The Senate reconvened in statewide session this week following a week-long furlough. On Tuesday, Senator Harvey Peeler (R-Cherokee) resigned as the majority leader after holding the position for 11 years. Senate Republicans held a caucus meeting Wednesday before session during which Senator Shane Massey (R-Edgefield) was elected to the position by acclamation.
Debate on the Senate floor this week centered on H. 3184, a bill by Representative Tommy Pope (R-Spartanburg) that would reform the State’s ethics laws. Progress on the bill came to a halt on Thursday when Senator Gerald Malloy (D-Darlington) raised a point of order on the bill. Senator Malloy argued that certain changes in the pending amendment by the Senate Judiciary Committee were not pertinent to the original bill, as required by South Carolina Senate Rule 24. Lieutenant Governor Henry McMaster (R-Richland) sustained the point of order which took the legislation back to its original form as passed by the House of Representatives. Shortly, after the ruling on the point of order, the Senate adjourned for the week to allow for members to draft other amendments to the bill.
On Thursday, the Senate gave second reading to S. 1075, a natural gas incentive bill by Senator Paul Campbell (R-Berkeley). This legislation 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. The Senate also gave third rreading to S. 982, relating to a sales tax exemption for natural gas. S. 982, by Senator Peeler, 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 Senate Judiciary Committee met Tuesday to take up two statewide appointments. After a lengthy debate, the Committee reported favorably on the appointment of Susan S. Barden to the South Carolina Worker’s Compensation Commission. The Committee also gave a favorable report on Sherri A. Lydon to the State Ethics Commission.
A Senate Judiciary Subcommittee also met this week on S. 1015, by Senator Hugh Leatherman (R-Florence), relating to counterfeit or nonfunctional airbags. The Subcommittee amended the bill to expand the definition of “nonfunctional airbag” to include any related component that could deceive a vehicle owner or operator into believing that the airbag was functional. The subcommittee also tightened the standard for proving violations. S. 1015 received a favorable report as amended and will now appear on the full Judiciary Committee’s agenda. Further amendments by Senator Gerald Malloy (D-Darlington) are expected at full Committee.
On Thursday morning, the Senate Medical Affairs Committee met on S. 672, by Senator Tom Davis (R-Beaufort). S. 672, commonly referred to as the “South Carolina Medical Marijuana Program Act,” would allow individuals with certain medical conditions to use and access medical cannabis. The proposed bill would also create a regulated system of growers, processors, dispensers, and labs. Senator Davis and Senator Brad Hutto (D-Orangeburg) both argued in favor of the legislation before the bill failed by a vote of 2 to 9. The bill was opposed by law enforcement and many in the medical community.
Bills passed by the Senate this week include:
S. 233 – amends Act 241 of 2008 relating to public body prayer in order to make it consistent with a recent Supreme Court decision on the issue;
S. 743 - allows a moratorium on certain taxes if at least 50 full-time jobs are created in a “Port Enhancement Zone;
S. 771 – establishes procedures that regulate the relationship between recreational vehicle manufacturers, distributors, and dealers;
S. 982 – creates 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. Additionally, the purchaser must remit the motor fuel user fees as required by law;
S. 1111 – makes a revision to the method by which license plate fees for certain manufacturers are calculated and credited;
H. 3204 – enacts the “Cervical Cancer Prevention Act,” to provide that the Department of Health and Environmental Control may offer the cervical cancer vaccination series for adolescent students including those enrolling in the seventh grade in any public, private, or home schooling program in South Carolina;
H. 3788 – provides for the inclusion of motorcycles within motor vehicle express warranty provisions; and
H. 3911 – changes the interval in which the Department of Motor Vehicles must reissue a license plate from six years to ten years.
The Senate will reconvene Tuesday at noon.
The House of Representatives remained on furlough and did not meet in statewide session this week.
The Legislative Audit Council (LAC) released the results of the audit of the South Carolina Department of Transportation (DOT) on Tuesday. The LAC noted that the State’s roads have deteriorated significantly within the past eight years and that the Department is not in compliance with Act 114 of 2007 regarding the ranking and prioritization of projects.
The House Transportation Infrastructure and Management Ad Hoc Committee, chaired by Representative Gary Simrill (R-York), held a lengthy meeting on Thursday to review and discuss the findings from the LAC. DOT Secretary Christy Hall agreed with the majority of the recommended improvements identified by the LAC but disagreed that the Department is not in compliance with Act 114’s prioritization mandates. Frank Rainwater, Director of the South Carolina Revenue and Fiscal Affairs office, also spoke at the meeting regarding road funding. Director Rainwater presented information showing that if the Senate version of H. 3579 (SC Infrastructure and Finance Reform Act) were to pass, that lawmakers could face future funding shortfalls and would likely be unable to use reserve funds to meet the annual request of $400 million. The Committee took no formal position on H. 3579 and received the presentations as information. H. 3579 remains pending on the House calendar for concurrence on the Senate changes.
Please click here for the full LAC audit of SCDOT.
For a summary of DOT’s response to the audit, please click here.
The House of Representatives will reconvene Tuesday at noon.
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Meetings and Events
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
5:30 – 7:00 Reception for Senators Paul Campbell and Larry Grooms
5:00 – 6:30 Reception for Representatives Brown, Kirby, McEachern and Ott
Wednesday, April 13, 2016
5:30 – 7:30 Reception for Representatives Anthony, Hayes, Hosey and Neal
McNair Law Firm
Newly Introduced Legislation
S. 1196 (L. Martin) TO REQUIRE EACH COUNTY SCHOOL BOARD TO PROVIDE ANNUAL PUBLIC NOTICE OF WHICH, IF ANY, SCHOOLS IT PLANS TO CLOSE OR CONSOLIDATE - Referred to the Committee on Education.
S. 1198 (Peeler) TO FIX WEDNESDAY, APRIL 27, 2016, AT NOON, AS THE DATE AND TIME FOR THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND THE SENATE TO MEET IN JOINT SESSION IN THE HALL OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES FOR THE PURPOSE OF ELECTING MEMBERS OF THE BOARDS OF TRUSTEES FOR COLLEGE AND UNIVERSITIES - Placed on the Calendar without reference.
S. 1205 (Hembree) RELATING TO ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS NATURAL RESOURCES ENFORCEMENT DIVISION OATH AND BONDS - Referred to the Committee on Fish, Game and Forestry.
S. 1217 (McElveen) TO DECLARE APRIL 2016 AS "AUTISM AWARENESS MONTH" IN THE PALMETTO STATE. - The Senate Resolution was adopted.
S. 1203 (Bright) RELATING TO THE RIGHT TO EQUAL ENJOYMENT OF AND PRIVILEGES TO PUBLIC ACCOMMODATIONS - Referred to the General Committee.
S. 1211 (Grooms) RELATING TO PROVIDING ELECTRIC SERVICE - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary.
S. 1212 (Bright) RELATING TO THE DESIGNATION OF VOTING PRECINCTS IN SPARTANBURG COUNTY - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary.