The filibuster on the South Carolina Infrastructure Finance Reform and Tax Relief Act (H.3579) continued this week in the Senate. Senator Tom Davis (R-Beaufort) filibustered over eleven hours Tuesday and Wednesday before relinquishing the podium to Senator Lee Bright (R-Spartanburg) late Wednesday evening. Senator Bright stated that he would continue the effort to stop a proposed increase in the gas tax. Senator Bright also announced Thursday prior to adjournment that he believes he has enough support to continue the filibuster indefinitely. Large divisions within the Senate still remain regarding a funding source for roads across South Carolina as well as reform involving the Department of Transportation and the State Infrastructure Bank. H.3579 remains in Interrupted Debate status with Senator Lee Bright holding the floor on the bill.
In addition to debate on the roads bill, the Senate discussed several other bills this week.S.868 and S.1065 both received second reading on Thursday with unanimous consent by the body to allow amendments on third reading. Both pieces of legislation work to prevent the use of eminent domain power by private (for-profit) pipeline companies. Additionally, S.1065 would establish a “Petroleum Pipeline Study Committee” that must present a report to the General Assembly by January 31, 2017, regarding petroleum pipelines located in South Carolina. Both bills were filed by Senator Tom Young (R-Aiken) in response to a proposed 360 mile “Palmetto Pipeline.” The proposed pipeline project would impact six counties in western South Carolina in an effort to connect an existing pipeline in Belton, SC with a new terminal in Jacksonville, FL.
Senator Ronnie Cromer (R-Newberry) made a successful motion on Thursday to place H.3184 in Special Order status on the Senate Calendar. H.3184 is a comprehensive ethics reform bill passed by the House of Representatives last year. The bill would allow the State Ethics Commission to investigate complaints against all public officials, as well as increasing the size of the Commission to twelve members.
The Senate also began discussion on S.1035, a bill by Senator Ray Cleary (R-Georgetown) involving the practice of telemedicine. The body adopted the Medical Affair Committee’s compromise amendment before carrying over the bill due to questions surrounding whether the bill would allow for the prescribing of abortion inducing drugs through telemedicine. S.1035 remains on the uncontested portion of the calendar.
The Senate Medical Affairs Committee met this week to take up S.550, a bill that would abolish the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). The proposal takes public health division within DHEC and combines it with the Department of Mental Health and the Department of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services. This new cabinet-level agency would be called the Department of Behavioral and Public Health. The environmental functions of DHEC would be incorporated into the Department of Agriculture. The Committee heard from several State agencies that would be involved in an effort to obtain information on the effects of the proposed change. Chairman Harvey Peeler (R-Cherokee) stated that this was only the beginning of an extended conversation among all parties involved and stated that the bill will be referred to subcommittee.
Bills passed by the Senate this week include:
- S.853 – creates the “Emergency Anaphylaxis Treatment Act;”
- S.929 – provides terminally ill patients with the right to try experimental medication with their informed consent or consent by their agent;
- S.975 – allows the Governor to reappoint a person as chairman of the Workers’ Compensation Commission;
- S.1002 – amends the boundaries of the Murrell’s Inlet-Garden City Fire District;
- S.1036 – authorizes the State Board of Dentistry to issue “Restricted Dental Auxiliary Instructors’ Licenses” to dentists who meet certain requirements;
- S.1049 – allows marketing cooperative associations to seek reinstatement from the Secretary of State within two years of the expiration date of their term;
- S.1076 – permits maintenance dredging by individuals of certain existing navigational canal community developments authorized by a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers;
- S.1090 – renames Chapter 19 of under Title 24 of the South Carolina Code of Laws as the “Judge William R. Byars Youthful Offender Act;”
- H.3251 – establishes the “Maternal Morbidity and Mortality Review Committee” under DHEC to review maternal deaths and develop prevention strategies;
- H.4151 – requires stamps to be affixed on cigarette packs to indicate the payment of taxes and provides distributors a maximum $125,000 tax credit against the tobacco tax for the costs incurred in the purchase of a stamping machine and equipment;
- H.4507 – expands membership on the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officer Hall of Fame Advisory Committee to include the President of the South Carolina Fraternal Order of Police, or his designee; and
- H.4857 – enacts requirements for the proper disposition of coal ash from electrical power plants by requiring coal combustion materials to be placed in a Class 3 solid waste landfill with certain exceptions.
The Senate will reconvene Tuesday at 10:00 a.m.
