Legislators officially elected Judge George “Buck” James as the next South Carolina Supreme Court justice on Wednesday during a joint session of the General Assembly on Wednesday. He was the lone remaining candidate for the vacant seat on the high court after Judge Diane Goodstein and Judge Keith Kelly withdrew from the race. Click here for a complete list of election results.
Work inside the Senate chamber ramped up this week as lawmakers placed two bills, S.27and S.218, into the priority status of “Special Order” on the calendar for debate. Members spent Wednesday and Thursday working through several amendments on S.27, a bill by Senator Chip Campsen (R-Charleston) relating to the election and qualifications of the State Superintendent of Education. This legislation would amend the State’s Constitution to allow future governors to appoint the Superintendent of Education as a member of the executive cabinet and would require that potential candidates for the position to hold a master’s degree in the field of public education or finance. The bill received a third reading on Thursday and will head to the House of Representatives. If the legislation passes the General Assembly, a referendum on the issue will be on the ballot in the 2018 general election.
Debate on S.218, by Senator Shane Massey (R-Edgefield), began Thursday afternoon following the passage of S.27. S.218 would ensure that political subdivisions within the State cannot establish, mandate, or otherwise require an employee benefit. Members will continue to work on the bill when they return next week.
The Senate gave second reading to S.214 (Kimpson, D-Charleston) which provides for out-of-state retailers to collect sales tax. The bill is pending third reading on the contested calendar.
The Senate also gave third reading to several other bills of interest this week, including S.44 by Senator Greg Gregory (R-Lancaster) and S.58 by Senator John Matthews (D-Orangeburg). S.44 provides an eighty percent abatement for valuation of renewable energy property that became operational after 2012. The bill was also amended to include a provision that sunsets the tax exemption on the property after ten consecutive years of operation. S.58, often referred to as the “Port Enhancement Zone Act,” would create tax breaks for businesses that use the Port of Charleston and that build facilities near the intersection of Interstates 26 and 95. The bill was amended last week to expand the definition of a “distribution facility” to include a port facility which will allow the SC Ports Authority to continue qualifying for an exemption on both equipment and material purchased.
In addition to the work on the Senate calendar, several changes in committee assignments occurred this week. Senator Greg Hembree (R-Horry) moved from the Judiciary Committee to the Finance Committee as a result of the vacant seat left by former Senator Kevin Bryant, who now serves as Lieutenant Governor. Senator Tom Corbin (R-Greenville) moved to the Fish, Game, and Forestry Committee, and Senator Mike Gambrell (R-Anderson) moved to the General Committee as a result of a committee assignment swap.
The Senate Finance Committee met Tuesday morning on several bills including S.75 by Senator Tom Young (R-Aiken). S.75 would allow a property owner to retain the four percent property tax assessment ratio on his owner-occupied residential property in the event that he or she becomes a patient at a nursing home or residential care facility. The bill received a favorable report as amended and is now pending a second reading on the Senate calendar.
Chairman Hugh Leatherman (R-Florence) also announced that the 2017 budget subcommittee assignments and schedule were made available online this week. You may access a copy of the Finance Committee schedule for deliberations on the appropriation bill here. For a complete list of the subcommittee assignments, click here.
The South Carolina Conservation Coalition held a Senate briefing Wednesday morning to outline its 2017 legislative priorities. The top issues that the group intends to focus on this year include:
- Citizens’ Rights to Clean Air and Water;
- Reauthorization of the Conservation Bank;
- Dam Safety Reform;
- Opposition to the auxiliary container bill (H.3529);
- Transit Funding; and
- Solar Market Growth.
On Thursday, a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee held another lengthy hearing on S.105 by Senator Luke Rankin (R-Horry). This legislation would revise the automatic stay provisions in the Administrative Procedures Act when a license or permit is challenged. The automatic stay would be limited to 30 days if an individual or group challenges the issuance of a license or permit. After the 30-day period, the individual or group challenging the license or permit could file a request for preliminary injunctive relief to keep the stay in place. The Administrative Law Court would also be authorized to require the posting of a bond by the challenger to cover the cost of delay and litigation. The Subcommittee gave S.105 a favorable report, and the bill will now move to the full Judiciary Committee.
