SC Public Policy Update - March 2016 #3

by Nexsen Pruet, PLLC
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What's New

SENATE
The Senate spent the week on the floor working on a compromise to S .997, a bill by Senator Lee Bright (R-Spartanburg) that would track refugees that are located in South Carolina. Senators agreed on several changes offered by Senator Kevin Bryant (R-Anderson) through an amendment before giving the bill second reading on Wednesday. The bill now requires the "sponsors" to enroll refugees with the South Carolina Department of Social Services (DSS) within 30 days of their entering the state. DSS must forward refugee information to the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) to ensure the refugees do not pose a safety threat to the public. Refugee "sponsors" would be held liable in civil court if a refugee commits a violent crime or act of terrorism.The amendment also eliminates the prohibition on the use of state or local funds to aid refugees. By unanimous consent, the Senate agreed to give the bill a third reading on Thursday in order to send the bill to the House.

The Senate Finance Committee met Tuesday on several bills of interest. The Committee gave a favorable report as amended to S. 1075, a natural gas incentive bill by Senator Paul Campbell (R-Berkeley). S. 1075 encourages commercial fleets to convert to LNG or CNG through vehicle purchase or conversion incentives, infrastructure incentives, an additional weight exemption, and a property tax adjustment to compensate for the additional expense of a natural gas vehicle. S. 982, a bill by Senator Harvey Peeler (R-Cherokee) relating to a sales tax exemption for natural gas, also received a favorable report as amended. S. 982 would create a sales tax exemption for the purchase of natural gas if the purchaser has a miscellaneous fuel user fee license and will convert the natural gas into compressed or liquefied natural gas for the use in their own motor vehicles. The purchaser would be required to remit the motor fuel user fees as required by law. The Committee also gave a favorable report as amended to H. 3147, the "South Carolina Giving Back to Our Veterans Act," by Representative Garry Smith (R-Greenville). H. 3147 provides that a South Carolina income tax deduction for all military retirement benefits attributable to active duty service in the United States Armed Forces. The deduction is gradually phased in under a three-year schedule so that a full deduction for military retirement benefits is provided for taxable years beginning after 2016.

The Committee also took up S. 743, the “Port Enhancement Zone Act” by Senator John Matthews (D-Orangeburg). S. 743 allows a moratorium on certain taxes if at least 50 full-time jobs are created in a “Port Enhancement Zone,” and received a favorable report from the Committee. The final bill reported favorably by the Committee was H. 4328 by Representative Brian White (R-Anderson). This legislation synchronizes certain filing deadlines regarding income tax withholdings. H. 4328 was amended to include the language found in S. 982 and S. 1073 relating to tax conformity. The five bills are now pending second reading on the Senate calendar. The five bills are now pending second reading on the Senate calendar.

The Senate Judiciary Committee also convened this week taking up several notable bills. The Committee reported favorably with an amendment on S. 913, a bill by Senator Larry Martin (R-Pickens) that would include law enforcement vehicle mounted video and audio recordings in the list of specific categories of information that is to be made available to the public under a Freedom of Information Act request. The bill also gives law enforcement the ability to apply for injunctive relief from the circuit court if there is clear and convincing evidence of specific harm that would occur as a result of the release of the recording. The Committee also reported favorably with an amendment on S. 650, by Senator John Scott (D-Richland), which gives SLED specific and exclusive jurisdiction to conduct an investigation of all officer-involved shootings that result or could have resulted in bodily injury or death. The bill also includes penalties for the failure to complete an independent investigation of such incidents.

