The Nexsen Pruet State House Update is published as a service to our attorneys, clients, and friends.  It is intended to be a high level overview of the weekly activity at the South Carolina State House and does not constitute legal advice regarding any specific situation.

Firm clients who wish to receive individualized legislative updates, bill monitoring, or lobbying services may discuss options with Bob Coble.  He can be reached at 803-253-8211 or bcoble@nexsenpruet.com.

What's New

JUDCIAL ELECTIONS 

Judge John Few of Greenville edged out fellow Court of Appeals Judge Bruce Williams for a seat on the five-member South Carolina Supreme Court by a vote of 92-73. Click here for a complete list of election results.

SENATE 

Progress on H.3579, the South Carolina Infrastructure Finance Reform and Tax Relief Act, slowed to a halt in the Senate this week after the Senate Finance Committee announced Tuesday that leaders of the Department of Transportation and State Transportation Infrastructure Bank (SIB) would appear before the Committee at meetings next week. Several members of the Senate, including Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler (R-Cherokee), voiced their displeasure on Thursday regarding the delay and urged the Senate to begin floor debate. As it stands, proposals regarding H.3579 are likely to remain in the Committee until Tuesday February 16th. Chairman Hugh Leatherman (R-Florence) announced that the Senate Finance Committee will hear from the Christy Hall, the Secretary of the Department of Transportation on Tuesday at 2:00. The Committee is scheduled to reconvene the following morning at 10:00 to hear from former and current members of the SIB Board in an effort to fully understand the agency’s day-to-day operations and project selection process. 

Senator Leatherman also announced this week that the Senate plans to furlough the week of March 28th before beginning deliberations on the budget. 

Notable bills passed by the Senate this week include: 

  • H. 3145 - Defines circumstances in which a person is immune from civil liability for damage resulting from the forcible entry into a motor vehicle to remove a child that is reasonably believed to be in imminent danger of suffering harm if not removed;
  • H. 3874 – Provides an income tax credit to an individual or business that constructs, purchases, or leases renewable energy property and places it in service within South Carolina;
  • H. 3881 – Requires that each licensed manufacturing housing retail dealer location in South Carolina must have one authorized official representing the dealership and to provide the Manufactured Housing Board must be notified in writing within 20 days if the authorized official changes; and
  • H. 4145 - Establishes a tax credit for taxpayers who contribute to the “Workforce Scholarship and Grant Fund.” 

A Senate Medical Affairs subcommittee convened Thursday to hear a number of bills including S. 1035, the “South Carolina Telemedicine Act.” The bill was carried over by the subcommittee to provide interested parties an opportunity to meet on Monday in order to discuss proposed amendments.  

The Senate will reconvene Tuesday at noon. 

HOUSE 

The House continued to work through a limited number of bills remaining on their calendar this week. Speaker Jay Lucas (R-Darlington) announced plans for the House to furlough the week of February 15th. Additional furlough dates for the House include the weeks of March 28th and April 4th. Lucas stated that each week of furlough saves taxpayers approximately $77,000. 

Notable bills passed by the House this week include: 

  • H. 3521 – Prevents a court or other enforcement authority from enforcing foreign law including, but not limited to, Sharia Law in South Carolina from a forum outside of the United States;
  • H. 4579 – Mandates that the Governor and Lt. Governor must be jointly elected;
  • H. 4665 – Requires magistrates to be screened by the Judicial Merit Selection Commission and deletes language allowing magistrates' terms to continue until successors are appointed and qualified;
  • H. 4708– Provides that the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources may issue permits for the release or stocking of sterile carp; and
  • H. 4709 – Defines the term “Southern Cobia Management Zone” and amends the South Carolina Marine Resources Act of 2000. 

The House Labor Commerce and Industry Banking and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee resumed debate on H. 4845, the dealer closing fee bill. After taking testimony, the Subcommittee agreed to a substitute amendment offered by Representative Ralph Norman (R-York). This amendment requires that all motor vehicle dealers must provide written notice to the Department of Consumer Affairs of the maximum amount of a closing fee the dealer intends to charge on an annual basis. If the Department does not provide a dealer with written notice of the Department’s intention to review the proposed closing fee within 30 days, the dealer is authorized to charge the amount proposed in the closing fee. The amendment also contained language that it is the intent of the General Assembly to protect a dealer from liability if the fee is charged in compliance with Title 37 and any Department of Consumer Affairs regulation or administrative interpretation. Also dealers must be allowed an additional period of thirty days from the effective date to comply with the new requirements. The bill received a favorable report as amended and will be sent to the full LCI Committee.

Top News Articles

Senate majority leader says he's lost patience on roads bill 

A month into the legislative session, state senators are no closer to finding a way to fix South Carolina's crumbling roads, but they spent hours Thursday arguing over their inability to officially debate the issue. Read more.

Senators likely to debate roads bill in 2 weeks 

State senators on the Finance Committee plan to vote on a road-repair plan next week, setting up a debate on the Senate floor. Read more.

Who is running for S.C. Legislature seats? 

South Carolina is two months from the March 30 filing deadline for candidates who will seek their party’s nomination for state House and Senate seats. Read more.

Proposal to track refugees in South Carolina criticized 

A bill requiring monitoring of refugees in South Carolina is drawing criticism. The measure would require refugees to register with the Department of Social Services within 30 days of arriving in the state. Read more.

House to take 3 weeks off this session; Senate to take 1 

Both chambers of the South Carolina Legislature are taking a break the week after Easter, and the House is taking two additional weeks off. Read more.

