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LRAW Research Fall 2022

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 comprises the South Carolina Senate and South Carolina House of Representatives.

South Carolina Bills

The process of passing a law in South Carolina begins with introducing a bill. A bill typically becomes law in South Carolina when passed by both the South Carolina House and South Carolina Senate and signed by the Governor. The South Carolina House and Senate bills from 1971 through 1994 are on the first floor of the law library in print. The full text of South Carolina bills from 1980 forward is available to search or browse on the Legislation page of the South Carolina Legislature website.

SC Acts and Joint Resolutions

South Carolina Acts/Session Laws

Once a bill is passed by the South Carolina General Assembly and signed by the Governor, the new law is assigned an Act number. Lawyers commonly refer to the chronological publication of all the acts passed by a legislature as session laws, with individual volumes typically identified by the year of the acts contained within them. South Carolina publishes its session laws in SC Acts and Joint Resolutions. Act numbering does not carry over from one legislature to its successor. Instead, each new legislature begins with Act 1.  In South Carolina, this means act numbering restarts every other year.

Print copies of SC Acts and Joint Resolutions are located on the first floor of the law library.  

The full text of South Carolina Acts from 1980 forward is accessible through the Legislation and Archives pages of the South Carolina Legislature website.

South Carolina Code Annotated

South Carolina Code Annotated

In addition to appearing chronologically in SC Acts and Joint Resolutions, South Carolina laws are organized (codified) by subject matter and arranged by titles, chapters, and sections as statutes in the South Carolina Code Annotated. Titles, the broadest subject areas, are divided into narrower subject areas called chapters which, in turn, are divided into individual sections. There are currently 63 titles of the South Carolina Code.

For 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.

Text of the Statute: SECTION 41-10-50. Payment of wages due discharged employees.  When an employer separates an employee from the payroll for any reason, the employer shall pay all wages due to the employee within forty-eight hours of the time of separation or the next regular payday which may not exceed thirty days.

diagram Legislative Process: Original Enactment. Bill, H 2426 -> The bill was enacted. -> Act, SC Acts & Joint Resolutions, 1986 Act No. 380 -> The act was codified, adding new sections to the code. -> Code Sections, S.C. Code Ann. §§ 41-10-10 to -110.

The legislative process for the original enactment of South Carolina’s Payment of Wages statute is depicted in the diagram on the right.

1. During its 1986 session, the South Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 2426 and it was signed by the Governor.      

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 as Title 41 (Labor & Employment), Chapter 10 (Payment of Wages), Sections 10 through 110 (§§ 41-10-10 to 110).

Making changes to sections of the Code, in other words amending the Code, works much the same way.

diagram Legislative Process: Amendment. Bill, H 4775 -> The bill was enacted. -> Act, SC Acts & Joint Resolutions, 1990 Act No. 463 -> The act was codified, amending the code. -> Code Sections, S.C. Code Ann. §§ 41-10-10, -30, -50, -70, and -80.The legislative process for the 1990 amendments to South Carolina’s Payment of Wages statute is depicted in the diagram on the right.

1. During its 1990 session, the South Carolina General Assembly passed House Bill 4775 and it was signed by the Governor.      

2. House Bill 4775 was published in chronological order in the SC Acts and Joint Resolutions as 1990 Act No. 463.

3. 1990 Act No. 463 was organized by topic, or codified, in the South Carolina Code as Sections 41-10-10, -30, -50, -70, and -80. Those sections already existed because of 1986 Act No. 380. The language of those sections changed because of 1990 Act No. 463. Notice that other sections of the South Carolina Payment of Wages statute, such as § 41-10-20, were not amended in 1990.

Multiple copies of the official print South Carolina Code Annotated are located on the first floor of the law library. The current "unofficial" and un-annotated  South Carolina Code is accessible online via the South Carolina Legislature website. Annotated versions of the South Carolina Code are available online by subscription to Westlaw or Lexis.