The Palmetto Insider

The blog of the South Carolina Policy Council

Senate Medical Affairs Subcommittee

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The Senate Medical Affairs Subcommittee met Wednesday to discuss three bills: S.384, H.3199 and H.3314. As reported here, the committee last met on Sept. 23. 

The majority of the meeting was dedicated to discussing S.384, which would restructure the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), making it a cabinet agency. The first order of business was to discuss the numerous public comments that were received on the matter; all of which, if received by the deadline, were posted online. The comments were evenly split on whether to put DHEC under the oversight of the governor.  

Although Chairman Danny Verdin had stated the subcommittee wouldn’t spend too much time addressing the issue of a Secretary for DHEC (this position is created by making DHEC a cabinet agency), considerable attention was given to this matter as the meeting began.

Senator Ray Cleary of Georgetown pointed out that many citizens were concerned with giving authority to the governor for reasons related to stability and politics. His proposed solution for depoliticizing the process, ironically, was to create a candidate list for the secretary position, subject to Senate approval.  

The next issue taken up by the subcommittee was in regard to the DHEC board, and the direction it would head under S.384. Currently, the board of DHEC is a single, seven member board. S.384 would create two boards, each with three members.

Senator Brad Hutto of Orangeburg was concerned that the board would no longer have statewide representation under the two-board proposal in the bill (currently the board has a member from each congressional district). Each of the two boards three members are required to be experts in their field as it relates to public health and/or the environment. 

In spirited conversation, Chairman Verdin remarked that, to date, he had not heard any compelling reasons to restructure DHEC. He posed the restructuring question to the rest of the subcommittee, asking: “What would be the detriments of having a cabinet agency?”

Senator Darrell Jackson of Richland quickly responded that the answer was, “very clear. The difference would be the influence from the executive branch [such that] the detriments would be greater from the executive.”  

The subcommittee came back to the issue of a DHEC Secretary once more. Chairman Verdin stated that he thought the subcommittee was going to have a difficult time with this matter, specifically saying that he didn’t sense they would come to a “working, unified consensus.”  

The subcommittee will meet again at 10 a.m. on Oct. 28.

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Written by SC Policy Council

October 19, 2009 at 9:11 am

Posted in Committee Meetings

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