What's New\

The General Assembly convened Tuesday, January 12th for the 2nd year of the 121st Legislative Session. Below is a summary of actions in both the Senate and the House.

SENATE

Senator Margie Bright Matthews (D-Colleton) was sworn in and made brief introductory remarks on Wednesday. Senator Bright Matthews will serve on Agriculture and Natural Resources, Corrections and Penology, Fish, Game, and Forestry, General, and Judiciary Committees.

Due to the deaths of Senator Pinckney and Senator O’Dell, the Senate saw many changes in Committee assignments. Notable Committee changes include: 

  • Senator Kevin Bryant (R-Anderson) is now the Chairman of the General Committee; 
  • Senator Ray Cleary (R-Georgetown) is now on the LCI Committee;
  • Senator Creighton Coleman (D-Fairfield) is now on the Medical Affairs Committee;
  • Senator Shane Martin (R-Spartanburg) is now on the Finance Committee;
  • Senator Floyd Nicholson (D-Greenwood) is now on the Education Committee;
  • Senator Ronnie Sabb (D-Williamsburg) is now on the Transportation Committee; 
  • Senator John Scott (D-Richland) is now on the Finance Committee;
  • Senator Paul Thurmond (R-Charleston) is now on the Judiciary Committee;
  • Senator Kent Williams (D-Marion) is now on the Banking and Insurance Committee; and
  • Senator Tom Young (R-Aiken) is now on the Education Committee. 

Following the selection of Committees, members of the Senate spent the remainder of the week discussing S.928, a joint resolution by Senators Bryant and Peeler dealing with refugees placed in South Carolina. The joint resolution would prohibit state agencies from accepting any new refugees after the effective date of the act or until new security measures are implemented by the federal government. After a lengthy debate, a vote to put the Joint Resolution on the Senate Calendar for immediate consideration failed. S. 928, however, will be taken up by the Committee in the near future.

Prior to adjourning for the week, Senator Hugh Leatherman (R-Florence) informed the body that he established a bipartisan “working group” that would meet Thursday afternoon in an effort to find a compromise on the infrastructure bill. Additionally, Senator Larry Martin (R-Pickens) made an announcement that the Judicial Merit Selection Commission completed the process of screening candidates for upcoming judicial races. Their report will be distributed to legislators and the judicial elections will be held on Wednesday, February 3, 2016 at noon. 

Members of the Senate Medical Affairs Subcommittee also met this week to work on S.929 (Right to Try) and H.3250 (Certificate of Need). S.929 would provide terminally-ill individuals with the opportunity to access medication or other products currently in trials that have cleared the first phase of approval by the Food and Drug Administration. A doctor must approve any such treatment and inform the patient of the consequences that may occur as a result of their decision not to pursue existing medications or procedures. After brief public testimony, the Subcommittee reported the bill out favorably as amended.

The Subcommittee next turned its attention to H.3250, the Certificate of Need bill. Senator Ray Cleary (R-Georgetown) notified the Subcommittee that he will offer an amendment to the bill on the Senate floor. Although a copy of the amendment is not yet available, staff stated that the amendment will establish a cap on the “Equipment Limit” at $1 millon and delete the sunset provision contained in the House version of the bill. H. 3250 is pending second reading on the Seante contested calendar.

The Senate will reconvene next Tuesday at noon.

HOUSE

Representative Russell Fry (R-Horry) was sworn in Tuesday as the newest member of the House of Representatives. Representative Fry will serve on the Medical, Military, Public, and Municipal Affairs Committee. 

Speaker Jay Lucas (R-Darlington) commended the House for their diligent work on the House Calendar last year. As a result of the small number of bills on the Calendar, the House spent limited time in session this week. Bills passed by the House this week and sent to the Senate include: 

  • H.4633 – Extends the date by which an independent school must apply to become an eligible institution for the purposes of the “Educational Tax Credit For Exceptional Needs Children” until February 15, 2016.
  • H.3440 – Requires that a moped must be registered, carry liability insurance, and may not be operated on a public road that has a speed limit greater than thirty-five miles-an-hour. 

The House will reconvene next Tuesday at Noon.

