What's New

SENATE

Senate floor debate this week was dominated by S. 997, a bill by Senator Lee Bright (R-Spartanburg) that would require refugees to register with the Department of Social Services via a public online database. The State Law Enforcement Division would be charged with the task of tracking all refugees located in South Carolina. Additionally, the bill establishes civil liability penalties for organizations if a refugee linked to their respective group causes harm. Upon adjournment on Thursday, nearly thirty amendments remain on the bill. Lawmakers and staff will work over the weekend in an attempt to reach a compromise on the bill regarding the use of State funds on refugees placed in South Carolina. 

The Senate Finance Committee met this week to hear the General Fund Budget FY 2016-17 update from Frank Rainwater, Executive Director of the South Carolina Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office. For more information, please visit their website

In addition to an update on the budget, the Senate Finance Committee also gave a favorable report as amended to H. 4717, a bill establishing the SC Farm Aid Fund, by Representative Brian White (R-Anderson). South Carolina Department of Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers appeared before the Committee to stress the immediate need for the legislation as the spring planting season approaches. H. 4717 is now pending second reading on the Senate calendar. 

At the conclusion of the Senate Finance Committee meeting, the Finance Sales and Income Tax Subcommittee met on several bills of interest. S. 982, by Senator Harvey Peeler (R-Cherokee), would create a sales tax exemption for the purchase of natural gas if the purchaser has a miscellaneous fuel user fee license and will convert the natural gas into compressed or liquefied natural gas for the use in their own motor vehicles. The purchaser would be required to remit the motor fuel user fees as required by law. S. 982 was amended and received a favorable report. S. 1075, by Senator Paul Campbell (R-Berkeley), is a natural gas incentive bill that encourages commercial fleets to convert to LNG or CNG through vehicle purchase or conversion incentives, infrastructure incentives, an additional weight exemption, and a property tax adjustment to compensate for the additional expense of a natural gas vehicle. S. 1075 received a favorable report as amended by the Subcommittee. S. 1073, by Senator Nikki Setzler (D-Lexington), is a tax conformity bill involving the Internal Revenue Code that would bring South Carolina law in-line with recently passed federal legislation. The bill was amended and received a favorable report by the Subcommittee. The Subcommittee also amended and reported favorably on H. 4328, a bill synchronizing certain filing deadlines regarding income tax withholdings. The subcommittee then amended H.4328 with language found in S. 1073 and S. 982 to the existing bill. 

The Senate Judiciary Committee met Tuesday on a number of bills including H. 3191, a bill by Representative Weston Newton (R-Beaufort) that would provide enhancements to the Freedom of Information Act. This legislation would create the Office of FOIA Review, which would be led by the Chief Judge of the Administrative Law Court and would hold hearings when individuals or public bodies allege a violation of the FOIA law. The bill was amended by the Committee and received a favorable report. 

Bills passed by the Senate this week include: 

S. 280 – adjusts the net worth requirements for licensure and license renewal of general contractors and mechanical contractors; and 

S. 653 – clarifies the requirements for claims submissions for payment of group life insurance policy benefit proceeds in a lump sum and revises the interest required if an insurer fails to pay for proceeds timely. 

The Senate will reconvene Tuesday at noon. 

HOUSE 

The House of Representatives spent the week clearing the calendar before beginning budget deliberations next week. The House passed H. 4521, the “Tucker Hipps Transparency Act,” which requires all institutions of higher learning to keep a report of investigations of misconduct, both institution-based and public, for each member of a fraternity or sorority. The report must include information on all citations, complaints, investigations, hearings, and resolutions. Additionally, the reports must be made available to the public upon request or posted electronically. 

Another bill of interest that received third reading this week was H. 3999 by Representative Phyllis Henderson (R-Greenville). H. 3999 further specifies the individuals who can make healthcare decisions for patients who are unable to provide consent. The bill will be assigned to the Senate Medical Affairs Committee next week. 

The House adjourned debate on H. 4394, the “Slow Down to Get Around” legislation, until the week of April 12th. H .4394 clarifies “move over” protection for tow trucks and includes similar protection for public and private sector employees who work on vehilces collecting solid waste and recyclables.  

The House also received H. 3579 (SC Infrastructure Finance Reform and Tax Relief Act) from the Senate with amendments. The House will take up the bill during the week of April 12, after the budget debate and a two-week Easter furlough. House Speaker Jay Lucas (R-Darlington) sent a letter to Governor Nikki Haley this week stating that the House will not seek to increase the gas tax this year. Additionally, the House Ways and Means Committee has included $250 million in its version of the budget for roads. 

