Posts From February, 2017

Issue 7-17 - February 24, 2017 

Friday, February 24, 2017 9:07:00 AM Categories: Budget Retirement
State Budget — H. 3720

Ways and Means Committee completed work on its version of the budget this week. Almost all of the money available went to a few big ticket items:

  • $150 million was allocated to the retirement system. This appropriation pays for the full 2 percent state government employer increase and 1 percent of the local government employers increase. This was a $32 million appropriation on behalf of local government. Please thank the members of Ways and Means for this important allocation to local governments.
  • $45 million to annualize cost increases in Health and Human Services
  • $38 million to the Public Schools EFA
  • $25 million to cover cost increases in the state health plan
  • $20 million for mandated DSS computers
  • $10 million to the Department of Mental Health to annualize and maintain the effort of DMH in Forensics. This program diverts mental health patients from local jails to mental health facilities.

These six items accounted for almost $288 million of the available recurring money. Also of interest is $1 million in recurring dollars appropriated to the county libraries.

Additionally, $83.5 million was appropriated from nonrecurring funds for the state and local FEMA match for Hurricane Matthew and the Pinnacle Mountain Fire. Approximately 60 percent of this allocation goes to those local governments affected by Hurricane Matthew.

Unfortunately, Ways and Means failed to match last year’s appropriation to the Local Government Fund (LGF). Please continue to support SCAC’s position:

“Support amending the Local Government Fund Formula to set the base funding level at $223.2 million with a yearly increase in the fund that corresponds with the growth in the State General Fund up to 5 percent. Also, standardize a list of state mandates that all counties are responsible for in order to quantify the need for the LGF.”

Please contact the members of the House and ask that they move last year’s nonrecurring appropriation to the base AND increase the LGF by the same percentage as this year’s general fund growth!

Flexibility Proviso in Peril

Ways and Means Committee adopted the amended version of the County Flexibility Proviso. If counties are to retain the usefulness of this proviso, you need to make contact with your House members!

The Flexibility Proviso was amended to exclude the assessment for indigent medical care from being reduced.

Proviso 113.7 currently states that a political subdivision receiving aid from the LGF may reduce its support to any state mandated program or requirement by up to a percentage equal to the percentage reduction in the actual amount appropriated to the LGF, as compared to the amount required to be appropriated pursuant to §6-27-30. Already excluded are Administrative Law Judges and their offices, Court of Appeals and their offices, Circuit and Family Courts and their offices, Magistrates and their offices, Masters in Equity and their offices, Probate Courts and their offices, Public Defenders and their offices, Solicitors and their offices, and the Supreme Court and its offices.

Please call your House member and ask that this “exclusion” for the medical indigent program be deleted. There is no flexibility when you exclude any mandate that costs an agency money!

State Retirement System — H. 3726 & S. 394

H. 3726, the House version of the State Retirement System bill is on the House calendar and may be debated next week. S. 394, the Senate companion bill, was passed out of Senate Finance Committee with a technical amendment and is pending second reading in special order status on the Senate calendar.

The bills increase and cap SCRS employee contribution rates at 9 percent. Employer contribution rates are increased to 13.56 percent for FY 17-18. The employer contribution rate will then increase 1 percent every year until FY 22-23, rising to 18.56 percent. PORS (Police Officers Retirement System) employee contribution rates are increased and capped at 9.75 percent. PORS employer rates are increased to 16.24 percent for FY 17-18 and increase 1 percent every year, rising to 21.24 percent in FY 22-23.

According to Revenue and Fiscal Affairs, local government employer contributions would increase by $67,400,000 in FY 17-18 and by an additional $33,700,000 each year in FY 18-19 through FY 22-23, for a total of $235,800,000 over the next six fiscal years. As noted above, the House Ways and Means Committee appropriated funds in the state budget to cover 1 percent of the first-year employer contribution increase for local government employers.

The bills reduce the unfunded amortization schedule from 30 years to 20 and reduce the annual rate of return from investments from 7.5 percent to 7.25 percent. A new annual rate of return must be set in 2021 and every four years thereafter.

The bills also allow the General Assembly to allocate money to relieve the employers’ increased share.

Legislation of Interest

Administrative Court Automatic Stay — S. 105. As amended by the Senate Judiciary, this bill provides that 45 days after a contested case is initiated in Administrative Court, a party may move to lift an automatic stay or for a determination of the stay’s applicability. Hearings are to be held within 30 days after a motion is filed. The court shall then lift the stay unless it is proven there is a likelihood of irreparable harm if the stay is lifted or continuing the stay serves the public interest, among other factors. S. 105 received a favorable report as amended and is on the Senate calendar for second reading.

Campaign Contributions — S. 107. This bill, among other things, originally increased campaign contribution limits and provided that these limits would be adjusted in odd-numbered years based on CPI. The Senate Judiciary amended the bill to remove these limit increases and removed the CPI adjustment provision. The bill received third reading in the Senate and was sent to the House.

Magistrates’ Jurisdiction — S. 118. This bill increases the magistrates’ civil jurisdiction from $7,500 to $10,000. The bill was given third reading in the Senate and sent to the House.

Attorney Access for Inmates — H. 3278. This bill provides that a state or local detention facility cannot prohibit an in-person meeting between an inmate and his attorney, provided the meeting does not disrupt the facility’s security or normal operations. The House amended the bill to add that the facility may provide visual observation of the area in which the meeting occurs, but cannot provide audio or video supervision of the area. H.3278 received third reading in the House and was sent to the Senate.

Indecent Exposure in Jails — S. 369. This bill provides that it is unlawful to willfully and indecently expose one’s self in a correctional or detention facility. A Senate Corrections subcommittee amended the bill to include graduated penalties for second and subsequent offenses. S. 369 received a favorable report as amended and will be on the full Committee’s agenda.