Governor's Office

On Friday, Governor Nikki Haley unveiled her FY 2015-2016 Executive Budget proposal at the State House. At the Governor’s press conference, she said “the Budget is extremely healthy and South Carolina’s economy is strong and one of the fastest growing in the country.”

The $7.5 billion proposed Budget includes $1.3 billion in unallocated funds. Governor Haley proposed spending $345 million for roads, including $231 million in one-time money and $49 million from a proposed gas tax increase of ten cents a gallon to be phased in over a three-year period. She also called for $300 million to go toward her education initiative which she unveiled on Wednesday. Other notable priorities include $164.7 million for flood recovery, $113 million for local governments, and $96 million to go toward the state’s retirement systems.

You may access a video of the Governor’s Executive budget here.

The Governor will present her State of the State Address Wednesday, January 20, 2016 at 7:00 p.m.

Top News Articles

Senators mourn once more, working on roads behind the scenes 

S.C. state senators began the 2016 legislative session Tuesday the same way they left the State House last year – in mourning. But, behind those somber scenes, a group of state senators is working on a compromise to fix the state’s crumbling roads. Read more. 

Lawmakers return to Columbia 

The Senate and House chambers were buzzing with legislators making the rounds through the rows of chairs to greet each other. Read more. 

Chief justice race looms over 2016 session 

The election of South Carolina’s next chief justice is looming over legislators before the session even starts Tuesday. Read more.

Senator renews call for splitting of DHEC 

Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler said Thursday the state’s health and environmental agency is too large and should be split. Read more. 

SC’s newest senator Margie Bright Matthews sworn in 

The South Carolina Senate has formally sworn in its second woman in the chamber. Democrat Margie Bright Matthews of Walterboro took her oath Wednesday with her oldest and youngest daughter by her side. Read more. 

Haley proposes $200 million-a-year fix for blighted rural schools 

Gov. Nikki Haley proposed Wednesday for the state to borrow up to $200 million a year to renovate blighted school buildings or build new ones. Read more.

Bill to provide experimental drugs to the terminally ill heads to Senate committee 

A bill designed to give terminally ill patients access to experimental drugs is headed to the state Senate Medical Affairs Committee after it was passed out of subcommittee Wednesday. Read more.

Contractors, groups talk to lawmakers about DOT 

Two brothers from Orangeburg complained of contractors not being paid on time and asked for a corruption probe. Read more.

Senators propose 5 percent pay hike for state employees 

S.C. state employees would get a 5 percent cost-of-living pay increase starting July 1 if a proposal that will be unveiled Thursday morning by two Richland County state senators becomes law. Read more.

Groups support bills to close loophole in gun background checks 

Two groups of people affected by gun violence issued a joint statement Monday supporting bipartisan South Carolina bills aimed at closing the so-called “Charleston loophole,” which allowed the man charged with murdering nine people at Emanuel AME Church to buy a gun. Read more.

GOP candidates spar in SC presidential debate 

Less than three weeks before voters cast the presidential election’s first ballots in the Iowa caucus, Republican candidates took aim at each other during a debate that could start winnowing the large field. Read more.

S.C. Trucking association backs hike in fuel tax, review of DOT 

The South Carolina Trucking Association, which represents truck fleets and drivers, announced today support for an increase in the state’s portion of the gasoline and diesel tax to improve the condition and safety of the state’s roads and bridges. Read more.

USC economist says strong S.C. economy will remain steady through 2016 

Momentum from South Carolina’s strong economy in 2015 will continue into 2016, and the state should see a temporary boost from the October flood this year, according to research economist Joseph C. Von Nessen. Read more.

Charleston Harbor deepening now up to Congress 

A proposal that would deepen Charleston Harbor’s shipping channel down to 52 feet is now in the hands of Congress. Read more. 

Nikki Haley unveils state’s roughly $7.5 billion executive budget 

Education, flood recovery and driving down the state’s debt are among Gov. Nikki Haley’s top priorities in this year’s executive budget. Read more.

