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Medical marijuana, online sports betting on the agenda for 2022 SC legislative session

Medical marijuana, online sports betting, and redistricting maps are just the beginning

COLUMBIA, S.C. — State lawmakers have a long list of issues to tackle as they return to the State House Tuesday to begin the 2022 legislative session. 

Among the top priorities are finalizing redistricting maps and budgeting.

“I think the House will largely be done with redistricting this first week of session, and then the focus of work is going to be on that budget and allocation process," said Representative Micah Caskey of Lexington County. 

Lawmakers are working on allocating $11 billion in funding, the most in recent history. 

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The General Assembly works on a budget every year, but Representative Todd Rutherford of Richland County said this year is different.

“What we don’t do every year is deal with billions of dollars the federal government has sent down, and how to give the taxpayers the biggest bang for their buck,” said Rutherford. 

South Carolina received $500 million from the settlement over the Savannah River Site in addition to $2.5 billion in federal funds from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Representative Leon Howard of Richland County said in his whole career, he's "never seen this amount of money to be allocated." 

So, therefore, we're gonna have to be very careful and very wise, that we be good stewards of this resource that is being allocated and put it in places.

Caskey echoed concerns of spending this money responsibly.  

"We've got a responsibility to handle these new federal funds in a responsible way, and I think you'll see us do that as well," said Caskey. 

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Responsibility for this money is something Democrats and Republicans agree on, but what it should be spent on is still up for debate. 

“Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, how money is spent even in someone’s household, people are gonna disagree on it,” said Rutherford.

It's too early to know yet where federal funds will be allocated as the budgeting process has just begun. However, more details will come in March. 

Measures that would legalize medical marijuana and online sports betting are also expected to make their way to the Senate soon. 

Rutherford has advocated for these because they are “things that people are already doing now, but they need to pay taxes on so the State of South Carolina can benefit from them.”

Other big agenda items that will be discussed in 2022 include abortion laws, election laws and tax reform. 

A full schedule of the legislative meetings can be found here.

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