Posts From February, 2018

Issue 18-7 - February 23, 2018 

Friday, February 23, 2018 8:59:00 AM Categories: Budget LGF

The SCAC Mid-Year Conference was a big success. Thank you to all county officials who came, attended workshops, and met with legislators. These are the actions that ensure both legislative victories and strong, flourishing counties.

Ways and Means Completes Work on the Budget

Ways and Means made quick work with the budget this week. The Local Government Fund was funded at the same level as last year, $222,619,411.

It is important to contact your senators and House members if we are to see any increase in the LGF this year.

SCAC’s policy position regarding the LGF is as follows:

“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.”

The most recent projected General Fund increase is $375,853,463 which is a 4.6 percent increase.

SCAC’s position only asks that $10.8 million of this new money be appropriated to the LGF.

Please explain the importance of this property tax relief and ask that the LGF appropriation be increased!

Nuisance Property Cleanup Legislation — S. 833 & H. 3896

These bills allow a county to provide by ordinance that the owner of any property in the county must keep their property clean of debris and other unsightly conditions that constitute a public nuisance. If the property owner fails to correct the conditions constituting a nuisance, then the county may enter the property, correct the conditions, and collect the cost of the cleanup on the property tax bill. This authority is currently provided to municipalities and this legislation would simply extend the same authority to county governments. Farm land is exempt from the provisions of these bills.

S. 833 was given a favorable report by a Senate Judiciary subcommittee this week. Special thanks to Senators Goldfinch, Johnson, Sabb, Climer, and Talley for supporting this bill through subcommittee. Please contact your Senate delegation, and ask that they support this legislation.

H. 3896 is in the House Judiciary Committee awaiting a hearing by a subcommittee. Please contact your House members and ask that they cosponsor this important legislation and request the Judiciary Committee to schedule it for a subcommittee hearing.

Alternative Energy Property Tax Exemption — H. 4421

H. 4421 is a multi-faceted bill addressing a wide array of issues with the solar industry that SCAC does not have a position on. SCAC opposes section 9 of H. 4421, however, as it 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. This legislation has been supported by the solar industry for several years and represents an affront to Home Rule and to the good-faith negotiations multiple counties have entered into with various solar companies. Please contact your House members and ask that they support an amendment to delete Section 9 of H. 4421. Counties across the state have been very successful in recruiting nearly $1 BILLION in solar investment, which makes this statewide property tax break unnecessary and obsolete. A House Judiciary subcommittee adjourned debate on H. 4421 but it is expected to be advanced out of subcommittee next week.

Capital Projects Sales Tax for Economic Development — S. 889

S. 889 amends the Capital Project Sales Tax (CPST) statute to allow a CPST to be imposed for land purchases and site development related to economic development projects.

This legislation is currently on the Senate Calendar awaiting second reading. Please ask your Senator to pass this legislation.

Notification to Counties by the Department of Revenue (DOR) — S. 793

This legislation requires DOR to notify both the taxpayer and the effected county of a department determination regarding tax liability. Counties are authorized to appeal department determinations. The legislation also requires DOR to notify effected counties of a taxpayer’s written protest of a property tax assessment or a protest of a property tax exemption denial. S. 793 further requires DOR to notify the counties effected by a claim for refund by notifying the chief executive officer, auditor, assessor, and treasurer of each effected county. Finally, the bill limits any refund to the three tax years immediately preceding the departmental determination unless the Administrative Law Court approves the refund.

S. 793 is currently in the House Ways and Means Committee. Please ask your House member to request a subcommittee hearing for this legislation.

Other Legislation of Interest

Dealer Tags — H. 4618. This bill as introduced is simply a technical cleanup to confirm that a car dealer must sell at least 15 vehicles in a year to receive dealer license plates and be exempted from paying property taxes. SCAC has a policy position opposing reducing this threshold below 15. During debate on the House floor, an amendment was introduced to delete any threshold to get dealer plates. This means that as long as any person in South Carolina registers as a car dealer, they can get at least two dealer plates even if they sell ZERO vehicles in a given year. This could have a drastic negative impact on county property tax revenues. H. 4618 was moved to the contested calendar after this amendment was proposed. Please ask your House members to vote against this amendment and any other reduction of the 15-vehicle threshold to receive dealer plates.

Forty Year Retreat Policy — S. 784. This bill prohibits the seaward movement of the baseline after December 31, 2019. The baseline is used in combination with erosion rates to determine the setback line. Both lines are then used to guide development and support the state’s beachfront management goals. S. 784 received a favorable report from a Senate Agriculture Committee and is pending second reading on the Senate calendar.

Utility Relocation — H. 3739. This bill provides circumstances under which an entity undertaking a transportation improvement project must bear the costs related to relocating water and sewer lines. A House Education and Public Works subcommittee adopted a strike and insert amendment to mirror the language found in S. 932, which is a compromise between the utilities and SCDOT. The amendment requires the entity undertaking the project to pay 100 percent of the costs of relocating any water and sewer lines that are within the right-of-way and owned by a public utility that has 10,000 or fewer taps or connections and serves a population of 30,000 or less. The entity undertaking the project must pay 100 percent of the costs, up to 4.5 percent of the total project costs, of relocating water and sewer lines within the right-of-way and owned by a public utility with more than 10,000 taps or connections or that serves a population of more than 30,000.
H. 3739 is pending second reading on the contested House calendar.  