Meetings and Events

Tuesday, January 19, 2016 

5:30 – 7:30    SC House Republican Caucus Business Roundtable Reception

USC Alumni Center, 900 Senate Street 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016 

7:00 – 9:00    State of the State Address

Newly Introduced Legislation

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT/TAX: 

H. 4625 Gilliard: TO AUTHORIZE THE GOVERNING BODY OF A COUNTY OR MUNICIPALITY TO IMPOSE AN IMPACT FEE ON ANY PRIVATE DEVELOPER FOR EACH NEW RESIDENTIAL DWELLING UNIT CONSTRUCTED BY THE DEVELOPER WITHIN THE COUNTY OR MUNICIPALITY. 

H. 4637 Lucas: TO ESTABLISH REQUIREMENTS FOR ENTITIES THAT EXERCISE EMINENT DOMAIN. 

H. 4661 Forrester TO PROVIDE REQUIREMENTS CONCERNING ACCEPTABLE PIPING MATERIAL IN THE STATE PROCUREMENT CODE, AND TO DEFINE NECESSARY TERMS. 

S. 982 Peeler: RELATING TO EXEMPTIONS FROM THE STATE SALES TAX, SO AS TO EXEMPT NATURAL GAS SOLD TO A PERSON WITH A MISCELLANEOUS FUEL USER FEE LICENSE WHO WILL PRODUCE COMPRESSED NATURAL GAS OR LIQUEFIED NATURAL GAS FOR USE AS MOTOR FUEL IN THEIR OWN MOTOR VEHICLES AND REMIT THE APPLICABLE MOTOR FUEL USER FEES. 

S. 983 Sheheen: TO PROVIDE THAT A COMMUNICATIONS SERVICE PROVIDER DOING BUSINESS IN THIS STATE, WHICH CHARGES A FEE IN EXCHANGE FOR A LIMITED INCREMENT OF DATA SERVICE PURSUANT TO A MULTI-MONTH SERVICE CONTRACT EXECUTED IN THIS STATE, SHALL CARRY FORWARD AT NO ADDITIONAL EXPENSE TO THE CUSTOMER, A CUSTOMER'S CUMULATIVE UNUSED DATA BALANCE FROM ONE MONTHLY BILLING CYCLE TO THE MONTHLY BILLING CYCLE NEXT SUCCEEDING. 

EDUCATION: 

H. 4619 Norrell: RELATING TO THE REQUIREMENT THAT ALL SCHOOL DAYS MISSED FOR SCHOOL CLOSINGS NECESSITATED BY WEATHER CONDITIONS OR OTHER DISRUPTIONS. 

H. 4621 Pitts: TO PROVIDE THAT BEGINNING JULY 1, 2017, THE STATE FISCAL ACCOUNTABILITY AUTHORITY SHALL TRANSFER STATE PUBLIC FOUR-YEAR INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING TO A NOT-FOR-PROFIT ORGANIZATION TO BE ESTABLISHED OR DESIGNATED AS PROVIDED IN THIS JOINT RESOLUTION FOR THE PURPOSE OF OPERATING IT AS A PRIVATE AND NOT A PUBLIC INSTITUTION. 

H. 4639 Allison: TO PROVIDE THE COMMISSION ON HIGHER EDUCATION MAY ENTER INTERSTATE RECIPROCITY AGREEMENTS THAT AUTHORIZE ACCREDITED DEGREE-GRANTING INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION IN THIS STATE TO OFFER POSTSECONDARY DISTANCE EDUCATION IN A CERTAIN MANNER. 

ENVIRONMENTAL/NATURAL RESOURCES

H. 4622 Funderburk: SO AS TO ENACT THE ADVERTISING LITTER CONTROL ACT. 

H. 4640 Lucas: PROHIBITING THE DISCHARGE OF POLLUTANTS INTO THE ENVIRONMENT AND REMEDIES FOR VIOLATIONS, SO AS TO CLARIFY PERSONS WHO MAY FILE A PETITION WITH THE DEPARTMENT DO NOT INCLUDE CERTAIN AGENCIES AND DEPARTMENTS OF THE STATE AND TO PROVIDE THAT ANY DECISION OF THE DEPARTMENT WITH RESPECT TO THE TYPE OF REVIEW OBTAINED IS NOT SUBJECT TO JUDICIAL REVIEW. 

