What's New

SENATE 

The Senate had a very active week of floor debate as members worked through the calendar in an attempt to send bills to the House of Representatives before the May 1st crossover deadline. The Senate gave third reading to S. 1258, the new road funding 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. 

In addition to the road funding bill, the Senate took up several other bills of interest. The Senate gave third reading to S. 1015, a bill by Senator Hugh Leatherman (R-Florence) relating to counterfeit or nonfunctional airbags. The Senate also gave third reading to S. 139, a bill by Senator Ray Cleary (R-Georgetown) that will freeze the building restriction line (“baseline”) along the coast and will prevent the line from being moved seaward after December 31, 2017. 

The Senate also addressed several key House bills this week. H. 3184 and H. 3186, a pair of highly debated ethics bills, both received third reading. H. 3184, by Representative Tommy Pope (R-Spartanburg), would make various reforms to the State’s ethics laws, including changing the structure of the State Ethics Commission as well as adding a requirement for independent investigations of ethics complaints made against legislators and other public officials. H. 3186, by Representative Kirkman Finlay (R-Richland), would require officials and candidates for public office to disclosure sources of private income in excess of $500. Both bills will now return to the House for concurrence in the Senate amendments. 

The South Carolina Farm Aid bill, by Representative Brian White (R-Anderson), also received third reading in the Senate this week. H. 4717 would provide $40 million to farmers who can verify agricultural losses as a result of the historic flooding last October. Farmers would be allowed to apply for a grant in an amount up to $100,000 on a first-come, first-served basis to pay for crop production expenses. 

Prior to adjournment on Thursday, the Senate received reports from several Finance Budget Subcommittees regarding the various sections of the budget and agreed to use H. 5001 (Appropriations Bill) as approved by the Senate Finance Committee as the working document going forward. Senator Leatherman requested that the Senate reconvene Tuesday morning at 10:00 a.m. to begin floor debate on the budget. Click here to view the budget as approved by the Senate Finance Committee.

The Senate Transportation Committee met this week to take up a number of bills including H. 4932 by Representative Rita Allison (R-Spartanburg). This legislation makes revisions to the specifications and limitations for vehicles and trailers operated along the State’s highways. New provisions are included in the bill to allow motor vehicles fueled primarily by natural gas to exceed weight limitations by specified amounts. The bill received a favorable report as amended by the Committee and is pending second reading on the Senate calendar. 

A Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee took up S. 684, by Senator Shane Massey (R-Edgefield), regarding distances a mine operator must maintain when conducting blasting. The Subcommittee heard testimony both for and against the bill and decided to carry the bill over. Members of the Subcommittee informed those in attendance that another meeting on the bill would likely be scheduled in the future. 

Bills passed by the Senate this week include: 

S. 139 - prevents the building restriction line (“baseline”) along the coast from being moved seaward after December 31, 2017; 

S. 227 – extends the date for remission of redevelopment fees to a redevelopment authority from January 1, 2017, to January 1, 2037; 

S. 356 – requires that recognized Native American Indian Groups continue to be recognized and eligible to exercise the privileges and obligations authorized by that designation; 

S. 371 – clarifies the process for disciplining nurses in the event of a patient death from a medication error by a nurse who misreads a physician's order;  

S. 561 – reforms the Department of Transportation; 

S. 680 – enacts the “Provisions for Cost of Animal Care Act of 2015” so as to provide that the custodian of an animal taken into custody due to civil or criminal violations by its owner may petition the court for expenses related to providing care to the animal; 

S. 685 – provides for the regulation of engineers and surveyors; 

S. 908 – enacts the “South Carolina Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act” so as to establish a framework by which internet users have the power to plan for the management and disposition of digital assets upon death or incapacitation; 

S. 916 – changes the definition of "child" and "juvenile" to include anyone under eighteen years old; 

S. 922 – provides that an operator of a Commission for the Blind concession stand may not subcontract the installation or operation of the concession stand to a person who is not blind or does not have a severe visual disability; 

S. 980 – requires all drugs dispensed to an animal’s owner must be prescribed by a veterinarian and be labeled in accordance with State and federal law; 