A bill of interest introduced by the Senate this week was S.345 by Senator Tom Davis (R-Beaufort). S.345, which was referred to the Senate Medical Affairs Committee, addresses the scope of practice for Advance Practice Registered Nurses (“APRNs”). It would substantially amend the Nurse Practice Act and the Medical Practice Act to eliminate current provisions for physician supervision of APRNs. Instead, APRNs would need to have a “collaborative practice agreement” with one or more physicians. APRNs would also be given full authority to prescribe Schedule II controlled substances, such as opioid pain medication. APRNs are currently prohibited by their practice act from prescribing Schedule II drugs.
Bills passed by the Senate this week include:
S.27 – amends the qualifications and election process for the State Superintendent of Education to provide for the appointment of the Superintendent by the Governor; S.44 – provides for a renewable energy property tax credit; S.58 – enacts the “Port Enhancement Zone Act,” that provides for sales tax, corporate income tax, and other finance incentives to increase economic growth in the specified zones; S.67 – relates to the redevelopment of former military basis and federal facilities; S.197 – revises the terms and conditions of operating a moped, including allowing moped drivers to be charged with DUI; S.198 – adds new provisions to the application process of emancipated minors for a beginner’s permit or driver’s license; S.220 – relates to interviews conducted during an investigation of child abuse allegations involving hearing impaired children; S.250 – updates South Carolina’s tax code to reflect changes made at the federal level in 2016; S.263 – authorizes license plates celebrating Clemson’s 2016 National Championship; S.316 – removes reference to outdates assessment tests for at-risk students; and H.3462 – extends the terms of the members of the Board of Trustees of Florence County School District Number Three to four years.
The Senate will convene at 2 p.m. on Tuesday.
Debate on the House floor this week centered on two bills, H.3218 and H.3340, relating to dams across South Carolina. H.3218, by Speaker Jay Lucas (R-Darlington), requires dam owners to file an annual report with the Department of Health and Environmental Control (“DHEC”). The report must include updated contact information and a completed owner checklist that contains an emergency action plan. The bill also prevents DHEC from requiring changes to dams that are reclassified unless a potential failure poses a threat of loss of life. Local emergency management agencies hold the responsibility to notify downstream landowners within the inundation zone in the event of a breach.
H.3340, by Representative Russell Ott (D-Calhoun), would require dam owners to provide written notification to the South Carolina Department of Transportation (“SCDOT”) and DHEC of failed dams that have a State highway running across the surface. In an effort to identify and address several breached roads and highways that are still closed as a result of the historic flood of 2015, the written notice must indicate whether or not the dam owner intends to repair the dam and the date by which repairs are to be completed. The legislation also allows SCDOT to proceed with road repair work if a response is not received from the dam owner within two months of the bill’s enactment. H.3218 and H.3340 received third reading and now heads to the Senate.
Another bill that received third reading in the House this week was H.3289 by Representative G. R. Smith (R-Greenville). This legislation provides that the existing safe distance provision does not apply to the operator of any non-leading vehicle traveling in a procession of vehicles if the speed of each vehicle is automatically coordinated. H.3289 will allow for a process known as “platooning” to take place, where two or more trucks that are controlled by a lead vehicle through wireless communication follow each other at a very close distance.
The House Labor Commerce and Industry Committee met on Wednesday to take up H.3529, the auxiliary container bill, by Representative Bedingfield (R-Greenville). This legislation would preclude local governments from enacting ordinances to prohibit, restrict, or impose a fee or tax on auxiliary containers. Only the General Assembly could regulate these containers, which are defined as reusable or single-use containers for food, beverages, or merchandise. This authority supersedes and preempts any local ordinance enacted by a political subdivision in the State. The bill received a favorable report and is pending second reading on the House calendar.