Two bills involving alimony also received a favorable report by the Committee. S.1115, by Senator Greg Gregory (R-Lancaster), states that if alimony is awarded in a divorce proceeding, the award should be based on considerations of equity. Awards of alimony should adequately respond to the varied needs of modern society and seek to equitably resolve disputes arising in all actions for divorce and separation. The bill further states that it is the public policy of the State of South Carolina that, if alimony is awarded, no one form of alimony is preferred over the other and in consideration of all factors and evidence presented by the parties, the award of alimony should protect the public interest and should not benefit one individual over the other. S. 1169, also by Senator Gregory, revises Section 20-3-130(B) of the South Carolina Code of Laws to add two new types of alimony. “Transitional alimony” assists a supported spouse in transitioning to an adjusted lifestyle or new financial circumstances. “Fixed term alimony” allows a finite award to a supported spouse. The bill also revises the definition of cohabitation by specifying what factors the court will consider in making a cohabitation determination and applies this revised definition to Section 20-3-150 of the Code relating to the segregation of allowance between spouse and children. The bills reported favorably by the Judiciary Committee are now pending second reading on the Senate calendar.

The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee reported favorably with an amendment on H. 3799, a bill relating to Concealed Weapons Permits (CWPs) by Representative Bill Hixson (R-Aiken). H. 3799 makes provisions for so that South Carolina will automatically recognize CWPs for carrying handguns issued by Georgia and North Carolina. Currently, South Carolina has an established CWP reciprocity with North Carolina, but not Georgia. H. 3799 will now appear on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s agenda on Tuesday, April 5th.

Bills passed by the Senate this week include:

  • S. 973 – extends the date that certain revenue must be sent in to the South Carolina Forestry Commission to 2027 relating to the imposition of the insurance premium tax credit;
  • S. 997 – requires the registration of refugees that locate in South Carolina;
  • S. 1112 – increases the size limit for flounder from fourteen inches to fifteen inches total length; and
  • H. 4816 – designates June twenty-seventh of each year as South Carolina Post-Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI) Awareness Day.

The Senate will reconvene Tuesday, April 5th, at noon. Prior to adjourning on Wednesday, the Senate decided to take their furlough March 29th through March 31st.

HOUSE

The House of Representatives approved the State’s $7.5 billion budget on Wednesday by giving third reading to H. 5001 (Appropriations Bill) and H. 5002 (Capital Reserve Fund). Funding for roads captured most of the debate on Monday and Tuesday, as members of the House made a push to increase funding for infrastructure repairs across the state. In a move made by lawmakers late Tuesday night, the House agreed to shift $135 million to the Department of Transportation from the $185 million previously allocated to CTCs. This amendment increased the funding for road repair in South Carolina to a total of $415 million. This includes $49 million that will be used to pay for repairs made after the October floods. Additionally, an amendment to increase the gas tax by 10 cents-per-gallon was proposed by Representative J.E. Smith (D-Richland) which failed by a vote of 43-65.

Of the $415 million allocated for roads, $365 million will go directly to the Department of Transportation and $65 million will be sent to CTCs in order to repair secondary roads. Governor Haley held a press conference Wednesday to urge the House to focus on the reform component of the Department of Transportation and to agree with the Senate’s version of H. 3759, the “South Carolina Infrastructure Finance and Reform Act.” She has also expressed an interest in working with lawmakers to find a stable source of funding next year. The House will take up the Senate changes to H. 3579 when it returns from the Easter furlough.

In addition to funding for roads, other highlights from the budget as passed by the House of Representatives 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 on a rural health initiative to address medically underserved communities; and
  • $40 million for farm aid.

The House will be on furlough the week of March 29th and April 5th. The House is scheduled to reconvene on Tuesday April 12th at noon.

Top News Articles

Haley continues pressuring House to pass Senate’s road-repair plan
Gov. Nikki Haley continued to urge S.C. House members Wednesday to agree with a state Senate plan to repair the state’s crumbling roads. Read more.

House Oks 2% pay hike for SC employees, nearly $400 million for roads
The S.C. House approved a 2 percent pay hike for state workers Tuesday as part of the $7.5 billion general fund budget that takes effect July 1. Read more.

SC Senate passes state registry of refugees
The S.C. Senate approved a state registry of refugees Wednesday — a day after terrorists bombed a Brussels airport and subway station, killing more than 30 people and injuring another 250. Read more.