The House Education and Public Works Committee met this week on several bills including H. 4932 by Representative Rita Allison (R-Spartanburg). H. 4932 provides specifications regarding the maximum lengths and weights of vehicles that may be operated on the State’s highways to maintain consistency with federal requirements. The bill was reported out of the Committee favorably as amended and is pending second reading on the House Calendar. 

The House Ways and Means Committee held budget briefings this week to distribute information regarding next week’s budget debate. All budget related documents for FY16-17 can be accessed here.  

Bills passed by the House this week include: 

S. 850 – establishes requirements for principle-based reserves for life insurance policies to bring State insurance laws into greater conformity with recommendations of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners; 

H. 4521 – enacts the “Tucker Hipps Transparency Act,” to require all institutions of higher learning to keep a report of investigations of misconduct, both institution-based and public, for each member of a fraternity or sorority; 

H. 4874 – transfers the responsibility from the Comptroller General to the Department of Motor Vehicles for placing certain fees and fines related to driver’s licenses and license plates into a special restricted account ;

H. 4562 – declares that the month of April of each year will be known as “Move Over Awareness Month” in South Carolina and requires the Department of Transportation and the Department of Public Safety to conduct programs during the month that emphasize the importance of motor vehicle drivers moving over into an adjacent lane whenever possible when approaching or passing through a highway work zone, an emergency scene, or any other highway traffic incident;

H. 4817 – revises certain provisions relating to licenses for bondsmen, insurance producers and brokers, and others;

H. 4138 – establishes requirements for those holding licenses in the mechanical contractor sub-classification of air-conditioning, heating, or packaged equipment to display their mechanical contractor licenses in a conspicuous manner at their principal places of business;.

H. 4931 – amends provisions relating to education and continuing education requirements for professional bondsmen, surety bondsmen, and runners, so as to increase the number of hours of education required for licensure and for continuing education;

H. 4875 – implements recommendations to modernize laws pertaining to the Office of the Comptroller General arising from the House Legislative Oversight Committee’s study of the office;

H. 4877 – adds two at-large Family Court Judges

H. 4554 – provides that persons or business entities that are engaged in money services or currency exchange must apply for licenses in order to operate these businesses;

H. 4150 – designates the seventeenth day of September of each year as United States Constitution Day;

H. 4688 – adds temporary road closure signs and devices (and the repositioning thereof) to current law regarding unlawful interference with traffic control devices and railroad signs and signals;

H. 3999 – amends the “South Carolina Adult Health Care Consent Act’ by updating and expanding the priority order of persons who may make decisions concerning the health care of a patient who is unable to consent; 

H. 3130 – expands the availability of home detention as an alternative for those convicted of non-violent crimes and would allow drug traffickers who commit crimes punishable by a maximum sentence of up to 10 years to seek house arrest versus jail time; and

H. 4339 – extends the jurisdiction of a South Carolina Grand Jury to crimes involving insurance fraud.

The House will reconvene Monday at 1:00 to begin floor debate on the budget.

Top News Articles

Lawmaker pushing for more ‘move over’ law awareness in South Carolina 

An Upstate lawmaker wants to ensure S.C. drivers know that moving over for emergency vehicles, including tow truck drivers, is the law and often a matter of life and death. Read more.

For South Carolina’s open government law, a time of triumphs and setbacks

Year after year, the state’s open-records law cracks a door to the activities of government that might otherwise stay secret. Information gleaned with its help has a power to change lives for the better and make governments more accountable. Read more. 

How Koch-backed grassroots group helped kill the SC gas-tax hike

DeLorey and other volunteers made more than 30,000 phone calls while state senators were considering a proposal to increase the 16.75-cent-a-gallon gas tax, according to AFP. Read more.

SC Senate to consider refugees measure

The South Carolina Senate is expected to consider legislation this week that supporters hope will lessen the threat of terrorism by discouraging foreign refugees from resettling in the state. Read more.
 
Is a new GOP-majority dawning in the SC Senate?

Driven by an anti-gas tax activists and the threat of primary opposition, a stunningly rare Republican majority delivered the S.C. Senate from its year-long stalemate over a road-repair plan. Read more.
 
Jenny Horne is running for Congress so South Carolinians can be ‘proud’ of their representative

State Rep. Jenny Horne said she’s running for Congress because the people of South Carolina deserve someone they can be proud of, who won’t go “AWOL.” Read more.

Will S.C. lawmakers lick ‘liquorcycle’ exemptions?

