SENATE FLOOR DEBATE Members of the Senate spent most of the week inside the chamber working through the FY 2017-18 Appropriations bill (H.3720) and the Capital Reserve Fund bill (H.3721). Both bills received a third reading on Thursday afternoon and will now return to the House for concurrence or non-concurrence to the Senate amendments. The Senate’s version of the budget includes:
· $145 million to cover the cost of State agencies’ increased contributions to the pension system; · $7.5 million for beach renourishment; · $10 million for the Department of Commerce deal-closing fund ($12 million less than the House approved); · $75 million for Hurricane Matthew damage; · an increase to the base student cost of $35 per student above the House version; · $16 million in total funding for school buses; · a deletion of the House proviso that cut restore funding to the South Carolina Conservation Bank; · $16 million in new funding for colleges and universities; and · a $500 pay raise for State employees who earn $50,000 or less. The budget as passed by the Senate will be available here after publishing. Lawmakers also worked this week to pass several uncontested bills on the Senate calendar in an attempt to meet the April 10, 2017, crossover deadline. The Senate gave a third reading to S.478, by Senator Brad Hutto (D-Orangeburg), relating to child restraint systems. The bill would revise the age, weight, and position of children who must be secured in an approved motor vehicle child restraint system. H.3864, the companion bill in the House by Representative Beth Bernstein (D-Richland), received a third reading in the House this week. S.478 will now head to the House for debate. S.170, a bill by Senator Katrina Shealy (R-Lexington) relating to child fatalities, also received a third reading this week. This legislation would require each county coroner to convene a “Child Fatality Review Team” in order to review cases of children who have died within the county under the age of 18. The team would be composed of the county coroner or his designee, a local law enforcement officer, an agent from SLED’s Department of Child Fatalities, a board-certified child abuse pediatrician, a representative from the local county DSS, and a forensic pathologist. The bill also requires the Director of the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy to appoint a “Coroners Training Advisory Committee” that would assist in the determination of training requirements for coroners or deputy coroners. S.170 will now head to the House for debate.
Members of the Senate adopted the conference report on H.3726, the “South Carolina Retirement System Funding and Administration Act,” by a vote of 33 to 7. The House also adopted the same report this week by a vote of 105 to 1. Conferees from the House and Senate did not include the amendment to the bill by Senator Tom Davis (R-Beaufort) that would have closed the current pension plans to any future employees of State government when the plans became fully funded. If this had occurred, all new employees would have been required to participate in a defined contribution retirement plan. H.3726 will now be enrolled for ratification and sent to the Governor. Prior to adjourning this week, the Senate made several procedural maneuvers to place H.3516 in a priority status for debate when lawmakers return from their week-long furlough. H.3516, by Representative Gary Simrill (R-York), is the comprehensive infrastructure funding bill that includes a gas tax increase of 2 cents per year over a 6-year time period for a total of 12 cents. Debate on the bill will likely begin on Tuesday, April 18, 2017. COMMITTEE ACTION The Senate Transportation Committee met on Wednesday to take up several bills including H.3289 by Representative Garry 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. This 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. H.3289 received a favorable report and will be placed on the Senate calendar. Bills passed this week by the Senate include: S.3 – allows a custodian of an animal that is taken into custody due to civil or criminal violations by its owner to petition the court for expenses related to providing care to the animal; S.131 – makes revisions to the penalties for a violation of a disturbing schools offense;
S.170 – requires the coroner of each county to schedule a child fatality review team that would perform a review in cases where a child under the age of eighteen dies within the county; S.179 – provides limited immunity from prosecution for certain drug and alcohol-related offenses committed by a person who seeks medical assistance for another person who is experiencing an overdose; also allows such actions to be considered as a mitigating factor by a court; S.199 – enables the Department of Public Safety to issue a civil penalty citation against the registered owner of a vehicle that violates a school bus stop arm or signal and provides a method to appeal the citation; S.289 – enacts the “South Carolina Crime Victim Services Act” that would reform the services that provide support to the victims of crime, including the transfer of certain agencies, boards, and commissions to the Office of the Attorney General, South Carolina Crime Victims Services Division; S.367 – amends provisions that regulate the operation of various types of watercraft within 50 feet of certain objects; S.415 – clarifies the Probate Court’s authority in several areas including the ability to impose penalties for contempt; S.448 – authorizes the release of information about child fatalities or near fatalities contained in unfounded child abuse and neglect reports; S.462 – makes revisions to the requirements for obtaining a high school diploma in an effort to promote uniformity; S.478 – relates to the proper use of age and size appropriate child restraint systems; S.479 – establishes the “Intrastate Vision Waiver Program” that would allow certain visually impaired individuals to obtain a waiver from the sight distance requirements associated with a commercial driver’s license (CDL); S.480 – establishes the Orangeburg-Calhoun Area Technical Education Commission as the governing body for Denmark Technical College; S.530 – authorizes the Pelham-Batesville Fire District to issue bonds to finance certain necessary capital improvements; S.570 – changes the registration requirements for the shipment and sale of trees, plants, and shrubs; S.596 – removes the current members of the Board of Trustees at the John de la Howe School and provides the process for establishing an Interim Board of Trustees; and S.617 – allows the DMV to issue “University of South Carolina 2017 Women’s Basketball Nation Champions” special license plates; H.3720 – FY 2017-18 Appropriations bill; and H.3721 – Capital Reserve Fund bill.