The House of Representatives reconvened after a week-long furlough to continue work on their calendar. Extensive debate occurred Thursday on H.4717, a bill establishing the “South Carolina Farm Aid Fund.” This legislation provides $40 million to farmers who can verify a loss of agricultural commodities in excess of 40% as a result of the historic floods that occurred in October of 2015. Additionally, restrictions apply that prevent farmers from using any funds received to purchase new farm equipment or pay down debt. Representative Brian White (R-Anderson) stressed that farmers are a vital economic engine and need swift action from the legislature in order to plant spring crops. After an attempted filibuster by Representative Jonathon Hill (R-Anderson), the bill received second reading by a vote of 95-6.
The House Ways and Means Committee held meetings throughout the week before giving their final approval Thursday on a $7.5 billion spending plan. Highlight from the proposed budget as presented by the Ways and Means Committee include:
- $351.6 million in added money for South Carolina Schools;
- $217 million to increase the per-pupil funding;
- $8 million for incentives to attract teachers to rural school districts;
- $129 million to partially annualize the shortfall at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS);
- $6 million for the USC School of Medicine to partner with DHHS in a rural health initiative to address medically underserved communities;
- $130 million included for tax relief;
- $40 million set aside for farm aid;
- $215 million for roads of which most will go to county transportation committees;
- $37 million to reimburse the Department of Transportation for flood damage repairs;
- $16 million for the Aeronautical Training Center at Trident Tech; and
- $212 million for the local government fund.
The House Ways and Means Committee also agreed to forgive approximately $12 million in loans to South Carolina State University on the condition that a new president is hired by the end of the year, enrollment increases, and a balanced budget is maintained. SCSU must still pay back a separate $6 Million loan by 2020. The House will debate the budget bill on the floor the week of March 21st.
Bills passed by the House this week include:
- H.4092 – provides for a retention of the “Owner-Occupied Special Property Tax Assessment Rate” for a deceased individual’s estate;
- H.4328 – synchronizes certain filing deadlines regarding income tax with holdings to eliminate a lag time that presents an opportunity for fraud;
- H.4548 – addresses closing fees charged by motor vehicle dealers in response to a 2015 ruling from the South Carolina Supreme Court;
- H.4712 – classifies off-premises outdoor advertising signs as tangible personal property for tax purposes;
- H.4936 – proposes to ensure that graduates have a world class knowledge based on college and career ready standards;
- H.4937 – reestablishes the South Carolina Educational and Economic Development Coordinating Council;
- H.4938 – requires the State Department of Education and the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement to collaborate with the Commission of Higher Education in surveying students enrolled in South Carolina colleges and universities.; and
- H.4939 – establishes a committee to review Title 59 (Education) of the South Carolina Code of Laws to determine which statutes are obsolete and to report the findings to the General Assembly by December 31, 2016.
The House will reconvene Tuesday at noon
Top News Articles
Chamber calls out Senate on roads, cites I-85 wrecks
The state's business community has heard enough of a Senate filibuster on roads and wants senators to begin voting on something this week. Read more.
Lawmakers start writing the state budget, continue roads debate
Members of the South Carolina House of Representatives began writing the state budget Tuesday after their week-long furlough. Read more.
Proposed bill would increase number of eligible South Carolina foster families
The Legislature will consider a bill this session that would allow a family to foster up to five children in state custody, no matter how many biological or adopted children already live in the home. Read more.
Sen. Davis ends four-week filibuster; Sen. Bright takes over
Beaufort Republican Tom Davis on Wednesday night ended his four-week filibuster, which began last year, just before handing the microphone over to Upstate Republican Sen. Lee Bright. Read more.
Road-repair proposal running out of gas
Senators drove away from Columbia on Thursday with their chances crumbling to pass a bill to repair the state’s crumbling roads. Read more.
Farmer relief bill moves through S.C. House
The South Carolina House gave key approval Thursday to an amended $40 million flood relief bill for farmers affected by the historic October flooding. Read more.
Trident Technical College, MUSC included in House spending plan
Several Lowcountry entities, including Trident Technical College’s Aeronautical Training Center and Patriots Point, have been allocated funds in the House budget-writing panel’s roughly $7.5 billion spending plan. Read more.
Davis uses filibuster to talk about surplus for roads
The senator who has used a filibuster to block voting on a roads bill is arguing the state should spend at least some of a $1.3 billion budget surplus on roads instead of raising the gas tax which he said would hurt South Carolina's poor. Read more.
House panel proposes $250M for roadwork, $130M in tax cuts
The House budget-writing committee is advancing a spending plan that would give most state employees a 1 percent pay increase, provide $250 million for roadwork and cut income taxes by $130 million. Read more.
SC Chief Justice: Change how the state funds its court system
South Carolina’s chief judge is asking legislators to change how they fund the state’s court system, saying its current reliance on fees and fees creates an “unstable” budget situation. Read more.