Employee Benefits — S. 218. This bill provides that a political subdivision may not establish, mandate, or otherwise require an employee benefit in employment relationships to which they are not a party. S. 218 received a favorable report from a House L.C.I. subcommittee and will be on the full committee’s next agenda.

C-PACE — S. 261. This bill creates a mechanism for a commercial property owner or non-profit to receive a private loan for energy efficiency or water conservation measures. The loan is repaid through billings on the property tax bill. The Senate L.C.I. Committee carried over S. 261 to do some additional work on the bill.  

Dam Regulations — S. 5. This bill would require DHEC to inspect dams that are traversed by a state road, regardless of whether or not the dam is regulated. DHEC has identified at least 400 dams that could impact state roads and not all these dams are regulated. Due to a number of concerns, the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee carried the bill over to gather additional information.

Children’s Advocacy Center Records — S. 80. This bill requires any Child Advocacy Center forensic records released to the Department of Social Services and law enforcement and other governmental entities charged with the investigation and prosecution of child abuse to be accompanied by an order of protection issued by a circuit court or family court judge. A person who fails to obey the order of protection shall be found in contempt of court. A Senate General subcommittee adopted an amendment to broaden which entities are covered by the order of protection and gave S. 80 a favorable report as amended.


Newly-Introduced Legislation

View/Download Full Text for Newly-Introduced Legislation

Note: If you would like to offer comments to the SCAC staff, please call us toll-free at 1-800-922-6081, fax to (803) 252-0379, or send an email. You can also go to www.scstatehouse.gov and click on "Legislation," then "Introduced Legislation."

Senate Bills

S. 446Increases the Industry Partnership Fund tax credit.

S. 449Enacts the “South Carolina Constitutional Carry Act of 2017.”

S. 451Enacts the “South Carolina Youth Challenge Academy and South Carolina Jobs Challenge Program Expungement Act.”

S. 470Provides that when a person is confined at a detention center for a nonviolent Class B or C misdemeanor, an offense which carries a maximum penalty of no more than 2 years, or a traffic violation, he may secure immediate release upon payment of a cash or surety bond with the detention facility or jail official trained by a magistrate to accept bail on his behalf.

S. 472Requires certain nonprofit corporations that receive more than $100 in public funds to submit a quarterly expenditure report to the awarding jurisdiction.

House Bills

H. 3827Enacts the “South Carolina Crime Victims Service Act” to restructure and consolidate victim services.

H. 3835Authorizes reserve police officers to receive workers’ compensation at a rate 37.5 percent of the average weekly wage in the state for the preceding fiscal year.

H. 3842For purposes of the community development tax credit, deletes an aggregate credit provision and sets an annual limit of tax credits at 5 million.

H. 3846Removes the provision that requires a homeowner who makes improvements to his own home himself to have a homebuilder’s license if he sells or rents the home within 2 years after the improvements are made.

H. 3848Requires the Department of Juvenile Justice to report child deaths to a county coroner and law enforcement.

H. 3849Establishes a residency requirement for candidates for local office that are elected from specific districts.

Issue 6-17 - February 17, 2017 

Friday, February 17, 2017 10:58:00 AM Categories: Business License LGF Retirement
State Retirement System H. 3726

Ways and Means Committee passed H. 3726, the House version of the State Retirement System bill, out this week. The bill will be on the House calendar next week.

The bill increases and caps SCRS employee contribution rates at 9 percent. Employer contribution rates are increased to 13.56 percent for FY 17-18. The employer contribution rate will then increase 1 percent every year until FY 22-23, rising to 18.56 percent. PORS (Police Officers Retirement System) employee contribution rates are increased and capped at 9.75 percent. PORS employer rates are increased to 16.24 percent for FY 17-18 and increase 1 percent every year, rising to 21.24 percent in FY 22-23.

According to Revenue and Fiscal Affairs, local government employer contributions would increase by $67,400,000 in FY 17-18 and by an additional $33,700,000 each year in FY 18-19 through FY 22-23, for a total of $235,800,000 for the next six fiscal years.

The bill reduces the unfunded amortization schedule from 30 years to 20 and reduces the annual rate of return from investments from 7.5 percent to 7.25 percent. A new annual rate of return must be set in 2021 and every four years thereafter.

The bill allows the General Assembly to allocate money to relieve the employers’ increased share.

Please contact your House members and ask that money be appropriated in the budget to pay for these increased costs. Otherwise, property taxpayers will be on the hook for repairing the retirement system!

Proviso Subcommittee and the Local Government Fund

The proviso subcommittee met this week and adopted several provisos. One significant amendment to the County Flexibility Proviso was made and needs your immediate attention!

The flexibility proviso was amended to exclude the assessment for indigent medical care from being reduced.

Proviso 113.7 currently states that a political subdivision receiving aid from the LGF may reduce its support to any state mandated program or requirement by up to a percentage equal to the percentage reduction in the actual amount appropriated to the LGF, as compared to the amount required to be appropriated pursuant to §6-27-30. Already excluded are Administrative Law Judges and their offices, Court of Appeals and their offices, Circuit and Family Courts and their offices, Magistrates and their offices, Masters in Equity and their offices, Probate Courts and their offices, Public Defenders and their offices, Solicitors and their offices, and the Supreme Court and its offices.

Please call your House member and ask that this “exclusion” be deleted. There is no flexibility when you exclude any mandate that costs an agency money!