The Senate will reconvene at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, April 18, 2017. HOUSE FLOOR DEBATE Members of the House of Representatives continued working through bills on the calendar in preparation for the April 10, 2017, crossover deadline. While lawmakers spent a large part of the week debating a highly contested bill regarding the permit-less carrying of a firearm (H.3930), the House also passed several medical bills of interest including H.3821, H.3823, and H.3284. H 3821, by Representative Russell Fry (R-Horry), would require certain institutions of higher learning in the State to offer mandatory courses on the prescribing and monitoring of Schedule II, III, and IV controlled substances. These institutions must coordinate with the Commission on Higher Education, the Board of Medical Examiners, the Board of Dentistry, and the Board of Nursing to develop the curriculum for the required courses. H.3821 received a third reading and will head to the Senate for debate. H.3823, by Representative Phyllis Henderson (R-Greenville), expands the reporting requirements in current law to require for physicians, nurses, or any other medical or allied health professional to report a child or fetus affected by a controlled substance, illegal drug, or diagnosed with an alcohol-related syndrome. H.3823 received a third reading and will head to the Senate for debate. H.3824, also by Representative Henderson, would require prescribers to review a patient’s controlled substance prescription history in SCRIPTS prior to prescribing any Schedule II drug. Included in the legislation are certain exceptions to that requirement consistent with the current Medicaid and PEBA payment policies regarding use of SCRIPTs. H.3824 received a third reading and will head to the Senate for debate.
Another bill of interest that received a third reading this week was H.4033 by Representative Bill Hixson (R-Aiken). This legislation aims to increase safety within highway work zones across the State. The bill would create the offense of “endangerment of a highway worker” and would provide penalties such as fines depending on the severity of the offense. A “highway worker” is defined as a construction worker, a public safety officer enforcing work zone-related transportation management or traffic control, a firefighter, an emergency medical services provider, or any other authorized person who removes hazards or responds to accidents or other incidents within a clearly marked work zone. H.4033 will now head to the Senate for debate. Members of the House voted to concur with the Senate amendments on H.3438, by Representative Henderson, relating to biosimilar drugs. This legislation would change the definition of the term “substitute” under the Drug Product Selection Act to include an interchangeable biological product or biosynthetic. Additionally, a pharmacist would be allowed to substitute an interchangeable biological product for a specific biological product when appropriate. Physicians, however, could require that the biological product be dispensed as written. H.3438 is enrolled for ratification and will then head to the Governor’s desk. COMMITTEE ACTION A House Ways and Means Subcommittee met again this week to discuss H.4014, a bill amending the powers and duties of the South Carolina Conservation Bank, by Representative Mike Pitts (R-Laurens) and Brian White (R-Anderson). H.4014 would place the Bank under the control of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and provides that the DNR Board must serve as the Board for the Conservation Bank. The bill would also prohibit the Board from authorizing the purchase of any conservation easements in excess of $250,000. Additionally, a new “South Carolina Conservation Bank Advisory Board” consisting of 14 total members would be established to assist the “Bank Board” in carrying out all duties and responsibilities. The Subcommittee heard from several speakers before carrying the bill over due to time constraints. Another meeting on the bill will likely take place later this month where lawmakers will begin debating the bill.