S. 981 – creates “No More Homeless Pets” licenses plates and requires the South Carolina Animal Care and Control Association to coordinate the grant program; 

S. 986 – increases the penalties relating to the solicitation of prostitution; 

S. 1015 – provides penalties involving counterfeit or nonfunctional airbags; 

S. 1016 – enacts the “Eye Care Consumer Protection Law” so as to require a valid prescription from a provider to dispense spectacles or contact lenses and prohibits a prescription based solely on information generated by a kiosk; 

S. 1023 – allows active or retired judges, magistrates, and clerks of court who possess a valid permit to carry a concealed weapon anywhere within the State; 

S. 1092 – conforms the language of “trafficking” in illegal drugs provisions to include synthetic narcotic drugs; 

S. 1122 – makes provisions for the reimposition of a local option tourism development fee; 

S. 1127 – exempts an individual’s retirement account from attachment, levy, or sale; 

S. 1139 – requires SLED to furnish documentation to the South Carolina Department of Revenue regarding criminal convictions, guilty pleas, and nolo contendere pleas that result from Title 61 violations or criminal activities that occur at businesses licensed or permitted pursuant to the provisions of Title 61 of the South Carolina Code of Laws; 

S. 1170 – provides that certain earnings of a subsequent spouse must not be considered by the court when making, modifying, or terminating the award of alimony; 

S. 1177 – amends the training requirements for the professional licensure of architects; 

S. 1182 – establishes the duties of coroners and medical examiners; 

S. 1205 – provides that Department of Natural Resources enforcement officers are not required to obtain the bonds required by Section 50-3-330 of the South Carolina Code of Laws; 

S. 1252 – requires the State Fire Marshal to issue a license for a community fireworks display if certain safety conditions and other requirements are met; 

S. 1258 – provides roughly $4 billion for road projects across South Carolina over the next ten years; 

S. 1272 – authorizes the Department of Education to carry forward certain funds appropriated in the 2015-2016 “General Appropriations Act” regarding supplemental support of programs and services for students with disabilities so as to meet the estimated maintenance of effort for the “Individuals with Disabilities Act” (IDEA); 

H. 3036 – declares January 17th of each year as “Eartha Kitt Day” in South Carolina; 

H. 3184 – reforms the State Ethics Commission’s membership and procedures; 

H. 3186 – provides for more expansive statement of economic interests for public officials and others who are required to make these filings under the Ethics, Government Accountability, and Campaign Reform Act; 

H. 4717 – responds to the unprecedented damage of the October 2015 floods by creating the "South Carolina Farm Aid Fund" to assist farmers in order to prevent the economic collapse of many of the State’s farms; and 

H. 5100 – adds licensed oral surgeons and dentists to the definition of "Emergency Medical Provider" in the "Access to Emergency Medical Care Act" so that they can be compensated for their services in the same manner that doctors and hospitals are reimbursed for covered emergency care services. 

The Senate will reconvene at 10:00 on Tuesday, May 2, 2016.

HOUSE 

The House of Representatives also spent most of the week on the floor working through the House calendar. On Wednesday, the House gave third reading the H. 4776, commonly referred to as the “South Carolina Education School Facilities Act” by Representative Allison. This legislation makes provisions for State financial assistance to school districts, through the issuance of state general obligation bonds and the awarding of grants, that must be used for permanent school instructional facilities, health and safety upgrades, technology access inside the school, and fixed building assets including the costs for construction, improvement, enlargement, or renovation of school facilities. The State Department of Education is charged with conducting a comprehensive study of all school districts’ facilities and physical assets and must produce an annual prioritization report, with a total project cost that must not exceed two hundred million dollars. The report must also list the qualified school projects along with a recommendation of which projects should be undertaken immediately. The bill will now head to the Senate Finance Committee for debate. 

The House also gave third reading to H. 4215, a bill by Representative Finlay that would enact the “Managed Tidal Impoundment Preservation Act.” This legislation exempts property that is deemed eligible under a general permit issued by the United States Army Corps of Engineer from the permitting requirements for routine, normal, or emergency maintenance or repair activities. The companion Senate bill to this legislation,S. 788, is also pending second reading on the House calendar. 