Another proviso of interest passed by the subcommittee is:

117.cwe. (Catastrophic Weather Event) This proviso states that any improvements made to real property or personal property used as a residence, such as a mobile home or manufactured housing unit, damaged during the 2015 flood, after the flood and before July 1, 2018, is not considered an improvement and does not require an appraisal.

Property tax assessors are to conform the values of applicable property, but no refunds are to be issued.

Local Government Fund: Please continue to support SCAC’s position:

“Support amending the Local Government Fund Formula to set the base funding level at $223.2 million with a yearly increase in the fund that corresponds with the growth in the State General Fund up to 5 percent. Also, standardize a list of state mandates that all counties are responsible for in order to quantify the need for the LGF.”

Please contact the members of the House and ask that they move last year’s nonrecurring appropriation to the base AND increase the LGF by the same percentage as this year’s general fund growth!

Business License Bill H. 3650

H. 3650, the “South Carolina Business License Tax Standardization Act”, was placed on the House calendar this week. It could come up for debate in the House next week.

The bill requires a county or municipality that has a business license tax to accept a standard business license application provided by the Secretary of State. Additionally, a county or municipality with a business license must adopt, by ordinance, a Standardized Business License Class Schedule as provided by the Secretary of State. However, county council may adopt additional subclassifications. Counties or municipalities with a business license tax must provide access to businesses for the reporting, calculation, and payment of business license taxes through a Business License Tax Portal managed by the Secretary of State, if such a portal becomes available.

The bill exempts several items from gross income, including:

  • sales tax paid by a contractor on building materials or supplies;
  • sales tax paid on the purchase of materials or supplies which become a component of a product manufactured, produced, or constructed for sale;
  • revenue received from reimbursements from clients or customers in which the business charges no fee or interest for providing funds upfront to a client or customer;
  • the amount paid to a subcontractor by a general contractor on a governmental contract;
  • the trade-in value of a vehicle, equipment, or merchandise;  and
  • 25 percent of revenue collected outside of the county or municipality where the business maintains its principal business license.
Legislation of Interest

Piping Procurement — H. 3652. H. 3652 requires an engineer to consider all piping material in determining the requirements for water supply, wastewater, stormwater, or storm drainage projects when state funds are used. This is a national effort by the PVC pipe industry to get a competitive edge in the bidding process for public projects where state funds are used, as PVC pipe generally costs less than the other types of piping materials. H. 3652 is pending second reading on the House calendar.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Rewrite — H. 3352. H. 3352 was amended by the House Judiciary Committee to clarify that state and federal laws provide exemptions to FOIA in addition to the exemptions found in the act. The House adjourned debate on the bill until March 8th.

Manufacturing or Industrial Nuisances — H. 3653 & S. 323. These bills prohibit a political subdivision from adopting an ordinance or resolution that declares a manufacturing or industrial facility, or an expansion of such a facility, that is operating in accordance with state law to be a nuisance. A House LCI subcommittee gave H. 3653 a favorable report and it will be on the House LCI Committee’s next agenda. A Senate LCI subcommittee carried over S. 323 for further testimony at its next meeting, which has not been scheduled.

Clerks of Court and CWP’s — S. 324. This bill allows active and retired clerks of courts who possess a valid concealed weapons permit to carry a concealable weapon anywhere within the state. S. 324 received a favorable report by a Senate Judiciary subcommittee and will be on the Senate Judiciary Committee’s next agenda.

Magistrates’ Exams — S. 90. This bill extends the validity of the magistrates’ eligibility exam results. The results would be valid for one year before and two years after the time the appointment is to be made. Under current law, the results are valid for six months before and six months after the appointment is to be made. The bill received third reading in the Senate and was sent to the House.

Magistrates’ Jurisdiction — S. 118. This bill increases the magistrates’ civil jurisdiction from $7,500 to $10,000. The bill was given second reading in the Senate.

Campaign Contributions — S. 107. This bill, among other things, increases campaign contribution limits. Originally, the bill increased the contribution limits from $3,500 to $5,000 for statewide campaigns and $1,000 to $2,000 for local campaigns. These limits would be adjusted in odd-numbered years based on CPI. Senate Judiciary amended the bill to keep the limits for local office at $1,000 while still being adjusted for CPI. Senate bill 107 was set for special order on the Senate calendar.

Internet Sales Tax — S. 214. This bill requires a retailer who has internet sales in excess of $10,000 in the preceding 12 months to obtain a retail license. They are then required to collect and remit sales tax on all items sold in this state. Senate bill 214 received third reading in the Senate and was sent to the House.

Attorney Access for Inmates — H. 3278. This bill provides that a state or local detention facility cannot prohibit an in-person meeting between an inmate and his attorney, but the meeting cannot disrupt the facility’s security or normal operations. H. 3278 is pending second reading, but the House adjourned debate until next week.

Inmate Funeral Transport — S. 271. This bill would allow an inmate whom the Department of Corrections determines is not a security risk to attend the funeral of a family member or visit a hospitalized family member whose death is imminent. The Department may engage the services of the local sheriff where the funeral or hospital is located to provide security and transportation for the inmate. For its services, the sheriff’s department may collect the cost of security and transportation for the inmate from a third party such as a family member or from the inmate’s trust account. Due to several concerns raised by the Department, the Senate Corrections and Penology Committee recommitted S. 271 to the subcommittee for additional research.

Webinar: Ethics Act — New Income Disclosure Requirements

Please join us on Thursday, February 23, 2017, at 10 a.m. as SCAC hosts a webinar to help county officials understand new income disclosure requirements of the Ethics, Government Accountability, and Campaign Reform Act. Michael Burchstead, General Counsel for the SC State Ethics Commission, will provide an overview of the ethics act, common violations, and new income disclosure requirements for the Statement of Economic Interest.

Register here.