South Carolina still provides one legal option for driving drunk, and it’s unclear if state lawmakers will put a cork in it this year. Read more.
 
Lawmaker pushing for more ‘move over’ law awareness in South Carolina 

An Upstate lawmaker wants to ensure S.C. drivers know that moving over for emergency vehicles, including tow truck drivers, is the law and often a matter of life and death. Read more.
 
Group sends SC House members $2 each, asking for their vote

The S.C. Podiatric Medical Association sent $2 in a letter to each S.C. House member, asking for their support on a bill that the group favors. Read more. 

House sends letter to Haley taking gas tax off the table 

Republican leaders in the South Carolina House sent a letter to Gov. Nikki Haley on Wednesday promising they won't insist on their version of a bill passed last year to get more money for roads. Read more.

South Carolina Senate discusses bill aimed at registering, tracking refugees 

The state Senate spent two hours Wednesday debating a bill that would require refugees to register with the Department of Social Services in a public online database and be tracked by the State Law Enforcement Division. Read more.
 
House gives key approval to Tucker Hipps bill 

Legislation to require South Carolina public colleges and universities to post student misconduct violations by fraternities and sororities has received key approval in the state House. Read more. 

SC House unlikely to consider road-repair plan before April 

It likely will be April before the S.C. House takes action on a Senate plan to spend $400 million on roads. Read more.
 
House budget week looms 

A long week looms for House members when they return to the chamber Monday afternoon. Read more.

Upstate senator complains of group's ethics bill campaign 

Senate Judiciary Committee Larry Martin of Pickens says a group’s campaign against a pending ethics bill has gone too far. Read more.
 
Senators discuss earlier school start date in South Carolina 

Some South Carolina school systems are asking lawmakers to let them start school a week earlier in August so they can end their first semester before Christmas. Read more.

Bill requiring release of police dashcam videos advances 

A bill requiring the release of police dashboard camera video in officer-involved shootings is expected to reach the Senate floor next week. Read more.
 
Bill aimed at protecting unborn children advances from Senate panel 

A Senate panel advanced a bill that would let voters decide whether the state should protect unborn children once they are conceived. Read more.

Lawmakers take the weekend to work on bill that would register, track refugees 

Democratic and Republican senators plan to use the weekend to work out a compromise to a bill that would make it illegal for state or local funds to be spent on refugees placed in South Carolina.  Read more.

SC ethics panel weighs issues involved in State House probe 

The S.C. Ethics Commission is considering new binding legal opinions that could impact a probe into possible violations by S.C. lawmakers in the wake of the corruption case against former House Speaker Bobby Harrell. Read more.

Haley calls House panel chief probing SC agency ‘childish and rude’ 

Gov. Nikki Haley criticized Tuesday the chairman of a S.C. House panel investigating problems at the S.C. Department of Juvenile Justice, saying he bullied and intimidated employees during hearings. Read more. 

Meetings and Events

Monday, March 21, 2016 
5:00 – 6:00  Reception for Representatives Mike Anthony and Jackie Hayes 
                       Kaminsky’s, 930 Gervais Street 

Wednesday, March 23, 2016 
5:30 – 7:00   Reception for Senator Wes Hayes 
                       Nexsen Pruet

Newly Introduced Legislation

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT/TAX: 

H. 5115 (Horne) RELATING TO PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENT RATIOS, SO AS TO REVISE AN APPLICATION DEADLINE FOR CERTAIN PROPERTY OWNED BY CERTAIN MEMBERS OF THE ARMED FORCES - Referred to Committee on Judiciary. 

H. 5119 (Goldfinch) RELATING TO DEDUCTIONS FROM INDIVIDUAL TAXABLE INCOME - Referred to Committee on Ways and Means. 

ENVIRONMENTAL/NATURAL RESOURCES: 

H. 5109 (Bingham) TO ENACT THE 'SOUTH CAROLINA BUSINESS LICENSE TAX STANDARDIZATION ACT' BY ADDING SECTIONS 5-7-320 AND 4-1-190 SO AS TO PROVIDE THE SOLE MANNER IN WHICH A MUNICIPAL OR COUNTY BUSINESS LICENSE TAX MAY BE IMPOSED - Referred to Committee on Ways and Means. 

S. 1178 (Fish, Game and Forestry Committee) RELATING TO ADDITIONAL REGULATIONS APPLICABLE TO SPECIFIC PROPERTIES, DESIGNATED AS REGULATION DOCUMENT NUMBER 4634 - Placed on the Calendar without reference. 

