Weekly Update from the State House - March 7, 2014: The South Carolina Supreme Court heard oral arguments regarding the suspension of the Certificate of Need (CON) Program.

What's New

Yesterday, the South Carolina Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a suit that was filed by the South Carolina Hospital Association, the South Carolina Health Care Association, and others against the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control for suspending the Certificate of Need (CON) Program.

According to an article in The State newspaper, "The Department of Health and Environmental Control suspended the Certificate of Need program after Governor Nikki Haley vetoed the line item that included funding for it and other DHEC programs. The House sustained that veto, and shortly thereafter, DHEC eliminated the program and staff positions that ran it."

The Petitioners have asked the Court to consider whether DHEC is required to continue administering and funding the Certificate of Need Program even though the General Assembly sustained the Governor's line-item veto of funding for the program in last year's General Appropriations Act. 

No time has been given for when the Supreme Court will rule on the matter.

For more information on the hearing, please click here and here

Details from Each Chamber

Truthful Tuesday Arrests

Eleven protestors were arrested Tuesday for blocking the roadway leading into the State House parking garage. A group of about two dozen protestors held signs that said "Expand Medicaid," "Morality is not Partisan" and "Shame." This demonstration was in protest of the state's rejection of Medicaid expansion under the federal Affordable Care Act. 

HOUSE

The House spent the week working through their Calendar before budget deliberations begin next week. On Wednesday, the House raised a 24 hour point of order and adjourned debate on most of the controversial bills. The General Appropriations number is H. 4701 and Capital Reserve bill is H. 4702.

Several bills of interest were passed in the House this week:

  • H. 3428  First Steps to School Readiness Initiative
  • H. 4347  Children's Advocacy Medical Response System Act
  • H. 4550  Long Term Health Care Administrators
  • H. 4561  Interstate Boating Violator Act
  • H. 4574  Environmental Certification Board
  • H. 4644  Real Estate Appraisers License and Certification Act
  • H. 4788  New Market Jobs Act
  • H. 4808  Vaccination, screening and immunization regarding contagious diseases
  • S. 19  Bond revocations

The House Majority and Minority Caucuses will meet next Monday at 11:00am. The House will convene at 1:00pm to begin budget deliberations. Speaker Bobby Harrell (R-Charleston) told members to prepare to convene Tuesday and Wednesday at 9:30AM and to stay until they have completed the budget. They will deliberate on the Capital Reserve Fund immediately following the General Appropriations Bill.

SENATE 

The Senate worked through their Calendar this week and received a number of statewide appointments from the Governor.

On Wednesday, several bills were reported out of committee. Senators worked steadily through the Calendar on Thursday in order to get to H.3101, a bill to nullify provisions of the federal Affordable Care Act. However, the Senate adjourned before getting to the bill.   

Several bills of interest passed the Senate this week: 

  • S. 516  SC Read to Succeed Act (Placed in Special Order)
  • S. 560  Malicious Injury to Railways
  • S. 687  SC Blind Person's Right to Parent Act
  • S. 826  Random Drug and Alcohol Testing Procedures for Worker's Comp Insurance
  • S. 828  Exempt Bond Reimbursement Requirements if a Convention Center is Sold
  • S. 983  Endometriosis Awareness Week
  • H. 3410 Transfer Regional Education Centers to the Department of Commerce

The Governor's Office

Winter Weather Response

Governor Nikki Haley has requested a major disaster declaration for 21 counties in South Carolina as a result of the February winter storm. Haley's request for federal funding would cover Aiken, Allendale, Bamberg, Barnwell, Berkeley, Calhoun, Chesterfield, Clarendon, Colleton, Dillon, Dorchester, Edgefield, Florence, Georgetown, Hampton, Horry, Marion, Orangeburg, Saluda, Sumter and Williamsburg Counties.

The Governor's request included $4.3 million suffered by the State, $23.4 million by South Carolina counties and $27.7 million by electric cooperatives.

In her letter to President Barack Obama, Haley reported that snowfall totals ranged from less than an inch in southern counties to as much as 10 inches in the Upstate. Ice accumulation totals ranged from 0.1 to 1.25 inches, with ice coating causing critical infrastructure and debris problems.

Additionally, the General Assembly passed a bill that would allow South Carolina school boards to forgive up to five days of classes missed during recent snow and ice storms. The bill was sent to the Governor this week. She has indicated that she supports the bill since it does not require the districts to forgive the days, but rather provides them with an option.

