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South Carolina Legislative Update - February 1, 2016

February 1, 2016

Infrastructure, workforce development, Sharia Law, and automobile dealer closing fees seemed to dominate last week’s activities of the South Carolina General Assembly.  Below are a few highlights:

  • The House adopted and sent a workforce development measure to the Senate.  H. 4145 creates a Coordinating Council for Workforce Development and several workforce development programs;
  • The Senate Finance Committee held several meetings last week deliberating a proposed amendment to H. 3579 regarding infrastructure funding and potential tax relief.  The current amendment proposes a 12 cent increase to the motor user fee (gas tax) and also increases some driver related fees in an overall effort to raise over the $660 million in new revenue annually which has been dedicated to the following:  infrastructure improvement, a personal income tax reduction proposal, and a reduction for manufacturing and business property tax.  The Finance Committee will continue deliberations tomorrow at 3:00 pm.
  • The Senate Transportation Committee approved S. 510, which reforms SCDOT.  The bill proposes to change the designation of commissioner’s districts from congressional to the council of governments districts across South Carolina.  This change is expected to increase the number of commissioners from the current eight to ten.  Each council will nominate 3 candidates for the governor’s consideration and the governor will select one to submit for screening by the Joint Transportation Review Committee and the Senate Transportation Committee before being presented for confirmation by the Senate.
  • The House adopted H. 3521, which prohibits courts and other entities from enforcing foreign laws if that enforcement violates a federal or a state constitutionally guaranteed right (Sharia Law);
  • In addition, the House adopted H. 4660 relating to limited line and special producer licensure.  The bill also authorizes a licensed property casualty insurance producer to place surplus lines insurance through a licensed insurance broker without their needing to be appointed by the surplus lines insurer. 
  • The House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee’s Banking and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee began deliberations on H. 4548.  A companion bill to S. 911,  both bills are in response to a recent ruling by the South Carolina Supreme Court – Freeman vs. J. L. H. Investments, LP, a/k/a Hendrick Honda of Easley.   H. 4548, as introduced, clarifies an automobile dealer’s ability to collect closing fees and also provides for the clarification to be applied retroactively.  An amendment was adopted during the subcommittee debate removing the retroactivity clause, but the subcommittee will continue deliberations on the issue tomorrow afternoon.

Introductions

To view this week’s introductions in the Senate, please click here, and here for the House.

In The News

Haley, business leaders, political leaders back workforce education bill
Surrounded by a host of state political and business leaders, Gov. Nikki Haley on Wednesday announced a collaborative effort to ensure South Carolina’s workforce gets the training and education it needs to fill current and future jobs.  That effort includes backing legislation introduced in the S.C. House of Representatives to fund and streamline the training programs offered by the state’s technical colleges.  Although the state’s jobless rate has dropped to 5.5% and the number of South Carolinians earning paychecks has hit a record high, there are still 124,000 people out of work and 60,000 jobs unfilled, Haley said.  “There’s no reason why we can’t connect the dots,” Haley said.  South Carolina is making progress in attracting business, but it also is a “state that has a solid workforce and one that puts people back to work,” Haley said. “Our goal in South Carolina is to lift everybody up in every corner of the state, and to do it in a way that they feel like they are moving forward and that they are moving their families forward, and this is a start in a new direction.”  Since January 2011, 73,000 new jobs have been announced in South Carolina, along with more than $18.2 billion in capital investment.  The S.C. Workforce Development Act (H.4145), which was introduced in May by House Ways and Means Chairman Brian White, R-Anderson, would implement a statewide Coordinating Council for Workforce Development. It also would create scholarship and grant funding for programs provided by technical colleges and offer tax credits for contributions to scholarship funds; and it would implement tiered tax credits available for each apprenticeship a business creates. 

Senate approves Hall to lead DOT
State senators unanimously approved Christy Hall as head of the S.C. Department of Transportation on Thursday.  Gov. Nikki Haley appointed Hall as acting secretary after former secretary Janet Oakley resigned in June.  Haley nominated Hall to officially lead the agency in October.  Hall, 44, has worked at the Transportation Department for more than 20 years.  She led the agency through October’s historic flooding, which closed 541 roads and bridges at its peak.  Read more here.

