What's New

SENATE

Work on H. 3579, the South Carolina Infrastructure Finance Reform and Tax Relief Act, ramped up in the Senate this week. The Senate Finance Committee met Tuesday and Wednesday to hear from the Department of Transportation as well as leaders from the State Transportation Infrastructure Bank (SIB). Mike Wooten, Chairman of the Department of Transportation Commission, expressed the need for stability on the Commission explaining that four year terms are too short in duration. In a lengthy presentation, Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall, stressed that waiting to fix South Carolina roads another year would end up costing the state more money in the long run. She stated that an additional $400 million for DOT per year would only prevent the decay of over 90% of interstate highways across the state. This amount does not cover bringing interstates up to average condition. Hall also warned lawmakers that she fears the state waited too long to address South Carolina’s primary road system. Instead of repairs, Hall believes complete reconstruction may be the only option for a vast majority of these roads.

Senator Hugh Leatherman (R-Florence) addressed the Senate Thursday stating that he plans for a lengthy floor debate on H.3579 next week and will stay as long as it takes in order to reach a consensus among members on the road-repair plan. A proposed amendment to the bill introduced by Senator Joel Lourie (D-Richland) and Ray Cleary (R-Georgetown) includes a phased increase in taxes and fees over a four year period to generate approximately $700 million for road repairs while providing nearly $400 million in tax relief through various tax credits and income tax reductions. Prior to adjournment on Thursday, Senator Lourie urged the body to consider using this amendment as a starting point for discussion next week when floor debate on the bill will resume.

Notable bills passed by the Senate this week include:

  • H. 4633 – Extends the deadline by which an independent school must apply to become an eligible institution for the purposes of the Educational Tax Credit for Exceptional Needs Children.
  • H. 4660 – Relates to surplus lines insurance placed through a licensed insurance broker.
  • S. 493 – Provides that professional employer organizations shall not engage in the sale of insurance or act as third party administrators.
  • S. 780 – Involving the sale and trafficking of fish including issuing permits for the release or stocking of various species of sterile carp in the state’s water system.
  • S. 932 – Extends the application deadline for the special primary residence property tax rate for military members.
  • S. 933 – Provides a two year extension for high school diploma petitions for a person who is no longer enrolled in a public school.
  • S. 984 – Establishes the “Southern Cobia Management Zone.”

The Senate will reconvene Tuesday at noon.

HOUSE

The House of Representatives spent the week focusing on uncontested bills in an effort to clear their calendar before going on furlough next week. Speaker Jay Lucas (R-Darlington) thanked members for their continued progress and informed the body that several committees are still scheduled to meet next week. Upon returning on February 23rd, the House will likely focus on a number of education related bills originating from the House Education Policy Review and Reform Task Force. The Task Force spent the last year creating legislation to respond to the Abbeville lawsuit.

Notable bills passed by the House this week include:

  • H. 3041 – Requires the Superintendent of Education to be appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate.
  • H. 3166 – Revises disqualifications from unemployment benefits.
  • H. 3685 – Establishes requirements for electronic forwarding of court-processed tickets and license surrender information.
  • H. 3420 – Adds veterans of the Korean War and Vietnam War to those who must be issued a high school diploma upon presentation of documentation of school enrollment and a copy of honorable discharge papers to the South Carolina Department of Education.
  • H. 4141 – Enacts the “Limited Lines Travel Insurance Act” to provide authority for travel retailers to offer and disseminate under a limited lines travel insurance producer business entity license travel insurance coverage for personal risks incident to planned travel.
  • H. 4515 – Relates to undergraduate in-state tuition for people entitled to certain federal educational assistance as the children of members of the United States military who died in active duty service after September 11, 2001, and for people entitled as the spouses or children dependents of veterans to receive certain unused federal educational assistance transferred from veterans, so as to provide they are not subject to a three-year post-discharge enrollment time limit.
  • H. 4639 – Provides that the Commission on Higher Education may enter interstate reciprocity agreements that authorize accredited degree-granting institutions of higher education in South Carolina to offer postsecondary distance education.
  • H. 4666 – Establishes a Domestic Violence Fatality Review Committee in each circuit. Sets out protocols, confidentiality, and subpoena authority in certain circumstances.
  • H. 4679 – Revises provisions relating to the election by, and duties, of the local exchange carrier and alternative forms of regulation, to allow the Public Service Commission to conduct an investigation in certain circumstances when a customer files a request for voice service with the commission and to delineate the commission’s actions upon conclusion of the investigation.
  • H. 4857 – Requires coal combustion residuals to be placed in a “Class 3 Landfill” and to provide exceptions.

