COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) – A bill that would split one of South Carolina’s largest state agencies has again come up at the State House.

Last year, the Senate passed similar legislation with widespread bipartisan support. It stalled in the House in 2022. Since that was the last year of a two-year legislative session, the process begins all over again for the bill.

S.399 would split DHEC into the South Carolina Department of Behavioral and Public Health (DBPH) and the South Carolina Department of Environmental Services (DES).

Under the legislation, DBPH would be made up of the DHEC’s health related divisions, the South Carolina Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS) and most divisions of the South Carolina Department of Mental Health (DMH).

DES would be made up the divisions and programs of DHEC that are concerned with the regulation and protection of the environment and the water resources division of the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

This week, DHEC officials and others spoke with a Senate Medical Affairs subcommittee about the impact of the proposed legislation. They stressed the importance of shared communications between the two potential agencies because some public health and environmental issues go hand in hand.

The subcommittee is expected to meet at least two more times to hear from more stakeholders according to chairman Sen. Tom Davis (R-Beaufort).