A bill of interest introduced in the House on Thursday was H.3650, the “South Carolina Business License Tax Standardization Act,” by Representative Bill Sandifer (R-Oconee). This comprehensive reform bill seeks to create uniformity within the process of obtaining business licenses across the State and would give the Secretary of State’s Office the responsibility to oversee the collection of business license fees through a central filing location online.
Ways and Means Chairman Brian White (R-Anderson) has established a special subcommittee to take up H.3516 which addresses State infrastructure funding, including a proposed increase in the gas tax. The Subcommittee, which is chaired by Representative Chip Huggins (R-Lexington), will meet Tuesday morning to take up H.3516. The remaining subcommittee members are Representatives Bill Clyburn (R-Aiken), Gary Simrill (R-York), Jackie Hayes (D-Dillon), Leon Stavrinakis (D-Charleston), Alan Clemmons (R-Horry), and Shannon Erickson (R-Beaufort).
Bills passed by the House this week include:
H.3218 – addresses revisions to the “Dams and Reservoirs Safety Act;” H.3220 – establishes the South Carolina Education and Economic Development Coordinating Council; H.3221 – requires the Department of Education to develop a program for sound fiscal practices and budgetary conditions; H.3289 – allows for truck platooning via wireless communication devices; H.3296 – provides for the issuance of Virginia Tech special license plates; H.3340 – deals with property owners of a dam that has a public road or highway running across the top; H.3342 – provides for circumstances in which a nonresident may adopt a child and provides for the right to file a petition for adoption; H.3346 – increases the membership of Pickens County School Board of Trustees; H.3517 – outlines special authorization for hunting and fishing licenses for persons under the age of twenty-two that have been diagnosed with a terminal or life threatening illness or injury; and H.3531 – prohibits certain persons from owning, possessing, importing, purchasing, or selling a large wild cat, non-native bear, or great ape.
The House will reconvene at noon on Tuesday.
Top News Articles
Deadly rural roads in dire need of funding, transportation boss says South Carolina's top transportation official said Wednesday there is an urgent need to improve thousands of miles of highways in rural areas where the link between conditions and the death toll is hard to deny. Read more.
Citadel graduate George James elected new S.C. Supreme Court justice Circuit Judge George James, a Citadel graduate, had a clear path to the South Carolina Supreme Court – particularly after all his competition dropped out of the race. Read more.
Bill aims to ‘take politics’ out of drawing district lines Senate Minority Leader Nikki Setzler, D-Lexington, introduced a bill Wednesday that would create an independent commission to draw the state’s political districts. Lawmakers in the GOP-controlled Legislature now control that process. Read more.
Bill blocking South Carolina cities from passing plastic bag bans heads to House floor A key House panel on Wednesday voted 13-3 to send the bill to the full House of Representatives, where it will be debated on the floor. Read more.
Coastal officials: Dedicated state funding needed for replenishing sand on beaches Coastal officials are asking the state legislature for a dedicated funding source to regularly replenish the sand on area beaches, particularly along the Grand Strand where recent storms have damaged the shoreline and washed away dunes. Read more.
SC Sen. Sheheen says he won’t run for Congress A former two-time candidate for S.C. governor says he won’t run for Congress in an anticipated special election in the 5th District. Read more.
S.C. treasurer, armed with attorney general opinion, blasts pension fund management South Carolina's struggling pension funds, which serve roughly one of every nine state residents, are in even worse shape than they appear, according to the state treasurer. Read more.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, officials working on letter to President Trump over Real ID State leaders say they are sending a letter to President Donald Trump outlining South Carolina-specific concerns related to the controversial Real ID law. Read more.
SC likely to borrow millions to pay for repairs, projects S.C. lawmakers are looking to borrow money to pay for renovations and building projects at some of the more than 5,000 state-owned buildings. Read more.
