What's New

SENATE 

Debate in the Senate on ethics stalled once again this week, as committee work on the State’s budget took top priority. During limited floor debate, the Senate gave second reading to S. 139 by Senator Ray Cleary (R-Georgetown). S. 139, as amended, will freeze the building restriction line (“baseline”) along the coast from being moved seaward after December 31, 2017. The Senate also gave second reading to S. 1015, relating to counterfeit or nonfunctional airbags by Senator Hugh Leatherman (R-Florence). Both bills are now pending third reading on the Senate calendar. 

The Senate Finance Committee met throughout the week to work on matters pertaining to the State’s $7.5 billion budget. The Committee approved S. 1258, a new roads bill that will provide $2.2 billion to improve interstates, roads, and bridges across the State without implementing new taxes or fees. This legislation applies only to existing infrastructure, while proposed projects such as I-73 and I-526 extension would be excluded from receiving funds. The plan will provide roughly $4 billion for road projects over the next decade and would replace nearly 400 load restricted or failing bridges across the state. In addition to general resurfacing, other major interstate projects that would be completed by the plan include the replacement of “Malfunction Junction” in Columbia as well as widening portions of I-85, I-20, and I-26. S. 1258 is now pending second reading on the Senate Calendar. 

In addition to road funding, the Committee also discussed other components of the budget late Thursday afternoon. The Committee approved plan includes a 4 percent pay increase for State employees, $2.4 million for police body cameras, $240 million for the local government fund, and $6 million for the Rural Health Initiative. Additionally, funding for public school education was increased by more than $350 million in the Senate plan. Floor debate on H. 5001 (Appropriations Bill) and H. 5002 (Capital Reserve Fund) is expected to begin on Thursday, April 28th. 

Bills passed by the Senate this week include: 

S. 777 – provides additional and alternative requirements for matters involving payment of benefits from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs;

S. 778 – enacts the “South Carolina Uniform Power of Attorney Act;”

S. 1206 – directs the State Department of Education to rename the Donaldson Bus Center in Greenville County;

S. 1233 – makes revisions to the criterial applicable to certain counties in order for them to place the question of imposing a sales and use tax for educational capital improvements on a referendum ballot; and

S. 1238 – involves the annual budget of Florence County School District Two so as to only require a separate meeting of the citizens if a proposed budget requires a millage increase.

The Senate will reconvene Tuesday at noon.

HOUSE 

The House of Representatives spent the week working through the uncontested portion of the calendar. The House concurred with the Senate amendments on H. 3768, by Representative G.M. Smith (R-Sumter), which will create the “South Carolina Able Savings Program.” This program will provide for the establishment of savings accounts as a means of empowering individuals with disabilities in an effort to save private funds for their support. The House also passed H. 4574, the “Electrology Practice Act,” by Representative Kit Spires (R-Lexington). This legislation creates a licensure requirement for electrologists and electrology instructors to practice in South Carolina. The House is expected to spend long hours working through the calendar next week in an effort to pass legislation prior to the May 1st crossover deadline. 

The House Labor, Commerce, and Industry Committee met this week on several bills including S. 277, the “State Telecom Equity in Funding Act,” by Senator Thomas Alexander (R-Oconee). This bill updates provisions involving telecommunications programs designed for hearing and speech impaired individuals. This legislation will revevise the funding mechanism for these programs so that surcharges are collected not only on traditional land line telephones, but also on the full array of telecommunications services offered in the contemporary market, including commercial mobile radio service (CMRS), prepaid wireless service, and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service. S. 277 received a favorable report by the Committee and is now pending second reading on the House calendar. 

The House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs (3M) Subcommittee I, gave a favorable report to S. 1035, the South Carolina Telemedicine Act, by Senator Cleary. This legislation will allow licensed physicians to prescribe medication to a patient through telemedicine and requires physicians to comply with the same regulations and standards of traditional practitioners. S. 1035 is now eligible to be taken up by the full 3M Committee at a time to be determined.  Bills passed by the House include: 

S. 339 – amends the “Physician’s Patient Records Act” by enacting “Hope’s Law” to provide that when a patient is found to have dense breast tissue, a mammography report must be provided to a patient by the mammogram provider with information about breast density based on certain requirements;

S. 849 – clarifies adjustments to allowable cost reimbursements for generic prescription drugs paid by pharmacy benefits managers to pharmacists; 

