SC Public Policy Update - March #1

by Nexsen Pruet, PLLC
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What's New

SENATE

The three-week filibuster on the South Carolina Infrastructure Finance Reform and Tax Relief Act (H.3579) ended late Wednesday night when lawmakers agreed via a party line vote (24-16) to move to Amendment 31A on the bill. Although the amendment has not been formally adopted, members plan to use it as the “working document” going forward. Amendment 31A provides $400 million per year for roads from the State’s general fund without increasing the gas tax. The Amendment also includes reform to the Department of Transportation and the State Infrastructure Bank. Although many view the move as progress, several lawmakers including House Speaker Jay Lucas (R-Darlington) view the new Senate plan as a short-term fix. Debate on the bill will resume on Tuesday.

In addition to debate on the roads bill, the Senate discussed several other notable bills this week. S.1035, a bill by Senator Ray Cleary (R-Georgetown) involving the practice of telemedicine, was amended and received third reading. The amendment to the bill by Senator Kevin Bryan (R-Anderson) prevents the prescribing of abortion inducing drugs through telemedicine.

S.868, a bill by Senator Tom Young (R-Aiken) also received third reading this week. S.868 will prevent private companies not regulated by the State from condemning land in South Carolina for the purpose of pipeline construction. The bill now moves to the House for debate.

Bills passed by the Senate this week include:

  • S.284 – provides that very small businesses and qualified exempt facilities are not required to comply with any requirement to implement hazard analysis and risked-based preventative controls under the federal “Good Manufacturing Practice Regulations,” but will continue to be subject to all other “Good Manufacturing Practice Regulations”;
  • S.626 – exempts 80% of the fair market value of a renewable energy resource for a period of ten years provided the property is operational by December 31, 2020, and also fully exempts a distributed renewable energy generation property for residential use;
  • S.788 – enacts the “Managed Tidal Impoundment Preservation Act,” by exempting property that is deemed eligible under a United States Army Corps of Engineers’ General Permit from the permitting requirements in certain circumstances and grants enforcement authority to the Coastal Division of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control;
  • S.868 – establishes procedures for the exercise of eminent domain powers and prohibits non-utility pipelines from using eminent domain power;
  • S.1035 – defines the practice of “Telemedicine” and provides for certain restrictions;
  • S.1116 – approves regulationsrelating to education certification requirement designated in Regulation 4637;
  • S.1117 – approves regulations involving requirements for teacher credential classifications;
  • S.1118 – allows the State Board of Education, in consultation with the South Carolina Department of Education, authority to create, amend, or delete areas of initial certification, add-on certification, specialized endorsements, and specialized alternative certification;
  • S.1119 – permits the State Board of Education to define the courses in which end-of-course tests must be administered and permits the South Carolina Department of Education to work directly with districts concerning testing specific students when unusual circumstances arise;
  • S.1120 – provides that either the State Board of Education accredits a school district or the school district seeks accreditation from an accrediting entity approved by the Commission on Higher Education;
  • H.3265 – includes within Comprehensive Health Education Programs new requirements for public high school students to receive CPR training; and
  • H.4639 - allows the Commission on Higher Education to enter into interstate reciprocity agreements, such as the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement, governing the operation of postsecondary distance education programs offered by accredited degree-granting institutions of higher learning in South Carolina.

The Senate Judiciary Committee met Tuesday on H.4548, the dealer closing fee bill. After a brief discussion, the Committee reported the bill out by a vote of 16-1. Senator Brad Hutto (D-Orangeburg) stated that although he supports the bill, he voted no in order to place a minority report on the bill. This will procedurally slow the legislation’s progress until he removes his objection. H.4548 currently resides on the contested portion of the Senate calendar.

The Committee also reported favorably on H.4666, a bill by Representative Tommy Pope (R-York) that will establish provisions for local Domestic Violence Fatality Review Committees. This legislation would require each Circuit Solicitor to establish an interagency circuit-wide review committee that would assist local law enforcement agencies in identifying and reviewing domestic violence deaths and in facilitating communication among the various agencies involved in domestic violence cases. Local Domestic Fatality Review Committees must also submit reports to the state’s Domestic Violence Advisory Committee regarding recommended improvements to domestic violence response and prevention initiatives.