The House will reconvene Tuesday, February 23rd at noon.

Top News Articles

House panel approves $40 million in flood aid for farmers 

The S.C. House’s budget panel approved using $40 million from a reserve account Wednesday to offer state aid to farmers whose crops were washed away during October’s historic flooding. Read more.

Added $200 million would stop decay of S.C. roads, bridges, senators told 

Spending an added $200 million a year would stop the decay of S.C. bridges and pavement on the state’s roads, S.C. roads chief Christy Hall told state senators Tuesday. Read more.

Bill aiming to enhance fatal domestic violence data collection moves to House floor

Lawmakers said it should be easier to collect and analyze data regarding fatal domestic violence cases through the creation of review committees across the state. Read more.

House panel advances legislation aimed at addressing education-equity lawsuit 

A House education panel on Wednesday advanced several bills aimed at fixing South Carolina’s rural education ills. Read more.

Panel advances proposal to forgive S.C. State $12 million bailout 

A panel of Statehouse lawmakers has approved a preliminary proposal to forgive the repayment of South Carolina State University’s $12 million bailout loan. Read more.

Upstate lawmaker pushing bill allowing nonviolent offenders to attend family funerals

 An Upstate lawmaker wants to allow nonviolent inmates to attend loved ones’ funerals, but corrections officials say they don’t have the resources to do it safely. Read more.

Splits surface as state Senate starts weighing road-repair proposal 

Deep political divisions surfaced quickly Thursday as the state Senate started consideration of a new road-repair plan. Read more.

Controversial Infrastructure Bank to be part of roads debate 

Changes to the controversial South Carolina Transportation Infrastructure Bank will be part of the road-repair debate that state senators are preparing to have. Read more.
 
Senate committee approves bill to disallow non-utilities eminent domain powers 

On Tuesday, a Senate committee approved S. 868, which would make explicit that eminent domain powers are not allowed for “a private, for-profit company, including a publicly-traded for-profit company, that is not defined as a ‘public utility.’” Read more.

State goes to court to keep MOX project on track 

South Carolina has sued the U.S. Department of Energy over plans to shutter the controversial MOX project at Savannah River Site. Read more.

Meetings and Events

Wednesday, February 17, 2016 

Click here to view table.

Newly Introduced Legislation

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT 

S. 1068 (Kimpson): TO ALLOW COUNTY GOVERNMENTS TO INCREASE BUILDING FEES UP TO TEN PERCENT - Referred the Committee on Finance. 

S. 1069 (Kimpson): RELATING TO DEED RECORDING FEES - Referred to the Committee on Finance. 

S. 1070 (Kimpson): TO ALLOW FOR A TAXPAYER ELIGIBLE FOR A FEDERAL LOW-INCOME HOUSING TAX CREDIT TO CLAIM A LOW-INCOME STATE TAX CREDIT IN AN AMOUNT EQUAL TO THE FEDERAL TAX CREDIT. - Referred to Committee on Finance 

S. 1073 (Setzler): RELATING TO THE APPLICATION OF THE INTERNAL REVENUE CODE TO STATE INCOME TAX LAWS - Referred to the Committee on Finance. 

H. 4937 (Education and Public Works Committee): TO ESTABLISH THE SOUTH CAROLINA EDUCATION AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COORDINATING COUNCIL - Placed on calendar without reference 

H. 4942 (J. E. Smith) RELATING TO THE INCOME TAX CREDIT FOR PLUG-IN HYBRID VEHICLES - Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.

EDUCATION

H. 4933 (R. L. Brown) RELATING TO REPORTING REQUIREMENTS OF CHARTER SCHOOLS - Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works. 

H. 4936 (Education and Public Works Committee): TO PROVIDE FOR EDUCATIONAL GOALS FOR ALL SOUTH CAROLINA HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES - Placed on calendar without reference. 