Newly Introduced Legislation     

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT/TAX:

S. 1069 McGill: TO ENACT THE "PUBLIC SAFETY SALES TAX ACT" - Referred to the Committee on Finance.

S. 1083 Jackson: TO PROVIDE AN INCOME TAX CREDIT TO A TAXPAYER THAT CLAIMS A DEDUCTION ON HIS FEDERAL RETURN FOR A CHARITABLE CONTRIBUTION OF APPARENTLY WHOLESOME FOOD FROM ANY TRADE OR BUSINESS OF THE TAXPAYER - referred to the Committee on Finance.

S. 1085 Campbell: RELATING TO THE USE OF LOCAL SALES AND USE TAX OR TOLL REVENUES TO FINANCE TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE IN A COUNTY - Referred to the Committee on Finance.

H. 4875 Funderburk: TO ENACT THE "SOUTH CAROLINA ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT TAX INCENTIVE EVALUATION ACT OF 2014" - Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.

EDUCATION:

H. 4840 Putnam: SO AS TO ENACT THE "HIGH SCHOOL EQUIVALENCY DIPLOMA ACCESSIBILITY ACT" - Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works.

ENVIRONMENTAL:

H. 4817 J. E. Smith: RELATING TO THE REGISTRATION OF WITHDRAWAL OF SURFACE WATER FOR AGRICULTURAL USES - Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs.

 H. 4866 Bedingfield: SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT WITH RESPECT TO THE SOUTH CAROLINA UNDERGROUND FACILITY DAMAGE CONTROL PREVENTION ACT, EXEMPTED OPERATORS MAY ELECT TO NOT JOIN CERTAIN ASSOCIATIONS CONCERNING THE WATER AND SEWAGE SYSTEMS OF THE EXEMPTED OPERATORS - Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs.

S. 1088 Verdin: RELATING TO THE SUPERB ACCOUNT AND THE SUPERB FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY FUND ESTABLISHED TO ASSIST IN CARRYING OUT THE PURPOSES OF THE STATE UNDERGROUND PETROLEUM ENVIRONMENTAL RESPONSE BANK ACT - Referred to the Committee on Medical Affairs. 

GOVERNMENT:

S. 1086 Hayes: RELATING TO PROVIDING NOTICE OF A BREACH OF SECURITY OF STATE AGENCY DATA - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary.

S. 1089 Davis: RELATING TO THE CESSATION OF MARINE TERMINAL OPERATIONS AND THE SALE OF PROPERTY AT PORT ROYAL - Referred to the Committee on Transportation.

HEALTH CARE:

S. 1077 Hembree: TO ENACT THE STATE HEALTH CARE CHOICE ACT - Referred to the Committee on Medical Affairs.

S. 748 Cleary: SO AS TO BE ENTITLED "IMMUNITY FROM LIABILITY FOR PROVIDING FREE HEALTH CARE SERVICES" - Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

H. 4872 Neal: SO AS TO ENACT THE "SOUTH CAROLINA MEDICAL MARIJUANA ACT" - Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

H. 4879 Rutherford: SO AS TO ENACT THE "SOUTH CAROLINA MEDICAL MARIJUANA ACT" - Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

JUDICIAL:

S. 764 Alexander: SO AS TO CREATE THE VULNERABLE ADULT GUARDIAN AD LITEM PROGRAM WITHIN THE OFFICE ON AGING - Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

H. 4828 Pitts: RELATING TO DEFINITIONS PERTAINING TO THE RETIREMENT SYSTEM FOR JUDGES AND SOLICITORS - Committed to Committee on Ways and Means.

H. 4845 Daning: RELATING TO THE OFFENSE OF FELONY DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE - Referred to Committee on Judiciary. 

Top News Articles of the Week    

House Passes SC Bill On Coal Ash Lawsuits
A bill that could shield Duke Energy from having to clean out polluted coal ash ponds in two areas of South Carolina will move to the Senate for consideration.  Read more.

S.C. Supreme Court hears arguments on whether DHEC had right to suspend state-mandated program
The S.C. Supreme Court heard oral arguments today in a lawsuit filed against a state agency for suspending a program that gives clearance to hospitals and nursing homes to build or expand.  Read more.

Ice storm timber damage ranks second only to Hugo destruction
The thick ice from last month's winter storm snapped enough trees and limbs to do an estimated $360 million in immediate timber damage in South Carolina, or the financial equivalent of a full year of timber harvest in the state. Read more.

