K-12 school mask rule won’t be part of SC House’s return to Columbia, speaker says

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South Carolina House Speaker Jay Lucas said Wednesday he has no plans to call lawmakers back to Columbia for a special session over calls from within his own chamber to quickly address the school mask rule.

“The House Republican Caucus met this afternoon and discussed multiple issues before the General Assembly,” Lucas, R-Darlington, said after the caucus’ nearly three-hour private meeting. “The conversation was productive and spirited. The entire caucus remains mindful of the restrictions of the sine die resolution and, at this time, the House has no plans to reconvene for a special session.”

The caucus met Wednesday at the Palmetto Club in downtown Columbia to discuss how to react to vaccine mandates planned by the Biden administration as well as legislative plans for the rest of the year.

Some lawmakers, on top of teachers and medical groups, have asked the Legislature to return to Columbia before the school semester ends and address a one-year law included in this year’s budget that says state money cannot be used to enforce a mask mandate.

The Richland 2 School District sued. While the district’s ruling is still pending, the high court ruled against the city, striking it down over its enforcement mechanism. The city has since enacted a city wide mask mandate.

With no return this fall,” the House is looking to come back in December to tackle redistricting — part of the Legislature’s agreement on what it can address after session, said House Majority Leader Gary Simril, R-York.

Deciding how to spend federal COVID-19 money also is part of that agreement.

This story will be updated.

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