Lawmakers to push for borrowing plan to cover costs of aging buildings
Members of the S.C. House of Representatives will once again push for a borrowing plan to pay for repairing crumbling buildings at the state’s colleges and universities. Read more.
Bill to restrict dumping of coal ash heads to governor
Legislation to restrict the dumping of utilities' coal ash to Class 3 landfills in South Carolina is on its way to the governor's desk. Read more.
Meetings and Events
Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Newly Introduced Legislation
H. 4967 (Atwater) TO ENACT THE "BUSINESS LICENSE COMPLIANCE REFORM ACT" - Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.
H. 4969 (Jefferson) RELATING TO THE INTEREST PENALTY ON LATE PAYMENTS TO A CONTRACTOR OR SUBCONTRACTOR WHO IS CONSTRUCTING OR IMPROVING REAL PROPERTY WHEN THE CONTRACTOR OR SUBCONTRACTOR HAS COMPLETED THE AGREED UPON WORK - Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry.
H. 4994 (Bernstein) TO AUTHORIZE COUNTIES AND MUNICIPALITIES TO CREATE SPECIAL TAX DISTRICTS TO ADDRESS PUBLIC AND PRIVATE INFRASTRUCTURE DAMAGED BY THE FLOODING IN OCTOBER 2015. - Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.
H. 4995 (Bernstein) TO AUTHORIZE COUNTIES AND MUNICIPALITIES TO CREATE A TAX INCREMENT FINANCING SYSTEM TO REDEVELOP PUBLIC AND PRIVATE INFRASTRUCTURE DAMAGED BY THE FLOODING IN OCTOBER 2015. - Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.
H. 5009 (Cole) RELATING TO THE TEXTILES COMMUNITIES REVITALIZATION INCOME TAX CREDIT - Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.
H. 5011 (Clemmons) TO PROVIDE FOR THE REIMPOSITION OF THE LOCAL OPTION TOURISM DEVELOPMENT FEE. - Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.
S. 1122 (Rankin) TO PROVIDE FOR THE REIMPOSITION OF THE LOCAL OPTION TOURISM DEVELOPMENT FEE. - referred to the Committee on Finance.
S. 1125 (Reese) RELATING TO THE TEXTILES COMMUNITIES REVITALIZATION INCOME TAX CREDIT - Referred to the Committee on Finance.
H. 4947 (Regulations and Administrative Procedures Committee) RELATING TO ALIGNMENT OF ASSESSMENT AND ACCOUNTABILITY ELEMENTS WITH THE NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT - Placed on calendar without reference.
S. 1116 (Education Committee) TO APPROVE REGULATIONS OF THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, RELATING TO CERTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS - Placed on the Calendar without reference.
S. 1117 (Education Committee) TO APPROVE REGULATIONS OF THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, RELATING TO CREDENTIAL CLASSIFICATION - Placed on the Calendar without reference.
S. 1118 (Education Committee) TO APPROVE REGULATIONS OF THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, RELATING TO REQUIREMENTS FOR ADDITIONAL AREAS OF CERTIFICATION - Placed on the Calendar without reference.
S. 1119 (Education Committee) TO APPROVE REGULATIONS OF THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, RELATING TO ASSESSMENT PROGRAM - Placed on the Calendar without reference.
S. 1120 (Education Committee) TO APPROVE REGULATIONS OF THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION, RELATING TO ACCREDITATION CRITERIA - Placed on the Calendar without reference.
H. 4982 (Regulations and Administrative Procedures Committee) TO APPROVE REGULATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL, RELATING TO UNDERGROUND STORAGE TANK CONTROL REGULATIONS - Placed on calendar without reference.
H. 4983 (Regulations and Administrative Procedures Committee) TO APPROVE REGULATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL, RELATING TO WELL STANDARDS - Placed on calendar without reference.
H. 4984 (Neal) TO ENACT THE ENVIRONMENTAL BILL OF RIGHTS - Referred to Committee on Judiciary.
H. 4985 (Neal) TO PROVIDE THAT A PERSON WHO APPLIES FOR A PERMIT, LICENSE, OR OTHER ACTION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL SHALL PROVIDE PERSONAL NOTICE TO ALL ADJACENT, ADJOINING, AND AFFECTED LANDOWNERS - Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs.
H. 4966 (G. M. Smith) TO DESIGNATE THE MONTH OF MAY 2016 AS "MENTAL HEALTH MONTH" IN SOUTH CAROLINA - Introduced, adopted, sent to Senate;
H. 4977 (Mitchell) RELATING TO THE PRACTICE OF DENTAL HYGIENE - Referred to Committee on Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs.