Newly-Introduced Legislation

View/Download Full Text for Newly-Introduced Legislation

Note: If you would like to offer comments to the SCAC staff, please call us toll-free at 1-800-922-6081, fax to (803) 252-0379, or send an email. You can also go to www.scstatehouse.gov and click on "Legislation," then "Introduced Legislation."

Senate Bills

S. 396 – Provides that an entity authorized to conduct a referendum, ballot measure, or nonpartisan election, shall conduct the election on the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November in each even-numbered year.

S. 407 – Enacts the “South Carolina Agribusiness and Rural Jobs Act.”

S. 409 – Provides that the application fee for public defender services must be collected by the public defender’s office and waivers of the fee must also be obtained through the public defender’s office.

S. 412 – Increases the tax credit for community development corporations and community development financial institutions from 33 percent of amounts invested to 100 percent of amounts invested.

S. 415 – Clarifies the probate court’s authority on various issues, including a probate judge’s ability to waive filing fees for indigent persons in the same manner as other civil cases.

S. 420 – Eliminates roll-back taxes.

S. 426 – Enacts the “Municipal Tax Relief Act” by allowing a municipality to impose a sales and use tax not to exceed one percent, subject to a referendum, for municipal tax relief or to defray debt service for certain authorized projects.

S. 435 – Increases the fee for the execution of a bail bond from $25 to $100 or 5 percent, whichever is greater.

House Bills

H. 3739 – Clarifies that the Department of Transportation does not have the authority to prevent or materially limit a public water system’s utilization of property located within a state transportation improvement project's right-of-way for water and sewer construction, maintenance, and operations.

H. 3744 – Revises the method of setting a base salary for magistrates and provides additional supplements to full-time chief and assistant chief magistrates. Also adds a $15 assessment to all civil filings in magistrate's court to help fund these cost increases.

H. 3750 – Provides that criminal cases where the penalty does not exceed three years, rather than one year, may be transferred from general sessions court.

H. 3775 – Allows a person 21 years or older born in this state who has had an original birth certificate removed from the county files due to adoption or paternity determination to receive a copy of that birth certificate and any evidence of adoption or paternity determination held with the original record.

H. 3783 – Restores the former method of overriding the millage cap by a positive majority and restores some other property tax provisions that were in place prior to Act 388 of 2006, but also eliminates point of sale as an event that can change the valuation of property for tax purposes.

H. 3785 – Revises the circumstances under which a video recording of the incident and breath test site of a person charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or other illegal substance is required.

H. 3786 – Limits rollback taxes to one year when land classified as agricultural real property is applied to another use.

H. 3789 – Enacts the “South Carolina Youth Challenge Academy and South Carolina Jobs Challenge Program Expungement Act.”

Issue 5-17 - February 10, 2017 

Friday, February 10, 2017 8:57:00 AM Categories: Budget Business License LGF Retirement Roads
State Retirement System — S. 394 and H. 3726

Companion bills S. 394 and H. 3726 were introduced in the House and the Senate this week which significantly increase the employer contribution rate in the State Retirement System. The bills increase and cap SCRS employees’ contribution rates at 9 percent. Employer contribution rates are increased to 13.56 percent for FY 2017-18. The employer contribution rate will then increase 1 percent every year until FY 2022-2023, rising to 18.56 percent. PORS (Police Officers Retirement System) employee contribution rates are increased and capped at 9.75 percent. PORS employer rates are increased to 16.24 percent for FY 17-18 and increase 1 percent every year, rising to 21.24 percent in FY 22-23.

The bill reduces the unfunded amortization schedule from 30 years to 20 and reduces the annual rate of return from investments from 7.5 to 7.25. A new annual rate of return must be set in 2021 and every 4 years thereafter.

Local Government Fund (LGF) and State Budget

Ways and Means subcommittees finished most of their work on the budget this week. The proviso subcommittee will meet February 14, and the full committee will take up the budget February 21.

The Retirement System increase for this fiscal year will cost the state around $68 million. Last week PEBA testified that in order for the state health plan to remain grandfathered and retain current benefits it will require a 2.5 percent increase this year, a $25.456 million cost to the state general fund. This means more than $100 million has already been spent of new recurring dollars. (Both of these items also equate to an enormous increase in the amount of employee benefits required to be paid by county governments!)

Criminal Justice Academy (CJA): CJA asked for appropriations to implement a mobile training program. This would allow CJA to travel to law enforcement agencies to conduct various training and continuing education.

Local Government Fund: Please continue to support SCAC’s position regarding funding:

“Support amending the Local Government Fund Formula to set the base funding level at $223.2 million with a yearly increase in the fund that corresponds with the growth in the State General Fund up to 5 percent. Also, standardize a list of state mandates that all counties are responsible for in order to quantify the need for the LGF.”

Please contact the members of the House and ask that they move last year’s nonrecurring appropriation to the base AND increase the LGF by the same percentage as this year’s general fund growth!

Please point out to your representatives in the General Assembly that this funding is critical given the massive increase in employer contribution rates. Call your member today and meet with them when you come to the Mid-Year Conference.

Business License Bill — H. 3650

H. 3650, the South Carolina Business License Tax Standardization Act, was introduced last Thursday, heard by a subcommittee this Wednesday afternoon, and passed out of full LCI Committee on Thursday morning. The legislation makes substantial changes to county and city business licenses.

The bill requires a county or municipality that has a business license tax to accept a standard business license application provided by the Secretary of State. Additionally, a county or municipality with a business license must adopt, by ordinance, a Standardized Business License Class Schedule as provided by the Secretary of State. However, county council may adopt additional subclassifications. Counties or municipalities with a business license tax must provide access to businesses for the reporting, calculation, and payment of business license taxes through a Business License Tax Portal managed by the Secretary of State, if such a portal becomes available.

