What's New

Members of the South Carolina General Assembly will return to Columbia on Tuesday, January 12th, to begin the second year of the 121st Legislative Session. 2016 marks an election year where all 170 seats in the South Carolina State House are up for election. Members who will not seek re-election include: Sen. Ray Cleary (R – Georgetown), Sen. Joel Lourie (D – Richland), Sen. Paul Thurmond (R – Charleston), Rep. Kenneth Hodges (D – Colleton), Rep. Jenny Horne (R – Dorchester), Rep. Chip Limehouse (R – Charleston), Rep. Deborah Long (R – Lancaster), and Rep. Walt McLeod (D – Newberry). Rep. Stephen Goldfinch (R – Georgetown) and Rep. Mia McLeod (D – Richland) both plan to run for the Senate seats in their respective district after the conclusion of the legislative session.

Notable Legislative Dates in 2016: 

January 12: Session Begins 

February 4: Deadline for Proviso Submittals 

February 15: Final BEA Estimate Due 

February 15-18: House Ways and Means Full Committee Budget Deliberations 

March 7-11: House Floor Budget Debate 

May 1: Crossover Deadline 

June 2: Last Day of Session

The “Senate Special Subcommittee in Response to the Abbeville Lawsuit” met on Wednesday afternoon where South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman provided legislators with suggestions regarding ways to improve student achievement in each of the plaintiff districts. Spearman urged the Subcommittee to explore the use of efficiency assessments within the plaintiff districts by the end of the year. Data from the assessments would allow the Department of Education to better inform the General Assembly of the precise needs in each of the respective plaintiff districts. Additionally, Superintendent Spearman stressed the need for the state to provide funding for these districts in the form of grants for infrastructure improvements. She noted that most rural districts cannot afford to take on additional debt via the traditional loan process. In closing, Spearman addressed various ways to use existing programs across the state in order to further improve student achievement. She noted that the “Virtual SC” program served over 34,000 students with online class credits across the state during the 2014-2015 school year. Of that number, 14% of the program’s enrollment consisted of students residing within the plaintiff districts. The Department of Education would like to expand the Virtual SC program in an effort to introduce specialized science and mathematics teachers into the plaintiff districts. The Subcommittee now stands in recess subject to the call of the Chair.

In other news, the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on S.911 also convened this week to discuss motor vehicle closing fees. The Subcommittee, led by Senator Larry Martin (R – Pickens), amended the bill to require car dealers across the state to post language within dealerships notifying customers that the motor vehicle closing fee is authorized by state law but not mandated. The members of the Subcommittee also discussed the possibility of applying the proposed legislation retroactively. As S.911 moves before the Senate Judiciary Committee next week, lawmakers will take up several amendments carried over by the Subcommittee and will continue working on the definition of a closing fee as well as the procedural remedies available to aggrieved customers.

Please join us on Monday, January 11th, at noon for our annual Legislative Session Kickoff Webinar to preview the major issues facing the South Carolina General Assembly in 2016. To register, please contact Courtney Belton at cbelton@nexsenpruet.com

Top News Articles

Abbeville state senator dies at 77

State Sen. Billy O'Dell, R-Abbeville, died Thursday at 77. Read More.

SC House speaker aims for ‘substantial progress’ on education this year 

The Darlington Republican said House members will introduce bills this month that include an education task force’s recommendations to improve K-12 public schools, especially in rural, impoverished communities. Read more.

Infrastructure funding tops S.C. Chamber legislative agenda 

The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday announced its 2016 Competitiveness Agenda that includes infrastructure funding, workforce development and business licensing reform. Read more.

Senator: Roads plan could pass next month 

The S.C. senator who last year blocked a proposal to increase gas taxes to fix the state’s crumbling roads said he expects a road repair plan to pass the Senate by mid-February.Read more.

SC House Speaker sees trouble ahead if Senate doesn’t act on road funding 

The speaker of the South Carolina House warned in Greenville on Monday that the state will eventually have to stop making capital improvements to many of its roads if the Senate fails to join the House in coming up with a road-funding plan. Read more.

Interim roads chief driving S.C. Transportation Department 

Interim Department of Transportation director Christy Hall was a star of October's flood disaster response. Roads were repaired quickly, and her leadership of the department received high marks. Read more.

Making South Carolina stronger 

After a tumultuous 2015, the state faces clear challenges in year ahead. Read more.

Chief Justice Pleicones sworn in 

South Carolina’s top court is getting its first new leader in more than a decade. Read more.

Spearman: State should give grants, not loans, to schools

South Carolina should give grants to poor, rural school districts to help them maintain buildings and encourage consolidation, according to state Superintendent Molly Spearman.Read more.