H. 4641 Pope: RELATING TO THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL, TO CREATE THE DIVISION OF PUBLIC HEALTH, TO DELEGATE TO THE DIVISION THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL PERTAINING TO PUBLIC HEALTH, TO ABOLISH THE DEPARTMENT AND BOARD OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL. 

S. 984 Campsen: RELATING TO TERMS AND THEIR DEFINITIONS CONTAINED IN THE SOUTH CAROLINA MARINE RESOURCES ACT OF 2000, SO AS TO PROVIDE A DEFINITION FOR THE TERM "SOUTHERN COBIA MANAGEMENT ZONE. 

HEALTHCARE: 

H. 4629 Hicks: TO ENACT THE "WOMAN'S ULTRASOUND RIGHT TO KNOW ACT." 

H. 4631 J. E. Smith: TO ESTABLISH THAT AN ACCIDENT OR HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN SHALL CONTINUE TO PROVIDE COVERAGE TO A FIREFIGHTER WHO IS UNABLE TO WORK AS A RESULT OF AN INJURY SUSTAINED IN THE COURSE OF EMPLOYMENT. 

H. 4644 Rutherford: TO PROVIDE THE BOARD OF PHARMACY SHALL ISSUE A WRITTEN PROTOCOL IN COMPLIANCE WITH WHICH PHARMACISTS, WITHOUT AN ORDER OF A PRACTITIONER, MAY PRESCRIBE AND DISPENSE HORMONAL CONTRACEPTIVE PATCHES AND SELF-ADMINISTERED ORAL HORMONAL CONTRACEPTIVES. 

S. 972 Hayes: TO ENACT THE "SOUTH CAROLINA UNCLAIMED LIFE INSURANCE BENEFITS ACT. 

S. 976 Hayes: RELATING TO LIMITED LINE AND SPECIAL PRODUCER LICENSING, SO AS TO ESTABLISH THAT A PRODUCER LICENSED FOR PROPERTY AND CASUALTY INSURANCE IS NOT REQUIRED TO BECOME APPOINTED BY THE SURPLUS LINES INSURER WHEN PLACING SURPLUS LINES INSURANCE THROUGH A LICENSED BROKER 

JUDICIAL: 

H. 4618 King: TO PROVIDE PENALTIES FOR A PERSON CONVICTED OF A CRIME CONTAINED IN THIS CHAPTER 3, TITLE 16 WITH THE INTENT TO ASSAULT, INTIMIDATE, OR THREATEN A PERSON BECAUSE OF HIS RACE, RELIGION, COLOR, SEX, AGE, NATIONAL ORIGIN, OR SEXUAL ORIENTATION. 

H. 4623 McKnight: SO AS TO LIMIT THE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH MAGISTRATES MAY PLACE A PERSON IN AN ELECTRONIC MONITORING PROGRAM AS A CONDITION OF BOND TO A PERSON CHARGED WITH A CRIMINAL SEXUAL CONDUCT OFFENSE OR CERTAIN VIOLENT CRIMES. 

H. 4626 Neal: A BILL TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING CHAPTER 81 TO TITLE 2 SO AS TO ESTABLISH THE SOUTH CAROLINA REAPPORTIONMENT COMMISSION CONSISTING OF SEVEN MEMBERS FOR THE PURPOSE OF SUBMITTING REAPPORTIONMENT PLANS TO THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY FOR THE HOUSE, SENATE, AND CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS AND TO PROVIDE FOR THE SELECTION, QUALIFICATIONS, POWERS, AND DUTIES OF THE COMMISSION AND ITS MEMBERS. 

H. 4627 J. E. Smith: TO ENACT THE "SOUTH CAROLINA UNIFORM FIDUCIARY ACCESS TO DIGITAL ASSETS ACT." 

H. 4628 Hicks: TO ENACT THE "SECOND AMENDMENT PRESERVATION ACT" TO PROHIBIT THE USE OR ALLOCATION OF PUBLIC FUNDS, PERSONNEL, OR PROPERTY TO IMPLEMENT, REGULATE, OR ENFORCE A FEDERAL LAW, EXECUTIVE ORDER, REGULATION, OR RULE REGULATING THE OWNERSHIP, USE, OR POSSESSION OF FIREARMS, AMMUNITION, OR FIREARM ACCESSORIES. 