Animal Facilities — H. 3929. This bill establishes specific requirements for the review and appeal of decisions by DHEC regarding the permitting of certain animal facilities, other than swine facilities, which are regulated in another section of the Code. The bill sets forth setbacks, buffers, and other requirements that must be met in order for DHEC to approve a permit. The Senate adjourned before giving H. 3929 second reading so it will remain in interrupted debate in the special order slot on the Senate calendar.

Accommodations and Hospitality Tax — S. 917. This bill would allow a political subdivision to spend state and local accommodations tax and local hospitality tax revenue for the control and repair of flooding and drainage at tourism-related lands or areas. S. 917 was amended by the Senate Finance Committee to define nuisance flooding and prevent the taxes from being spent on litigation costs related to those projects.
S. 917 is pending third reading on the Senate calendar.

Deed Recording — H. 3337. This bill provides flat recording fees for documents that are filed with the register of deeds and clerks of court. This would be a departure from the current practice of charging fees based on page numbers for certain documents which often leads to erroneous fees due to miscounting page numbers. H. 3337 passed the House will be introduced in the Senate next week.

Pretrial Home Monitoring — H. 4829. This bill provides numerous conditions that a court may impose on a defendant who is released on an electronic pretrial release and monitoring program. Defendants participating in this program must pay the fees for program enrollment and home monitoring equipment use. However, the bill provides that the program’s governing authority, typically the Sheriff or Solicitor, must pay the fees for those who are indigent. SCAC, along with other interested parties, is working to have the bill amended so that an indigency fund is created to prevent local governments from funding the program costs for indigents. A House Criminal Laws subcommittee adjourned debate on H. 4829.

Indigency Screening — H. 4830. This bill provides that the Department of Probation, Parole, and Pardon (PPP) Services will conduct indigency screening for the purposes of public defender appointments. Currently, judges, public defenders, or clerks of court make the determination of indigency and collect applications for public defender appointments. The bill is not clear on which entity will accept the application fees. A House Criminal Laws subcommittee adopted an amendment for a one-year pilot program where PPP will perform indigency screening in six counties before the statewide program begins. H. 4830 received a favorable report as amended.

Court Reporting — S. 516. This bill amends Section 14-17-325 to change the time period that clerks of court have to report General Session case disposition to SLED. Clerks currently have 30 days to report the disposition of each case to SLED. The bill would reduce that time to 10 days. Additionally, clerks would only have 48 hours to report certain orders such as restraining orders and orders of protection. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee heard limited testimony on the bill. Due to time limits, SCAC and the clerks were unable to express their concerns with the bill and how the reduced reporting times provide a hardship on the clerks’ office. The subcommittee adjourned debate on S. 516 but will take the bill up again next week so that everyone is given the opportunity to testify.

Deployment Property Tax Extension — S. 911. This bill requires counties to offer property tax extensions to a taxpayer serving with the U.S. Armed Forces or National Guard in or near a hazard duty zone. The taxpayer or his agent must apply for the extension and provide proof of deployment if the auditor requires proof. The extension runs from the date of deployment until 90 days after their return. No interest may be charged until after the 90-day timeline lapses. S. 911 is pending third reading in the Senate.

Telemedicine — H. 4529. H. 4529 authorizes physician assistants and certain Board of Nursing licensees to perform delegated medical acts by telemedicine without a doctor.
H. 4529 received third reading in the House and has been sent to the Senate.


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. 1026 — Requires the Greenville Health System Board of Trustees to terminate the Master Affiliation Agreement and the Lease between the Greenville Health System and the Upstate Affiliate Organization and unwind contracts entered into with other health systems outside of the Greenville Health System and to be sold through a competitive bidding process.

S. 1028 — Closes the South Carolina Retirement System to new members as of July 1, 2019 and establishes the “South Carolina Shared-Risk Defined Benefit Plan.”

S. 1034 — Creates the Palmetto Pride Advisory Committee for the purposes of providing recommendations to the Take Palmetto Pride in Where You Live Commission.

S. 1038 — Changes the time frames when a capital project sales tax is reimposed.

S. 1039 — Requires the tag placed by law enforcement on an unattended vehicle on the highway or other property must be capable of reflecting light.

S. 1040 — Provides that beginning July 1, 2019, all new employees that come into the state retirement system must participate in a defined contribution plan.

S. 1043 — Extends the provisions of the South Carolina Abandoned Buildings Revitalization Act until December 31, 2025.

House Bills

H. 4963 — Provides that beginning July 1, 2018, every public school shall have one resource officer in school for every 500 students enrolled at the school.

H. 4966 — Requires monthly mandatory active shooter training in all public schools, subject to a fine with the proceeds being turned over to the county treasurer for ordinary county purposes.