 The bill exempts several items from gross income, including:

  • sales tax paid by a contractor on building materials or supplies;
  • sales tax paid on the purchase of materials or supplies which become a component of a product manufactured, produced, or constructed for sale;
  • revenue received from reimbursements from clients or customers in which the business charges no fee or interest for providing funds upfront to a client or customer;
  • the amount paid to a subcontractor by a general contractor on a governmental contract;
  • the trade-in value of a vehicle, equipment, or merchandise;  and
  • 25 percent of revenue collected outside of the county or municipality where the business maintains its principal business license.

A county or municipality may not impose a higher business license tax rate on a business located outside the jurisdiction as compared to businesses located within the jurisdiction. Additionally, the bill states that a county or city may not refuse to issue a certificate of occupancy for a building due to nonpayment of the business license tax by subcontractors.

The Committee passed several amendments to the original bill, including an amendment to specifically state that counties and cities retain the right to set their own business license rates. Additionally, the bill was amended to reduce from 50 to 25 percent the amount exempted from revenue collected outside the jurisdiction where the business maintains its principal business license and to allow rate increases from 2016 until the legislative implementation date of 2019.

H. 3650 will be reported out and placed on the House calendar next week.

Roads Bills — H. 3516 & S. 384

The House Ways and Means Committee passed H. 3516 out favorably on Thursday. H. 3516, as passed by Ways and Means: increases the motor fuel user fee 2 cents per year for five years; increases the registration fees sent to SCDOT as a result of Act 275 of 2016; increases the sales tax cap on automobiles, now referred to as an infrastructure maintenance fee, to $500 for cars first registered in South Carolina and $250 for cars initially registered in another state but subsequently registered in South Carolina; creates a road use fee for electric and hybrid vehicles; and restructures the SCDOT Commission. All of the new revenue created by H. 3516, estimated to be $450 million, will be placed in an Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund to be used exclusively on repair, maintenance, and improvements to existing roads.

H. 3516 also creates a fee in lieu of property taxes for both in-state and out-of-state motor carriers. The first $26.5 million will be sent to counties and any excess revenue to the State Highway Fund. H. 3516 is pending second reading in the House.

S. 384, introduced by the Senate this week, increases the motor fuel user fee 2 cents per year for four years but contains many of the other provisions found in H. 3516, including the fee in lieu of property taxes on motor carriers. Neither bill contains a provision devolving roads onto the counties. S. 384 was referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

Legislative Items of Interest

Piping Procurement — H. 3652. H. 3652 requires a county official or engineer to consider all piping material in determining the requirements for water supply, wastewater, stormwater, or storm drainage projects when state funds are used. This is a national effort by the PVC pipe industry to get a competitive edge in the bidding process for public projects where state funds are used, as PVC pipe generally costs less than the other types of piping materials. This type of legislation has been introduced and failed in several other states, including North Carolina. This bill is not only an invasion of Home Rule, it undermines the expertise of the engineer in determining what is the best piping material to use for a particular project. There is a coalition of groups that oppose this bill, including other companies in the piping industry, the water utility groups, and engineers.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Rewrite — H. 3352. H. 3352 was amended by the House Judiciary Committee to clarify that state and federal laws provide exemptions to FOI in addition to the exemptions found in the Act. The bill was given a favorable report as amended and is pending second reading on the House calendar.

Attorney Access for Inmates — H. 3278. This bill provides that a state or local detention facility cannot prohibit an in-person meeting between an inmate and his attorney. House Judiciary committee adopted an amendment to provide that the meeting cannot disrupt the facility’s security or normal operations. H. 3278 received a favorable report as amended and is pending second reading in the House.

Magistrates Jurisdiction — S. 118 This bill increases the magistrates’ civil jurisdiction from $7,500 to $10,000. Senate Judiciary adopted an amendment removing a provision that required mediation for certain cases before giving S. 118 a favorable report. The bill is pending second reading on the Senate calendar.

Magistrates Exams — S. 90. This bill extends the validity of the magistrates’ eligibility exam results. The results would be valid for one year before and two years after the time the appointment is to be made. Currently, the results are valid for six months before and six months after the appointment is to be made. Senate Judiciary gave S. 90 a favorable report and the bill is pending second reading in the Senate.

Drone Use over Jails — S. 176. This bill prohibits the flying of drones within 500 feet horizontally or 250 feet vertically of a prison or jail without written consent of the facility. If a jail or prison confiscates a drone that violates this prohibition, the drone may be held by the facility until the case is adjudicated and must be returned to the owner if found not guilty. S. 176 received third reading in the Senate and was sent to the House.

Police Dogs and Horses — S. 6. This bill would increase penalties for injuring or killing a dog or horse used by law enforcement. Restitution must be paid to the agency to cover the cost of replacing or restoring the dog or horse to its previous condition. S. 6 was given third reading in the Senate and sent to the House.

Campaign Contributions — S. 107. This bill, among other things, increases campaign contribution limits. Originally, the bill increased the contribution limits from $3,500 to $5,000 for statewide campaigns and $1,000 to $2,000 for local campaigns. These limits would be adjusted in odd-numbered years based on CPI. Senate Judiciary amended the bill to keep the limits for local office at $1,000 while still being adjusted for CPI. The Committee gave S. 107 a favorable report as amended and the bill is pending second reading on the Senate Calendar.

Commercial Dog Breeding — H. 3009. This bill would impose certain standards on commercial dog breeding and require breeders to obtain a business license from either the county or city where the dogs are maintained. The bill would also allow either animal control or law enforcement to inspect the breeder upon a complaint or suspicion of violations of the set standards, even without a warrant or probable cause.  Due to many concerns over the bill, a House Agriculture subcommittee adjourned debate.

