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.

Finn 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

Judicial Elections

Judicial Elections are scheduled to take place on Wednesday, February 3 at noon. Included in this round of elections is a race for the vacant seat on the Supreme Court as a result of Chief Justice Jean Toal's retirement in December. Candidates for the seat include Administrative Law Court Judge Ralph King Anderson III, Court of Appeals Chief Judge John C. Few and Court of Appeals Judge H. Bruce Williams.

SENATE

The Senate spent the week working at the committee level in an effort to iron out a road fimding plan. The first major component of the proposed plan involves restructuring the Department of Transportation. The Senate Transportation Committee adopted an amendment on Thursday to expand the Department of Transportation Commission to 10 members. The members of the DOT Commission would originate from each of the 10 Council of Governments (COGs) located across South Carolina. The Governor would have the authority to choose one of three nominations presented by each COG as her appointment for Commissioner. The Governor's nominee must then go through an extensive vetting process by the Joint Transportation Review Committee before proceeding to a vote for approval by the members of the Senate.

The remaining portions of the road fuding puzzle involve tax reform and securing a recurring revenue stream. Members of the Senate Finance Committee convened to work on this issue throughout the week. Senator Cleary and Senator Lourie presented a proposal to the Committee that would provide approximately $650 million dollars toward fixing the State's crumbling roads. All of the revenue generated would now flow directly to the State Highway Fund.

Highlights from the plan include:

  • Raising the gas tax by 12 cents per gallon (4 cent increase per year);
  • Replacing the cap on sales tax for motor vehicles sales from $300 to $600;
  • Increasing the fee for a Driver's License by $2.50;
  • Placing a $120 biennial road user fee on electrics & a $60 biennial fee on hybrids; and
  • Implementing a Road Use Fee-in-Lieu of Property Tax for Commercial Vehicles.

In addition to funding, tax relief remains a high priority for the Governor and many members of the Senate.

The preliminary tax relief plan includes:

  • Reducing the State's top income tax bracket from 7% to 6.8%;
  • Modernizing tax bracket widths (by 300/o in year 4);
  • Reforming the tax credit for two-wage-earner families to include taxable earnings up to $45,000 (up from

$30,000);

  • Increasing the "College Tuition Tax Credit" to $1,500 per year, up from $800 per year for students attending four-year institutions and $350 per year for students at technical schools (2 year programs);
  • Dropping the property tax assessment ratio on manufacturers from 10.5% to 8.5%;
  • Codifying the "Exceptional Needs Tax Credit"; and
  • Creating a state earned income tax credit for low-income tax payers resembling an existing federal tax credit.

While the proposal outlined by Senator Cleary was the general consensus of the Committee, several members voiced great displeasure in the plan and will likely address their concerns on the Senate floor.

The Senate Finance Committee will reconvene early next week in order to finalize details before sending the perfecting amendment to H.3579 to the Senate floor.

Prior to adjourning for the week, the Senate also confirmed Christy Hall as the head of the Department of Transportation by a vote of 38-0. Hall previously served as the acting Secretary of the Department of Transportation after Secretary Janet Oakley resigned in June.

HOUSE

The House ramped up work on the Calendar this week sending several bills to the Senate. One notable piece of legislation passed was H.4145, a bill by Rep. Brian White (R-Anderson) that would create a Coordinating Council for Workforce Development charged with developing a comprehensive plan for workforce training and education. The bill also includes a provision that provides a tax credit for employers across South Carolina if they create apprenticeship positions and prove a scholarship or grant fund.

H.4700, a bill to amend the rules of the House of Representatives, passed unanimously on Thursday that will limit the amount of time spent on special introductions. The rule change adds a slot on the House Calendar for special announcements, introductions, and recognitions in an effort to speed up the order of business.

Members of the House also introduced eight pieces of legislation Thursday morning aimed at improving aging and dilapidated school facilities across the state. This legislation originates from the findings of Rep. Rita Allison's (R-Spartanburg) House Education Policy Review Task Force charged with looking at funding issues from the Abbeville lawsuit. Additional aspects of the proposed legislation include but are not limited to incentives for district consolidation and a proposal to increase the number of specialized teachers in rural districts across South Carolina.