H. 4972 — Enacts the “School Protection Officer Act.”

H. 4975 — Defines “assault weapon” and “high capacity magazines” so as to prohibit the possession, sale, manufacture, or distribution of bump stocks or trigger cranks.

H. 4976 — Provides that under certain circumstances, a sheriff may enforce the provisions pertaining to the abandonment of a watercraft or outboard motor.

H. 4977 — Provides for a joint ticket of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, sets campaign contribution caps for jointly elected statewide candidates, and moves the filing period for a candidate to the next business day if March 30 falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.

H. 4990 — Provides that it is unlawful to sell an assault rifle to a person less than 20 years of age.

H. 5000 — Creates the “Optional Shared-Risk Defined Benefit Plan.”

H. 5001 — Enacts the “Clean Energy Access Act.”

H. 5004 — Requires a former public official to close their campaign account before they can serve as a lobbyist.

H. 5005 — Increases the lobbyist and lobbyist principal’s registration fees.

H. 5007 — Provides for the crime of threatening to destroy or cause damage to a public building, including public schools and post-secondary institutions, by the use of a weapon.

H. 5008 — Requires each public school to have a full-time employee whose sole responsibility is to monitor the school surveillance system during regular school hours.

Issue 18-6 - February 16, 2018 

Friday, February 16, 2018 10:15:00 AM

The SCAC Mid-Year Conference will be held at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Columbia on Wednesday, February 21. The legislative reception will be Wednesday evening at 5:30 p.m. This is an excellent opportunity to spend some time with your legislators. Please invite your members of the General Assembly to walk with you from the Statehouse to The Palmetto Club to enjoy the reception.

Ways and Means to Begin Budget Next Week

The Proviso subcommittee met this week and quickly ran through the subcommittee proviso recommendations. Next week, the Ways and Means Committee will take up and pass their version of the budget.

There has been very little discussion regarding the Local Government Fund (LGF).

Please explain the importance of this property tax relief! Please point out to your representatives in the General Assembly that increased LGF funding is critical given the massive increase in employer retirement contribution rates. Call your member today and meet with them when you come to the Mid-Year Conference.

SCAC’s policy position regarding the LGF is as follows:

“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.”

Ask your member of the General Assembly to support this proposal!

Nuisance Property Cleanup Legislation — S. 833 & H. 3896

These bills allow a county to provide by ordinance that the owner of any property in the county must keep their property clean of debris and other unsightly conditions that constitute a public nuisance. If the property owner fails to correct the conditions constituting a nuisance, then the county may enter the property, correct the conditions, and collect the cost of the cleanup on the property tax bill. This authority is currently provided to municipalities and this legislation would simply extend the same authority to county governments. Farm land is exempt from the provisions of these bills.

S. 833 is scheduled to be heard by a Senate Judiciary subcommittee this week. The members of the subcommittee are Senators Goldfinch (Georgetown), Johnson (Clarendon), Sabb (Williamsburg), Climer (York), and Talley (Spartanburg).

Please contact these members, as well as the rest of your Senate delegation, and ask that they support this legislation.

H. 3896 is in the House Judiciary Committee awaiting a hearing by a subcommittee. Please contact your House members and ask that they cosponsor this important legislation and request the Judiciary Committee to schedule it for a subcommittee hearing.

Other Legislation of Interest

Community Service Liability — S. 949. This legislation provides that county personnel who participate in community service programs in which a probationer is completing community service as a condition of their probation are immune from civil liability in the event the probationer is injured while performing their community service requirements. This does not affect liability under the Tort Claims Act. The Senate Corrections and Penology Committee amended the bill to clarify that workers compensation laws do not apply to probationers injured while performing community service, and extended the civil liability immunity to charitable organizations involved in community service programs. The bill was given a favorable report as amended.

Capital Projects Sales Tax for Economic Development — S. 889. S. 889 amends the Capital Project Sales Tax (CPST) statute to allow a CPST to be imposed for purposes of economic development. The Senate Finance Committee amended the bill to restrict the projects to land purchases, infrastructure, and site development. The committee gave
S. 889 a favorable report as amended.

Deployment Property Tax Extension — S. 911. This bill requires counties to offer property tax extensions to a taxpayer serving with the US Armed Forces or National Guard in or near a hazard duty zone. The taxpayer must apply for the extension and provide proof of deployment if the auditor requires proof. The extension runs from the date of deployment until 90 days after their return. No interest may be charged until after the 90-day timeline lapses. The Senate Finance Committee amended S. 911 to allow the taxpayer’s agent to apply for the extension and gave S. 911 a favorable report as amended.

Utility Relocation — H. 3739. This bill provides circumstances under which an entity undertaking a transportation improvement project must bear the costs related to relocating water and sewer lines. The House Education and Public Works Committee adopted a strike and insert amendment to mirror the language found in S. 932, which is a compromise between the utilities and SC Department of Transportation. The amendment requires the entity undertaking the project to pay 100 percent of the costs of relocating any water and sewer lines that are within the right-of-way and owned by a public utility that has 10,000 or fewer taps or connections and serves a population of 30,000 or less. The entity undertaking the project must pay 100 percent of the costs, up to 4.5 percent of the total project costs, of relocating water and sewer lines within the right-of-way and owned by a public utility with more than 10,000 taps or connections or that serves a population of more than 30,000. The committee also amended the bill to require the utility to pay for all costs related to maintaining and repairing their lines. H. 3739 received a favorable report as amended and is pending second reading on the House calendar.