S. 1013 – overhauls the licensure and regulation of real estate brokers, salespersons, and property managers;

S. 1090 – renames Chapter 19 under Title 24 of the South Carolina Code of Laws as the “Judge William R. Byars Youthful Offender Act;”

H. 3969 – provides for the electronic transmission of insurance notices and documents; 

H. 4391 – revises terms defined in the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act so as to provide that gifts of brain tissue may be used only for research or education;

H. 4398 – establishes an exemption for firearms with a total value of $5,000 or less owned by any debtor, from bankruptcy proceedings or attachment by creditors; 

H. 4492 – requires notice to foster parents, pre-adoptive parents, or relatives providing care to abused or neglected children about any hearings that are set in intervention or removal actions;

H. 4525 – extends the requirement that two and one-quarter percent of insurance premium tax revenues must be transferred to the South Carolina Forestry Commission for firefighting;

H. 4556 – provides a property tax exemption for permanently and totally disabled emergency medical technicians; 

H. 4574 - enacts the "Electrology Practice Act;"

H. 4763 – creates a revenue source to support the investigation, prosecution, and prevention of internet crimes against children; 

H. 4774 – reauthorizes the South Carolina First Steps to School Readiness Program until July 1, 2017; 

H. 4795 – allows a student selected as the recipient of the Palmetto Fellows Scholarship to elect to defer post-secondary enrollment for one year, until the Fall term of the year following the year of graduation, without declining the award; 

H. 5023 – makes revisions to the South Carolina Real Estate Appraiser License and Certification Act; 

H. 5040 – updates various provisions relating to the application and enforcement of the consumer protection code; and

H. 5140 – provides that the opening date for students must not be before August fifteenth beginning with the 2017-2018 school year.

 The House will reconvene Tuesday at noon.

Top News Articles

Legislature’s Crossover week approaches 

With just seven days to go until Crossover week arrives, the schedule of South Carolina’s lawmakers is filling up fast with committee meetings. Read more.

With the end of the 2016 session, Gov. Nikki Haley is forced to push harder for key legislation

More than a week ago, Gov. Nikki Haley left her office and marched up to the state Senate to berate Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster over a ruling he was about to make on the ethics reform bill. Read more.

Proposed changes to SC disturibing-schools law going no where 

To date, four S.C. bills aimed at changing South Carolina’s disturbing-schools law remain stuck in committee, where they were sent shortly after being introduced in the Republican-controlled legislature. The bills are sponsored almost exclusively by Democrats. Read more.

SC Senate leader wants to shine a light on ‘dark money’

Senate President Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, wants to let the sun shine on “dark money.”Read more.

Cervical cancer vaccine bill passes Legislature 

After years of pushing by cancer fighters, a bill to educate students and parents about the benefits of a cervical cancer vaccine that could save lives has finally passed the South Carolina Legislature. Read more.

New roads bill advances in Senate, swells to $4 billion

The Senate Finance Committee approved a roads bill Wednesday that leverages $200 million in state Department of Motor Vehicle fees and car sales tax dollars into a multi-billion-dollar borrowing proposal to fix crumbling infrastructure. Read more.

  Malfunction Junction fix is part of Senate roads plan

Malfunction Junction would be fixed under a road-spending plan that the Senate’s budget-writing panel approved Wednesday. Read more. 

Fix for crumbling SC schools passes House budget panel

A plan to borrow up to $200 million a year to help S.C. school districts pay to build new facilities or upgrade existing ones cleared a critical hurdle Tuesday. Read more.

Gov. Haley: SC retirement system fix will ‘hurt’

South Carolina finance leaders are weighing whether to require state employees to pay much more for their retirements to cover $16.75 billion in unfunded debts in the state’s pension system. Read more.

SC businesses: Transgender bathroom bill will hurt jobs

A dozen S.C. business groups sent a letter Tuesday to the General Assembly asking legislators to halt consideration of a controversial Senate bill that would ban transgender men and women from using the bathrooms of their choice. Read more.

  Senate gives key approval to counterfeit airbag bill 

A bill that would make it a felony for South Carolinians to buy, sell or install defective car airbags received key approval by the Senate on Thursday. Read more.

  4% pay hike for SC workers likely to be OK’d

S.C. state employees would get a 4 percent pay hike if a Senate Finance Committee proposal — likely to be approved by that budget-writing panel later Thursday — becomes law. Read more.