The House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Subcommittee reported favorably with an amendment on H.3078, the APRN Independent Practice Bill. The amendment, proposed by physician and Representative Robert Ridgeway (D-Clarendon), maintains physician supervision of APRNs while making a number of other adjustments to facilitate the APRN practice.

The House Labor Commerce and Industry Subcommittee also met Thursday morning to discuss the dealer closing fee bill, H.4548. After taking testimony, the Subcommittee agreed on a strike and insert amendment that would: (1) delete any retroactivity implied by the bill, (2) task the Department of Consumer Affairs with defining a closing fee, and (3) would explicitly state the intent of the General Assembly with language declaring that dealers may charge a closing fee without liability under the Dealer Franchise Act (Title 56). The Subcommittee is scheduled to reconvene on the bill next Tuesday for further discussion.

Top News Articles

Senators set framework for roads deal

State senators laid the framework for a road-repair bill Thursday as the Senate Transportation Committee approved changing the Transportation Department's oversight. Read more.

Existing SC road system needs $1.2 billion a year, roads chief says

The S.C. Department of Transportation needs $1.2 billion a year just to fix the existing road system, interim roads chief Christy Hall told stakeholders Monday. Read more.

Lawmakers tackle roads, Syrian refugees, SC State this week

The S.C. Senate continued its debate over how to fix roads Tuesday. Read more.

Senate roads 'working group' frustrates legislators

A state Senate working group that is expected to propose a new plan for fixing South Carolina roads is also highlighting just how much the issue has divided lawmakers. Read more.

Fix current roads rather than create new ones, DOT leader says

The interim head of the S.C. Department of Transportation said that whatever new money is given for roads by the Legislature should go to help alleviate existing problems. Read more.

PSC ruling likely means new fee for cellphone users

The State Public Service Commission has issued a ruling that likely will add a new fee to cellphone users' bills in South Carolina by the end of the year. Read more.

Bill shortening legislative session advances to Senate Door

A bill shortening South Carolina's January-to-June legislative session by a month is advancing to the Senate floor. Read more.

Senators advance bill protecting people who film police

A bill protecting people's right to film or photograph police officers in South Carolina without threat of arrest advanced Tuesday to the Senate floor, where it's already being held up. Read more.

Senate finance panel weighs $400 million in tax cuts as part of roads deal

The Senate Finance Committee discussed raising an added $665 million a year for road repairs by increasing the state's 16.75-cent-a-gallon gas tax by 12 cents and hiking other driving fees. Read more.

Bill shortening legislative session advances to Senate Door

A bill shortening South Carolina's January-to-June legislative session by a month is advancing to the Senate floor. Read more.

House measure aims to limit ceremony, keep chamber on task

Some South Carolina House members say they're spending too much time introducing school groups, beauty pageant winners and other constituents who drop by the Statehouse, and they want to increase their productivity by limiting those formalities. Read more.

Senate approves Hall to lead DOT

State senators unanimously approved Christy Hall as head of the S.C. Department of Transportation on Thursday. Read more.

Fixes for rural school buildings introduced in SC House

A bill aimed at committing state money to helping impoverished school districts replace or repair aging facilities was among eight proposals introduced Thursday in the S.C. House. Read more.

Congressmen make rare appearance before Senate committee over refugee resettlement

In a likely historic first, two Republican U.S. congressmen joined state lawmakers Wednesday to work to keep refugees from coming to the United States. Read more.

S.C. may join Georgia in squashing patent trolls

South Carolina is moving closer to giving state courts and the S.C. Attorney General's office a hand in punishing patent trolls, people who purchase patents in order to threaten and extract money out of legitimate innovators. Read more.