In-state Tuition for Veterans — H. 3035. This provides that certain veterans and their dependents are eligible for in-state tuition and the one-year physical presence residency rule no longer applies so long as there is intent to establish domicile in the state. H. 3035 was given third reading in the House and sent to the Senate.

Nursing Home Legal Residence — S. 75. This bill provides that if a person is moved to a nursing home, intends to return home, and does not rent their residence, then they will not lose their owner-occupied 4 percent assessment ratio. S. 75 received third reading in the Senate and was sent to the House.

Local Government Employee Benefits — S. 218. This bill prohibits political subdivisions from establishing or mandating employee benefits. There is an exception allowing political subdivisions to establish employee benefits in employee relationships to which they are a party. S. 218 received third reading in the Senate and was sent to the House.

State Health and Dental Eligibility — S. 61. This bill amends SC Code 1-11-720(A) to provide that employees and retirees of political subdivisions and certain dependents are eligible for coverage under the state health and dental insurance plan. The bill was given third reading in the Senate and sent to the House.

2017 SCAC Mid-Year Conference & Institute of Government — February 15 and 16

The SCAC Mid-Year Conference will be held at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Columbia on Wednesday, February 15. Copies of the registration material and conference agenda are available on the SCAC website, where you can also register online. The program will include a legislative panel and other timely topics. Following lunch, buses will provide transportation to the State House for visits with legislators. The legislative reception will be Wednesday evening at 5:30 p.m. Now is the time to start lining up appointments to see your senators and representatives or arranging a joint meal, function, or meeting.

Institute of Government classes are being offered on Thursday, February 16 and include: Building an Effective County Team, Public Speaking, Economic Development, and Measuring and Reporting County Performance. 

The Council Chairperson's Workshop will be offered free-of-charge on Thursday, February 16, from 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. This workshop is open to all council chairmen and vice chairmen and registration is required. You may register for the Institute classes and the Council Chairperson's Workshop here.

Webinar: Ethics Act — New Income Disclosure Requirements

Please join us on Thursday, February 23, 2017, at 10 a.m. as SCAC hosts a webinar to help county officials understand new income disclosure requirements of the Ethics, Government Accountability, and Campaign Reform Act. Michael Burchstead, General Counsel for the SC State Ethics Commission, will provide an overview of the ethics act, common violations, and new income disclosure requirements for the Statement of Economic Interest.

Register here.


Newly-Introduced Legislation

View/Download Full Text for Newly-Introduced Legislation

Note: If you would like to offer comments to the SCAC staff, please call us toll-free at 1-800-922-6081, fax to (803) 252-0379, or send an email. You can also go to www.scstatehouse.gov and click on "Legislation," then "Introduced Legislation."

Senate Bills

S. 361Establishes that an employee shall accrue earned paid and unearned unpaid sick leave and provides for the method and limits of accrual.

S. 363Increases the deed recording fee by $.20 with $.10 going to the South Carolina State Housing Finance and Development Authority, and $.10 going to local and regional housing trust funds for use towards affordable housing.

S. 364Allows county governments to increase building fees up to 10 percent and requires the proceeds from the increase to be used for affordable housing programs.

S. 369Provides that is unlawful for a person to expose himself in a correctional or detention facility.

S. 382Prohibits the records of certain minor traffic violations from appearing in public indexes, and  requires all county clerks of court to remove these records within six months after the effective date of this legislation.

S. 384Creates the “Rural Roads Fund” for roads and bridge maintenance and repair in rural counties.

S. 394Changes future employer and employee contribution rates to the state retirement system and requires the unfunded liabilities of the system to be on a certain amortization schedule.

S. 395Exempts the first $20,000 of value of a personal motor vehicle owned by a person who has been a resident of this state for at least one year and who has reached the age of 65.

House Bills

H. 3668Enacts the “Provisions for Cost of Animal Care Act" to provide that the custodian of an animal taken into custody due to civil or criminal violations by its owner may petition the court for expenses related to providing care to the animal.

H. 3669Clarifies the meaning of the term "contiguous" when a municipality that is located entirely within the borders of a special purpose district annexes unincorporated property that is also located within the same special purpose district.

H. 3684Authorizes the Department of Revenue to implement a system of filing and indexing liens that is accessible to the public over the internet or through other means.

H. 3685Adjusts the dates upon which primaries, runoff primaries, and special elections must be held in order to comply with the "South Carolina Uniform Military and Overseas Voters Act."

H. 3700Enacts the “South Carolina Constitutional Carry Act of 2017.”

H. 3702For purposes of permits for erecting and maintaining outdoor signs, revises the categories of permits that are void, and requires the Department of Transportation to reissue permits for nonconforming signs damaged or destroyed by vandalism to any extent, provided such signs only may be re-erected in kind.

Issue 4-17 - February 3, 2017 

Thursday, February 2, 2017 11:58:00 AM Categories: Budget LGF

The House and Senate met in Joint Session on Wednesday to elect a new Supreme Court Justice as well as Court of Appeals, circuit court, family court, and administrative law court judges. The Senate spent much of their week passing S. 27, which makes the Superintendent of Education a cabinet position. The House chamber took action on several bills, some of which are discussed below.

Local Government Fund (LGF) and State Budget

Ways and Means subcommittees continued to work on the budget this week, and are projected to complete their work next week. The proviso subcommittee will meet February 14, and the full committee will take up the budget February 20.

