Posts in Category: Budget

Issue 11-17 - March 24, 2017 

Friday, March 24, 2017 9:22:00 AM Categories: Budget Retirement Roads
State Budget — H. 3720: Local Government Fund (LGF) Increase Proposed!

The Senate Finance Committee began working on the budget this week. Most of their work involved discussions of provisos. They will take up monetary allocations next week.

Senator Vincent Sheheen discussed a proposal that would significantly increase the funding of the LGF. The Senator suggested taking the House retirement system proposal, which provides an allocation that covers 1 percent of the retirement system local government employers’ increase, and instead appropriating the money to the LGF. The House proposal represented a $32 million appropriation. Senator Sheheen’s proposal routes more money to county and city governments because the 1 percent appropriation to the retirement system includes other employers. Many members of the Finance Committee seemed interested in Senator Sheheen’s idea. Please thank Senator Sheheen and ask your Senator to support increasing the recurring money in the LGF!

FEMA Match

The House appropriated $83.5 million from nonrecurring funds in the Capital Reserve Fund for the state and local FEMA match for Hurricane Matthew and the Pinnacle Mountain Fire. Almost 60 percent of this money will go back to local governments. Senate Finance will discuss this funding next week.

Provisos of Interest

Flexibility Proviso — Senate Finance adopted the House amended version of the County Flexibility Proviso. The amendment excludes the assessment for indigent medical care from being reduced. It is not too late to call your senator and ask that this be amended back! This proviso change is the height of hypocrisy. The General Assembly consistently ignores the Aid to Subdivisions Act, but expects counties to pay their state agency the full statutory amount.

Roads Transfer Proviso — This proviso allows a county to pass a resolution indicating its conditions, willingness, and desire to accept roads from the state system and assume the maintenance thereof. SCDOT and any county electing to participate must enter into a written agreement clarifying which roads the county will accept and how much money SCDOT will transfer to the county to maintain the roads. Senate Finance deleted this proviso so it could be further discussed in conference committee.

Indigent Defense Screening — This proviso (117.142) requires the Commission for Indigent Defense and the Judicial Department Court Administration Program to consult with the Summary Court Judges Association and the Clerks of Courts Association on issues regarding screening applicants for public defenders. Indigent Defense and Court Administration are to make recommendations to the General Assembly by December 1, 2017, regarding the requirements of verifying indigence, who should conduct the screening, and what resources are needed to properly screen applicants. The proviso was included in the budget that passed the House and was adopted by Senate Finance.

Dealer Tag Proviso — This proviso allows a person or entity that sells 10 cars in a calendar year to apply for two dealer tags. Current law requires a dealer to sell 20 cars in a year before they can receive dealer tags. Senate Finance adopted this proviso.

Assessment of Property after Catastrophic Weather Event — The House adopted this proviso (117.138) which states that any improvement made to real property or personal property used as a residence, such as a mobile home or manufactured housing unit, damaged during the October 2015 flood, is not considered an improvement and does not require an appraisal. This provision only applies if the improvements made to the property were funded by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development Block Grant - Disaster Recovery program or if, at the discretion of the county and using qualifications determined by the county, the improvements were made with the assistance of a volunteer organization active in disaster recovery. The Finance Committee amended the proviso to include property damaged in Hurricane Matthew.

The property tax value of property affected by this proviso shall remain the same unless an assessable transfer of interest occurs. No refund is allowed on account of values adjusted because of the proviso.

Roads Bill — H. 3516

H. 3516, which among other things raises the gas tax 2 cents per year for six years, remains on the Senate’s contested calendar where it is pending second reading. Once debate begins on the bill, Senator Davis may introduce an amendment that would give counties the option to accept the transfer of roads from the state system.

State Retirement System — H. 3726

The State Retirement System bill is likely headed to conference committee.

The most significant difference between the House and Senate versions of the bill is a Senate amendment which states that when the system no longer has an unfunded liability, all new employees must participate in a defined contribution retirement plan.

Both the House and Senate versions increase and cap SCRS employee contribution rates at 9 percent.

In both bills, 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. The unfunded amortization schedule is reduced from 30 years to 20, and the annual rate of return from investments is reduced 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 also allows the General Assembly to allocate money to relieve the employers’ increased share, which the House did (1 percent for local governments) in its version of the budget.

According to RFA, local government employer contributions (counties, cities, and school districts) 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.

Property Tax Bills in Ways and Means

The following bills are likely to be heard by Ways and Means Committee this week:

Rolling Back Rollback Taxes — H. 3786. This bill amends the code to only allow for one year of rollback tax when agriculture use is converted to another use. Currently, rollback taxes are five years. The bill has a fiscal impact of $8.5 million.

Assessment Ratio in Probate — H. 3093. This legislation states that when an owner receiving the 4 percent assessment ratio dies, the property shall continue to be assessed at 4 percent until the deceased's estate is closed, or upon recording of a deed or deed of distribution out of the estate. The property may not be rented.