The Senate will reconvene Tuesday at noon.

HOUSE

The House continued to work through the calendar this week on bills passed by committees. The Second Amendment Preservation Act, by Representative Mike Pitts (R-Laurens), passed the House via a party line vote. This legislation prohibits the State from enforcing federal gun laws that took effect on January 1, 2016. The House also passed H.4717, a comprehensive farm aid bill by Representative Brian White (R-Anderson). Both bills will now move to the Senate for debate.

The House Education and Public Works Subcommittee met on several bills of interest this week. H.4869 by Representative Shannon Erikson (R-Beaufort) would provide additional requirements involving child passenger restraint systems. The Subcommittee heard testimony from Dr. Deborah Greenhouse from the American Academy of Pediatrics in support of the bill. Dr. Greenhouse stressed that all children under the age of 13 should sit in the back seat of a car based on recent studies. The Subcommittee instructed staff to gather information regarding front-seat age requirements in surrounding states and adjourned debate on the bill. The Subcommittee also made a request for staff to collect additional data and information on H.4932 and H.4970. H.4932 by Representative Rita Allison (R-Spartanburg), relates to maximum lengths and weights of vehicles that may be operated along the State’s highways. H.4970 by Representative R.L. Brown (D-Charleston), would require the Department of Transportation to install signs along South Carolina’s interstate highways informing slower traffic to travel in the right lane. Both bills received a simple adjourn debate vote by the Subcommittee and will remain on the Subcommittee’s agenda at the next meeting.

Bills passed by the House this week include:

  • S.975 – allows the Governor to reappoint a person as chairman of the Workers’ Compensation Commission and further provides that the Commission is not required to elect a chairman from among its members in the event the Governor does not appoint or reappoint a chairman;
  • S.1002 – reconfigures the boundaries of the Murrell’s Inlet-Garden City Fire District;
  • S.1076 – provides that a Department of Health and Environmental Control permit is not required for maintenance dredging in existing navigational canals within community developments;
  • H.4413 – sets out safe havens where individuals may leave infants under one year of age without being subject to criminal penalties for doing so;
  • H.4537 – provides an income tax credit for contributions to a scholarship funding organization that provides tuition grants for exceptional needs students to attend certain independent schools, including religious institutions and other eligible private schools;
  • H.4701 – establishes the “Second Amendment Preservation Act,” that prohibits the State from enforcing any federal limitations that came into effect after January 1, 2016, that apply to individuals owning, possessing, or using firearms;
  • H.4717 – creates the “South Carolina Farm Aid Fund” with a $40 million appropriation in an effort to assist farmers who sustained over 40% crop loss as a result of October 2015 flood in South Carolina;
  • H.4743 – declares Lake Conestee Nature Park in Greenville County as a “Wildlife Sanctuary” for the protection and conservation of game, songbirds, waterfowl, fish, amphibians, other animals, and plant life;
  • H.4876 – amends the periods of time when striped bass may be taken in various bodies of water. The bill also provides for establishes geographic boundaries for the portion of the Intracoastal Waterway located in Horry County;
  • H.4941 – requires the State Department of Education (SDE) to establish a program for identifying fiscal practices and budgetary conditions that could compromise the fiscal integrity of a school district;
  • H.4943 – restructures South Carolina’s hunting laws on white-tailed deer and the issuance of deer hunting tags; and
  • H.4946 – establishes minimum criteria involving the construction, operation, and bacteriological water quality at natural public swimming areas.

Printed versions of the House Ways and Means appropriation bills will be placed on the members’ desks next week for review. The House plans to begin floor debate on the budget beginning the week of March 21st.

The House will reconvene Tuesday at noon.

