SC Public Policy Update - January 2016 #3

by Nexsen Pruet, PLLC
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What's New

Judicial Elections

This week, the Judicial Merit Selection Commission gave legislators a report of qualified candidates for the upcoming judicial races. Judicial elections will be held on Wednesday, February 3, 2016 at noon.

SENATE

On the Floor:

The Senate met briefly on the floor this week to work on a small number of uncontested bills on the calendar. Senator Ray Cleary (R-Georgetown) and Senator Paul Campbell (R-Berkeley) both addressed the body on proposed amendments to S.139, the Beachfront Management bill. Senator Cleary’s amendment proposes that the baseline must not move seaward from its position as of July 1st, 2015. Although nearly identical, Senator Campbell’s proposed amendment extends the date to establish the baseline until July 1st, 2017 in order to incorporate more recent data. Senator Brad Hutto (D-Orangeburg) asked to carry over the bill until next week in order to give members of the Senate more time to examine the proposed amendments to the bill.

Before the Senate adjourned on Thursday, Senator Hugh Leatherman (R-Florence) and Senator Cleary spoke on H. 3579, the South Carolina Infrastructure Finance Reform and Relief Act. Over the past week, a bi-partisan working group composed of eight Senators met behind closed doors in an effort to reach a compromise on the bill. The sticking points on the bill include a proposal to reform the Department of Transportation, a possible increase in the state’s gas tax, and various plans to cut the state’s income tax. Senator Cleary informed the body that floor debate on the bill will begin when the Senate resumes session on Tuesday, January 26th, at noon.

In Committee:

Senate Judiciary:
The Senate Judiciary Committee convened this week to take up S.911 (Dealer Closing Fees) after carrying over the bill last week. Senator Hutto addressed the Committee stating that he hopes all parties involved can continue to work together over the coming days to reach a resolution. He believed that the Committee would not be able to work out the issue at this time and should move the bill to the Senate floor with a Minority Report. Chairman Larry Martin made a motion to report the bill out favorably which passed by a vote of 19 to 1. Senator Hutto was the lone no vote and placed a Minority Report on the bill. Additionally, all amendments, including the subcommittee amendment, will be taken up on the floor of the Senate.

Senate Medical Affairs:
Several notable bills appeared before the Senate Medical Affairs Subcommittee this week. S.371, involving grounds for disciplining nurses, received a favorable report as amended. S.853, a bill to make epinephrine auto-injectors more widely available, also received a favorable report as amended. Additionally, the Subcommittee gave a favorable report as amended to H.3251, a bill establishing the Maternal Morbidity and Mortality Review Committee.

Senate Transportation:
The Senate Transportation Committee met Wednesday morning and passed a favorable recommendation for interim director Christy Hall to permanently head the Department of Transportation. The Committee also gave a favorable report to S.315, a bill that would terminate the Governor’s authority to appoint the Secretary of Transportation. Lawmakers then turned their attention to S.571, a bill to increase the membership of the Commission of the Department of Transportation. After a lengthy discussion and many disagreements, members of the Committee agreed to send the bill back to subcommittee to work out a resolution.

HOUSE

On the Floor:
The House Calendar remained light this week with very little time spent in session. The House recalled S.135, a bill that would remove age and dollar caps on insurance coverage relating to autism, from the Labor Commerce and Industry Committee and referred the bill to the Ways and Means Committee. H.4573, the “State and Local Level Veterans Issues Study Committee” bill, was also recalled from the Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee and placed on the calendar for debate next week.

Bills passed by the House this week include:

  • H. 4689 – Adopts Volumes 7A and 19 of the Code of Laws of South Carolina and extends their contents as the only general permanent statutory law of the State as of January 1, 2016.
  • H. 4705 – Relates to voting precincts in Lancaster County.

These bills will now move to the Senate.

The House will reconvene next Tuesday at noon.

In Committee:
The House Ways and Means Public Education and Special School Subcommittee met for the first time this year in preparation for the FY 2016-2017 budget. This week the Subcommittee heard from South Carolina Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman who made a presentation regarding the Department of Education’s budget request. Highlights from the presentation include:

  • An overall increase of $481Million for K-12 Schools;
  • Increase in the base student cost of $150;
  • $34 million per year for bus replacement including a five year bus lease program;
  • Approximately $7 million for fuel and bus parts;
  • Additional increase of $25.4 million to go toward teacher salaries; and
  • $3.1 million for efficiency studies in all plaintiff districts involved in the Abbeville case.

Other Ways and Means subcommittees continue to meet to hear budget requests.