Senators set framework for roads deal
State senators laid the framework for a road-repair bill Thursday as the Senate Transportation Committee approved changing the Transportation Department’s oversight.  However, critics said the proposed change will continue to blur responsibility and encourage “parochialism” on the Transportation Department commission.  The Senate Finance Committee debated the two other key parts of a road-repair proposal earlier in the week – how much to increase the state’s 16.75-cent-a-gallon gas tax and other driving fees, and how much to cut income and business taxes.  Senators hope to bring the three components together in an amendment to a House-passed road-repair proposal that has a priority spot on the Senate’s calendar, said state Sen. Joel Lourie, D-Richland. That amendment will emerge after the Finance Committee meets next week, Lourie said.  Senators on the transportation panel Thursday approved expanding the eight-member Transportation Department commission to 10 members. The state’s 10 Councils of Government, regional planning districts, would nominate three candidates for each commission seat and the governor would choose one. That commission now is legislatively controlled.  Senators on the roads panel were divided over the proposal, voting 9-6 to approve it. That division sets up a future fight on the Senate floor about whether the governor should have more direct control of the commission.  Read more here.

Nearly a third of SC gas tax is paid by out of state drivers
Just under a third of South Carolina’s gas tax is paid by out-of-state residents, according to estimates by the S.C. Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office.  The issue of who pays the state’s gas tax — now 16.75 cents a gallon — arose Wednesday as state senators tried to decide how much in tax cuts would be needed to offset a gas-tax hike, designed to raise money to repair the state’s crumbling roads.  Many senators want any roads deal — including a gas-tax hike and some tax cut — to add up to a net tax decrease, said state Sen. Ray Cleary, R-Georgetown. That is because Gov. Nikki Haley has said she will veto any tax increases.   Senate Finance Committee members are considering increasing the state’s gas tax by 12 cents a gallon over three years and hiking other driving-related fees. Those tax increases would raise an added $665 million a year to repair the state’s crumbling roads.  Those senators also are considering cutting state income and business taxes by nearly $400 million over four years.  However, once proposed higher gas taxes and fees that would be paid by out-of-state residents are factored out, the increases and cuts almost are in balance, senators were told Wednesday. There would be roughly $70 million more raised in new taxes than in the proposed tax cuts for S.C. residents and businesses.  Read more here.

Fixes for rural school buildings introduced in SC House
A bill aimed at committing state money to helping impoverished school districts replace or repair aging facilities was among eight proposals introduced Thursday in the S.C. House.  Another bill would allow the state to take control of a school district that is failing financially. Under current law, the state has that power only if a district is failing academically.  The facilities proposal follows calls from the governor and state schools chief this month for the state to do more to improve K-12 public school buildings, some crumbling from years of neglect.  S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley has proposed borrowing up to $200 million a year for school facilities. That would create a new source of money for school districts. Now responsible for building and maintaining their own schools, districts in impoverished, rural areas often struggle to raise enough money just to replace roofs, much less renovate schools.  The proposal aimed at improving school facilities, sponsored by House Education Committee chairwoman Rita Allison, R-Spartanburg, would create an authority that could borrow money on the state’s behalf to spend on school facilities.  Read more here.

SC Agriculture chief endorsing Bush
S.C. Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers is endorsing former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in his Republican bid for president, The State learned Sunday.  Weathers becomes the third statewide S.C. GOP politician to endorse a 2016 hopeful, and the second to back Bush after U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-Seneca.  South Carolina is becoming a vital state to Bush, who has lagged in early-primary state polls, including South Carolina where he is fourth.  Weathers, a popular figure in the farming community in his 12 years as agriculture commissioner, backed Newt Gingrich in the 2012 GOP presidential race that the former U.S. House Speaker won.  Read more here.

Coastal leaders, actors urge Obama to pull Atlantic drilling plans
Actress Kate Walsh teamed up with 50 coastal leaders for a day of lobbying Wednesday on Capitol Hill, asking federal officials to protect the Atlantic coast from the offshore drilling exploration planned by the Obama Administration.  The group also met with officials of the White House and the Department of the Interior, which plans to hold a lease sale for the Atlantic drilling sites in 2021.  The two-day Coastal Voices Summit, organized by conservation group Oceana, kicked off Tuesday at George Washington University with more than 100 coastal leaders and celebrities, including Ted Danson, known for his role in TV’s “Cheers,” Sam Waterston of “Law & Order” and Walsh from “Grey’s Anatomy.”  Read more here.

Senators advance bill protecting people who film police
A bill protecting people’s right to film or photograph S.C. police officers without threat of arrest advanced Tuesday to the Senate floor, where it’s already being held up.  The measure, overwhelmingly approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, follows the death last April of an unarmed black motorist in North Charleston. The white officer quickly was charged with murder after a bystander’s video showed him repeatedly shooting Walter Scott in the back as he ran away.  State Sen. Gerald Malloy, D-Darlington, said his proposal protects bystanders from arrest or intimidation if they are filming from a public place. Filming of officers has become routine nationwide anyway, and people should not be threatened to stop or give up their camera.  The proposal also specifies officers can’t search, damage or destroy the camera.  Read more here.

