If you’ve listened in at the Statehouse or read up on documents from our legislature, you may have gotten lost in a slew of letters. The legislative process itself is complicated enough, and throwing in some acronyms can make for an even bigger challenge, so we’re here to break it down for you. Cue the Jackson 5’s “ABC”...
Here are some of the commonly used acronyms you should know:
3M—Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee. Don’t think Scotch tape or Command strips; this is one of the eleven standing committees in the House, meaning they examine bills and recommend their next steps. This committee works on topics like medical affairs, social security, penitentiary, and veteran’s affairs.
BEA—Board of Economic Advisors. This board works to advise the General Assembly on economic issues based on their research and analysis. They also report estimated surpluses to the General Assembly that you may read about in the news.
CHE—Commission on Higher Education. This is the coordinating board for the 33 public institutions of higher education in South Carolina that oversees the General Assembly and advocates for higher learning. This commission is a political punching bag for both the universities and the General Assembly.
COLA—Cost of Living Adjustment. Not the drink, not the city. The COLA is the change made to social security and state pensions to counteract inflation.
CPI—Consumer Price Index. Or what your old economics professor wouldn’t stop whining about. Essentially, it’s a formula that measures inflation based on price change. This is used in a number of state funding formulas. You may hear that budget increases are allowed for “population plus inflation”, meaning the growth in population plus the CPI.
DOT—Department of Transportation. They make it easier to get around SC, help fix our roads, and oversee public transportation. Our VP hates acronyms, so he beats it in our heads not to use them, but this is one we are allowed to use, since most people know exactly what the DOT is.
DSS—Department of Social Services. DSS is a cabinet agency that provides protective services like adoption and foster care to children and vulnerable adults. It is perpetually underfunded and frequently in the headlines for the wrong reasons.
EAA—Education Accountability Act. This act, implemented in 1998, confirms the importance of education and the State’s commitment to upholding its criteria and standards in schools.
EFA—Education Finance Act. This act established a complicated funding formula on how the state funds schools.
EIA—Education Improvement Act. This piece of legislation was enacted in 1983 and raised sales tax to improve public schools and their programs. You hear it also referred to as the “penny sales tax for schools.”
JBRC—Joint Bond Review Committee. This is a six member joint review committee that oversees the issuance of bonds and evaluates related policies.
LAC—Legislative Audit Council. This is a group that conducts independent audits of State agencies and programs.
LCI—Labor, Commerce, and Industry Committee. Both the House and the Senate have an LCI committee that works to develop business and industry in our state. The Chamber’s lobbying staff spends much of their time here.
PRT—Parks, Recreation, and Tourism. They operate our 47 state parks, help attract visitors to SC, and help keep our state beautiful.
SLED—State Law Enforcement Division. They work to protect the citizens by enforcing the laws, and they may or may not eat donuts.
We hope this will help clarify some of the acronyms you hear from the Statehouse in the future. Craving some alphabet soup yet? We are.
(We'll dive into the murky waters of the federal acronyms in a later post.)