Solid Waste Safety — H. 3595. This bill would require a driver of a motor vehicle to use caution when approaching a solid waste vehicle and to yield the right of way. A violation of this section is punishable by a $25 fine. H. 3595 received a favorable report from the House Education and Public Works Committee.

Pretrial Home Monitoring — H. 4829. This bill provides numerous conditions that a court may impose on a defendant who is released on an electronic pretrial release and monitoring program. Defendants participating in this program must pay the fees for program enrollment and home monitoring equipment use. However, the bill provides that the program’s governing authority, typically the sheriff or solicitor, must pay the fees for those who are indigent. SCAC, along with other interested parties, is working to have the bill amended so that an indigency fund is created to prevent local governments from funding the program costs for indigents. A House Criminal Laws subcommittee adjourned debate on H. 4829.

Indigency Screening — H. 4830. This bill provides that the Department of Probation, Parole, and Pardon Services will conduct indigency screening for the purposes of public defender appointments. Currently, judges, public defenders, or clerks of court make the determination of indigency and collect applications for public defender appointments. The bill is not clear on which entity will accept the application fees. A House Criminal Laws subcommittee adjourned debate on H. 4830.

Deed Recording — H. 3337. This bill provides flat recording fees for documents that are filed in the register of deeds and clerks of court offices. This would be a departure from the current practice of charging fees based on page numbers for certain documents which often leads to erroneous fees due to miscounting page numbers. A House special laws subcommittee adopted an amendment that reduces the $35 recording fee for certain real estate documents to $25. H. 3337 received a favorable report as amended and will be on the full Judiciary Committee’s next agenda.

Mistreatment of Police Dogs and Horses — S. 6. This legislation increases the maximum penalties for injuring or killing a police dog or horse. The full costs of restoring or replacing the dog or horse must be paid by those convicted under the proposed legislation. The House Judiciary Committee issued a favorable report on S. 6.

Conservation Easements — H. 4889. This bill allows the holder of a conservation easement to contest an action to condemn property encumbered by the easement under certain circumstances. H. 4889 received a favorable report from a House Judiciary subcommittee and will be on the next full committee’s agenda.


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. 994 — Requires the South Carolina Public Employee Benefit Authority to ensure that the group health plans available to state and public school district employees cover cold cap and scalp cooling systems for persons undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

S. 1003 — For purposes of income withholding to enforce child support, expands that authority of the clerk of court to the Child Support Services Division of the Department of Social Services.

S. 1013 — Exempts retired teachers and bus drivers in the state retirement system who return to work from the $10,000 earnings cap.

S. 1014 — Provides that the state interest shall prevail if a conflict exists between state or federal antitrust laws and the exercise of power by a regional health service district board of directors regarding the ownership, operation, management, or lease of a hospital.

S. 1019 — Specifies the manner in which the unused tax credit for rehabilitating an abandoned building or certified historic structure may be carried forward and allocated.

House Bills

H. 4909 — Requires passenger trains and Class 1 freight railroad companies to have positive train control technology or face monetary fines.

H. 4910 — Specifies the manner in which the unused tax credit for rehabilitating an abandoned building or certified historic structure may be carried forward and allocated.

H. 4911 — Requires the South Carolina Public Employee Benefit Authority to ensure that the group health plans available to state and public school district employees cover cold cap and scalp cooling systems for persons undergoing chemotherapy treatment.

H. 4912 — Allows a person under the age of 21, who is serving a driving suspension due to driving under the influence of alcohol, to enroll in the ignition interlock program.

H. 4930 — Removes the earnings limitation for certified educators who return to work under the state retirement system and for law enforcement officers who return to work under the police retirement system.

H. 4933 — Provides that the state interest shall prevail if a conflict exists between state or federal antitrust laws and the exercise of power by a regional health service district board of directors regarding the ownership, operation, management, or lease of a hospital.

H. 4936 — Authorizes an income tax deduction of all military retirement income and first responder retirement income.

H. 4945 — Requires the Greenville Health System Board of Trustees to terminate the Master Affiliation Agreement and the Lease between the Greenville Health System and the Upstate Affiliate Organization and unwind contracts entered into with other health systems outside of the Greenville Health System and to be sold through a competitive bidding process.

H. 4948 — Provides that people whose residences move from one county to another due to boundary reestablishments may enroll their children in the county in which they resided before the boundary reestablishment.

H. 4949 — Enacts the “Marriage and Constitution Restoration Act,” which prohibits the state from recognizing same sex marriages.

H. 4953 — Gives a person who is not the property owner, but has a substantial interest (as determined by the board of architectural review) in the decision of a zoning appeal, the discretion of whether or not to intervene in the appeal action as a party.