SC Senate committee Oks bill to track refugees
A bill requiring state police to track refugees coming to South Carolina and to hold their sponsors liable for damages if they commit an act of terrorism is on its way to the floor of the state Senate.  A Senate committee approved the measure Wednesday. A spokesman for an organization focused on protecting the civil rights of Muslims said South Carolina is the first state he knows of that has proposed such a registry.  The proposal has wide support among conservative Republicans, but its future could be bleak. Two Democrats on the Senate’s General Committee voted against it Wednesday, with one of them blocking floor debate. A Republican who initially supported the bill said she could not support a provision requiring that refugees’ addresses be placed on an Internet registry. 

Meeting Schedule

Tuesday, February 2

9:30 am -- Gressette Room 408 -- Agency Head Salary Commission

10:00 am -- Blatt Room 305 -- Legislative Group (Rep. Russell Ott)

10:00 am -- Blatt Room 427 -- SC Legislative Black Caucus

10:00 am -- Gressette Room 207 -- Transportation Subcommittee on H.3440

  • H. 3440 – Moped

10:30 am -- Blatt Room 521 -- Ways and Means Higher Education and Technical Colleges Subcommittee

  • I. SC Technical College System
  • II. 16 Technical Colleges
  • III. Member Requests

11:00 am -- Blatt Room 112 -- Majority Caucus

11:00 am -- Blatt Room 305 -- Minority Caucus

12:00 pm -- State House, House Chamber -- House of Representatives

12:00 pm -- State House, Senate Chamber – Senate

Upon adjournment of the House -- Blatt Room 112 -- Minority Caucus

1 hour after the House adjourns -- Blatt Room 110 -- Environment and Natural Resources Subcommittee of the Regulations and Administrative Procedures Committee

  • I. Document 4570 (DHEC) - Natural Public Swimming Areas
  • II. Document 4571 (DHEC) - Well Standards
  • III. Document 4590 (DHEC) - Air Pollution Control
  • IV. Document 4591 (DHEC) - Onsite Wastewater Systems
  • V. Document 4594 (DHEC) - Development of Subdivision Water Supply and Sewage Treatment and Disposal Systems
  • VI. Document 4565 (DHEC) - Underground Storage Tanks

1 hour after the House adjourns -- Blatt Room 108 -- Ways and Means Healthcare Subcommittee

  • I. Department of Health & Human Services
  • II. First Steps - BabyNet
  • II. Member Requests

1 hour after the House adjourns -- Blatt Room 321 -- Ways and Means Legislative, Executive, and Local Government Subcommittee

  • I. Agency Carried Over Provisos
  • II. Section 117 and 118 Provisos
  • III. Other Proviso Requests
  • IV. Member Requests

1 hour after the House adjourns -- Blatt Room 501 -- Ways and Means Transportation, Regulatory and Cultural Subcommittee

  • I. Proviso Requests
  • II. Member Requests

2:30 pm or 1½ hours after the House adjourns -- Blatt Room 516 -- Judiciary Committee

  • I. H. 3041 – Constitutional Officers of SC
  • II. H. 4703 – Immunity from Prosecution
  • III. H. 3685 – Electronic Tickets and Citations

2:30 pm -- Blatt Room 403 -- L.C.I. Banking and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee on H.4090 and H.4548

  • I. H. 4090 – Pawnbrokers
  • II. H. 4548 – Closing Fees of Motor Vehicle Sales Contract

2:30 pm or 1½ hours after the House adjourns -- Blatt Room 427 -- Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee

  • I. H. 4447 – Mobile Barbershop Permits

2:30 pm -- Blatt Room 521 -- Ways and Means Higher Education and Technical Colleges Subcommittee

  • I. Clemson University
  • II. Member Requests

3:00 pm -- Gressette Room 308 -- Finance Committee on H.3579

  • I. H. 3579 – Transportation Infrastructure Bank

3:00 pm -- Gressette Room 105 -- Judiciary Committee

  • I. H. 3184 – Ethics Reform Act
  • II. S. 1017 – Superintendent of Education
  • III. S. 281 – Transparency in Private Attorney Contracts
  • IV. S. 282 – Noneconomic Damages Limit
  • V. S. 226 – Traffic Offense
  • VI. S. 194 – Dilapidated Buildings Act
  • VII. S. 649 – Policy for Investigating Officer-involved Deaths
  • VIII. S. 220 – Arson
  • IX. S. 31 – Amendment to the US Constitution
  • X. S. 975 – Workers Compensation Commission
  • XI. H. 3325 – Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act

Wednesday, February 3

8:00 am - 10:00 am -- Blatt Room 112 -- Legislative Breakfast: South Carolina Housing Corp/SC HELP

8:00 am -- Blatt Room 305 -- SC General Assembly Women's Caucus

8:30 am -- Blatt Room 521 -- Leadership Anderson

8:30 am -- Blatt Room 110 -- Leadership Greenville and Leadership Greer

9:00 am -- Blatt Room 427 -- 3-M Subcommittee I, Health and Environmental Affairs

