Action Alert for S. 305 and H. 4280!

The House of Representatives just voted unanimously to pass their amended version of S. 305. As a reminder, S. 305, as originally passed by the Senate, is a piece of legislation that would award years of experience on an educator certificate for individuals with at least five years of "related" work experience outside of education. Under a House amendment to the bill, an individual would receive one year of experience on their teaching certificate for each year of "related" work experience. This, in turn, would result in the teacher being paid at a higher "step" on the salary schedule.

The House further amended S. 305 by inserting the full text of H. 4280, the Educator Assistance Act, into the bill. As unanimously passed by the House in 2023, this bill would enhance educator retention through four actions:

  • Creating a "permanent" educator certificate. This action would eliminate the need for educators to "recertify" by submitting paperwork documenting 120 hours of PD every five years. NOTE- this would NOT exempt educators from ongoing professional development as educators would still be required to complete the non-instructional PD days that are part of educator contracts.
  • Revising "breach of contract" law. Current law requires the State Board to suspend the certificate of any teacher reported by a school district for "breach of contract" for any reason. H. 4280 would allow the State Board to decline to suspend a reported certificate while lowering the maximum allowable certificate suspension for "breach" to six months from the date of the breach.
  • Informing educators of salaries. Under current law, certified educators must sign their contract by May 10th- weeks prior to the finalization of a salary schedule for the coming school year.  H. 4280 would give educators 10 days from the date a district finalizes a salary schedule to withdraw a contract without penalty.
  • Eliminating duplicative paperwork. The bill would permanently eliminate a statutory requirement for high school counselors to gather information on post-secondary activities of graduates. This information is already gathered separately by the Education Oversight Committee.

During this legislative session, members of the Palmetto state teachers’ association (PSTA) have sent thousands of communications to Senators asking for passage of H. 4280. However, the bill has not received a Senate subcommittee hearing.

With House passage of the merged S. 305/H. 4280, a Senate subcommittee hearing is no longer necessary. As a Senate bill, S. 305/H. 4280 will now return directly to the floor of the Senate. If Senators vote to "concur" with the House amendments to the bill, it can proceed to the Governor for signature into law.

However, there is a very real possibility that the Senate will NOT concur with the House amendments. In that scenario, the next best outcome would be for the Senate to request a conference committee on the bill, but it is also possible the Senate could fail to take any action- a decision that would kill both S. 305 AND H. 4280 for the 2024 legislative session.

As a result, it is imperative that educators contact their Senators NOW in support of S. 305/H. 4280. The legislative session ends on May 9th, and there are numerous bills currently requiring the attention of Senators. In order for S. 305/H. 4280 to have the best chance of review and passage, Senators need to hear from their constituents about the need to pass this bill before the end of session.

 Phone calls are FAR more effective advocacy actions than emails, and for this particular bill, the message on the phone is VERY simple. All you need to do is ask your Senator to concur with House amendments to S. 305!


Please take a moment now to advocate for S. 305/H. 4280. This will be the final chance to do so in 2024!


Accomplishments in 2023:

  • Advocated for BabyNet program and private rehabilitative service coverage improvement
  • Met with SC DHHS regarding the medicaid managed care organizations and third party liability
  • Advocated with private commercial carriers for improvements in speech therapy policies, provider credentialing, and reimbursement
  • Created additional resources on the SCSHA website to address member questions
  • Represented the association for the license board meetings
  • Worked with ASHA to address concerns about school-based Medicaid billing
  • Held multiple SC therapy coalition town hall meetings (SCSHA, SCOTA, APTA-SC)
  • Surveyed private therapy practice owners about Select Health and shared most pressing results with Select Health leaders
  • Started using internet-based technology to track SCSHA advocacy
  • Worked with ASHA to offer feedback on the medical review policy from EviCore
  • Assisted members working through dilemmas in their practice setting related to Medicaid policy
  • Held a webinar from ASHA presenters on the Workload model in the schools
  • Continued to address issue related to the SC Department of Education certification for SLPs
  • Joined a coalition called COVER SC which will be formulating a plan to advocate for closing the Medicaid coverage gap
  • Reviewed legislation and worked with the lobbyist to create a strategy to address LEAD-K, Read to Succeed
  • School SLP survey was conducted by the SCSHA school SLP Committee
  • Met with Rep. Pace regarding HB 3515 which would repeal the practice act for SLP and Audiology (bill is stalled)
  • Members gathered for SCSHA Legislative Day in April and presented the 2023 award for legislator of the year to Senator Loftis, and were introduced in the SC House and SC Senate

The advocacy efforts for SCSHA take many volunteers and led by Kelly Caldwell, the Vice President of Government Affairs, and guided by our lobbyist, Wanda Crotwell. The SCSHA legislative affairs committee is actively involved each year in reviewing and updating advocacy missions as well as the legislative agenda. To find out more about our advocacy leadership, we are including biographies here. Read more about advocacy with SCSHA in the menu. 

 Kelly Caldwell is a Speech-Language Pathologist for AnMed Health Voice Clinic where she has been since 2017.  Prior to that, Kelly worked at Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System in acute care.  She also works PRN for Prisma Health Baptist Easley Hospital.  In addition to those duties, Kelly is a mentor for The Medical SLP Collective.  Her primary clinical interests are in voice, swallowing, and upper airway disorders. She has a three-year-old son named Cameron, husband Charlie, and a cat and dog, Claire, and Copland. In terms of advocacy, Kelly was successful in leading advocacy efforts to change ASHA’s guidance on endoscopy during the COVID-19 pandemic during August 2020 to match ever-changing evidence.  Her goals as Vice President of Government Affairs include advocacy for solving state-level problems, building relationships with SLPs across SC to help ensure that our advocacy is in response to their problems, and continuing the streamlined approach of identifying problems in policy or legislation that affect our profession.  Before becoming an SLP, Kelly worked as a music educator in North Carolina, went back to school for Speech Pathology, and relocated to upstate South Carolina.  She lives in Easley, SC and works in Anderson, SC.  She has a Bachelor of Music in Flute Performance, Master of Arts in Teaching from UNC Chapel Hill, and Master of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders from East Carolina University.

Wanda Crotwell is a government relations professional with more than 30 years of experience in the fields of government, communications, and public relations. Prior to joining The Southern Group, she was a lobbyist and strategic advisor at Mike Daniel and Associates for seven years.  Before joining MD&A in 2012, she was assistant to the Commissioner for External Affairs at the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, where she served under four separate commissioners and managed governmental affairs, legislative services, constituent services, annual budget requests, accountability reports, internal communications, and media relations.  In this capacity, she also served as policy advisor and strategic counsel to the Commissioner.

Her areas of expertise include legislative relations, lobbying, inter-governmental relations, strategic communication planning and implementation, regulatory development and consultation, environmental and health facilities permitting facilitation, speech writing, management, business communications, public speaking, and a first-hand understanding of state government.  She also possesses a keen understanding of the legislative process and the skills necessary to navigate that process for multiple issues at once.  She is well-known in the legislative arena for her ability to take complex issues and communicate those issues in understandable terms to achieve desired results.