Top News Articles

Counties slow to spend road money from SC lawmakers
Counties have made plans to spend less than half of the $216 million in road money that lawmakers set aside for them last year. Read more.

S.C. Associate Justice Beatty says he is focusing on chief justice’s election
Donald Beatty said Friday that he is focusing on the election to become chief justice of the S.C. Supreme Court, not his nomination to be a federal judge. Read more.

Top Republicans decline to run for S.C. chief justice
S.C. House GOP leaders have tried to enlist some of the state’s most prominent Republicans into running for Supreme Court chief justice. Read more.

New bills on alimony, prosecution, environment, retirement system
State lawmakers introduced about 90 bills over the last week — 26 in the Senate and 62 in the House. Read more

State House’s Longest-Serving Member Announces Retirement
The state’s longest-serving representative is retiring after 32 years in the South Carolina House. Read more.

Senate roads plan draws mixed reviews
Gov. Nikki Haley and a majority of Republicans claimed victory for a $400 million roads plan that has no gas tax increase and puts more power over the state Department of Transportation in the governor’s hands. Read more.

Tempers flare as Senate finally takes up roads bill
The Senate began debating and voting on a roads bill Wednesday evening, eventually agreeing to consider a GOP plan that would raise $400 million more per year for roads without any increase in the state's gas tax. Read more.

Republican SC House leader rips Senate GOP roads bill
A state Senate Republican plan to spend $400 million on roads without raising the gas tax is on a collision course with the GOP-controlled S.C. House, despite winning the governor’s blessing Thursday. Read more.

SC Gov. Haley backs Senate GOP’s gas-tax free roads plan
S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley threw her support behind a Senate Republican plan to spend $400 million more money on roads without raising the gas tax. Read more.

Senators pressured to pass, kill roads bill
Dueling advocacy groups amplified their calls for state senators to act on legislation aimed at facing the state’s crumbling roads and bridges. Read more.

Coal ash bill signed; pipeline legislation passes Senate
A coalition of environmentalists and conservative politicians has scored legislative victories that many say will protect communities from coal ash dumping and unwanted petroleum pipelines. Read more.

House passes Second Amendment Preservation Act that snubs Washington
The S.C. House of Representatives passed a bill Wednesday along a party-line vote that prevents the state from enforcing federal gun laws that took effect this year. Read more.

Charleston senator re-evaluating bill that regulates installation of large utility poles A Charleston senator is deciding if his bill regulating utility poles and other construction is necessary after a hearing last week with SCE&G revealed the problem may have solved itself. Read more.

Meetings and Events

Tuesday, March 8, 2016
5:30 -8:00 2016 Annual Democratic Caucus Business Roundtable Reception
M Space, 530 Lady Street

Wednesday, March 9, 2016
5:00 – 6:00 Reception for Representatives Whipper, Gilliard, Williams and Weeks
Kaminsky’s, 930 Gervais Street

6:00 – 8:00 House Republican Caucus Keep the Majority
Palmetto Club

Newly Introduced Legislation

BANKING/INSURANCE:
S. 1138 (Sheheen) RELATING TO EDUCATION AND CONTINUING EDUCATION REQUIREMENTS FOR PROFESSIONAL BONDSMEN - Referred to the Committee on Banking and Insurance.
H. 5040 (Mack) RELATING TO TERRITORIAL APPLICATION OF THE CONSUMER PROTECTION CODE - Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT/TAX:
H. 5022 (Sandifer) RELATING TO MUNICIPAL LICENSE FEES AND TAXES IN INSURANCE LAW - Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry.
H. 5034 (White) TO REQUIRE THE DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE TO ESTABLISH AN INFORMATIONAL CHARITABLE BINGO WEBPAGE ON ITS WEBSITE - Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.