Meetings and Events

Tuesday, February 2, 2016 

5:30 – 7:30      House Majority Leader Bruce Bannister                         

Palmetto Club 

5:00 �� 6:00    Reception for Reps. Anne Parks, John King, Joe Jefferson and Cezar McKnight                         

Kaminsky’s, 930 Gervais Street 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016 

5:30 – 7:30      House W&M Committee Brian White                          

Palmetto Club 

5:00 – 6:00      Reception for Reps. Jerry Govan, Robert Ridgeway, David Mack and David Weeks                         

Kaminsky’s 930 Gervais Street

Newly Introduced Legislation

ECQNOMIC DEVELOPMENT/fAX:

H. 4732 Loftis: TO PROVIDE THE CIRCUMSTANCES UNDER WHICH THE STATE MAY PROCURE PORTABLE SOLAR POWER GENERATOR SYSTEMS- Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry.

H. 4762 Anthony: RELATING TO THE LIMITATION ON MILLAGE RATE INCREASES AND EXCEPTIONS TO THIS LIMITATION- Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.

H. 4765 G. R. Smith: RELATING TO VOLUNTARY CONTRIBUTIONS MADE BY AN INDIVIDUAL BY MEANS OF THE INCOME TAX RETURN CHECK OFF, SO AS TO ADD HABITAT FOR HUMANITY -Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.

H. 4781 Allison: TO ESTABLISH THE SOUTH CAROLINA EDUCATION AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COORDINATING COUNCIL - Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works.

EDUCATION:

S. 1038 Fair: TO PROVIDE THE SOUTH CAROLINA FIRST STEPS TO SCHOOL READINESS IS REAUTHORIZED UNTIL JULY 1, 2021 - Referred to the Committee on Education.

H. 4761 Hayes: TO PROVIDE SCHOOLS SHALL DETERMINE THE GENDER OF A STUDENT SEEKING TO PARTICIPATE IN ATHLETICS SANCTIONED BY THE HIGH SCHOOL LEAGUE BEFORE THE STUDENT MAY PARTICIPATE IN THOSE ATHLETICS- Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works.

H. 4774 Govan: TO PROVIDE THE SOUTH CAROLINA FIRST STEPS TO SCHOOL READINESS IS REAUTHORIZED UNTIL JULY 1, 2021 -Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works.

H. 4776 Allison: TO ENACT THE "SOUTH CAROLINA EDUCATION FACILITY AUTHORITY ACT" - Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.

H. 4777 White: TO REQUIRE THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION TO DEVELOP AND ADOPT A STATEWIDE PROGRAM FOR IDENTIFYING FISCAL PRACTICES AND BUDGETARY CONDITIONS -Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works.

H. 4778 Allison: SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT BEGINNING WITH THE 2017-2018 SCHOOL YEAR, ALL SCHOOL DISTRICTS MUST BE ACCREDITED BY ADVANCEED, FORMERLY THE SOUTHERN ASSOCIATION OF COLLEGES AND SCHOOLS; AND TO PROVIDE FOR THE MANNER IN WHICH WAIVERS OF THIS PROVISION MAY BE GRANTED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION.­ Referred to Committee on Education and Public Worlcs.

H. 4780 Allison: TO ESTABLISH A COMMITTEE COMPOSED OF SPECIFIED MEMBERS TO REVIEW ALL EXISTING STATE EDUCATION STATUTES - Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works.

H. 4782 Allison: 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 -Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works.

H. 4792 Taylor: TO ENACT THE "VIRTUAL EARLY LEARNING PILOT PROGRAM ACT" – Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works.

ENYIRQNMENTAL/NATURAL RESOURCES:

S. 1028 Verdin: TO PROVIDE FOR THE VETERANS AND WARRIORS TO AGRICULTURE PROGRAM AND FUND- Referred to the Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.

S. 1029 Sheheen: RELATING TO THE SALE AND TRAFFICKING IN FISH- Referred to the Committee on Fish, Game and Forestry.

H. 4743 Bedingfield: TO PROVIDE THAT THE LAND OWNED AND MANAGED BY THE CONESTEE FOUNDATION AND KNOWN AS LAKE CONESTEE NATURE PARK IS DECLARED TO BE A WILDLIFE SANCTUARY -Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs.