H. 4999 (Goldfinch) "IMMUNITY FROM LIABILITY FOR PROVIDING FREE HEALTH CARE SERVICES", AND TO PROVIDE THAT THE SERVICES OF A HEALTH CARE PROVIDER TREATING A PATIENT FREE OF CHARGE ARE DEEMED TO BE WITHIN THE SCOPE OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN STATUTE - Referred to Committee on Judiciary.
H. 5000 (Duckworth) TO REQUIRE ALL HEALTH INSURANCE AND GROUP HEALTH BENEFIT PLANS TO COVER HEARING AIDS AND REPLACEMENT HEARING AIDS FOR INSUREDS WITH IMPAIRED HEARING - Referred to Committee on Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs.
H. 4993 (Bowers) TO PROVIDE WHEN A PUBLIC PROTECTION CLASSIFICATION BY THE INSURANCE SERVICES OFFICE RATING IS CHANGED TO REFLECT IMPROVED FIRE PROTECTION - Recommitted to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry.
H. 4968 (Herbkersman) RELATING TO A LANDLORD'S REMEDIES AGAINST A TENANT FOR A FAILURE TO PAY RENT - Referred to Committee on Judiciary.
H. 4971 (J. E. Smith) TO ESTABLISH THAT THE USE AND ENFORCEMENT OF A NONDISPARAGEMENT CLAUSE CONSTITUTES AN UNFAIR TRADE PRACTICE - Referred to Committee on Judiciary.
H. 4981 (Pope) RELATING TO ATTENDANCE AT CIRCUIT COURT AND PREPARATION AND PUBLICATION OF THE DOCKET - Referred to Committee on Judiciary.
H. 5006 (Lucas) TO PROHIBIT LOBBYISTS AND PLACEMENT AGENTS FROM CONTACTING CERTAIN INDIVIDUALS CONNECTED WITH THE RETIREMENT SYSTEM INVESTMENT COMMISSION - Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.
H. 5007 (Lucas) RELATING TO THE ASSUMED RATE OF RETURN FOR RETIREMENT SYSTEM FUNDS - Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.
H. 5008 (Lucas) RELATING TO RETIREMENT ALLOWANCE ADJUSTMENTS - Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.
H. 5010 (Johnson) RELATING TO PAYMENT OR DELIVERY TO A MINOR OR INCAPACITATED PERSON - Referred to Committee on Judiciary.
S. 1115 (Gregory) RELATING TO DIVORCE IN THIS STATE - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary.
S. 1124 (L. Martin): TO PROVIDE THAT A PROSECUTION FOR A CRIMINAL OFFENSE MUST BE COMMENCED NO LATER THAN TWELVE YEARS AFTER THE DATE THE OFFENSE IS ALLEGED TO HAVE OCCURRED WITH CERTAIN EXCEPTIONS. - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary.
S. 1126 (Hembree): RELATING TO ATTENDANCE AT CIRCUIT COURT AND PREPARATION AND PUBLICATION OF THE DOCKET - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary.
S. 1127 (Cleary) RELATING TO AN INDIVIDUAL RETIREMENT ACCOUNT BEING EXEMPT FROM ATTACHMENT, LEVY, AND SALE - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary.
H. 5004 (Williams) "TIMESHARE LIEN FORECLOSURE ACT" - Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry.
H. 4948 (Lucas): TO PROVIDE THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION SHALL APPOINT THE SECRETARY BEGINNING JULY 1, 2016; TO EXTEND THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 6, ACT 114 OF 2007, SO AS TO ALLOW THE GOVERNOR TO APPOINT THE SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION UNTIL JULY 1, 2016 - Placed on calendar without reference.
H. 4970 (R. L. Brown) TO PROVIDE THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION SHALL ERECT SIGNS ALONG THE STATE'S INTERSTATE HIGHWAYS THAT INFORM MOTORISTS THAT CERTAIN VEHICLES MUST TRAVEL IN THE FARTHEST RIGHT LANE - Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works.
H. 4980 (Thayer) TO PROVIDE THAT A DRIVER OF A MOTOR VEHICLE APPROACHING A VEHICLE COLLECTING SOLID WASTE OR RECOVERED MATERIALS, AS PROVIDED IN SECTION 56-5-2510, MUST PROCEED WITH CAUTION - Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works.
H. 4998 (Herbkersman): RELATING TO THE DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES' ISSUANCE OF GOLF CART PERMITS AND THE OPERATION OF GOLF CARTS ALONG THE STATE'S HIGHWAYS - Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works.
H. 5005 (Putnam) RELATING TO THE ISSUANCE OF A DRIVER'S LICENSE - Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works.