What the proposed SC road funding plan means for your wallet A South Carolina House bill aimed at funding road projects would make the cost of owning and using a vehicle more expensive, particularly electric and hybrid cars. Read more.
S.C. Secretary of Transportation proposes $50 million in funding to improve deadly rural roads S.C. Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall has a plan to combat the high death rate on rural roads across the state. Read more.
Bryant goes from back of the SC Senate to the big chair Shortly after finishing his first day presiding over the state Senate as South Carolina’s new lieutenant governor, Kevin Bryant was struck by just how quickly his position in the body had changed. Read more.
Senators question if ‘dark money’ is being raised to pass roads plan Six S.C. senators are asking the Senate Ethics Committee to rule on the propriety of “a high-ranking member of the Senate” soliciting “dark money” to help pass a roads bill. Read more.
Meetings and Events
Tuesday, February 7 5:30 Senate Democratic Caucus Reception Palmetto Club
5:00 Reception for Representatives John King and Anne Parks Kaminskys
Newly Introduced Legislation
BANKING AND INSURANCE H.3600 (Felder): RELATING TO ELIGIBILITY FOR PARTICIPATION IN THE STATE HEALTH PLAN - Referred to Committee on Ways and Means. H.3642 (Ballentine): RELATING TO ELIGIBILITY IN THE STATE HEALTH AND DENTAL PLANS - Referred to Committee on Ways and Means. H.3645 (Ballentine) TO REQUIRE THAT BEFORE TAKING A PUBLIC OFFICE IN THIS STATE, A PERSON SHALL AGREE THAT IF THE PERSON IS CONVICTED OF, PLEADS GUILTY OR NOLO CONTENDERE TO CERTAIN CRIMES, WHICH STEMMED FROM ACTIVITIES THAT OCCURRED WHILE THE PERSON WAS IN OFFICE, THEN THE PERSON FORFEITS RETIREMENT BENEFITS ATTRIBUTABLE TO THE PERSON'S SERVICE IN OFFICE - Referred to Committee on Judiciary. S.337 (Davis): RELATING TO THE POWERS OF CREDIT UNIONS - Referred to the Committee on Banking and Insurance. S.349 (Gregory): RELATING TO POLICIES EXEMPT FROM PROVISIONS CONCERNING ACCIDENT AND HEALTH INSURANCE - Referred to the Committee on Banking and Insurance.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND TAX H.3609 (Neal): TO AUTHORIZE A NONPROFIT CORPORATION TO TRANSFER CREDITS UNLESS THE TRANSFER OF A CREDIT IS SPECIFICALLY PROHIBITED. - Referred to Committee on Ways and Means. H.3610 (Bamberg): TO PROVIDE THAT AN OFFICER OF THE SOUTH CAROLINA HIGHWAY PATROL MAY ELECT EITHER COMPENSATORY TIME OR PAYMENT AT ONE AND ONE-HALF TIMES THE OFFICER'S REGULAR RATE OF PAY IN EXCHANGE FOR WORKING OVERTIME. - Referred to Committee on Ways and Means. H.3614 (Atwater): TO ENACT THE "REGULATORY REVIEW AND RESCISSION ACT" - Referred to Committee on Ways and Means. H.3616 (Hart): TO PROVIDE AN INCOME TAX DEDUCTION FOR CERTAIN INDIVIDUAL TAXPAYERS WHO EXHIBIT SAFE DRIVING HABITS.- Referred to Committee on Ways and Means. H.3644 (Bernstein): RELATING TO RESIDENT VENDOR PREFERENCE - Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry. H.3648 (G. R. Smith): RELATING TO THE REPORTS CONCERNING THE UNEMPLOYMENT TRUST FUND MADE BY THE DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT AND WORKFORCE REVIEW COMMITTEE - Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry. H.3650 (Sandifer): SO AS TO ENACT THE "SOUTH CAROLINA BUSINESS LICENSE TAX STANDARDIZATION ACT" - Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry. H.3651 (Sandifer): TO PROHIBIT THE MUNICIPAL ASSOCIATION OF SOUTH CAROLINA OR ANY OTHER POLITICAL SUBDIVISION FROM COLLECTING CERTAIN BUSINESS LICENSE TAXES AND INSURANCE TAXES - Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry. H.3652 (Forrester): TO REQUIRE GOVERNMENTAL AGENCIES TO CONSIDER ALL PIPING MATERIALS FOR DETERMINING REQUIREMENTS FOR CERTAIN PROJECTS - Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry. H.3653 (Forrester): TO PROVIDE THE OPERATIONS OR EXPANSIONS OF MANUFACTURING AND INDUSTRIAL FACILITIES MAY NOT BE CONSIDERED PUBLIC OR PRIVATE NUISANCES IN CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES - Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry. H.3664 (Bernstein): RELATING TO THE SURTAX ON CIGARETTES - Referred to Committee on Ways and Means. S.346 (Kimpson): TO ENACT THE "SOUTH CAROLINA INCLUSIONARY ZONING ACT" - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary.