Governor Nikki Haley to deliver GOP response to Obama’s State of the Union

South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, coming off a year where she gained national attention for her handling of the Charleston church slayings, will deliver the Republican response to President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Jan. 12. Read more.

Steady outlook for Boeing’s Dreamliner following record year for deliveries

After setting a record for annual deliveries of its popular Dreamliner commercial plane, analysts say Boeing Co. should continue to experience a strong market for the fuel-efficient, wide-body jet during the coming year. Read more.

Still years away, Volvo already having positive impact on Berkeley County

Volvo’s decision to build its first U.S. manufacturing plant in Berkeley County already is having a positive impact on that government’s credit rating, with a pair of reports last week giving high marks to $30 million worth of general obligation debt the county agreed to issue in December. Read more.

Margie Bright Matthews to ‘chart own course’ while serving in Pinckney’s former Senate seat

Senator Margie Bright Matthews said that while there is no way she can fill Senator Clementa Pinckney’s shoes, she believes she shares similar values with the late Emanuel AME Church pastor. Read more.

Gun reform bills pit state lawmakers against each other

A battle for gun control and gun rights in South Carolina is brewing among legislators, with both sides of the aisle promising to fight for their cause. Read more.

Governor Nikki Haley proposal adds 144 prosecutors statewide to deal with domestic violence cases 

Governor Nikki Haley wants to spend $19 million to hire 144 prosecutors so that police officers no longer are the ones prosecuting domestic violence cases in South Carolina.Read more.

Coble: 3 ways South Carolina will benefit from renewable energy

South Carolina’s new solar-energy law combines with Clemson’s wind research and USC’s fuel-cell research to make us an innovation leader — and economic winner. Read more.

House budget head crafting bill to help farmers affected by floods 

House Ways and Means Chairman Brian White, R-Anderson, said he plans to introduce the Palmetto Farm Aid bill as one of the first of several legislative responses to the flooding the state suffered following October’s rainfall. Read more.

Meetings and Events

Tuesday, January 12, 2016 

6:00     Wilkins Leadership Awards Dinner 
            Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center

Wednesday, January 13, 2016 

3:00 – 5:45   SC BIPEC Annual Meeting 
                    Marriott Hotel, Carolina Ballroom

6:00 – 7:30   2016 Senate Democratic Caucus Fundraising Reception 
                    Palmetto Club

Newly Introduced Legislation

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT/TAX: 

H. 4503 J.E. Smith: TO ALLOW AN INCOME TAX CREDIT EQUAL TO TEN PERCENT OF ANY FEDERAL ASSISTANCE AN INDIVIDUAL TAXPAYER RECEIVED FROM THE FEDERAL EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY RESULTING FROM THE CATASTROPHIC WEATHER EVENT IN OCTOBER 2015.

H. 4506 J.E. Smith: SO AS TO CREATE THE "SOUTH CAROLINA DISASTER RELIEF FUND" TO ASSIST INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE SUFFERED DAMAGE OR LOSS AS A RESULT OF A NATURAL DISASTER. 

H. 4527 Bales: SO AS TO REQUIRE THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO APPROPRIATE TWENTY-FIVE MILLION DOLLARS TO THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL TO ESTABLISH A REVOLVING FUND TO OPERATE A FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM TO PROVIDE GRANTS AND LOANS TO AID DAM OWNERS IN REPAIRING OR REPLACING DAMS.

S. 931 Scott: DIRECTING THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL TO ESTABLISH A REVOLVING FUND TO OPERATE A FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM TO PROVIDE GRANTS TO DAM OWNERS TO CONDUCT ENGINEERING AND SAFETY STUDIES ON THE DAMS.

EDUCATION:

H. 4459 Jefferson: RELATING TO THE PALMETTO FELLOWS SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM.

H. 4514 Daning: SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT A DEPENDENT CHILD WHO IS A UNITED STATES CITIZEN MAY NOT BE DENIED CLASSIFICATION AS A DOMICILED RESIDENT WHEN DETERMINING ELIGIBILITY FOR IN-STATE TUITION AND FEE RATES AND STATE-SPONSORED TUITION ASSISTANCE AND SCHOLARSHIPS BASED SOLELY ON HIS STATUS OF HIS PARENT AS A NONRESIDENT ALIEN.

H. 4531 Felder: SO AS TO PROVIDE THE UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA AT LANCASTER AND WINTHROP UNIVERSITY MAY OFFER IN-STATE TUITION AND FEE RATES TO LEGAL RESIDENTS OF CERTAIN ADJACENT COUNTIES IN NORTH CAROLINA IF THAT STATE RECIPROCATES BY OFFERING IN-STATE TUITION AND FEE RATES TO LEGAL RESIDENTS OF YORK COUNTY, CHESTER COUNTY, AND LANCASTER COUNTY.