Bills passed by the House this week include: H.3092 – establishes an exemption from all property tax equal to one-hundred percent of the value subject to tax of an owner-occupied residence if the owner has reached the age of eighty; H.3137 – increases the amount of alcoholic liquors that can be dispensed to an individual at a licensed distillery premises; H.3209 – clarifies that expungements for offenses that are no longer crimes could still be available to offenders if the elements of the former criminal offense are consistent with current-day offenses; H.3271 – provides that the DMV must place funds that were formerly collected by the Comptroller General into specified accounts; H.3290 – authorizes law enforcement to reissue a uniform traffic ticket for another offense incident to any plea negotiation or agreement; H.3297 – enables the DMV to issue a driver’s license with a veteran’s designation to a qualifying member of the National Guard; H.3559 – creates the “South Carolina Industrial Hemp Program” which recognizes industrial hemp as an agricultural crop that is subject to regulation by the Department of Agriculture; H.3566 – allows school first responders to possess a firearm on school premises if the first responder has completed a training program offered by the Law Enforcement Training Council and possesses a valid concealed weapons permit; H.3809 – requires health insurance policies to provide reimbursement for a 12-month refill of contraceptive drugs obtained at one time;
H.3821 – provides that certain institutions of higher learning in the State must off mandatory courses on the prescribing and monitoring of Schedule II, III, and IV controlled substances as well as requirements for coordination with the Commission on Higher Education, the Board of Medical Examiners, the Board of Dentistry, and the Board of Nursing in order to develop curriculum for the courses; H.3823 – expands the reporting requirements in current law that would require physicians, nurses, or any other medical or allied health profession to report a child or fetus affected by a controlled substance or diagnosed with an alcohol-related syndrome; H.3824 – requires prescribers to review a patient’s controlled substance prescription history in SCRIPTS prior to prescribing any Schedule II drug with certain exemptions; H.3864 – relates to the proper use of age and size appropriate child restraint systems; H.3865 – enacts the “South Carolina Pregnancy Accommodations Act” that would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to employees for medical needs arising from pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions; H.3895 – updates and clarifies the duties of the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office; H.3930 – allows residents to carry a gun, openly or concealed, without getting a weapons permit; H.3933 – requires the DMV to issue two additional dealer license plates to motor vehicle dealers that have a full-service dealership of new or used vehicles; H.3968 – provides for enhanced screening for individuals seeking professional and occupational licensing and certification; H.3969 – requires the Education Oversight Committee to design and pilot certain district accountability models that focus on competency-based education; H.4033 – aims to increase safety within highway work zones by establishing the offense of “endangering a highway worker” and provides for penalties; S.354 – defines crisis stabilization units and exempts them from certificate of need (CON) requirements; and S.568 – amends Act 471 of 2002 relating to the composition of the Williamsburg County School District Board of Trustees to provide that the Board shall consist of two members from the County at large. The House will reconvene at noon on Tuesday, April 18, 2017.
Top News Articles
Senate approves possible $500 bonus for SC state employees S.C. state employees who make less than $50,000 a year could get a one-time bonus of up to $500. Read more. Today at the SC State House: Cross over day Bills that don’t make it out of one chamber of the Legislature and into the other Thursday could require a special motion to make it onto the schedule for either house before the Legislature wraps for the year in the second week of May. Read more. Gov. Henry McMaster's Ports Authority picks advance to full Senate for confirmation Less than a day after getting the go-ahead from an oversight panel, the Senate's Transportation Committee decided to push SCANA Corp. Vice President Kenneth Jackson and University of South Carolina trustee William Jones on to a full confirmation vote. Read more.
South Carolina lawmakers flunk proposal to grade schools on an A-to-F scale The South Carolina House of Representatives rejected a plan to grade public schools on an A-to-F scale Wednesday, instead favoring a scale that ranges from "Excellent" to "Unsatisfactory." Read more. South Carolina House passes bill granting carry of handguns without a permit The South Carolina House of Representatives on Wednesday approved a bill that would allow residents to carry a gun, openly or concealed, without getting a weapons permit. Read more. South Carolina House passes bill requiring health insurance plans to cover a 12-month birth control prescription The bills sponsors, including Reps. Kirkman Finlay, R-Columbia, and Beth Bernstein, D-Columbia, argued the bill would give women in the Palmetto State easier access to contraceptives and would prevent unintended pregnancies. Read more. S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster threatens to veto gas tax, wants lawmakers to borrow up to $1 billion for roads Gov. Henry McMaster is now officially threatening to veto pending gas tax legislation and a bond bill that helps finance higher education projects and other capital improvements throughout the state. Read more. Some proposals will not survive SC Legislature’s new deadline The deadline for moving legislation from one chamber of the S.C. Legislature to the other so that it can pass this year is fast approaching, a consequence of this year’s first-of-its-kind, shorter legislative session. Read more. SC Senate could start gas-tax debate later this month S.C. senators gave new life Thursday to a proposal to raise the state’s gas tax and other driving fees to pay to repair the state’s crumbling roads, before leaving Columbia. Read more. House, Senate to clash over future of SC college board S.C. Commission on Higher Education leaders are denouncing a House proposal to slash that agency’s funding and strip much of its authority to vet college construction projects. Read more.
