South Carolina Legislative Update - April 3, 2015
April 3, 2015
The House of Representatives was on recess this week and the South Carolina Senate had an abbreviated week and met on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Senate approved and sent to the House several measures, including: enhancing the job tax credit for agriculture and financial entities creating new jobs in South Carolina, a measure requiring CPR and defibrillator training for high school students, and legislation authorizing a three month taxpayer amnesty program which will waive delinquent penalties and interest and prevent criminal investigation by the Department of Revenue.
The General Assembly is on Easter recess next week and will reconvene on April 14. We will resume our update the week of April 20. Happy Easter!
In The News
Lawmakers on Spring Break
As Easter approaches, lawmakers at the State House have started to take time off. The S.C. House of Representatives is on a two-week break that concludes the week after Easter. The S.C. Senate will be in session just on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, and then take a break on Thursday and next week. The House and Senate return together on April 14. Read more here.
GOP congressmen differ on Boeing-related issue
There was some disagreement Tuesday among four of South Carolina’s Republican U.S. congressmen when it came to federal issues impacting one of the state’s largest manufacturers. During a S.C. Chamber of Commerce forum, U.S. Reps. Mick Mulvaney of Indian Land, Tom Rice of Myrtle Beach, Mark Sanford of Charleston and Joe Wilson of Springdale fielded a question about the federal Export Import Bank, which helps Boeing sell planes overseas. Mulvaney said the bank needs serious reforms, including getting out of the business of making loans to foreign companies that have access to financing. He said the loan guarantor should be a “lender of last resort,” helping companies that would not be able to buy planes or other goods from U.S. companies without its U.S.-backed financing. Read more here.
SC highway commissioner targets environmental groups
In a lengthy diatribe against environmentalists last week, a state highway commissioner urged lawmakers to limit the ability of conservation groups to challenge construction projects. “It is time for this nonsense to stop and that individuals and groups who seek to delay construction of much-needed roadway projects, our port and other projects .... be held accountable for their actions,” Transportation Commissioner Mike Wooten told a Senate subcommittee. Wooten, a development engineer from Myrtle Beach, made his comments Wednesday as a larger debate is unfolding in the Legislature about loosening environmental rules. This year, the Legislature is considering at least a half dozen bills that would protect businesses and make development of the landscape easier. Read more here.
Transportation a hot topic in April
Long commutes on congested highways have spurred local leaders to reach out to the public for support and ideas on improving Lowcountry roads and public transportation. The League of Women Voters of the Charleston Area; the Berkeley, Charleston, Dorchester Council of Governments; and the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce are all holding events this month to explore transit issues. The league is holding a panel discussion called “Transit: Show Me the Money,” from 5:30 to 8 p.m. April 8 at North Charleston City Hall. Read more here.
Palmetto Sunrise: Road funding goes from front to back burner
A push for new road funding seemed like it was sure to get a tough, thorough debate at the beginning of this session, as state leaders pressed for a decisive resolution to fix the state’s beleaguered road system. Now, as both the House and Senate wind down for a spring break of sorts, two road funding plans have crawled to the House and Senate floors, respectively. But both chambers will have to put their foot on the gas after they come back from vacation to see either one pass before the May 1 deadline. The Senate is in at 2 p.m. today, making it increasingly unlikely they’ll take up the contentious issue. When they do, they’ll be staring down a veto threat. Read more here.
SC Senate panel approves closing DUI loophole on mopeds
Moped riders might not be able to get away with drunken driving much longer. A Senate panel moved Tuesday to close a loophole in South Carolina law so that police could charge them with driving under the influence. It’s one of several changes in state law being considered to make mopeds safer. As it is, moped riders don’t need a driver’s license and can’t be charged with DUI. The proposed measure defines mopeds as motor vehicles, which makes them subject to the same safety laws as cars and motorcycles. Read more here.