H. 4954 — Enacts the “South Carolina Inclusionary Zoning Act.”

H. 4955 — Authorizes the Department of Revenue to enter into an agreement establishing the allocation and apportionment of income of a taxpayer that builds or expands an industrial freight railroad into an industrial park and invests at least $2 million.

H. 4956 — Authorizes concealed weapons permit holders to carry firearms on school property.

H. 4957 — Makes it unlawful for anyone to wear sagging pants below a certain level and provides exclusive jurisdiction for a violation of this law in the municipal court or magistrate court.

Issue 18-5 - February 9, 2018 

Friday, February 9, 2018 9:20:00 AM Categories: Budget LGF
Animal Shelter Standards — S. 841

Originally, Section 11 of this bill required county animal shelters to meet various standards related to housing dogs and cats. SCAC opposed this section in the interest of Home Rule. The Senate amended Section 11 to make the shelter standards and most of the enforcement requirements permissive for local government. The standards would only apply to counties who adopt the standards outlined in the code.

These standards include requiring specific spacing and temperature ranges in shelters and providing quality time and enrichment for animals. The standards also require county animal control officers to inspect and keep written reports on every animal shelter within the county. The Senate gave S. 841 a third reading after adopting the amendment described above. S. 841 is in the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

Notification to Counties by the Department of Revenue (DOR) —
S. 793

This legislation requires DOR to notify both the taxpayer and the effected county of a department determination regarding tax liability. Counties are authorized to appeal department determinations. The legislation also requires DOR to notify effected counties of a taxpayer’s written protest of a property tax assessment or a protest of a property tax exemption denial. S. 793 further requires DOR to notify the counties effected by a claim for refund by notifying the chief executive officer, auditor, assessor, and treasurer of each affected county. Finally, the bill limits any refund to the three tax years immediately preceding the departmental determination unless the Administrative Law Court approves the refund. The Senate amended S. 793 to exclude individual taxpayers, and then passed the bill. It is currently in the House Ways and Means Committee.

Capital Projects Sales Tax for Economic Development — S. 889

S. 889 amends the Capital Project Sales Tax (CPST) statute to allow a CPST to be imposed for purposes of economic development. A Senate Finance subcommittee amended the bill to restrict the projects to land purchases, infrastructure, and site development, or any combination of these projects. The subcommittee gave S. 889 a favorable report as amended.

Ways and Means Subcommittees Finishing Up Work on the Budget

Ways and Means subcommittees finished their work on the budget this week. The proviso subcommittee is scheduled to look over provisos next week. The Board of Economic Advisors will provide the estimate of revenues Ways and Means will use to determine appropriations on February 15.

There has been very little discussion in these meetings regarding the Local Government Fund (LGF). Click here for a news article discussing comments made about the LGF by Senators. House and Senate members need to be contacted. Please explain the importance of this important tax relief!

Please contact your House member and ask that the LGF increase by the same percentage as this year’s General Fund growth!

SCAC’s policy position regarding the LGF is as follows:

“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.”

DON’T MISS OUT! The 2018 SCAC Mid-Year Conference & Institute of Government is February 21 and 22

The SCAC Mid-Year Conference will be held at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Columbia on Wednesday, February 21. 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.

Please Note:

In an effort to increase the legislators’ participation in the Legislative Reception, the location has been changed to The Palmetto Club in downtown Columbia. Shuttle service will be provided to transport county officials to and from the reception to the Embassy Suites Hotel. Parking will be available for those who wish to drive.

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 22 and include: Strategic Planning, Public Speaking, Economic Development, and The Policy Role of Council.

The Council Chairperson's Workshop will be offered free-of-charge on Thursday, February 22, 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 on the SCAC website.

Other Legislative Action this Week

Judicial Salaries — S. 725 & S. 910. These bills increase salaries for judges in South Carolina. Both bills were amended extensively in their respective subcommittees and no amendments have been published, so the following descriptions are based on conversations with Senate staff and are not based on official language.

S. 725 sets the salary for the Chief Justice at $170,000, which will be 105 percent of an associate justice’s salary. An associate justice’s salary is the base salary upon which all other judicial salaries are calculated. S. 725 decouples magistrates and master-in-equity salaries from a circuit judge’s salary and freezes their salaries at the amount they received in FY 2016-2017. S. 725 was given a favorable report as amended by a Senate Finance subcommittee.

S. 910 sets the salary for the Chief Justice at $180,000 and it increases every four years at the rate of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) up to 5 percent. In this bill, the magistrates and masters’ salaries are not decoupled so they will increase significantly if the bill passes and automatically increase every four years at the rate of CPI. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee carried over S. 910 but said they plan to report S. 910 out to full Senate Judiciary Committee without having another subcommittee meeting.

Plastic Bags 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. It does not affect county ordinances or agreements that regulate solid waste or recyclables. The bill was amended on the House floor to exempt the use of auxiliary containers within the boundaries of property owned by a county to include such properties as coastal tidelands and wetlands, public beaches, rivers, and any other bodies of water maintained by a county. The bill passed the House as amended and has been sent to the Senate LCI committee.