  • I. H. 4542 – Experimental Health Care Treatment Law

9:00 am -- Blatt Room 410 -- Agriculture Wildlife Subcommittee

  • I. H. 4094 – Whiting Catch Limits
  • II. H. 4743 – Conestee Foundation

9:00 am -- Blatt Room 403 -- L.C.I. Insurance Subcommittee on H.4470

  • I. H. 4470 – Filing of Death Certificates

9:00 am -- Gressette Room 105 -- Judiciary Subcommittee on H. 3191

  • I. H. 3191 – Create the Office of Freedom Act Review

9:00 am -- Gressette Room 308 -- Judiciary Subcommittee on H. 3450

  • I. H. 3450 – Alcohol

9:30 am -- Gressette Room 407 -- Fish, Game and Forestry Subcommittee on S.1030

  • I. S. 1030 – Nongame Fish

10:00 am -- Gressette Room 209 -- Fish, Game and Forestry Committee

  • I. S. 984 – Southern Cobia Management Zone
  • II. S. 780 – Sale and Trafficking of Grass Carp

11:00 am -- Gressette Room 207 -- L.C.I. Labor and Employment Subcommittee on H.3576

  • I. H. 3576 – Youth Sports Organizations

11:00 am -- Gressette Room 209 -- Transportation Committee

11:00 am -- Blatt Room 317 -- Legislative Group (Rep. Bill Herbkersman)

12:00 noon - 2:00 pm -- Blatt Room 112 -- Legislative Luncheon: South Carolina Chapter of Landscape Architects (Members Only)

1 hour after the House adjourns -- Blatt Room 110 -- Healthcare Subcommittee of the Legislative Oversight Committee

  • I. Department of Social Services

1½ hours after the House adjourns -- Blatt Room 511 -- Ways and Means Higher Education and Technical Colleges Subcommittee

  • I. Commission on Higher Education
  • II. Member Requests

1 hour after the House adjourns -- Blatt Room 108 -- Ways and Means Healthcare Subcommittee

  • I. Public Employee Benefit Authority
  • II. Area Health Education Consortium
  • III. Member Requests

1½ hours after the House adjourns -- Blatt Room 433 -- Education and Public Works Committee on H.3420H.3657H.4515 and H.4688

  • I.H. 3420 – High School Diplomas
  • II. H. 3657 – School Board Trustees
  • III. H. 4515 – In-state Tuition for People Entitled to Federal       Educational Assistance
  • IV. H. 4688 – Unlawful Interference with Traffic Control Devices and Railroad Signals

Thursday, February 4

8:00 am - 10:00 am -- Blatt Room 112 -- Legislative Breakfast: South Carolina Association of Community Economic Development (Members Only)

9:00 am -- Blatt Room 427 -- 3-M Subcommittee IV, Military and Public Affairs

  • I. H. 4165 – Homeowners' Association Regime Fee Fairness to Deployed Service Members Act

9:00 am -- Blatt Room 108 -- Education Subcommittee of the Regulations and Administrative Procedures Subcommittee

9:00 am -- Blatt Room 403 -- LCI Public Utilities Subcommittee on H.4679

  • I. H. 4679 – Local Exchange Carrier and Alternative Forms of Regulation

9:00 am -- Gressette Room 209 -- Corrections and Penology Committee on S.238

  • I. S. 238 – Inmates Attending Funeral Services

9:00 am -- Gressette Room 207 -- Judiciary Subcommittee on S.868

  • I. S. 868 – Procedures for Eminent Domain for Pipeline Companies

10:00 am -- Gressette Room 209 -- Judiciary Subcommittee on S. 72

  • I. S. 72 – Religious Instruction

10:00 am -- Gressette Room 105 -- Judiciary Subcommittee on S. 913

  • I. S. 913 – Freedom of Information Act

10:00 am -- Gressette Room 308 -- Medical Affairs Subcommittee on S.1016S.1024S.1035 and S.1036

  • I. S. 1016 – Eye Care Consumer Protection Law
  • II. S. 1024 – Organ Donor Registration Day
  • III. S. 1035 – SC Telemedicine Act
  • IV. S. 1036 – State Board of Dentistry

Upon adjournment of the House -- Blatt Room 110 -- Legislative Group (Rep. Jenny Horne)

1:00 pm -- Gressette Room 209 -- Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children

1:30 pm -- Blatt Room 433 -- Higher Education Governance Ad Hoc Committee

  • I. Review of Commission on Higher Education's Analysis of Statutes and Recommendations

Friday, February 5

8:00 am -- Blatt Room 112 -- South Carolina Attorney General's Office

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