The House Judiciary Constitutional Laws Subcommittee met Thursday to take up S. 997, regarding refugees, by Senator Lee Bright (R-Spartanburg). The Subcommittee amended the bill to provide that the sponsor of a refugee would not face civil liability unless the sponsor knew, or should have known that a refugee posed a threat or committed an act of terrorism or violent crime. Additionally, for a sponsor to be held liable there must be clear and convincing evidence presented in court. After taking testimony from several members of the public in opposition of the bill, the Subcommittee adjourned debate on the bill until a time to be determined. 

The House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee also met this week on several bills of interest. The Committee gave a favorable report as amended to S. 1035, the “South Carolina Telemedicine Act” by Senator Cleary. S. 1035 establishes requirements for physicians who treat patients solely through telemedicine. The Committee also gave a favorable report as amended to H. 4544 by Representative Mia Mcleod (D-Richland). H. 4544 establishes requirements related to the prescription of drugs intended to treat symptoms of erectile dysfunction. Both bills are now pending second reading on the House calendar. 

Bills passed by the House this week include: 

S. 863 – reapportions four single-member election districts from which the trustees of Richland County School District One are elected; 

S. 1016 –  enacts the “Eye Care Consumer Protection Law” so as to require a valid prescription from a provider to dispense spectacles or contact lenses and prohibits a prescription based solely on information generated by a kiosk;

S. 1191 - disapproves the proposed amendment by the South Carolina Supreme Court to the South Carolina Rules of Criminal Procedure; 

S. 1238 – requires Florence County School District Two to hold a separate meeting of the citizens if the proposed budget requires a millage increase; 

H. 3084 – eliminates the witness requirement for an absentee ballot applicant's oath; 

H. 3167 – adds a valid South Carolina concealed weapons permit as an authorized form of identification for voting; 

H. 3449 – allows the Department of Natural Resources to issue one recreational fishing licnese to persons 65 or older for the use hoop nets along the Wateree River; 

H. 4029 – amends awards or payments related to alimony; 

H. 4215 – enacts the “Managed Tidal Impoundment Preservation Act” that will exempt property that is deemed eligible under a general permit issued by the United States Army Corp of Engineers from the permitting requirements for routine, normal, or emergency maintenance or repair activities; 

H. 4387 – provides that no law enforcement agency could require its officers to issue a specific amount of, or meet a quota for, the number of citations during a designated period of time; 

H. 4416 – makes revisions to exemptions from development impact fees imposed by local governments on new construction, so as to add exemptions for the construction of new schools and other K-12 public education facilities and the construction of new volunteer fire departments; 

H. 4546 – requires reviews of foster care placements, programs, and activities; 

H. 4547 – changes the definition of "child" and "juvenile" to include anyone under eighteen years old; 

H. 4661 – outlines acceptable piping material in government procurement projects; 

H. 4728 – enacts the “Eye Care Consumer Protection Law” (similar to S. 1016); 

H. 4762 – provides exceptions to limitations on millage rate increases; 

H. 4765 – adds Habitat for Humanity as a check off on income tax forms; 

H. 4776 – makes provisions for state financial assistance to school districts, through the issuance of state general obligation bonds and the awarding of grants that must be used for permanent school instructional facilities, health and safety upgrades, technology access inside the school, and fixed building assets including the costs for construction, improvement, enlargement, or renovation of school facilities; 

H. 4835 – allows a parent or person with legal custody of a child to delegate parental or legal custodian powers of the child to another adult via a temporary power of attorney by a form that is included in the proposed new statute; 

H. 4845 – provides that when a funeral home, funeral director, or embalmer ("transferor provider") provides services for a dead human body and the body subsequently is transferred to another funeral home, funeral director or embalmer ("transferee provider") for additional services, the transferor provider has a cause of action against the transferee proivder if the transferee fails to compensate for the services provided; 

H. 4970 – requires the Department of Transportation to erect signs along interstate highways to inform motorists that certain vehicles must travel in the right lane; 

H. 4999 – places free health care provider services within the scope of “The Good Samaritan” statute; 

H. 5009 – eliminates a provision that limits the “Textiles Communities Revitalization Income Tax Credit” to fifty percent of income tax, corporate license fee, and insurance premium tax liability; 