S. 1179 (Fish, Game and Forestry Committee) RELATING TO WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA REGULATIONS; AND TURKEY HUNTING RULES AND SEASONS - Placed on the Calendar without reference. 

S. 1180 (Fish, Game and Forestry Committee) TO APPROVE REGULATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, LICENSING AND REGULATION - BOARD OF REGISTRATION FOR FORESTERS - Placed on the Calendar without reference.

HEALTHCARE: 

H. 5100 (Fry) RELATING TO DEFINITIONS IN THE ACCESS TO EMERGENCY MEDICAL CARE ACT, SO AS TO REVISE THE DEFINITION OF "EMERGENCY MEDICAL PROVIDER" TO INCLUDE ORAL SURGEONS AND DENTISTS LICENSED BY THE STATE BOARD OF DENTISTRY - Referred to Committee on Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs. 

H. 5110 (McKnight) TO REQUIRE PUBLIC BUILDINGS OWNED BY THE STATE OR ANY AGENCY, OFFICE, DEPARTMENT, DIVISION, COMMISSION, OR INSTITUTION THEREOF, TO SUPPLY FEMININE HYGIENE PRODUCTS IN EACH FEMALE PUBLIC RESTROOM, FREE OF CHARGE. - Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry. 

JUDICIAL

S. 1169 (Gregory) RELATING TO THE AWARD OF ALIMONY AND OTHER ALLOWANCES - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary. 

S. 1170 (Gregory) RELATING TO THE AWARD OF ALIMONY AND OTHER ALLOWANCES - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary. 

S. 1174 (Young) RELATING TO LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS CONCERNING THE STATE GRAND JURY SYSTEM, TO PROVIDE ADDITIONAL FINDINGS CONCERNING CERTAIN CRIMES INVOLVING INSURANCE FRAUD - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary. 

H. 5098 (Henegan) TO ENACT A "PRISONER'S BILL OF RIGHTS" - Referred to Committee on Judiciary. 

H. 5114 (Govan) RELATING TO DRUG OFFENSES, SO AS TO CONFORM THE LANGUAGE OF TRAFFICKING IN ILLEGAL DRUGS PROVISIONS, INCLUDING OPIATES AND HEROIN - Referred to Committee on Judiciary. 

H. 5120 (Alexander) TO PROVIDE THE PROCEDURE WHEREBY REDUCTIONS IN AN INMATE'S SENTENCE ARE CALCULATED - Referred to Committee on Judiciary. 

H. 5121 (J. E. Smith) TO PROVIDE IMMUNITY FROM CERTAIN CHARGES RELATED TO CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES AND DANGEROUS DRUGS FOR A PERSON WHO SEEKS MEDICAL ASSISTANCE FOR A DRUG OVERDOSE - Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

REAL ESTATE: 

S. 1176 (Gregory) TO REQUIRE THE DEVELOPER OF A COMMON INTEREST COMMUNITY TO TRANSFER CONTROL OF THE HOMEOWNERS' ASSOCIATION BY PHASING UNIT OWNERS ONTO THE EXECUTIVE BOARD OF THE ASSOCIATION AFTER A CERTAIN PERCENTAGE OF THE UNITS ARE CONVEYED. - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary. 

S. 1177 (Alexander) RELATING TO DEFINITIONS CONCERNING THE PROFESSIONAL LICENSURE OF ARCHITECTS - Referred to the Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry. 

TRANSPORTATION: 

H. 5108 (Allison) TO ESTABLISH A STUDY COMMITTEE TO ASSESS THE ROLE OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT FLEETS IN HIRING ENTRY-LEVEL COMMERCIAL DRIVER'S LICENSED DRIVERS. - Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works. 

H. 5116 (Clyburn) TO PROVIDE THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION SHALL PLACE AND MAINTAIN ROAD REFLECTORS ALONG THE STATE'S RURAL PAVED HIGHWAYS THAT INDICATE PAVEMENT MARKINGS THAT SEPARATE OPPOSITE MOVING TRAFFIC. - Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works. 

H. 5117 (Herbkersman) RELATING TO THE ISSUANCE OF GOLF CART DECALS, THE REGISTRATION OF GOLF CARTS, AND THE OPERATION OF GOLF CARTS ALONG THE STATE'S HIGHWAYS - Referred to Committee on Ways and Means. 

H. 5118 (Herbkersman) RELATING TO THE ISSUANCE OF GOLF CART DECALS, THE REGISTRATION OF GOLF CARTS, AND THE OPERATION OF GOLF CARTS ALONG THE STATE'S HIGHWAYS - Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works.