H. 4938 (Education and Public Works Committee): A JOINT RESOLUTION TO PROVIDE THAT THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, WITH THE ASSISTANCE OF OTHER ENTITIES, SHALL SURVEY STUDENTS ENROLLED IN THE STATE'S COLLEGES OF EDUCATION - Placed on calendar without reference. 

H. 4939 (Education and Public Works Committee): A BILL TO ESTABLISH A COMMITTEE COMPOSED OF SPECIFIED MEMBERS TO REVIEW ALL EXISTING STATE EDUCATION STATUTES - Placed on calendar without reference. 

H. 4940 (Education and Public Works Committee): TO PROVIDE FOR THE DUTIES, FUNCTIONS, AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE OFFICE OF TRANSFORMATION WITHIN THE SOUTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION - Placed on calendar without reference.

ENVIRONMENTAL/NATURAL RESOURCES 

S. 1075 (Campbell): RELATING TO DEFINITIONS PERTAINING TO MOTOR FUELS - Referred to the Committee on Finance. 

S. 1076 (Hembree): A BILL TO PERMIT MAINTENANCE DREDGING BY INDIVIDUALS OF CERTAIN EXISTING NAVIGATIONAL CANAL COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENTS - Placed on local uncontested calendar 

H. 4857 (Hiott) TO REQUIRE COAL COMBUSTION RESIDUALS RESULTING FROM THE PRODUCTION OF ELECTRICITY - Placed on calendar without reference 

H. 4876 (V. S. Moss) RELATING TO GEOGRAPHICAL BOUNDARIES FOR CERTAIN BODIES OF WATER - Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs. 

H. 4943 (Hixon): RELATING TO THE ISSUANCE OF ANNUAL INDIVIDUAL ANTERLESS DEER TAGS - Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs. 

H. 4945 (Bingham): TO ENACT THE "CONSERVATION BANK REAUTHORIZATION AND WETLANDS CONSERVATION ACT" - Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.

HEALTHCARE

H. 4863 (G. M. Smith): RELATING TO A PROHIBITION ON THE POSSESSION, DISPENSATION, OR DISTRIBUTION OF CERTAIN DRUGS AND DEVICES WITHOUT A PRESCRIPTION UNDER THE PHARMACY PRACTICE ACT - Referred to Committee on Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs.

INSURANCE

H. 4934 (Tinkler) TO REQUIRE THE STATE EMPLOYEE INSURANCE PROGRAM TO PROVIDE BENEFITS FOR MEDICAL EXPENSES RESULTING FROM AN ACT OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE. - Referred to Committee on Ways and Means. 

H. 4935 (Henegan): TO REQUIRE THE STATE EMPLOYEE INSURANCE PROGRAM TO PROVIDE BENEFITS FOR MEDICAL EXPENSES RESULTING FROM INTENTIONALLY SELF-INFLICTED INJURIES OR ATTEMPTED SUICIDE. - Referred to Committee on Ways and Means

JUDICIAL

H. 4877 (Delleney): RELATING TO FAMILY COURT JUDGES ELECTED FROM EACH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT - Referred to Committee on Judiciary. 

H. 4878 (Tallon): TO PROVIDE THAT COMMUNICATIONS BETWEEN A CLIENT AND ANY MEMBER OF A PEER-SUPPORT TEAM SHALL BE CONFIDENTIAL AND PRIVILEGED UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES. - Referred to Committee on Judiciary. 

H. 4944 (Funderburk) RELATING TO SPECIAL ELECTIONS TO FILL VACANCIES IN OFFICES - Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

TRANSPORTATION

H. 4869 (Erickson) RELATING TO CHILD PASSENGER RESTRAINT SYSTEMS - Referred to Committee on Education and Public Work. 

H. 4874 (Newton) RELATING TO THE IDENTIFYING CODE AFFIXED ON THE DRIVER'S LICENSE OF A PERSON CONVICTED OF CERTAIN CRIMES - Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works 

H. 4932 (Allison): RELATING TO MAXIMUM LENGTHS OF VEHICLES THAT MAY BE OPERATED ALONG THE STATE'S HIGHWAYS - Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works.