EDUCATION S.338 (Hembree) TO PROVIDE THAT THE OPENING DATE FOR STUDENTS TO ATTEND PUBLIC SCHOOLS DURING THE 2017-2018 SCHOOL YEAR MAY BE AS EARLY AS THURSDAY, AUGUST SEVENTEENTH - Referred to the Committee on Education. S.339 (Hutto): TO ENACT THE "SOUTH CAROLINA PROMISE SCHOLARSHIP ACT" - Referred to the Committee on Education. S.350 (Leatherman): RELATING TO THE MISSION AND GOALS OF INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING - Referred to the Committee on Education.
ENVIRONMENT AND NATURAL RESOURCES H.3601 (Clemmons): RELATING TO THE ISSUANCE OF BEAR HUNTING TAGS - Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs. H.3665 (Hixon): RELATING TO SIZE LIMITS FOR CERTAIN FISH THAT MAY BE LAWFULLY TAKEN, POSSESSED, LANDED, SOLD, OR PURCHASED - Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs.
HEALTHCARE H.3620 (G. M. Smith): SO AS TO ALLOW AN INCOME TAX CREDIT FOR EACH CLINICAL ROTATION SERVED BY A PHYSICIAN, ADVANCED PRACTICE NURSE, OR PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT AS A PRECEPTOR FOR CERTAIN PROGRAMS.- Referred to Committee on Ways and Means. H.3622 (Ryhal): TO PROVIDE CERTAIN PODIATRIC SURGERY MUST BE PERFORMED IN CERTAIN FACILITIES - Referred to Committee on Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs. H.3663 (Bernstein): TO ENACT THE "HEALTHY YOUTH ACT" - Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works. H.3666 (G. M. Smith): RELATING TO DEFINITIONS FOR THE STATE CERTIFICATION OF NEED AND HEALTH FACILITIES LICENSURE ACT - Referred to Committee on Ways and Means. S.325 (Sheheen): RELATING TO THE POWERS AND DUTIES OF THE SOUTH CAROLINA PROTECTION AND ADVOCACY SYSTEM FOR THE HANDICAPPED - Referred to the Committee on Medical Affairs. S.345 (Davis): TO PROVIDE CERTAIN NURSING PROFESSIONALS MAY PROVIDE NONCONTROLLED PRESCRIPTION DRUGS AT ENTITIES THAT PROVIDE FREE MEDICAL SERVICES FOR INDIGENT PATIENTS - Referred to the Committee on Medical Affairs. S.351 (Alexander): TO ALLOW AN INCOME TAX CREDIT FOR EACH CLINICAL ROTATION SERVED BY A PHYSICIAN, ADVANCED PRACTICE NURSE, OR PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT AS A PRECEPTOR FOR CERTAIN PROGRAMS.- Referred to the Committee on Finance. S.354 (Alexander): RELATING TO DEFINITIONS FOR THE STATE CERTIFICATION OF NEED AND HEALTH FACILITIES LICENSURE ACT - Referred to the Committee on Medical Affairs.
