Speak up on governor taking over DHEC

People have until Oct. 5 to comment on a Senate bill placing the governor in charge of the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Anyone wanting to be heard should send an e-mail to the Senate Medical Affairs Committee or mail comments to the committee. The e-mail address is smedicomm@scsenate.gov. The mailing address is Senate Medical Affairs Committee, P.O. Box 142, Columbia, SC 29202.

A panel of the committee will hold a public meeting Oct. 14 to discuss written comments and the DHEC bill, but it does not plan to accept public testimony at the meeting. The DHEC bill number is S. 384.

The bill, the result of concerns about the agency's effectiveness in environmental protection, puts the governor in charge of the agency and creates two appeals boards, one for health and one for the environment.

Those interested in being heard on two other proposals to revamp health agencies should also contact the committee.

One bill, H. 3314, places the Department of Disabilities and Special Needs under the governor. Another, H. 3199, places the now-separate departments of Mental Health, and Alcohol and Other Abuse Services into a new agency, with the governor appointing its director.

- Sammy Fretwell