H. 4664 Burns: RELATING TO A PREMISES OWNER'S RIGHT TO PERMIT A CONCEALED WEAPON PERMIT HOLDER TO CARRY A WEAPON ON HIS PREMISES. 

H. 4665 Tallon: TO REQUIRE CANDIDATES FOR MAGISTRATES COURT TO BE SCREENED BY THE JUDICIAL MERIT SELECTION COMMISSION BEFORE THEY MAY BE APPOINTED BY THE GOVERNOR BY AND WITH THE CONSENT OF THE SENATE. 

H. 4668 Chumley: TO ENACT THE "SECOND AMENDMENT PRESERVATION ACT." 

S. 971 Martin: TO ESTABLISH THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FATALITY REVIEW COMMITTEES IN EACH CIRCUIT. 

S. 974 Coleman: RELATING TO A BREWERY LICENSED TO SELL BEER AND WINE FOR ON-PREMISES CONSUMPTION, SO AS TO PROVIDE THESE ESTABLISHMENTS ALSO MAY APPLY FOR A RETAIL ON-PREMISES CONSUMPTION PERMIT FOR THE SALE OF ALCOHOLIC LIQUORS. 

S. 988 Coleman: TO PROHIBIT A PUBLIC UTILITY THAT HOLDS AN EASEMENT OR RIGHT OF WAY FROM DENYING, REFUSING, OR REJECTING ANOTHER PUBLIC UTILITY'S REASONABLE REQUEST TO USE THE PREEXISTING EASEMENT OR RIGHT OF WAY IN ORDER TO COLLOCATE, CONSTRUCT, INSTALL, MAINTAIN, OR OPERATE INFRASTRUCTURE OR FACILITIES FOR A NECESSARY PUBLIC PURPOSE. 

S. 990 L. Martin: A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION TO FIX NOON ON WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 3, 2016, AS THE TIME FOR JUDICIAL ELECTIONS. 

S. 997 Bright: TO PROVIDE THAT REFUGEES PLACED IN THIS STATE BY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT MUST REGISTER WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES. 

TRANSPORTATION: 

H. 4623 McKnight: TO LIMIT THE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH MAGISTRATES MAY PLACE A PERSON IN AN ELECTRONIC MONITORING PROGRAM AS A CONDITION OF BOND TO A PERSON CHARGED WITH A CRIMINAL SEXUAL CONDUCT OFFENSE OR CERTAIN VIOLENT CRIMES.

 H. 4625 Gilliard: TO AUTHORIZE THE GOVERNING BODY OF A COUNTY OR MUNICIPALITY TO IMPOSE AN IMPACT FEE ON ANY PRIVATE DEVELOPER FOR EACH NEW RESIDENTIAL DWELLING UNIT CONSTRUCTED BY THE DEVELOPER WITHIN THE COUNTY OR MUNICIPALITY.

H. 4635 Bannister: TO PROVIDE THAT ALL THE COMMISSIONERS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION MUST BE APPOINTED BY THE GOVERNOR AND SERVE AT THE PLEASURE OF THE GOVERNOR.

H. 4673 Hicks: TO PROVIDE THAT A PERMITTEE MAY NOT OPERATE A MOTORCYCLE, MOTOR SCOOTER, OR LIGHT MOTOR DRIVEN CYCLE AT ANY UNPERMITTED TIME UNLESS SUPERVISED BY A LICENSED MOTORCYCLE, MOTOR SCOOTER, OR LIGHT MOTOR-DRIVEN CYCLE OPERATOR.

VETERANERIAN ISSUES:

S. 979 Sheheen: TO PROVIDE FOR REGULATION OF ANIMAL SHELTERS BY THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, LICENSING, AND REGULATION, AND TO REQUIRE CERTAIN MEDICAL RECORD MAINTENANCE AND RETENTION POLICIES FOR THE TREATMENT OF ANIMALS.

S. 980 Sheheen: TO REQUIRE ALL PRESCRIPTION DRUGS DISPENSED TO AN ANIMAL'S OWNER TO BE LABELED IN ACCORDANCE WITH STATE AND FEDERAL LAW; AND TO PROVIDE PENALTIES FOR VIOLATING THIS SECTION.