Conservation Agenda:

The S.C. Conservation Coalition presented its 2016 legislative agenda to the Senate on Wednesday. The following are the key items on the agenda:

  • Shoreline Management – passage of S. 139 but amended to make the baseline permanent as of 2015. The Coalition is especially opposed to development on Captain Sam’s Spit  at Kiawah
  • Conservation Bank – increased funding and elimination of the “sunset” provision in current law;
  • Offshore Drilling – opposition to any drilling and to testing as well;
  • Citizen’s Right to Clean Air and Water – strong concerns about the safety of the Pinewood Hazardous Waste facility and having sufficient funds to monitor, maintain, and improve the site. Also stated strong opposition to legislation on private rights of action under the S.C. Pollution Control Act, the DHEC appeals process, and the automatic stay in administrative litigation; and
  • Infrastructure – support for repairing and maintaining existing roads, but opposed to new roads and related development.

Governor's Office

2016 STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS

Governor Haley presented her 2016 State of the State Address to members of the General Assembly Wednesday night stating that “in 2015, South Carolina was bent but not broken.” The Governor addressed the many hardships that made an impact on the State last year including the “1000 Year Flood” and horrific Charleston shootings. She also recognized the State’s accomplishments on issues such as domestic violence reform and becoming the first state in the nation to pass a body-camera bill for police officers. After a brief summary of last year’s events, the Governor looked ahead to issues that will face the General Assembly in the coming year. Governor Haley reaffirmed her position on a roads plan which must include (1) reform of the Department of Transportation, (2) adequate funding of the road system in South Carolina, and (3) income tax relief. She stated that any legislation making it to her desk without these three components will be vetoed.

In addition to transportation, Governor Haley also addressed issues involving K-12 education. She urged lawmakers to incentivize teachers to remain in rural school areas across South Carolina in an effort to reduce the extremely high turnover rate in these districts. She also stated that she will oppose any effort to bond out money to go toward higher education projects in South Carolina this year. Instead, Governor Haley proposed that the State should dedicate one percent of the State's bond capacity to build better schools in rural areas each year going forward. The Governor concluded her speech with a tribute the individuals involved in the Emanuel AME tragedy and urged the members of the General Assembly to work together for a better South Carolina.

Top News Articles

Haley asks lawmakers to focus on K-12, not colleges
Gov. Nikki Haley asked S.C lawmakers to put more attention on fixing K-12 schools, rather than spending more money on the state’s colleges, during her State of the State address Wednesday. Read more.

Senators to take up roads proposal Tuesday
State senators will start debating a road-repair bill Tuesday, but deep divisions indicate they are nowhere near a deal. Read more.
 
Democrats blame GOP for poor roads, schools
The Republican Party’s control of S.C. government and the GOP’s infighting are to blame for the state’s struggling schools and crumbling roads, an S.C. Democrat said Wednesday in response to GOP Gov. Nikki Haley’s State of the State address. Read more.

South Carolina education chief asks for $481 more for K-12 schools
South Carolina’s schools chief wants state lawmakers to spend nearly $481 million more on public education. Read more.

Senators consider proposals to restrict refugees
Barring state agencies from interacting with refugees will hurt law-enforcement efforts, S.C. Law Enforcement Division chief Mark Keel told state senators Tuesday. Read more.
 
Senate panel approves Christy Hall to head Transportation Department
State senators on a transportation panel unanimously approved Christy Hall to lead the S.C. Department of Transportation Wednesday. Read more.

Haley to use Pinckney’s memory to call for unity
Gov. Nikki Haley will invoke the memory of slain state Sen. Clementa Pinckney to ask state lawmakers to work together for South Carolina. Read more.

Reaction to State of State
Properly calling out the Senate over ethics reform? Read more.

Clinton, Sanders spar over guns, health care in Charleston
Vying to unseat Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders pushed an anti-Wall Street message Sunday in Charleston, returning again and again to charges that the former secretary of state is tied to the “super-PAC financiers.” Read more.

Poll: Trump still leading in SC, Bush rising
New York billionaire Donald Trump still holds a commanding lead in the S.C. Republican presidential primary, but former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has risen to third, according to the state’s first poll of the year. Read more.

Make 2016 legislative session one to remember
The state of a state — the condition of a political jurisdiction — isn’t simply about public policy or infrastructure needs or new jobs, as the tragic events of 2015 so clearly revealed to South Carolinians. Read more.

Transportation, education vital to S.C. prosperity
South Carolina’s economy stands at a crossroads today. One path leads to prosperity; the other, stagnation. Read more.

Save S.C. Coast from development
The S.C. Legislature is being urged to enact a law that fails to do what its sponsor intended: protect the coast. Read more.
 
Key to improving poor schools: a good teacher in every class room
After 10 months of work, testimony from 29 experts over four public hearings, a dozen other meetings, 130 recommendations reviewed and 121 of them adopted, the House’s Education Policy Review and Reform Task Force came to this conclusion: It’s all about the teachers. Read more.

House panel recommends abortion law changes
The House panel looking into Planned Parenthood and its funding by state agencies is recommending a series of changes to the state’s abortion laws, including a specific ban on the sale of fetal tissue or any donation of tissue for research if it involves compensation. Read more.
 