State Health Plan: PEBA testified before the Ways and Means Healthcare subcommittee this week. Remaining grandfathered and retaining current benefits will require a 2.5 percent increase this year. This equates to a $25.456 million cost to the state general fund if absorbed by employers only. (This $25 million does not include the cost to local governments, which would also need to absorb the cost.) If costs were shared equally by employees and employers, the state would be required to pay $22.208 million and increase employee premiums $3.86 per month. Total absorption of the costs by employees would require a $16.74 increase in premiums per month.

Body Cameras: In its budget request to the Ways and Means Law Enforcement subcommittee, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) asked that Proviso 63.8 be deleted. This proviso authorizes DPS, who is tasked with disbursing body camera funding to local agencies, to carry forward any unexpended funds for body cameras from the previous year into the current year to be used on body cameras. $2.4M was appropriated to the body camera fund for FY16 and DPS indicated that all of the funding will be disbursed.

Local Government Fund: Please continue to support SCAC’s position regarding funding:

“Support amending the Local Government Fund Formula to set the base funding level at $223.2 million with a yearly increase in the fund that corresponds with the growth in the State General Fund up to 5 percent. Also, standardize a list of state mandates that all counties are responsible for in order to quantify the need for the LGF.”

Please contact the members of the House and ask that they move last year’s nonrecurring appropriation to the base AND increase the LGF by the same percentage as this year’s general fund growth!

Alternative Energy Property Tax Exemption

S. 44, which grants a substantial property tax exemption for alternative energy was amended by, and passed the Senate this week. Senator Shane Martin proposed, and the Senate adopted, an amendment which places a ten-year sunset on the exemption.

As passed by the Senate, S. 44 creates two property tax exemptions for alternative energy generating projects, including solar, hydro, geothermal, wind, and landfill gas energy. The first provision exempts 80 percent of the value of the alternative energy equipment for commercial projects, which equates to a 2.1 percent assessment ratio. The second provision exempts all alternative energy equipment rated to produce 20 kW or less and defines these to be “residential,” regardless of the class of property they are on or the ownership of the equipment.

S. 44 also provides that property in a fee-in-lieu of tax agreement (FILOT) prior to 2015 cannot take the exemption. Property placed in a FILOT in 2015 or 2016 can choose to take the exemption, if they notify the county of that choice within 30 days of the effective date of the act.

Dam Regulations

H. 3218 provides DHEC with regulatory authority over any dam that is currently unregulated if DHEC determines that the dam’s failure will damage homes, commercial buildings, public utilities, highways, or railroads.

The House adopted the committee amendment dealing with the dam owner’s emergency action plan for dam or reservoir failure. The amendment states that the owner is to notify DHEC and emergency management officials of any failure or potential failure. It is then the responsibility of the management officials listed in the emergency action plan to notify downstream landowners located in the inundation zone and, if necessary, order evacuation. DHEC is in the process of working on inundation zone maps to provide to county emergency management offices. H. 3218 received third reading in the House and was sent to the Senate.

Legislative Action of Interest

Magistrates’ Salaries — S. 148. This bill would amend the pay scale for magistrates by changing the baseline salary criteria. This bill would no longer set salaries based on the population of the county, but instead would establish a base salary of 55 percent of a circuit judge’s salary for the state’s previous fiscal year. These base salary changes would not apply to any magistrates whose salary exceeds 55 percent of a circuit judge’s salary. Full-time chief magistrates' yearly supplements would increase from $3,000 to $10,000; full-time associate chief magistrates would be paid a supplement of $5,000; part-time associate chief magistrates would be paid a supplement of $2,500.

Salary increases would be funded by increasing magistrates' filing fees by $15, which are to be remitted to the State Treasurer. The State Treasurer would retain $40,000 to offset processing costs, distribute $15,000 to State Court Administration for magistrates’ educational costs, and distribute funds to counties to cover the pay increase. Any remaining funds would be distributed to the counties to offset magistrates’ operational costs. The bill was considered by a Senate Judiciary subcommittee before being carried over. Sen. Scott Talley asked to carry over S. 148 due to concerns over the lack of a financial impact statement and the effect the bill could have on counties.

Magistrates’ Jurisdiction — S. 118 & S. 151. S. 151 increases the civil jurisdiction of magistrates’ court from $7,500 to $15,000, while S. 118 increases the magistrates’ civil jurisdiction to $10,000. Concerned about the impact that a drastic increase would have on the court, a Senate Judiciary subcommittee determined that the smaller incremental increase to $10,000 found in S. 118 would be more appropriate. The subcommittee carried over S. 151 and amended S. 118 to remove a provision requiring mediation for certain cases before giving S. 118 a favorable report.

State Health Plan Participation — S. 61. S. 61 provides that a political subdivision of the state and any instrumentality or governmental agency of the political subdivision are eligible to participate in the state health and dental insurance plans. Currently, any instrumentality of a political subdivision has to be specifically written into the statute to be covered. This bill would eliminate that requirement. S. 61 is pending second reading on the Senate calendar.

Attorney Access for Inmates — H. 3278. This bill provides that a state or local detention facility cannot prohibit an in-person meeting between an inmate and his attorney. A House Judiciary subcommittee amendment provides that the meeting cannot jeopardize safety or disrupt the facility’s normal operations. H. 3278 received a favorable report as amended and will be on the full committee’s agenda.

Inmate Transport — S. 271. S. 271 requires the Department of Corrections to offer transportation to inmates whom the Department determines are not a security risk to see a family member in the hospital whose death is imminent, or to their funeral. The Department may engage the services of the sheriff of the county where the hospital is located, or where the funeral is being held to assist with the security and transport of the inmate. The sheriff may collect actual cost for their services from the inmate’s trust account or from a third party on behalf of the inmate. A Senate Corrections and Penology subcommittee amended the bill to require any victims to be notified of the inmate’s release and gave the bill a favorable report.