H. 5011 – makes provisions for the reimposition of a local option tourism development fee; 

H. 5021 – establishes the "Adult Students with Disabilities Education Rights Consent Act"; 

H. 5034 – requires the Department of Revenue to establish an informational charitable bingo webpage on its website; 

H. 5066 – provides that candidates seeking election to the Beaufort County Board of Education must submit a statement of candidacy rather than submit signed petitions; 

H. 5077 – revises provisions relating to the payment of bonds by a joint authority water and sewer system so as to allow a lien to be placed on the authority’s property in accordance with the “Revenue Bond Act for Utilities”; 

H. 5078 – makes revisions in various local sales and use tax provisions; 

H. 5089 – establishes procedures for liens placed on motor vehicles; 

H. 5118 – provides that certain municipalities and counties may adopt ordinances that allow golf carts to be operated at night; 

H. 5119 – clarifies the circumstances authorizing the Governor to call the State Guard into duty; 

H. 5193 – provides for pharmacists to dispense an opioid antidote pursuant to a joint written protocol issued by the Medical Board and Pharmacy Board; 

H. 5270 – allows membership dues for the “Society of Former Agents of SLED” to be deducted from the compensation of state retirees and paid over to the association in the same manner other membership dues are deducted and paid; 

H. 5278 – authorizes the Department of Education to carry forward certain funds appropriated in the 2015-2016 “General Appropriations Act” regarding supplemental support of programs and services for students with disabilities so as to meet the estimated maintenance of effort for the “Individuals with Disabilities Act” (IDEA); and 

H. 5279 – requires that the Charleston County School Board must obtain certification of property tax revenue expected for the budget from the county auditor before the Board may give the budget second reading. 

The House will reconvene at noon on Tuesday, May 2, 2016.

Top News Articles

Senate passes bills aimed at reforming ethics laws

Hoping to increase the public’s trust in lawmakers, South Carolina’s senators unanimously passed two bills that will reform the state’s ethics laws. Read more.

Lawmakers approve roads funding, alimony and prostitution bills

The South Carolina Senate sent a one-time, $2.2 billion infrastructure bond bill to the House late Wednesday, salvaging months of debate over roads funding. Read more.

Schools, counties to be shorted in state budget

With $1.2 billion in additional money to spend this year, S.C. lawmakers are preparing to short-change S.C. schools and counties by $600 million. Read more.

Senate Oks roads plan that would fix Malfunction Junction 

The plan would provide roughly $4 billion for road projects over the next 10 years. Nearly 400 bridges would be replaced, and Malfunction Junction — the state Transportation Department’s No. 1 priority since 2008 – would be fixed. Read more.

Senators block ‘Bathroom Bill,’ yet Upstate legislator remains undeterred

Thwarted by a lack of votes to advance a bathroom gender bill, an Upstate senator has turned his attention to the state budget. Read more.

House members work to delay decision on refugee registry bill

Blocking a bill that would require refugees to register with the state is personal for a Columbia lawmaker who serves as a sponsor for the man who saved his life in Afghanistan. Read more.

Senate to unveil Clementa Pinckney portrait in May

A portrait of fallen state Sen. Clementa Pinckney will be unveiled during a ceremony in the Senate next month. Read more.

Farm relief bill passes Senate, sets up veto showdown with Gov. Nikki Haley

South Carolina’s Senate passed a bill that would grant relief for farmers affected by October’s floods, setting up the chance of a veto showdown with Gov. Nikki Haley. Read more.

Nikki Haley says she’ll help Obama find the money to keep Guantanamo open

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley came to Washington, D.C., on Thursday with one clear message – keep Guantanamo detainees out of South Carolina, and if you need extra money to keep the prison open I’ll help you find it. Read more.

SC House aims to ban ticket quotas by law enforcement

The S.C. House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday that would prevent police departments from requiring officers to meet quotas for written citations. Read more.