Farmer relief bill introduced in S.C. House
A bill offering grants to flood-affected farmers was introduced Thursday with the support of more than half of the S.C. House of Representatives. Read more.

Meetings and Events

Tuesday, January 26, 2016
5:30 – 7:00  SC Chamber of Commerce “Business Speaks”
                    Marriott

Wednesday, January 27, 2016
5:30 - 7:30   House LCI Chairman Bill Sandifer
                    Palmetto Club

Thursday, January 28, 2016
5:30 – 7:00  Legislative Reception for Representative Jenny Horne
                   Nexsen Pruet, Charleston
5:30 - 8:30  Fundraising Reception for Representative David Mack
                   ILA Hall, 1142 Morrison Drive, Charleston

Newly Introduced Legislation

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT/TAX:
H. 4717 White: TO CREATE THE "SOUTH CAROLINA FARM AID FUND" - Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.

S. 999 Sheheen: RELATING TO AN ALTERNATE METHOD OF ANNEXATION FOR PROPERTY OWNED BY A CORPORATION - Read the first time and referred to the Committee on Judiciary.

EDUCATION:
H. 4716 Lowe: AS TO ENACT THE "SCHOOL PROTECTION OFFICER ACT"; - Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works.

H.4718 Anthony: TO PROVIDE A PERSON WHO HAS TAUGHT IN THE SOUTH CAROLINA PUBLIC SCHOOL SYSTEM FOR AT LEAST TWENTY YEARS COLLECTIVELY WHILE HOLDING A TEMPORARY OR PROFESSIONAL CERTIFICATE ISSUED BY THE SOUTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION THROUGHOUT THIS TWENTY YEAR PERIOD IS NOT REQUIRED TO RENEW THESE CREDENTIALS TO MAINTAIN THEIR VALIDITY - Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works.

S.1014 Hayes: RELATING TO THE DATE BY WHICH A SCHOOL MUST NOTIFY A TEACHER OF HIS TENTATIVE ASSIGNMENT FOR THE PENDING SCHOOL YEAR - Referred to the Committee on Education.

S.1017 Campsen: RELATING TO THE CONSTITUTIONAL OFFICERS OF THIS STATE, TO PROVIDE THAT THE SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION MUST BE APPOINTED BY THE GOVERNOR - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary.

ENVIRONMENTAL/NATURAL RESOURCES:
S. 1006 Hembree: RELATING TO PERMITS REQUIRED FOR COASTAL ZONE CRITICAL AREAS - Referred to the Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.

HEALTHCARE:
S. 1001 Sheheen: TO PROVIDE THAT NO PERSON, ENTITY, OR ASSOCIATION SHALL OFFER OR ACCEPT MONEY OR ANYTHING OF VALUE FOR AN ABORTED FETUS OR ANY PORTION OF AN ABORTED FETUS - Referred to the Committee on Medical Affairs.

JUDICIAL:
H.4703 Delleney: RELATING TO IMMUNITY FROM CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND CIVIL ACTIONS UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES FOR THE USE OF DEADLY FORCE AGAINST ANOTHER PERSON WHO ENTERS A DWELLING, RESIDENCE, OR OCCUPIED VEHICLE - Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

H.4706 McKnight: TO PROVIDE THAT IT IS UNLAWFUL TO SELL OR GIVE A FIREARM TO A PERSON WHOSE NAME APPEARS ON THE TERRORIST WATCH LIST - Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

H.4710 McKnight: TO PROVIDE THAT A PERSON WHO IS A CANDIDATE TO BECOME A CERTIFIED LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER IN THIS STATE MUST SUCCESSFULLY PASS A DRUG TEST - Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

H.4713 BallentineSO AS TO CLOSE THE SOUTH CAROLINA RETIREMENT SYSTEM - Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.

S. 1004 Young: RELATING TO THE ELECTION OF JUSTICES AND JUDGES - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary.

S. 1011 Cromer: RELATING TO THE RIGHT TO COMPENSATION NOT AFFECTED BY LIABILITY OF THIRD PARTIES - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary.

REAL ESTATE:
H.4712 White: RELATING TO THE TREATMENT OF AGRICULTURAL REAL PROPERTY - Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.

S.1013 Alexander: RELATING TO THE LICENSURE AND REGULATION OF REAL ESTATE BROKERS, SALESPERSONS, AND PROPERTY MANAGERS - Referred to the Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry.

TRANSPORTATION:
H. 4688 Clemmons: RELATING TO UNLAWFUL INTERFERENCE WITH TRAFFIC CONTROL DEVICES AND RAILROAD SIGNS AND SIGNALS - Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works.

S.1015 Leatherman: SO AS TO MAKE UNLAWFUL CERTAIN ACTIONS INVOLVING COUNTERFEIT OR NONFUNCTIONAL AIRBAGS - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary.

 

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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