Drone Use over Jails — S. 176. This bill prohibits the flying of drones within 500 feet horizontally or 200 feet vertically of a prison or jail without written consent of the facility. A Senate floor amendment provides that if a jail or prison chooses to confiscate a drone that violates this prohibition, the drone may be confiscated by the facility until the case is adjudicated and must be returned to the owner if found not guilty. S. 176 was carried over and is pending third reading on the Senate calendar.

Plastic Bag Bans — H. 3529. H. 3529 prohibits a political subdivision from passing an ordinance that regulates or prohibits the use or disposition of plastic bags and other auxiliary containers. A House L.C.I. subcommittee amended the bill to provide that nothing in the bill can be construed to affect county ordinances or agreements that regulate solid waste or recyclables. The L.C.I Committee adopted the  amendment and gave H. 3529 a favorable report and it is pending second reading on the House calendar.

Exotic Animal Registration — H. 3531. This bill requires a person in legal possession of a large wild cat, non-native bear, or great ape to register with the local animal control authority by January 1, 2018. The person must pay a one-time $500 registration fee and an annual $100 fee per animal to the local animal control authority. In the event of the release or escape of one or more of these animals, state and local law enforcement can assist animal control in recapturing, containing, or destroying the animal. H. 3531 received third reading in the House and was sent to the Senate.

Nursing Home Legal Residence — S. 75. S. 75 provides that if a person is moved to a nursing home, intends to return home, and does not rent their residence then they will not lose their owner-occupied 4 percent assessment ratio. The bill received second reading in the Senate this week.

2017 SCAC Mid-Year Conference & Institute of Government — February 15 and 16

The SCAC Mid-Year Conference will be held at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Columbia on Wednesday, February 15. Copies of the registration material and conference agenda are available on the SCAC website, where you can also register online. The program will include a legislative panel and other timely topics. Following lunch, buses will provide transportation to the State House for visits with legislators. The legislative reception will be Wednesday evening at 5:30 p.m. Now is the time to start lining up appointments to see your senators and representatives or arranging a joint meal, function, or meeting.

Institute of Government classes are being offered on Thursday, February 16 and include: Building an Effective County Team, Public Speaking, Economic Development, and Measuring and Reporting County Performance. 

The Council Chairperson's Workshop will be offered free-of-charge on Thursday, February 16, from 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. This workshop is open to all council chairmen and vice chairmen and registration is required. You may register for the Institute classes and the Council Chairperson's Workshop here.

Webinar: Ethics Act — New Income Disclosure Requirements

Please join us on Thursday, February 23, 2017, at 10 a.m. as SCAC hosts a webinar to help county officials understand new income disclosure requirements of the Ethics, Government Accountability, and Campaign Reform Act. Michael Burchstead, General Counsel for the SC State Ethics Commission, will provide an overview of the ethics act, common violations, and new income disclosure requirements for the Statement of Economic Interest.

Register here.


Newly-Introduced Legislation

View/Download Full Text for Newly-Introduced Legislation

Note: If you would like to offer comments to the SCAC staff, please call us toll-free at 1-800-922-6081, fax to (803) 252-0379, or send an email. You can also go to www.scstatehouse.gov and click on "Legislation," then "Introduced Legislation."

Senate Bills

S. 322 – Provides that any agency authorized to conduct fingerprint background checks may conduct a federal fingerprint review. Upon request, SLED may submit the fingerprints collected to the FBI’s Next Generation Identification program.

S. 324 – Allows active or retired clerks of court who possess a valid concealed weapons permit to carry a concealable weapon anywhere within this state.

S. 341 – Amends the Constitution to provide for an independent reapportionment commission, and to provide for membership of the commission and the manner in which members of the commission are chosen.

S. 343 – Requires an entity undertaking a transportation improvement project to bear the costs, not to exceed 7.5 percent of the total cost of the project, related to relocating water and sewer lines that are maintained by a public water or sewer system and located within the rights-of-way of the transportation project.

S. 346 – Enacts the “South Carolina Inclusionary Zoning Act” which authorizes counties to use inclusionary zoning strategies to increase the availability of affordable housing.

S. 347 – For purposes of special partisan elections, provides that a primary must be held on the twelfth Tuesday after the vacancy occurs. A runoff primary must be held on the fourteenth Tuesday after the vacancy, and a special election must be held on the twenty-first Tuesday after the vacancy occurs.

House Bills

H. 3600 – Allows county employees, retirees, and their dependents to participate in the state health plan.

H. 3605 – Prohibits the S.C. Infantry Battle Flag of the Confederate States of America or any other confederate flag from being flown or displayed in or on any public building except a museum.

H. 3645 – Requires a person, prior to taking a public office, to agree that if they are convicted of certain crimes that stem from activities that occur while they are in office, they forfeit retirement benefits attributable to their time of service in office.

H. 3646 – Requires any transaction by a person in the junk or salvage business involving a junk automobile to be reported to the Department of Motor Vehicle in an electronic format.

H. 3650 – Enacts the “South Carolina Business License Tax Standardization Act,” which provides the sole manner in which a county or municipal business license tax may be imposed.

H. 3651 – Prohibits the Municipal Association of South Carolina or any other political subdivision from collecting certain business license taxes and insurance taxes.

H. 3652 – Requires governmental agencies to consider all piping materials in determining requirements for certain projects.

H. 3653 – Provides that operations or expansions of manufacturing and industrial facilities may not be considered public or private nuisance in certain circumstances.

H. 3664 – For purposes of cigarette taxes, increases the weight from 3.5 pounds to 4.5 pounds or less per thousands.