JUDICIARY H.3599 (Cobb-Hunter): TO ENACT THE "SOUTH CAROLINA EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK ACT" - Referred to Committee on Judiciary. H.3602 (Cobb-Hunter): RELATING TO REIMBURSING THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR REPRESENTING THE STATE IN CERTAIN MATTERS - Referred to Committee on Judiciary. H.3605 (King): TO PROHIBIT THE SOUTH CAROLINA INFANTRY BATTLE FLAG OF THE CONFEDERATE STATES OF AMERICA - Referred to Committee on Judiciary. H.3606 (King): RELATING TO CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT THROUGH LICENSE REVOCATION - Referred to Committee on Judiciary. H.3617 (Collins): RELATING TO THE POWERS AND DUTIES OF PROTECTION AND ADVOCACY FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIES, INC. - Referred to Committee on Judiciary. H.3619 (Atwater): RELATING TO DEFINITIONS IN REGARD TO CRUELTY TO ANIMALS - Referred to Committee on Judiciary. H.3641 (Bernstein): SO AS TO ENACT THE "REVENGE PORN ACT" - Referred to Committee on Judiciary. H.3643 (Clemmons): SO AS TO DEFINE CERTAIN TERMS CONCERNING ANTI-SEMITISM - Referred to Committee on Judiciary. H.3662 (Willis): TO CREATE THE FELONY OFFENSE OF STRANGULATION - Referred to Committee on Judiciary. S.324 (Peeler): RELATING TO PERSONS ALLOWED TO CARRY A CONCEALABLE WEAPON WHILE ON DUTY - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary. S.334 (Senn): RELATING TO PERMITS TO PURCHASE AND SELL BEER AND WINE FOR ON-PREMISES CONSUMPTION - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary. S.341 (Setzler): TO PROVIDE FOR AN INDEPENDENT REAPPORTIONMENT COMMISSION - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary. S.342 (Williams): RELATING TO ENGINEER IMMUNITY - Referred to the Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry. S.347 (Campsen): RELATING TO SPECIAL ELECTIONS TO FILL VACANCIES - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary.
REAL ESTATE H.3647 (Sandifer): RELATING TO FEES FOR THE RESALE OF INTERESTS IN VACATION TIMESHARES - Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry.
TRANSPORTATION H.3607 (Hayes): TO ESTABLISH PROCEDURES THAT REGULATE THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN RECREATIONAL VEHICLE MANUFACTURERS, DISTRIBUTORS, AND DEALERS OF RECREATIONAL VEHICLES - Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry. H.3615 (Herbkersman): SO AS TO ENACT THE "DYLAN PAUL MITCHELL BICYCLE AND PEDESTRIAN SAFETY ACT" - Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works. H.3646 (Henderson): TO PROVIDE THAT ANY TRANSACTION BY ANYONE ENGAGED IN THE BUSINESS OF OPERATING A JUNK YARD OR SALVAGE YARD THAT INVOLVES A JUNK AUTOMOBILE OR SALVAGE AUTOMOBILE AS DEFINED IN 28 C.F.R. 25.52 MUST BE REPORTED TO THE DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES IN AN ELECTRONIC FORMAT AND TO PROVIDE A PENALTY FOR FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH THIS PROVISION. - Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works. S.321 (Verdin): TO ESTABLISH PROCEDURES THAT REGULATE THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN RECREATIONAL VEHICLE MANUFACTURERS, DISTRIBUTORS, AND DEALERS OF RECREATIONAL VEHICLES - Referred to the Committee on Transportation. S.343 (Campbell): RELATING TO THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE STATE HIGHWAY SYSTEM - Referred to the Committee on Transportation. S.344 (Corbin): RELATING TO APPLICATION FOR A LICENSE OR PERMIT - Referred to the Committee on Transportation.
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