Lawmaker introduces bill to repeal 'stand your ground' law
The chairman of the state Legislative Black Caucus, backed by several ministers, former law enforcement officials and activists, has introduced a bill to do away with South Carolina's "Stand Your Ground" bill.  Read more.

SC bill allows cannabis oil for epilepsy treatment
People suffering from severe epilepsy could legally use oil derived from marijuana under a bill advancing in the South Carolina House. Read more.

USC gets go ahead to land IBM, Fluor
The S.C. State Budget and Control Board approved contracts Wednesday that could pave the way for IBM and Fluor to open information-technology operations at a new office building coming to the University of South Carolina. Read more.  

SC State says it needs cash by April to avoid campus disruptions
S.C. State University says it needs money by next month to avoid interruption of some campus services. But how the cash-strapped school will get that help remained unclear Wednesday. Read more.

Legislation introduced to force sale of Port of Port Royal
The S.C. State Ports Authority would be forced to sell the Port of Port Royal by June 30, 2015, or auction it away under a bill introduced Wednesday by state Rep. Shannon Erickson, R-Beaufort. Read more.

Military base protection bill filed in Columbia
South Carolina may be behind in defending itself against base closure, but a new Statehouse bill is designed to help the state play catch up.  Read more.

SC House committee formed to study MUSC-C of C merger
A six-member committee has been appointed to consider the potential merger between the College of Charleston and the Medical University of South Carolina, state House members confirmed Wednesday.  Read more.  

Rep. Sanford to speak about tax incentives for Bass Pro Shops
U.S. Rep Mark Sanford will speak at a Lowcountry Local First event Friday to address concerns about tax incentives for Bass Pro Shops, a national outdoor recreation store on its way to North Charleston. Read more.

MOX project at SRS may be shelved
A project at the Savannah River Site to convert weapons-grade plutonium into nuclear reactor fuel would be shelved under the fiscal 2015 budget proposal the Obama administration released Monday. Read more.

Haley asks for federal disaster declaration for ice storm
Gov. Nikki Haley on Tuesday officially asked for a federal disaster declaration for the Feb. 10-14 winter storm, citing damages of $54 million to government agencies and utilities focused in 21 counties.  Read more.

S.C. judge issues sanctions in cruise terminal lawsuit
Several groups that have sued to block a new cruise ship terminal in downtown Charleston have drawn the ire of the judge presiding over their case. Read more.

Senate debates letting counties vote on penny sales tax for schools
An Aiken state senator is trying to get a bill through the Senate that would allow all counties to vote on a one-cent tax for school property improvements.  Read more.

Is Jim DeMint the Most Hated Man in Washington?
Machiavelli's famous advice to politicians is that it is better to be feared than loved. Less often quoted is an equally valuable admonition: avoid being hated. Read more.

U.S. sales of BMW brand up 3.3% in February, 6.5% so far this year
Sales of BMW brand vehicles in the United States increased 3.3% in February compared with the same month a year ago. Despite X3 sales jumping 51.8% to 3,301 vehicles in February, the automaker's light trucks built at BMW Manufacturing Co. in Greer slid slightly overall compared with a year ago. Year-to-date sales of light trucks dropped by 5%.  Read more.   

DHEC's Certificate of Need case goes before SC Supreme Court this week
South Carolina's highest court is gearing up for a debate over whether the state's health agency can end a program that regulates the building or expansion of medical facilities.  Read more.

Anti-bullying measure advances in the House
Bullying victims may soon have an additional forum to report harassment if a bill making its way through the House becomes law.  Read more.

Short end of budget stick
That South Carolina politicians has an historic $7 billion in state taxes to budget this year, don't be fooled by gaudy numbers. There may not be enough money to go around, especially for higher education and local governments.  Read more.

As NC Debates, Other States Empty Coal Ash Dumps
Inside pits containing 1.7 million tons of coal ash at the Jefferies Generating Station, the hydraulic arm of a big orange excavator scooped up the toxic gray sludge and dropped it into the back of a dump truck.  Read more.

Meetings and Events

Wednesday, March 12th

8:30       Breakfast Fundraiser for Senators Shane Martin and Tom Corbin

                Palmetto Club

5:30       Senate Republican Caucus Winter Reception

                Palmetto Club

The Nexsen Pruet State House Update is published as a service to our attorneys, clients, and friends. It is intended to be a high level overview of the weekly activity at the South Carolina State House and does not constitute legal advice regarding any specific situation.

 

Published In: Elections & Politics Updates, Health Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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