Newly Introduced Legislation
BANKING AND INSURANCE H. 4118 (J. E. Smith) TO ENACT THE "HEARING AID COVERAGE FOR CHILDREN ACT" - Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry. S. 607 (Timmons) RELATING TO THE NUMBER, QUALIFICATIONS, AND COMPENSATION OF ARBITRATORS OF PROPERTY DAMAGE LIABILITY CLAIMS - Referred to the Committee on Banking and Insurance.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND TAX H. 4091 (Sandifer) RELATING TO THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS OF THE PIONEER RURAL WATER DISTRICT OF OCONEE AND ANDERSON COUNTIES - Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry. H. 4093 (Collins) TO ENACT THE "EMPLOYMENT FIRST INITIATIVE ACT" - Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry. EDUCATION S. 622 (Massey) TO ESTABLISH THE "EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EDUCATION SCHOLARSHIP ACCOUNT ACT" - Referred to the Committee on Education. H. 4114 (Gilliard) RELATING TO THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE CHARLESTON COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT - Referred to Charleston Delegation. ENVIRONMENTAL S. 610 (Goldfinch) TO ESTABLISH A WORKING GROUP FOR THE PURPOSE OF DEVELOPING A LONG-RANGE COMPREHENSIVE BEACH MANAGEMENT PLAN - Referred to the Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources. HEALTHCARE H. 4112 (Bedingfield) TO REQUIRE THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL TO DEVELOP A VOLUNTARY NONOPIOID DIRECTIVE FORM - Referred to Committee on Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs. H. 4116 (Ridgeway) TO PROVIDE THAT NO PROVISION OF THE MEDICAL PRACTICE ACT MAY BE CONSTRUED TO REQUIRE A PHYSICIAN TO SECURE A MAINTENANCE OF CERTIFICATION AS A CONDITION OF LICENSURE, REIMBURSEMENT, EMPLOYMENT, OR ADMITTING PRIVILEGES AT A HOSPITAL - Referred to Committee on Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs. H. 4117 (Henderson) RELATING TO EXCEPTIONS TO CONFIDENTIALITY OF DATA IN THE PRESCRIPTION MONITORING PROGRAM - Referred to Committee on Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs. S. 616 (Young) TO DESIGNATE THE THIRD FULL WEEK OF APRIL 2017 AS "SHAKEN BABY SYNDROME AWARENESS WEEK," - Referred to the Committee on Medical Affairs.
JUDICIAL H. 4113 (D. C. Moss) TO PROVIDE THAT A MEMBER OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY WHO IS LICENSED TO PRACTICE LAW IN SOUTH CAROLINA MAY NOT CHARGE OR ACCEPT A FEE FOR PERFORMING CONSTITUENT SERVICES BEFORE A STATE AGENCY, COMMISSION, BOARD, DEPARTMENT, OR OTHER STATE GOVERNMENTAL ENTITY - Referred to Committee on Judiciary. H. 4115 (Clemmons) SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT A PERSON IS NOT ALLOWED TO VOTE IN A PARTISAN PRIMARY ELECTION OR PARTISAN ADVISORY REFERENDUM UNLESS THE PERSON HAS REGISTERED AS BEING A MEMBER OF THAT PARTY - Referred to Committee on Judiciary. H. 4119 (G. M. Smith) TO PROVIDE RENAL DIALYSIS FACILITIES MAY DELIVER LEGEND DRUGS OR DEVICES TO PATIENTS IN CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES - Placed on calendar without reference H. 4094 (Erickson) TO PROVIDE THAT A CHILD VICTIM OF SEX TRAFFICKING OR SEVERE FORMS OF TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS IS A VICTIM OF CHILD ABUSE OR NEGLECT. - Referred to Committee on Judiciary. S. 612 (Kimpson) RELATING TO LAW ENFORCEMENT BODY WORN CAMERAS - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary. S. 618 (Massey) RELATING TO MILLAGE RATE INCREASE LIMITATIONS - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary. TRANSPORTATION S. 617 (McLeod) TO PROVIDE THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES SHALL ISSUE "UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA 2017 WOMEN'S BASKETBALL NATIONAL CHAMPIONS" SPECIAL LICENSE PLATES. - Referred to the Committee on Transportation.