EDUCATION:
H. 4947 (Regulations and Administrative Procedures Committee) RELATING TO ALIGNMENT OF ASSESSMENT AND ACCOUNTABILITY ELEMENTS WITH THE NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND ACT - Referred to the Committee on Education.
H. 5021 (Collins) TO ENACT THE "ADULT STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES EDUCATIONAL RIGHTS CONSENT ACT" - Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works.
H. 5024 (Clary) TO REQUIRE THAT BEFORE THE 2016-2017 SCHOOL YEAR, THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION SHALL PROVIDE ALL READING/LITERACY COACHES AND LITERACY TEACHERS WITH TRAINING ON DYSLEXIA - Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works.

HEALTHCARE:
S. 1128 (Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee) TO APPROVE REGULATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, LICENSING AND REGULATION - BOARD OF MEDICAL EXAMINERS, RELATING TO PATIENT MEDICAL RECORDS - Placed on the Calendar without reference.
S. 1142 (Cromer) TO PROCLAIM THE WEEK OF MARCH 6-12, 2016 AS "MEDICAL ASSISTANTS WEEK" - Adopted.
S. 1143 (Grooms) RELATING TO LICENSING OF BIRTHING CENTERS

JUDICIARY:
S. 1135 (Malloy) TO PROVIDE THAT A PERSON MUST NOT BE SENTENCED TO DEATH OR A TERM OF IMPRISONMENT FOR LIFE WITHOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF PAROLE IF THAT PERSON WAS LESS THAN EIGHTEEN YEARS OF AGE AT THE TIME THE OFFENSE WAS COMMITTED. - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary.
S. 1136 (Malloy): RELATING TO THE REQUIREMENT THAT THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY PROVIDE FOR THE SEPARATE CONFINEMENT OF JUVENILE OFFENDERS FROM OLDER CONFINED PERSONS - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary.
S. 1139 (Allen) TO PROVIDE THAT THE SOUTH CAROLINA LAW ENFORCEMENT DIVISION SHALL FURNISH TO THE SOUTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE DOCUMENTATION OF ALL CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary.
S. 1140 (Fair) RELATING TO OFFENSES INVOLVING DISTURBING SCHOOLS - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary.
S. 1141 (Sheheen) TO ENACT THE "TEEN DATING VIOLENCE PREVENTION ACT.” - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary.
H. 5035 (McCoy) TO ENACT THE "PROVISIONS FOR COST OF ANIMAL CARE ACT" - Referred to Committee on Judiciary.
H. 5036 (Goldfinch) TO CREATE THE OFFENSE OF IMPERSONATING A LAWYER AND PROVIDE GRADUATED PENALTIES. - Referred to Committee on Judiciary.
H. 5037 (Quinn) - RELATING TO ABSENTEE VOTING AND MARKING OF BALLOTS - Referred to Committee on Judiciary.
H. 5038 (Nanney) RELATING TO CERTAIN PUBLIC OFFICIALS THAT POSSESS A CONCEALED WEAPON PERMIT WHO ARE ALLOWED TO CARRY A CONCEALABLE WEAPON WHILE PERFORMING THEIR OFFICIAL DUTIES - Referred to Committee on Judiciary.
H. 5039 (Hardee) RELATING TO PUBLIC OFFICIALS, PUBLIC MEMBERS, AND PUBLIC EMPLOYEES WHO ARE REQUIRED TO FILE A STATEMENT OF ECONOMIC INTERESTS - Referred to Committee on Judiciary.
H. 5041 (Rutherford) RELATING TO THE CONDUCT OF PAROLE, PARDON, AND CLEMENCY HEARINGS - Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

REAL ESTATE:
S. 1130 (Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee): TO APPROVE REGULATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, LICENSING AND REGULATION - REAL ESTATE APPRAISERS BOARD - Placed on the Calendar without reference.
H. 5023 (Sottile) RELATING TO DEFINITIONS IN THE SOUTH CAROLINA REAL ESTATE APPRAISER LICENSE AND CERTIFICATION ACT - Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry.

TRANSPORTATION:
S. 1129 (Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee): TO APPROVE REGULATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, LICENSING AND REGULATION - COMMISSIONERS OF PILOTAGE - Placed on the Calendar without reference.

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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