State Capital Report
Rep. Robert Q. Williams
SC House District #62
The House of Representatives approved seven bills that draw upon the work of the special House Opioid Abuse Prevention Study Committee that was appointed by the Speaker of the House to examine the growing misuse of prescription painkillers and recommend legislative actions to counter the epidemic of ruinous addiction and fatal overdoses.
• The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4603, legislation imposing new limitations on initial prescriptions of an opioid medication for acute pain management or postoperative pain management. Under the bill, Initial opioid prescriptions for acute pain management or postoperative pain management must not exceed a seven day supply, except when clinically indicated for chronic pain, cancer pain, hospice care, palliative care, major trauma, major surgery, treatment of sickle cell anemia, or medication assisted treatment for substance abuse.
• The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3826, legislation that requires a written prescription for any Schedule II, III, IV, and V controlled substance to be written on a tamper-resistant prescription pad that meets the counterfeit-resistant standards required by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for prescriptions. Prescription orders transmitted by facsimile, orally, or electronically are exempt from the tamper-resistant prescription pad requirement. The tamper-resistant prescription pad requirements do not apply to refill prescriptions of an original written prescription that was issued before the effective date of this act.
• The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3825, a bill that makes provisions for the Department of Health and Environmental Control to use information in the state prescription monitoring program system to provide prescription report cards to health care practitioner who prescribe controlled substances to inform them about their prescribing trends compared to other practitioners.\
• The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4600, a bill providing authorization for community distributors of opioid antidotes as a means of preventing overdose deaths. Under the legislation, a prescriber acting in good faith and exercising reasonable care may directly, or by standing order, prescribe an opioid antidote to a community distributor for the purpose of distributing the opioid antidote to those at risk of experiencing an opiate related overdose or to their caregivers. A community distributor that distributes an opioid antidote in accordance with the provisions of this legislation is not subject to civil or criminal liability. The Board of Medical Examiners and the Board of Pharmacy are charged with issuing a written joint protocol to authorize a community distributor to distribute an opioid antidote without a patient specific written order or prescription to a person at risk of experiencing an opioid related overdose or to a caregiver of such a person, and without the requirement for a pharmacist to dispense the opioid antidote.
• The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4602, a bill expanding the prescription monitoring program database to include information on the administration of opioid antidotes. The legislation establishes protocols for the timely submission to the database of the date an opioid antidote was administered, the dosage and route of administration, and the name, address, and date of birth of the person to whom the opioid antidote was administered, if available, that apply when an opioid antidote is administered in a hospital emergency department or other health care facility or by a first responder.
• The legislation requires a health care practitioner or the practitioner’s delegate to review a patient’s opioid antidote administration history in addition to the patient’s controlled substance prescription history before issuing a prescription for a Schedule II controlled substance.
• The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4117, a bill affording drug courts access to prescription monitoring program information. The legislation revises confidentiality provisions for the Prescription Monitoring Program maintained by the Department of Health and Environmental Control to allow DHEC to provide program data to a presiding judge of a drug court pertaining to a specific case involving a designated person.
• The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4601, a bill making provisions for the licensure of addiction counselors. Currently an addiction counselor in this state must be certified by an approved certification board. This bill will require an addiction counselor to be licensed by the Department of Labor, Licensure, and Regulation. After October 1, 2018, an addiction counselor applicant must have a master’s degree or higher and meet the other licensure requirements imposed on professional counselors and marriage and family therapists.
• The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3513 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation creates a South Carolina retired educator certificate that allows a retired South Carolina teacher to be eligible to maintain certification for the purpose of substituting. A retired educator certificate is valid for five years as is renewable.
• The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3701, legislation facilitating kinship foster parents, and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation provides that before the South Carolina Department of Social Services places a child with a relative who is not licensed as a foster parent, the department is required to inform the relative of the procedures for licensure as a foster parent, the benefits of licensure as a foster parent, including eligibility for financial assistance and supportive services, and the risk that the relative may be ineligible for that assistance and services if the relative is not licensed as a foster parent. Potential kinship foster parents would be required to undergo background checks that include checking the Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect. The legislation sets forth the responsibilities of kinship foster parents and makes provisions for kinship care to be monitored by SCDSS. The legislation requires the agency to maintain specified kinship foster care data. The legislation also includes a provision that identifying a child as a victim of trafficking in persons does not create a presumption that the parent, guardian, or other individual responsible for the child’s welfare abused, neglected, or harmed the child.