Former Lt. Gov McGill running for governor as a Republican
McGill, the last Democrat to hold statewide office, said he switched parties last week after years of leaning toward pro-Republican stances on government spending and regulation as well as abortion. Read more.

SC has paid $40 million since 2010 to settle road claims
The state has shelled out nearly $40 million since 2010 to settle road claims and lawsuits against the Transportation Department. Read more.

SC House approves $1,000 reward for killing coyotes
The S.C. House approved Wednesday a coyote-bounty program as part of the state budget. The bounty program would make hunters eligible for at least a $1,000-reward if they killed a tagged coyote. Read more.

Dashcam bill heads to Senate floor
The Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously sent bills to the Senate floor Tuesday that would require the release of police dashboard camera video in officer-involved shootings and mandate the State Law Enforcement Division oversee all officer-involved shootings. Read more.

Who’s running for Congress in SC?
Filing opened Wednesday and will close March 30. Read more.

Meetings and Events

Thursday, April 7, 2016

5:30 – 7:00 Reception for Senator Larry Grooms
Nexsen Pruet, Charleston

Newly Introduced Legislation

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT/TAX:
S. 1181 (Leatherman) RELATING TO THE INDUSTRY PARTNERSHIP FUND TAX CREDIT, SO AS TO INCREASE THE AGGREGATE ANNUAL CREDIT AMOUNT. Referred to the Committee on Finance.
H. 5161 (Neal) RELATING TO DISABILITY RETIREMENT, SO AS TO EXTEND THE DATE BY WHICH A PERSON MUST APPLY RELATIVE TO THE MEMBER'S LAST DAY OF EMPLOYMENT.
Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.
S. 1183 (Davis) RELATING TO THE STATE HOUSING FINANCE AND DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY, TO PROVIDE THAT THE AUTHORITY SHALL DEVELOP A QUALIFIED ALLOCATION PLAN FOR THE LOW INCOME HOUSING TAX CREDIT PROGRAM - Referred to the Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry.
S. 1189 (J. Matthews) RELATING TO THE JOB TAX CREDIT. Referred to the Committee on Finance.

EDUCATION:
H. 5140 (Pope) RELATING TO THE OPENING DATE FOR THE PUBLIC SCHOOL YEAR - Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works.
H. 5147 (Regulations and Administrative Procedures Committee) RELATING TO SPECIAL EDUCATION, EDUCATION OF STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES - Placed on calendar without reference.
H. 5154 (Regulations and Administrative Procedures Committee) RELATING TO PROGRAM APPROVAL STANDARDS FOR SOUTH CAROLINA TEACHER EDUCATION INSTITUTIONS - Placed on calendar without reference.
H. 5155 (Regulations and Administrative Procedures Committee) RELATING TO DISTRICT AND SCHOOL PLANNING - Placed on calendar without reference.
H. 5156 (Regulations and Administrative Procedures Committee) RELATING TO TEST SECURITY - Placed on calendar without reference.

ENVIRONMENTAL/NATURAL RESOURCES:
H. 5153 (Regulations and Administrative Procedures Committee) RELATING TO AIR POLLUTION CONTROL REGULATIONS AND STANDARDS - Placed on calendar without reference