Accommodations and Hospitality Tax — S. 917. This bill would allow a political subdivision to spend state and local accommodations tax and local hospitality tax revenue for the control and repair of flooding and drainage at tourism-related lands or areas. S. 917 was amended by the Senate Finance Committee to define nuisance flooding and prevent the taxes from being spent on litigation costs related to those projects.
S. 917 is pending second reading on the Senate Calendar.

Four Percent Assessment on Estate Properties — S. 587. This bill provides that if a property owner that receives the 4 percent owner-occupied assessment ratio dies, the property will retain the 4 percent assessment ratio until the estate is closed, there is a deed of transfer, or deed of distribution. The property cannot be rented to retain the 4 percent assessment ratio. The Senate adopted the committee amendment to provide that the property may be rented up to 72 days as provided in current law. The amendment also provides that the property would only automatically receive the 4 percent ratio for the year of the owner’s death and the following property tax year. S. 587 was given third reading and sent to the House.

Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Property Tax Exemption — S. 759. This bill would exempt from all property taxes the dwelling house and up to a one acre lot of a person that furnishes satisfactory proof to DOR that they are at least 50 percent disabled because of a brain or spinal cord injury. This exemption would apply to the injured owner as well as to their surviving spouse. After receiving the fiscal impact statement that predicted a $23 million impact to local governments, Senate Finance Committee amended the bill to require a 100 percent disability to receive the exemption, which will drastically reduce the fiscal impact. A revised fiscal impact statement provides that it will reduce local government revenues by $3.7 million. Senator Hutto proposed an amendment this week to cap the exempted value at $250,000, but the bill was carried over before the amendment was adopted.

Manufacturing or Industrial Nuisances — H. 3653. As introduced, this bill prohibited a political subdivision from adopting an ordinance or resolution declaring a manufacturing or industrial facility, or an expansion of such a facility, that is operating in accordance with state law, a nuisance. The House concurred with a Senate amendment that deleted the preemption language. As a result, H.3653, as passed by both chambers, prohibits a property owner from filing a nuisance suit against an industrial or manufacturing facility when the facility began operation or expanded before there was a change of the use of the property owner’s land.

Deployment Property Tax Extension — S. 911. This bill requires counties to offer property tax extensions to a taxpayer serving with the US Armed Forces or National Guard in or near a hazard duty zone. The taxpayer must apply for the extension and provide proof of deployment if the auditor requires proof. The extension runs from the date of deployment until 90 days after their return. No interest may be charged until after the 90-day timeline lapses. A Senate Finance subcommittee amended S. 911 to allow the taxpayer’s agent to apply for the extension and gave S. 911 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. 964 — Makes it unlawful for a person to smoke in a motor vehicle while transporting a minor.

S. 968 — Provides that for the 2018 Gubernatorial election, the Governor and Lieutenant Governor shall run on a joint ticket.

S. 969 — Provides that the board of the State Housing Finance and Development Authority shall inform the county before evaluating an application for a federal housing tax credit and the county shall appoint nine members to a local government commission who will also vote on the application.

S. 976 — Authorizes a procedure by which a candidate for the Attorney General’s office may finance his campaign with public funds.

S. 977 — Enacts the “South Carolina Judicial Independence Act”, which provides a procedure by which candidates for the Attorney General’s office who agree to limitations may receive a predetermined amount of public funds for campaigns.

S. 978 — Authorizes a higher job tax credit amount in certain qualifying counties.

S. 981 — Allows the holder of a conservation easement to contest an action to condemn property encumbered by a conservation easement under certain circumstances.

S. 982 — Allows a person under the age of twenty-one who is serving a suspension or denial of a driver’s license or permit to enroll in the ignition interlock device program.

S. 983 — Provides that an owner of a dam may submit specifications to the Department of Transportation for a determination that the dam is excluded from the provisions of the law regarding dams and that the department may order the owner of a dam to make repairs to the dam if it is determined to be unsafe.

S. 984 — Allows a county whose one percent sales and use tax for capital projects will expire unless approved in a 2019 referendum to hold a referendum to re-impose the tax in 2018.

S. 985 — Provides for a resolution to suspend certain law provisions pertaining to the filing deadline for candidates in the 2018 election, to suspend the provisions pertaining to the date of the 2018 primary election, and provides for a new candidate filing period and a new primary and runoff dates.

S. 988 — Prohibits a person who has made a campaign contribution to a popularly elected public official within the previous four years from being appointed to a public office by that public official.

S. 989 — Establishes an independent redistricting commission.

S. 990 — Expands the definition of candidate to include anyone who maintains an open bank account containing campaign contributions.

House Bills

H. 4836 — Provides that a dam that failed or suffered a breach during the 2015 flood that has a state road or highway running over it, SCDOT shall immediately proceed with repairing the road or highway if they do not have to save or repair the dam.

H. 4838 — Provides that certain persons who have been wrongfully convicted and imprisoned for a crime may recover the monetary value of the loss sustained through their wrongful conviction and imprisonment.

H. 4850 — Provides that criminal cases in which the penalty does not exceed three years may be transferred from general sessions court.