  Gov. Haley, Sheriff Lott spar over domestic violence pledge

Gov. Nikki Haley accused Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott on Wednesday of being the only S.C. sheriff not to sign on to her anti-domestic violence pledge — a claim Lott disputes. Read more.

Pro-Haley political group raises $515,000

A pro-Gov. Nikki Haley political group has raised $515,000 to elect legislative candidates this year that back the Republican’s agenda. Read more.

  AG Alan Wilson wants Supreme Court to dismiss Pascoe Complaint

Attorney General Alan Wilson said in a filing Tuesday the state Supreme Court should dismiss 1st Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe’s complaint about being removed as special prosecutor. Read more.

Senate tightens beach development rules; delay could aid Kiawah project

South Carolina is moving to stop developers from building close to the ocean at a time of rising sea levels — but not before taking steps that could help a controversial Kiawah Island resort project. Read more.

Meetings and Events

Tuesday, April 26, 2016 

5:30 – 7:00     Reception for Senator Marlon Kimpson 

                       Nexsen Pruet 

6:00 – 7:00     Reception for Chip Huggins 

                       Vista Room, Blue Marlin 

Wednesday, April 27 

5:30 – 7:30     Reception for Senators Karl Allen and Kent Williams 

                       Inn at USC 

Friday, April 29, 2016 

5:30 – 7:00     Democratic Party Reception 

                       Nexsen Pruet

Newly Introduced Legislation'

BANKING AND INSURANCE: 

H. 5247 (Gambrell) TO ESTABLISH REQUIREMENTS FOR EMERGENCY SERVICE SYSTEM BILLING AND INSURANCE COVERAGE PRACTICES - Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry. 

S. 1261 (Alexander) TO PROVIDE THAT NO CLAUSE OF A SERVICE CONTRACT WHICH STATES THAT THE TERM OF THE CONTRACT SHALL BE DEEMED RENEWED FOR A SPECIFIED ADDITIONAL PERIOD SHALL BE ENFORCEABLE AGAINST THE SERVICE CONTRACT HOLDER. -Referred to the Committee on Banking and Insurance. 

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT/TAX: 

S. 1267 (Young) RELATING TO PROGRAMS AND UNIFORM ASSESSMENT RATIOS FOR COUNTY EQUALIZATION AND REASSESSMENT - Referred to the Committee on Finance. 

EDUCATION: 

S. 1262 (Alexander) RELATING TO POWERS AND DUTIES OF CHARTER SCHOOLS - Referred to the Committee on Education. 

HEALTHCARE: 

H. 5253 (Henderson) "SEIZURE SAFETY IN SCHOOLS STUDY COMMITTEE" - Referred to Committee on Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs. 

JUDICIAL: 

S. 1244 (Gregory): RELATING TO THE ADOPTION OF AND COMPLIANCE WITH THE ENERGY STANDARD OF THIS STATE - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary. 

H. 5236 (Tinkler) RELATING TO ACCESS TO AND DISCLOSURE OF NONIDENTIFYING AND IDENTIFYING INFORMATION ABOUT ADOPTEES, BIOLOGICAL PARENTS, AND BIOLOGICAL SIBLINGS - Referred to Committee on Judiciary. 

H. 5237 (Pitts) RELATING TO DEFINITIONS CONCERNING NONPROFIT RAFFLES FOR CHARITABLE PURPOSES - Referred to Committee on Judiciary. 

H. 5245 (Tallon) TO PROVIDE THAT A MANUFACTURER, BREWER, IMPORTER, OR RETAILER MAY OFFER OR SPONSOR CERTAIN COUPONS AND REBATES TO A CONSUMER FOR THE PURCHASE OF BEER - Referred to Committee on Judiciary. 

H. 5246 (Long) RELATING TO THE ILL-TREATMENT OF ANIMALS - Referred to Committee on Judiciary. 

TRANSPORTATION: 

S. 1243 (Bennett): TO PROVIDE THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES MAY ISSUE "CHASE AWAY CHILDHOOD CANCER" SPECIAL LICENSE PLATES. - Referred to the Committee on Transportation. 

S. 1263 (Alexander) TO GIVE THE GOVERNOR AUTHORITY IN TIMES OF EMERGENCY TO MAKE CERTAIN ACCOMMODATIONS FOR A PERSON TRANSPORTING GOODS - Referred to the General Committee. 

H. 5254 (Felder) RELATING TO THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION'S DUTY TO ADVERTISE AND AWARD CERTAIN CONSTRUCTION CONTRACTS - Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works.