ENVIRONMENTAL/NATURAL RESOURCES:

H. 4565 Lucas: RELATING TO THE DAMS AND RESERVOIRS SAFETY ACT.

S. 952 Cromer: RELATING TO MISCELLANEOUS OFFENSES AGAINST PUBLIC POLICY SO AS TO MAKE IT A MISDEMEANOR FOR ANY PERSON TO EMIT ANY NOISE BEYOND THE BOUNDARIES OF HIS PROPERTY THAT INTERFERES WITH THE ENJOYMENT OF LIFE OR A BUSINESS ACTIVITY AND ALLOWS THE SOUTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL TO PROMULGATE REGULATIONS RELATING TO NOISE LEVELS AND TO INCLUDE PENALTIES FOR VIOLATION OF THIS PROVISION

HEALTHCARE:

H. 4542 McKnight: TO ENACT THE "EXPERIMENTAL HEALTH CARE TREATMENT LAW" SO AS TO AUTHORIZE ACCESS TO EXPERIMENTAL TREATMENTS FOR PATIENTS WITH AN ADVANCED ILLNESS.

H. 4571 G.R. Smith: SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT A GOVERNMENT AGENCY, BODY, COMMISSION, COMMITTEE, OR COUNCIL WHOSE GOVERNING BOARD IS APPOINTED BY A LEGISLATIVE DELEGATION OF THIS STATE MAY NOT ASSIGN, CONVEY, DEVOLVE, ENTRUST OR TRANSFER TO ANOTHER BOARD OR ENTITY THE BOARD'S GOVERNANCE AUTHORITY, DUTIES, FUNCTIONS, RESPONSIBILITIES, OR OPERATIONAL OVERSIGHT WITHOUT A PRIOR AFFIRMATIVE ACT OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, AND TO PROVIDE PENALTIES. 

H.4572 G.R. Smith: RELATING TO THE GREENVILLE HEALTH SYSTEM AND ITS BOARD OF TRUSTEES, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT MEMBERS OF THE GREENVILLE HEALTH SYSTEM BOARD OF TRUSTEES SERVE AT THE PLEASURE OF THE GREENVILLE COUNTY LEGISLATIVE DELEGATION AND MAY BE REMOVED FROM OFFICE UPON A MAJORITY VOTE OF THE DELEGATION MEMBERS. 

S. 929 Campbell: TO ENACT THE RIGHT TO TRY ACT. 

S. 956 M.B. Matthews: RELATING TO ADULT HEALTH CARE, TO PROVIDE THAT PERSONS WHO MAY MAKE HEALTH CARE DECISIONS FOR A PATIENT WHO IS UNABLE TO CONSENT ARE PROHIBITED FROM EXECUTING ARBITRATION AGREEMENTS ON BEHALF OF A PATIENT.

JUDICIAL:

H. 4406 Corley: PROPOSING AN AMENDMENT TO SECTION 3, ARTICLE V OF THE CONSTITUTION OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1895, RELATING TO THE ELECTION OF MEMBERS OF THE SUPREME COURT.

H. 4517 Pope: RELATING TO THE JUDICIAL MERIT SELECTION COMMISSION.    S. 908 Hayes: TO ENACT 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.

TRANSPORTATION :

H. 4452 Huggins: RELATING TO THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE SOUTH CAROLINA TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE BANK, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT ALL MEMBERS OF THE BOARD MUST BE APPOINTED BY, AND SERVE AT THE PLEASURE OF, THE GOVERNOR.

H. 4484 McCoy: RELATING TO THE COMMISSION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT ALL THE COMMISSIONERS MUST BE APPOINTED BY THE GOVERNOR AND SERVE AT THE PLEASURE OF THE GOVERNOR.

H. 4548 Sandifer: RELATING TO CLOSING FEES ASSESSED ON MOTOR VEHICLES SALES CONTRACTS.

S. 911 L. Martin: RELATING TO CLOSING FEES ON MOTOR VEHICLE SALES CONTRACTS, SO AS TO ESTABLISH A DEFINITION OF A CLOSING FEE THAT A MOTOR VEHICLE DEALER MAY CHARGE AND TO PROVIDE AN AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE FOR A MOTOR VEHICLE DEALER WHO COMPLIES WITH THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE CODE IS IN COMPLIANCE WITH STATE LAW.

Click here to review all prefiled legislation.