SC Club for Growth PAC aims to push Leatherman out

The South Carolina Club for Growth has a presence in the state as a political action committee with a goal of bringing economic growth and fiscal conservatism to Columbia, and the June primary for state Senate District 31, a rural district in Florence County, has caught the club's attention. Read more.

Moncks Corner House lawmaker resignes amid allegation

State Rep. Edward Southard of Moncks Corner resigned from the House on Wednesday, just days after learning that a sexual harassment allegation involving a female Statehouse page had been filed against him.Read more.

April squabbles bring May budget talks

The table is set for the South Carolina Legislature’s final month of the 2016 session--any bills that may become laws have crossed over to the opposite chamber this week and Senate budget deliberations will start Tuesday. Read more.

SC transgender bathroom bill dead

A bill to prevent transgender men and women from using the bathroom or locker rooms of their choice is dead for the year. Read more.

Meetings and Events

Tuesday, May 3, 2016 

5:30 – 7:30     Senate Democratic Caucus Spring Members 

                       McCutchen House, 902 Sumter Street 

5:00 – 6:30     Reception for Representative Laurie Funderburk 

                       Tin Roof, 1022 Senate Street 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016 

5:30 – 7:00     Reception for Senator Shane Massey 

                       Nexsen Pruet 

5:30 -7:00       Reception for Nikki Setzler 

                       Novinger Building, 602 Meeting Street

Newly Introduced Legislation

BANKING AND INSURANCE: 

S. 1274 (Lourie) RELATING TO THE PAYROLL DEDUCTION FOR STATE EMPLOYEES' ASSOCIATION DUES - - Referred to the Committee on Finance. 

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT/TAX: 

H. 5294 (Bowers) TO ENACT THE "SOUCY BOTTLE ACT"; TO PROVIDE FOR THE RECYCLING OF BEVERAGE CONTAINERS BY CONSUMERS - Referred to Committee on Ways and Means. 

EDUCATION: 

H. 5262 (Loftis) TO ENACT THE "DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURE DUE PROCESS ACT" - Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works. 

H. 5277 (Horne) RELATING TO PUBLIC COLLEGE TUITION WAIVERS FOR THE CHILDREN OF CERTAIN VETERANS - Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works. 

H. 5279 (Stavrinakis) RELATING TO THE CHARLESTON COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT - Placed on calendar without reference.

S. 1272 (Hayes) TO AUTHORIZE THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION TO CARRY FORWARD CERTAIN FUNDS APPROPRIATED IN THE 2015-2016 GENERAL APPROPRIATIONS ACT REGARDING SUPPLEMENTAL SUPPORT OF PROGRAMS AND SERVICES FOR STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES - Placed on the Calendar without reference. 

S. 1281 (Hutto) TO ENACT THE "DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURE DUE PROCESS ACT" - Referred to the Committee on Education. 

JUDICIAL: 

H. 5276 (Dillard) RELATING TO HOUSING DISCRIMINATION- Referred to Committee on Judiciary. 

H. 5293 (Bernstein) TO AUTHORIZE THE LEGISLATIVE DELEGATION OF A COUNTY TO ABOLISH A COUNTY RECREATION COMMISSION - Referred to Committee on Judiciary. 

H. 5295 (Stringer) RELATING TO PRESIDENTIAL ELECTORS DECLARING FOR A CANDIDATE - Referred to Committee on Judiciary. 

S. 1273 (Lourie) RELATING TO GENERAL PROVISIONS OF THE SPECIAL PURPOSE DISTRICTS IN SOUTH CAROLINA - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary. 

S. 1275 (L. Martin) TO PROVIDE THAT SEXUAL ASSAULT CENTER PROVIDERS AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CENTER PROVIDERS ARE NOT REQUIRED TO DISCLOSE CONFIDENCES ACQUIRED FROM CLIENTS DURING THE PROVISION OF SERVICES TO THE CLIENTS WITH EXCEPTIONS - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary. 

TRANSPORTATION: 

H. 5299 (G. M. Smith) TO GIVE THE GOVERNOR AUTHORITY IN TIMES OF EMERGENCY TO MAKE CERTAIN ACCOMMODATIONS FOR A PERSON TRANSPORTING GOODS - Referred to Committee on Judiciary.