• The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3442, a bill affirming rights to adopt children in the temporary custody of the Department of Social Services in response to recent South Carolina court opinions that the state’s laws do not accommodate such adoptions, and enrolled the bill for ratification.
• The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3002, the “Regulatory Freedom Act” which establishes a five year duration for state agency regulations. The legislation revises the Administrative Procedures Act to provide that when a new regulation is promulgated or an existing regulation is amended, it expires five years from the date on which it becomes effective.
• The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.5038, a bill disallowing pharmacy benefit insurance ‘Gag Clause’ arrangements that restrict pharmacists from offering the insured more affordable alternatives for a prescription drug that may be less than the insured’s copayment cost. The legislation includes new prohibited acts for a pharmacy benefit manager to disallow arrangements that would prevent pharmacists from offering these lower-cost alternatives and arrangements that charge or penalize pharmacists for selling these alternatives to insureds.
• The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4710, a bill making revisions relating to certain military special license plates. The legislation exempts special motor vehicle license plates for Operation Desert Storm Desert Shield Veterans, Operation Enduring Freedom Veterans, and Operation Iraqi Freedom Veterans from requirements for the Department of Motor Vehicles to retain sufficient funds in a restricted account to defray the expenses associated with producing and administering these special license plates. The legislation authorizes the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue special motor vehicle license plates for those who have been awarded the Air Medal. The newly-created ‘Air Medal’ special license plates are also exempt from requirements for the DMV to retain sufficient funds in a restricted account to defray expenses.
• The House approved and sent the Senate H.4875, the “South Carolina Solar Habitat Act”. The legislation establishes voluntary solar best management practices for commercial solar energy generation sites that provide native perennial vegetation and foraging habitats beneficial to gamebirds, songbirds, and pollinators and reduce storm water runoff and erosion at the solar generation site. The legislation provides that certificates of compliance may be issued to those that meet solar site guidelines.
• The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4946, a bill that revises provisions governing the issuance of shellfish importation permits by the SC Department of Natural Resources in order to eliminate references to genetically modified shellfish.
• The House approved and sent the Senate H.4877, a bill that revises the composition of the Board of Pyrotechnic Safety by designating one additional seat for a member who is a fireworks retailer and eliminating one seat designated for a member of the general public.
• The House approved and sent the Senate H.4962, a bill addressing title insurers and retaliatory taxes by other states. The legislation revises provisions governing retaliatory taxes by other states against insurance companies chartered in this state, so as to provide title insurers only may include their portion of the premium in the retaliatory tax computations and are prohibited from including these amounts in the South Carolina column of retaliatory tax worksheets.
• The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.5042, a bill revising procedures in the statewide program for addressing unsound school district finances, which affords the State Department of Education authority that extends beyond academic matters to include fiscal affairs.
• The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4487, a bill that implements recommendations arising from the House Legislative Oversight Committee’s study of the Department of Health and Environmental Control. The legislation makes technical adjustments and revisions relating to the scheduling of controlled substances. The legislation eliminates provisions authorizing the Department of Health and Environmental Control to use an expedited process to identify a substance as a controlled substance on an emergency basis when the General Assembly is not in session.
• The House approved and sent the Senate H.4485, a bill that implements recommendations arising from the House Legislative Oversight Committee’s study of the Department of Health and Environmental Control. Revisions include the elimination of outdated references and clarification that appeals from administrative decisions can be provided electronically.
• The House approved and sent the Senate H.4628, a bill enacting the “South Carolina Telephone Privacy Protection Act” to replace current provisions for regulating unsolicited consumer telephone calls with updated and enhanced consumer protection provisions relating to telemarketers.
If you have a comment or opinion concerning the matters discussed in this report, or if I may be of assistance to you at any time, please feel free to call your legislative office in Columbia (803-734-3142), or my home (843-395-9408). Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in the House of Representatives.