South Carolina Legislative Report - April 27, 2012

April 23 - April 27, 2012 

On the Floor

Tax Reform Legislation
The House debated the various tax reform bills this week on the floor.  H. 4995, which provides for the elimination of various sales tax exemptions was approved and sent to the Senate for consideration. The bill had been previously amended to reinstate: exemptions for motion pictures, hearing aids, memorials, tangible personal property primarily used for children’s hospitals, the sales tax holiday in August, gold and silver, Second Amendment holiday, the one percent sales tax exemption for citizens 85 years of age or older, and building materials used in research districts. During debate from the floor, the bill was amended again to restore exemptions for sweet-grass baskets and machinery used in laundry businesses. 

H. 4996, another piece of the tax reform package was passed by the House with an amendment and sent to the Senate for consideration.  The bill, as amended, gradually reduces small business active income taxes from 5% to 3%. 

H. 4997, a bill to streamline personal income taxes from six tax brackets to three was also given second and third reading this week and introduced in the Senate.

Public Service Commission
The Senate approved of S. 1247 this week and sent it to the House where it was referred to the Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee.  The bill states that a copy of every final order or decision by the commission must be served by electronic service, registered or certified mail upon all parties to the proceeding or their attorneys.

School Bus Privatization Act
H. 4610, which creates an 11-member committee to study the decentralization of school transportation services in this state either by the public sector, private sector, or combination of both, was passed by the House this week.  The bill, which originally gave authority to individual school districts to contract with private sector vendors for bus services, was stricken in committee in favor of the study committee.

Limited Liability Companies
H. 5150, a response to a recent South Carolina Supreme Court opinion, 16 Jade Street v. R. Design Construction Co., LLC, et al., received approval from the House this week and was sent to the Senate.  S. 1416, the Senate companion bill was carried over last week in the Judiciary Committee.

Resident Vendor Preferences for Procurement
H. 4640, a bill to amend preferences given to resident vendors submitting bids for procurement contracts was passed by the House this week and sent to the Senate for consideration.  Among other changes, the bill allows for a procurement officer to decrease a bidder's price by 9% if the bidder maintains an office or is otherwise domiciled in this State.

Nursing Permits for Medicaid Facilities
H. 5028, which is a one-year joint resolution dealing with the Medicaid nursing home permit law, passed the Senate this week with amendments and was returned to the House for consideration.  The resolution directs DHEC to temporarily suspend enforcement of certain provisions of the Medicaid nursing home permit law relating to penalties for providing fewer Medicaid bed days, allowing for the transfer of allotted bed days across county lines and to direct apportionment of bed days by the agency. The resolution is in response to a Horry County facility that currently participates in the Medicaid program but is transitioning from a Medicaid facility to assisted living.

Capital Project Sales Tax Act
S. 1100, a bill to authorize dredging, dewatering, construction of spoil sites, and the disposal of spoil material for funding by county capital projects was passed by the Senate this week and will be introduced in the House next week.  

Governor/Lieutenant Governor – Joint Ballot
The Senate gave approval to a joint resolution (H. 3152) amending the Constitution of South Carolina to authorize the governor and lieutenant governor to run on the same ballot.  An amendment to the resolution calling for the change to take effect in 2018 was adopted.  This amendment would not allow the current Governor to select her running mate during the 2014 election.  Governor Haley expressed her deep displeasure with the amendment and accused the Senate of playing politics.

Senate Finance Guarantees Federal Share of Port Dredging
The Senate approved of a bill, S. 1431, to allow for the state to borrow up to $120 million for dredging the Charleston Harbor, should the federal government not hold up its end of the deal. Despite the bill’s passage, critics argue that the General Assembly should find money in the budget rather than authorize a capital improvement bond. 

In Committee

Relocation of Water and Sewer Lines
The House Education and Public Works Committee gave a favorable report to H. 4487 as amended.  The bill would have required the Department of Transportation to bear the cost of moving all publicly owned water and sewer lines located in the right of way for state transportation improvement projects; however, the adopted amendment establishes a committee to study the issue. The bill will be up for consideration on the floor next week.

Streamlining Government
S. 10, a joint resolution to create the Commission on Streamlining Government and Reduction of Waste, was approved by the Senate this week.  The bill calls for the commission to examine each agency's statutory activities, functions, programs, services, powers, duties, and responsibilities to determine, in an effort to reduce the size of state government, which of these activities, functions, programs, services, powers, duties, and responsibilities may be eliminated, consolidated and outsourced.

Senate Finance – Budget
The Senate Finance Committee took up H. 4813 (General Appropriations) and H. 4814 (Capital Reserve Fund) this week.  The committee has taken testimony from the various state agencies and will continue to debate the budget through next week.

In the News

Cross Over Deadline
This week, the House and Senate worked feverishly to pass legislation before the “cross over deadline” of May 1st.  Legislation that that has not cleared its original body of introduction by the deadline faces all but certain death for the year.  Legislation crossing over after the deadline faces a 3/5 vote of either body to be considered that year. 

Supreme Court to Hear Election Lawsuit
The state Supreme Court has agreed to hear a suit brought by two Lexington County men claiming that candidates that did not properly fill out, or did not fill out at all, statements of economic interest should be removed from the ballot.  It is unknown how many candidates the ruling could affect, however it is believed that dozens of candidates, if not more, failed to properly comply with the law. 


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