H. 4855 — Makes it unlawful for a person to smoke in a motor vehicle while transporting a minor.

H. 4857 — Provides credit limits for certain building sites that qualify for the abandoned buildings rehabilitation tax credit.

H. 4859 — Extends the property tax exemption for churches to property not owned by the church but used exclusively for church purposes.

H. 4869 — For purposes of certain payouts from the state retirement system such as the amounts to be paid upon termination of employment and optional forms of allowance, removes certain notarization requirements.

H. 4872 — Provides that the board of the State Housing Finance and Development Authority shall inform the county before evaluating an application for a federal housing tax credit and the county shall appoint nine members to a local government commission who will also vote on the application.

H. 4875 — Enacts the “South Carolina Solar Habitat Act.”

H. 4876 — Provides that effective July 1, 2018, public school districts shall ensure the continuous presence of school resource officers in public schools during regular operating hours.

H. 4880 — Authorizes the revenue from the local hospitality tax and the local accommodations tax to be used for the control and repair of flooding and drainage on tourism-related lands or areas.

H. 4888 — Requires the state fire marshal to publish a policies and procedures manual.

H. 4889 — Allows the holder of a conservation easement to contest an action to condemn property encumbered by a conservation easement under certain circumstances.

H. 4899 — Repeals §56-3-645 which deals with road use fees for vehicles powered by electricity, hydrogen, and fuels other than motor fuel.

Ratifications

The following bill has been passed by both chambers and is now before the Governor for signature or veto:

(R. 136) H. 3653. Provides that the operations or expansions of manufacturing and industrial facilities may not be considered public or private nuisances in certain circumstances.

Issue 18-4 - February 2, 2018 

Friday, February 2, 2018 11:10:00 AM
Ways and Means Subcommittees Continue their Work on the State Budget

Ways and Means subcommittees continue to hear from their assigned state agencies. There has been very little discussion in these meetings regarding the Local Government Fund (LGF).

Please contact your House member and ask that the LGF increase by the same percentage as this year’s General Fund growth!

SCAC’s policy position regarding the LGF is as follows:

“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.”

H. 3099, which is currently sponsored by Representatives Ott, Cobb-Hunter, B. Newton, and T. Alexander would implement SCAC’s position. Ask your House member to co-sponsor this bill and seek its passage through Ways and Means!

2018 SCAC Mid-Year Conference & Institute of Government February 21 and 22

The SCAC Mid-Year Conference will be held at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Columbia on Wednesday, February 21. 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.

Please Note:

In an effort to increase the legislators’ participation in the Legislative Reception, the location has been changed to the Palmetto Club in downtown Columbia. Shuttle service will be provided to transport county officials to and from the reception to the Embassy Suites Hotel. Parking will be available for those who wish to drive.

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 22 and include: Strategic Planning, Public Speaking, Economic Development, and The Policy Role of Council.

The Council Chairperson's Workshop will be offered free-of-charge on Thursday, February 22, 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 on the SCAC website.

Legislative Action this Week

Shelter Standards — S. 841. Section 11 of this bill would require county animal shelters to meet various standards related to housing dogs and cats. The standards range from requiring specific spacing and temperature ranges to providing quality time and enrichment for animals housed at the shelters. The standards also require county animal control officers to inspect and keep written reports on every animal shelter within the county. SCAC opposes this section in the interest of Home Rule. S. 841 received second reading but was carried over on third reading. Please contact your senators and ask that the shelter standards be removed from S. 841.

Notification to Counties by the Department of Revenue (DOR) — S. 793. This legislation requires DOR to notify both the taxpayer and the affected county of a department determination regarding tax liability. Counties are authorized to appeal department determinations. The legislation also requires DOR to notify affected counties of a taxpayer’s written protest of a property tax assessment or a protest of a property tax exemption denial. S. 793 further requires DOR to notify the counties affected by a claim for refund by notifying the chief executive officer, auditor, assessor, and treasurer of each affected county. Finally, the bill limits any refund to the three tax years immediately preceding the departmental determination unless the Administrative Law Court approves the refund. The Senate adopted the committee amendment to exclude individual taxpayers from the bill and gave S. 793 second reading.

Utility Relocation — H. 3739. This bill provides circumstances under which an entity undertaking a transportation improvement project must bear the costs related to relocating water and sewer lines. A House Education and Public Works subcommittee adopted a strike and insert amendment to mirror the language found in S. 932, which is a compromise between the utilities and SC Department of Transportation. The amendment requires the entity undertaking the project to pay 100 percent of the costs of relocating any water and sewer lines that are within the right-of-way and owned by a public utility that has 10,000 or fewer taps or connections and serves a population of 30,000 or less. The entity undertaking the project must pay 100 percent of the costs, up to 4.5 percent of the total project costs, of relocating water and sewer lines within the right-of-way and owned by a public utility with more than 10,000 taps or connections or that serves a population of more than 30,000. H. 3739 will be on the full committee’s next agenda.

