As a general rule, courts disregard language promising long-term, lifetime or permanent employment as aspirational and consider the relationship to be at-will.
- South Carolina does support the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing. Courts have interpreted this in different ways, from requiring just cause for termination to prohibiting terminations made in bad faith or motivated by malice.
Climate / Environment
- Approximately 63% of South Carolina’s electricity generation is nuclear, and approximately 33% is from fossil fuels.
- South Carolina has 25 sites on the National Priorities List.
- Approximately 3% of South Carolina’s land is federally owned.
- In 2014, the Asian or Pacific Island population had the highest air pollution exposure indices—of 62—compared to an overall index of 55 and a White index of 53.
- In 2012, Native American adults in South Carolina were most likely to have asthma—13.9%, compared to 8.3% overall and 7.8% of the White population.
- The environmental agency in South Carolina is the Department of Health and Environmental Control, which seeks to "improve the quality of life for all South Carolinians by protecting and promoting the health of the public and the environment."
- In 2008, the South Carolina Climate, Energy and Commerce Committee established a climate action plan.
- In 2014, South Carolina established a renewable energy goal of 2% renewable energy by 2021.
- South Carolina has the 12th-highest rate of disability in the US: 14.8% of South Carolina's residents are disabled, compared with the national average of 12.6%. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table R1810]
- The employment rate among disabled adults in South Carolina is 28.7%, compared to the national average of 34.9%. People without disabilities in South Carolina have a 74.3% employment rate. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Tables R1811 & B18120]
- Approximately 17.8% of eligible voters in South Carolina have one or more disabilities, compared to a national average of 15.7%.
- Of adults with disabilities in South Carolina, 28.8% live in poverty, as opposed to 14.1% of non-disabled adults. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B23024] The poverty rate for disabled children under 5 is 41.3%, as opposed to 25.5% for non-disabled children. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B18130]
- In South Carolina, 5.2% of adults between 18 and 64 receive SSI (Supplemental Security Income), compared to the national average of 5.4%. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B19056]