HEALTHCARE:

S. 1035 Cleary: TO ENACT THE "SOUTH CAROLINA TELEMEDICINE ACT" - Referred to the Committee on Medical Affairs.

S. 1036 Cleary: TO PROVIDE THE STATE BOARD OF DENTISTRY MAY ISSUE RESTRICTED DENTAL AUXILIARY INSTRUCTORS' LICENSES TO DENTISTS WHO MEET CERTAIN REQUIREMENTS - Referred to the Committee on Medical Affairs.

S. 1037 Alexander: RELATING TO THE EXEMPTION OF TEAM PHYSICIANS OF ATHLETIC TEAMS VISITING THE STATE - Referred to the Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry.

H. 4728 Long: TO ENACT THE "EYE CARE CONSUMER PROTECTION LAW" - Referred to Committee on Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs.

H. 4759 Hicks: SO AS TO ENACT THE "UNBORN INFANTS DIGNITY ACT"- Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

H. 4773 Duckworth: TO ENACT "MARGY'S LAW" - Referred to Committee on Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs.

JUDICIAL:

S. 1022 Hutto: SO AS TO ENACT THE "SAFE HARBOR FOR EXPLOITED MINORS ACT"- Referred to the Committee on Judiciary.

S. 1023 Hutto: RELATING TO PERSONS ALLOWED TO CARRY A CONCEALABLE WEAPON WHILE ON DUTY - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary.

S. 1041 Shealy: SO AS TO ENACT THE "SUPPORTING AND STRENGTHENING FAMILIES ACT" - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary.

H. 4729 Limehouse - TO PROVIDE THAT NO PUBLIC FUNDS SHALL BE ALLOCATED TO THE IMPLEMENTATION, REGULATION, OR ENFORCEMENT OF ANY FEDERAL LAW, EXECUTIVE ORDER, RULES, OR REGULATION THAT REGULATES THE OWNERSHIP, USE, OR POSSESSION OF FIREARMS, AMMUNITION, OR FIREARM ACCESSORIES, AND TO DEFINE THE TERM "FIREARM" - Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

H. 4730 Alexander: RELATING TO JUVENILE JUSTICE CODE DEFINITIONS- Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

H. 4760 Tallon: TO CREATE THE OFFENSE OF PERSONS AFFILIATED WITH A PUBLIC OR PRIVATE ELEMENTARY, MIDDLE, OR SECONDARY SCHOOL IN AN OFFICIAL CAPACITY DISSEMINATING OBSCENE MATERIAL TO A STUDENT, AND TO PROVIDE A PENALTY .- Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

H. 4763 Pope : TO CREATE THE INTERNET CRIMES AGAINST CHILDREN FUND - Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

H. 4772 Delleney: TO INVITE THE CHIEF WSTICE OF THE SOUTH CAROLINA SUPREME COURT, THE HONORABLE COSTA PLEICONES, TO ADDRESS THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY IN JOINT SESSION ON THE STATE OF THE WDICIARY AT 12:00 NOON ON WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2016. -Introduced, adopted, sent to Senate.

H. 4775 Brannon: RELATING TO WRISDICTION OF THE FAMILY COURT- Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

REAL ESTATE:

H. 4784 J. E. Smith: TO PROVIDE THAT ALL MUNICIPALITIES AND COUNTIES SHALL INSPECT EACH EXTERIOR BALCONY IN CERTAIN RESIDENTIAL PROPERTIES WITHIN ITS WRISDICTION TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE BALCONY SATISFIES THE REQUIREMENTS OF THE INTERNATIONAL BUILDING CODE - Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry.

TRANSPORTATION:

H. 4731 Ridgeway:TO REQUIRE THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION TO IMPOSE A TOLL ALONG INTERSTATE HIGHWAY 95 WHERE IT CROSSES LAKE MARION- Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.

H. 4764 Lucas: RELATING TO THE TERMINATION OF THE GOVERNOR'S AUTHORITY – Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.