South Carolina Files Congressional Term Limits Resolution 

The South Carolina General Assembly has filed resolutions that would help bring about the Term Limits Convention, a new initiative to place term limits on members of Congress. Read more.

USC President: Do not pit K-12 against Higher Education 

State spending on higher education has been in the spotlight since Gov. Nikki Haley asked lawmakers in her State of the State address to focus on fixing K-12 schools instead of giving more money to the state’s colleges. Read more.

Bill requires police to get judge's OK to withhold video 

Law enforcement agencies in South Carolina would need a judge's permission to withhold dashcam video under legislation intended to prevent police from indefinitely blocking the public's ability to scrutinize an officer's action.Read more.

S.C. business recruitment effort tops $4.2B in capital investment 

The state’s business recruiting effort in 2015 topped $4.2 billion in capital investment and 17,280 jobs, the S.C. Department of Commerce reported Wednesday. Throughout the year, the state landed 150 economic development projects. Read more.

Senate committee moves another ethics bill to consideration for floor debate 

Senators voted Tuesday to move forward the House-passed ethics bill that focuses on income disclosure and third-party investigations for lawmakers, two topics that Gov. Nikki Haley mentioned as a priority during her State of the State speech last month. Read more.

Meetings and Events

Tuesday, February 8, 2016 

5:30     Senate Republican Caucus Winter Reception 

            Pearlz Oyster Bar, Upstairs, 936 Gervais Street 

Thursday, February 10, 2016 

5:30 – 7:00 Reception for Representatives Stephen Goldfinch 

                    Nexsen Pruet 

6:00 – 8:00   Reception for Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter 

                    McNair Law Firm, 1221 Main Street

Newly Introduced Legislation

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT/TAX: 

S. 1050 (Campsen) TO ESTABLISH THE "SOUTH CAROLINA ABLE SAVINGS PROGRAM" - Referred to the Committee on Finance. 

S. 1065 (Young) TO CREATE THE PETROLEUM PIPELINE STUDY COMMITTEE - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary. 

H. 4797 (King) TO PROHIBIT A COUNTY TREASURER FROM REFUSING TO ACCEPT FULL PAYMENT OF PROPERTY TAXES ON A MOTOR VEHICLE OR REFUSING TO ISSUE A TAX RECEIPT ON A MOTOR VEHICLE SOLELY BECAUSE THE TAXPAYER IS DELINQUENT ON ANOTHER PROPERTY - Referred to Committee on Ways and Means. 

H. 4815 (Putnam) RELATING TO SALES TAX EXEMPTIONS, SO AS TO EXEMPT THE SALE OF FIREARMS, AND TO DELETE AN EXEMPTION FOR THE SALE OF HANDGUNS, RIFLES, AND SHOTGUNS - Referred to Committee on Ways and Means 

H. 4821 (Ott) SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT IF AGRICULTURAL REAL PROPERTY IS TRANSFERRED TO ANOTHER PERSON, AND THE NEW OWNER CERTIFIES THAT THE USE OF THE PROPERTY WILL NOT CHANGE - Referred to Committee on Ways and Means. 

H. 4834 (Tinkler) TO ENACT THE "LOCAL GOVERNMENT EFFICIENCY ACT" - Referred to Committee on Judiciary. 

EDUCATION: 

H. 4795 (Norrell) RELATING TO THE PALMETTO FELLOWS SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM - Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works. 

H. 4833 (Taylor) TO ENACT THE "SOUTH CAROLINA HIGHER EDUCATION GOVERNANCE ACT" - Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works. 

ENVIRONMENTAL/NATURAL RESOURCES: 

H. 4839 (Goldfinch) TO PROVIDE CERTAIN TERMS AND THEIR DEFINITIONS RELATED TO CARTILAGINOUS FISH - Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs. 

H. 4847 (Limehouse) TO PROVIDE THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES MAY ISSUE LICENSES TO PERSONS WHO WISH TO OPERATE FERAL SWINE HOLDING FACILITIES - Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs. 

HEALTHCARE: 

H. 4845 (King) SO AS TO PROVIDE A FUNERAL HOME, FUNERAL DIRECTOR, OR EMBALMER MAY REFUSE TO RELEASE A DEAD HUMAN BODY TO THE CUSTODY OF THE PERSON OR ENTITY WHO HAS THE LEGAL RIGHT TO EFFECT A RELEASE UNTIL ALL FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS RELATED TO SERVICES PROVIDED BY THE FUNERAL HOME, FUNERAL DIRECTOR, OR EMBALMER WITH RESPECT TO THE DEAD HUMAN BODY HAVE BEEN FULLY SATISFIED - Referred to Committee on Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs. 

H. 4832 (Hicks) SO AS TO ALLOW AN INCOME TAX CREDIT FOR EACH CLINICAL ROTATION SERVED BY A PHYSICIAN, ADVANCED PRACTICE NURSE, OR PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT AS A COMMUNITY-BASED PRECEPTOR FOR CERTAIN PROGRAMS. - Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.

INSURANCE: 

S. 1064 (Young) RELATING TO THE REQUIREMENT THAT AN INSURER WRITING A WORKERS' COMPENSATION POLICY SHALL FILE CERTAIN INFORMATION ON WHICH IT RELIES - Referred to the Committee on Banking and Insurance. 

TRANSPORTATION: 

H. 4822 (Norrell) : RELATING TO A PERSON'S UNLAWFUL USE OF A WIRELESS COMMUNICATION DEVICE WHILE OPERATING A MOTOR VEHICLE - Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works.