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Circuit Riders: Legal Research Training for Non-Lawyers

South Carolina's Legislative Process

The U.S. Constitution reserves all powers not specifically delegated to the federal government to the states. This sharing of powers between the national and state governments is called federalism. 

State legislative branches are responsible for passing laws called statutes. State statutes are arranged by subject in state codes.

Article III of the South Carolina Constitution vests the power to write our state laws in the South Carolina General Assembly, which consists of the South Carolina Senate and South Carolina House of Representatives.


South Carolina Bills
The process of passing a law in South Carolina begins with the introduction of a bill. A bill typically becomes law in South Carolina when it is passed by both the South Carolina House and South Carolina Senate and signed by the Governor.
South Carolina House and Senate bills from 1971 through 1994 are available in print on the first floor of the law library.


South Carolina Acts 

Once a bill is passed by the South Carolina General Assembly, it is assigned an Act number and is published in chronological order in the SC Acts and Joint Resolutions, which is located on the first floor of the law library. Such laws passed by legislatures during the time that they are in session are commonly referred to as session laws.

 

South Carolina Code Annotated

South Carolina laws are then organized by subject and arranged by title, chapter and section as statutes in the South Carolina Code Annotated. All 63 Titles of the South Carolina Code are listed on the South Carolina Legislature's website.  Multiple copies of the official print South Carolina Code Annotated are located on the first floor of the law library.

 

By way of example, in 1986, the South Carolina General Assembly passed South Carolina's Payment of Wages laws, which were published in the South Carolina Code Annotated as Title 41 (Labor & Employment), Chapter 10 (Payment of Wages), Sections 10 through 110.


Section 41-10-50 of the South Carolina Payment of Wages Laws requires South Carolina employers to pay all wages due a discharged employee within forty-eight hours or by the next regular payday.

 

 

 The legislative process for the passage of South Carolina’s Payment of Wages laws is depicted in the diagram at the right.

1. During its 1986 session, the South Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 2426.      

2. House Bill 2426 was published in chronological order in the SC Acts and Joint Resolutions as 1986 Act No.380.

3. Act No. 380 was organized by topic in the South Carolina Code Annotated as Title 41 (Labor & Employment), Chapter 10 (Payment of Wages), Sections 10 through 110.

 

South Carolina Code Annotated

Print annotated codes add resources after the text of each statute that help you determine the relevance of that particular statute and assist you with further research on the topic generally.

The South Carolina Code Annotated provides summaries and citations to cases interpreting statutes (see Notes of Decisions in the example below). It also includes cross references to related South Carolina statutes and regulations, as well as references to journal articles, legal encyclopedias, ALR annotations, and other secondary sources and practice aids that discuss the legal issues addressed by individual statutes.

The page below shows annotations that appear after section 41-10-50 of the South Carolina Payment of Wages Laws.

Local Laws

Local Laws

The SC General Assembly may enact state laws that apply to particular counties or municipalities only.

For example, 1987 Act No. 263 (below) provided that there would be no open season for hunting deer in a specific area in Marlboro and Dillon counties in South Carolina from September 15, 1987 through January 1, 1993.

These local laws are not published in the South Carolina Code. They are published in the SC Acts and Joint Resolutions. The Index to Local Laws volume of the South Carolina Code Annotated provides a list of South Carolina's local laws by city or county and by subject. South Carolina Acts are searchable and browseable via the South Carolina Legislature's website.

Municipal Ordinances

 Municipal ordinances differ from local laws passed by the SC General Assembly. Municipal or local ordinances are enacted by county, city, and town councils for their municipalities only. Municipal ordinances address local issues such as building codes, garbage and other environmental issues, as well as noise and other nuisances. Municipal ordinances have the full effect of law as long as they do not conflict with state law.


To read more, see the page on Municipal Ordinances.