HEALTHCARE:
H. 5142 (Willis) TO REQUIRE THE SOUTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES (DSS) TO ADMINISTER THE SUPPLEMENTAL NUTRITION ASSISTANCE PROGRAM (SNAP) - Referred to Committee on Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs.
H. 5143 (Regulations and Administrative Procedures Committee) RELATING TO STANDARDS FOR LICENSING HOSPICES - Placed on calendar without reference.
H. 5144 (Regulations and Administrative Procedures Committee) RELATING TO CRABMEAT - Placed on calendar without reference.
H. 5145 (Regulations and Administrative Procedures Committee) : TO APPROVE REGULATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, LICENSING AND REGULATION - BOARD OF DENTISTRY, RELATING TO CONTINUING EDUCATION IN STERILIZATION AND INFECTION CONTROL - Placed on calendar without reference.
H. 5148 (Regulations and Administrative Procedures Committee) TO APPROVE REGULATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, LICENSING AND REGULATION - BOARD OF MEDICAL EXAMINERS, RELATING TO PATIENT MEDICAL RECORDS - Placed on calendar without reference.
H. 5151 (Regulations and Administrative Procedures Committee) TO APPROVE REGULATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL, RELATING TO SOUTH CAROLINA TRAUMA CARE SYSTEMS - Placed on calendar without reference.
H. 5157 (Regulations and Administrative Procedures Committee) TO APPROVE REGULATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL, RELATING TO CHARGES FOR FAMILY PLANNING SERVICES - Placed on calendar without reference.
H. 5158 (Regulations and Administrative Procedures Committee) TO APPROVE REGULATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL, RELATING TO CHARGES FOR MATERNAL AND CHILD HEALTH SERVICES - Placed on calendar without reference.
H. 5159 (Regulations and Administrative Procedures Committee) TO APPROVE REGULATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL, RELATING TO SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASES - Placed on calendar without reference.
H. 5162 (Fry) TO ENACT THE "SOUTH CAROLINA TELEMEDICINE ACT" - Referred to Committee on Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs.

JUDICIAL:
H. 5150 (Bowers) TO PROVIDE THAT BEFORE A STATE ENTITY MAY ENTER INTO A CONTRACT TO SELL OR LEASE REAL PROPERTY OWNED BY IT OR THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA, IT MUST CAUSE A STUDY TO BE MADE OF WHAT PUBLIC USES COULD BE MADE OF THE PROPERTY IF IT WOULD BE PUT TO A NONPUBLIC USE - Referred to Committee on Judiciary.
H. 5164 (W. J. McLeod) TO ESTABLISH EARLY VOTING PROCEDURES - Referred to Committee on Judiciary.
S. 1182 (Shealy) RELATING TO DUTIES OF CORONERS AND MEDICAL EXAMINERS - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary.
S. 1190 (Bright) RELATING TO SUBMISSION TO TESTING FOR ALCOHOL OR DRUGS - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary.
S. 1191 (Hembree) TO DISAPPROVE AMENDMENTS TO THE SOUTH CAROLINA RULES OF CRIMINAL PROCEDURE - Referred to the Committee on Judiciary.

REAL ESTATE:
H. 5152 (Regulations and Administrative Procedures Committee) TO APPROVE REGULATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, LICENSING AND REGULATION - REAL ESTATE APPRAISERS BOARD, RELATING TO CONTINUING EDUCATION - Placed on calendar without reference

TRANSPORTATION:
H. 5141 (Bannister) TO PROVIDE THAT WHEN REPLACING OR BALANCING A TIRE A PERSON MAY NOT USE A WHEEL WEIGHT OR OTHER PRODUCT FOR BALANCING MOTOR VEHICLE WHEELS IF THE PRODUCT CONTAINS LEAD OR MERCURY THAT WAS INTENTIONALLY ADDED DURING MANUFACTURING - Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry.
H. 5146 (Regulations and Administrative Procedures Committee) TO APPROVE REGULATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, LICENSING AND REGULATION - COMMISSIONERS OF PILOTAGE, RELATING TO PILOT REGISTRATION - Placed on calendar without reference.
H. 5163 (Pitts) RELATING TO THE DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES' ISSUANCE OF DEALER LICENSE PLATES - Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry.

VETERINARY SERVICES:
H. 5160 (Ott) TO PROVIDE ALL ANIMAL SHELTERS THAT PROVIDE VETERINARY SERVICES IN THIS STATE ARE SUBJECT TO SUPERVISION AND REGULATION BY THE DEPARTMENT OF LABOR, LICENSING AND REGULATION - Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs..

 

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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