Manufacturing or Industrial Nuisances — H. 3653. As introduced, this bill prohibited a political subdivision from adopting an ordinance or resolution declaring a manufacturing or industrial facility, or an expansion of such a facility, that is operating in accordance with state law, a nuisance. The Senate adopted a floor amendment deleting this preemption language and passed the bill. As a result, the Senate version of H.3653 prohibits a property owner from filing a nuisance suit against an industrial or manufacturing facility when the facility began operation or expanded before there was a change in the use of the property owner’s land. It will be on the House calendar next week for consideration of the Senate amendments.

Accommodations and Hospitality Tax — S. 917. This bill would allow a political subdivision to spend state and local accommodations tax and local hospitality tax revenue for the control and repair of flooding and drainage at tourism-related lands or areas. S. 917 received a favorable report from a Senate Finance subcommittee.

Four Percent Assessment on Estate Properties — S. 587. This bill provides that if a property owner that receives the 4 percent owner-occupied assessment ratio dies, the property will retain the 4 percent assessment ratio until the estate is closed, there is a deed of transfer, or deed of distribution. The property cannot be rented to retain the 4 percent assessment ratio. The Senate adopted the committee amendment to provide that the property may be rented up to 72 days as provided in current law. The amendment also provides that the property would only automatically receive the 4 percent ratio for the year of the owner’s death and the following property tax year. S. 587 was carried over after the committee amendment was adopted and is still pending second reading in the Senate.

Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Property Tax Exemption — S. 759. This bill would exempt from all property taxes the dwelling house and up to a one acre lot of a person that furnishes satisfactory proof to DOR that they are at least 50 percent disabled because of a brain or spinal cord injury. This exemption would apply to the injured owner as well as to their surviving spouse. After receiving the fiscal impact statement that predicted a $23 million impact to local governments, Senate Finance Committee amended the bill to require a 100 percent disability to receive the exemption, which will drastically reduce the fiscal impact. A revised fiscal impact statement provides that it will reduce local government revenues by $3.7 million. S. 759 is pending second reading on the uncontested Senate calendar

Forty Year Retreat Policy — S. 784. This bill prohibits the seaward movement of the baseline after December 31, 2019. The baseline is used in combination with erosion rates to determine the setback line. Both lines are then used to guide development and support the state’s beachfront management goals. S. 784 received a favorable report from a Senate Agriculture subcommittee and will be on full committee’s next agenda.

Cell Phones in Jails and Prisons — S. 804. S. 804 provides penalties for those who furnish cell phones to inmates, however these penalties are less than what is imposed under the current contraband statute found in § 24-7-155. After lengthy discussion of this bill and the issue of smuggling cell phones in jails and prisons, the Senate Corrections Committee decided to have the subcommittee conduct further review of how best to address this issue.  

Litter and Illegal Dumping — H. 4458. H. 4458 expands on the definition of litter and reduces the fine for littering less than 15 pounds from $200 to a range of $25 to $100. Litter control officers have testified that this will lead to more enforcement. The definition of illegal dumping also includes discarding animal carcasses and penalizes this activity with a fine range of $200 to $500. The fines increase with subsequent convictions. In addition to any fine, unsupervised litter pickup is also required.

This legislation does not apply to individuals on private property they own or those littering on private property with permission. Local governments may still pass and enforce ordinances that regulate the upkeep of property and the Solid Waste Act will prevail if it conflicts with this law. The bill received third reading in the House and was introduced in the Senate.

Criminal Justice Academy Training Facility — H.  4478. This bill authorizes the director of the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy to determine the location of a training facility for mandatory law enforcement training for state and local law enforcement agencies. The House Criminal Laws subcommittee gave H. 4478 a favorable report.


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. 945 — Reduces the threshold for the local accommodations tax and hospitality tax collections from $900,000 to $750,000.

S. 947 — Repeals §24-3-965 relating to exclusive magistrate court jurisdiction for certain offenses regarding the furnishing of contraband to inmates.

S. 949 — Provides that probation officers and county personnel who participate in community service programs are not liable for civil damages where a probationer completing community service is injured.

S. 957 — Creates the offense of driving under the influence of an electronic device.

S. 958 — Provides that a magistrate that is an attorney in good standing with the South Carolina Bar shall have 10 percent added to their salary.

S. 959 — Provides that a first offense for graffiti vandalism may be tried in magistrate court.

House Bills

H. 4730 — Requires an electrical utility that operates a solar farm to build and maintain a vegetative buffer around the farm.

H. 4798 — Provides that a real estate agent or a prospective property purchaser who holds a concealed weapon permit may carry a concealable weapon upon certain properties.

H. 4800 — Authorizes a county to compose a community charge on nonprofit hospitals and institutions of higher learning.

H. 4811 — Requires a magistrate to be a licensed attorney, but provides exceptions under certain circumstances.

H. 4816 — Extends the provisions of the South Carolina Abandoned Buildings Revitalization Act.

H. 4829 — Provides that as a condition of bond, a person may be released from custody on the condition that they comply with the terms and conditions of an electronic pretrial release and monitoring program.

H. 4831 — For purposes of certain awards to crime victims, increases the burial expense from $4000 to $6500.