Affordable Housing Loophole Creation — H. 3867. Currently, there is a property tax exemption for all property of nonprofit housing corporations or solely-owned instrumentalities of these corporations which is devoted to providing housing to low or very low income residents. This bill would eliminate the requirement that the instrumentalities be “solely-owned” by a nonprofit and appears to exempt all low income housing property owned by any partnership that includes a nonprofit housing corporation, even if the nonprofit only held 1 percent of the partnership.

Legislation of Interest

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Rewrite — H. 3352. The House adopted the committee amendment to clarify that state and federal laws provide exemptions to FOIA in addition to the exemptions found in the act. H. 3352 received third reading and has been sent to the Senate.

Dealer Tags — S. 488. S. 488 allows a person whose vehicle is being serviced by a car dealer to drive a dealer-owned loaner vehicle displaying a dealer tag. The vehicle displaying the tag must be part of a manufacturer program. Currently, only dealership employees and prospective drivers can drive a vehicle displaying a dealer tag. S. 488 also increases the amount of dealer tags from two for the first 20 and one for every additional 15 vehicles sold in a year by allowing a dealer to purchase two tags for each additional 15 vehicles sold. The estimated fiscal impact of this increase allowed for all car dealers is over $8 million if all dealers received the maximum amount of tags. SCAC staff is working with stakeholders on an amendment to S. 488 to significantly reduce the fiscal impact. S. 488 is pending second reading on the Senate calendar.

Dealer Tags Part Two — H. 3933. H. 3933 allows a dealer with a service department to purchase two additional dealer tags to use for dealer-owned vehicles driven by persons getting their vehicle serviced by the dealer. H. 3933 received a favorable report from a House Education and Public Works subcommittee and it will be considered at the full committee’s next meeting.

Cost of Animal Care Act — S. 3. This bill provides that an entity with custody of an animal because the animal‘s owner has been accused of a crime against the animal may petition the magistrates court requesting the accused to deposit funds into an account to pay for the animal’s care. Senate Agriculture Committee amended the bill to provide that the accused can avoid paying costs associated with the animal if they surrender the animal. The accused can only avoid the costs after surrender and will still be liable for all costs up to the point of surrender. The committee adopted some other technical amendments and gave S. 3 a favorable report as amended. 

Probate Court — S. 415. This is a comprehensive bill that among other things, revises Title 62, Article 5 of the Probate Code, dealing with conservatorships and guardianships. The bill also gives probate judges the authority to waive filing fees for indigent persons. S. 415 is pending second reading on the Senate calendar.

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. The Senate gave S. 271 third reading and sent it to the House.

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 also allows a county to use the piping material that they currently have in their inventory. H. 3652 received third reading in the House and was sent to the Senate.

Coroner Qualifications — H. 3019. This bill originally provided that a coroner elected without meeting the statutory requirements for being a coroner could remain coroner if he completes the requirements within a year of being elected. The House Judiciary Committee amended H. 3019 to require the coroner’s office to employ a medical examiner or a deputy coroner who meets the qualifications if the coroner doesn’t meet the statutory requirements for being a coroner when elected. H. 3019 is pending second reading on the House calendar.

Coroner’s Supplement — S. 170. This bill requires each county coroner to convene a Child Fatality Review Team to review cases of children under the age of 18 who have died in the county. The bill also provides a supplement of at least $35,000 annually to each coroner. This supplement is contingent upon state appropriation or “financial support from other sources.” After paying each coroner’s supplement, any excess amounts from the funding source is to be disbursed to coroners in an amount pursuant to a formula based on county population. S.170 is pending second reading on the Senate contested calendar.

No Application for Ag Use — H. 3463. This bill states that if property was assessed as agricultural property or assessed as farm machinery and equipment in 2016, the property must continue to be assessed with the same assessment ratio unless a change of use occurs. Therefore, no application will be required for ag use when a transfer occurs. The House adopted an amendment to provide that “buildings” assessed as farm buildings pursuant to 12-43-220(b) in 2016, must also be assessed with the same ratio unless a change of use occurs. The bill received third reading in the House and was sent to the Senate.

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. S. 261 is pending third reading in the Senate.

Manufacturing or Industrial Nuisances — H. 3653. H. 3653 prohibits 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. H. 3653 received third reading in the House and was sent to the Senate.

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. The House gave S. 218 third reading and it has been sent to the Governor for ratification.

Special Elections — H. 3685 & H. 3150. H. 3685 extends the special election calendar dates to comply with federal voting laws that require ballots to be mailed to members of the military and overseas citizens 45 days before the election date. H. 3150 requires a municipality to hold an election to fill a vacancy even if only one candidate has filed for the office to be filled. Currently, an election does not have to be held by a municipality if there is a single candidate for the office. Both bills are pending second reading on the House calendar.

Crime Victim Services — S. 289. This bill is an attempt to consolidate victim services by creating the South Carolina Crime Victim Services Division within the Office of the Attorney General. The Division will ensure that victims throughout the state have access to the same services, regardless of where they reside. S. 289 is pending second reading on the Senate calendar.

Right to Parent Act — H. 3538. H. 3538 would enact the “Persons with Disabilities Right to Parent Act” to require the DSS, law enforcement, family, and probate courts to protect the parenting rights of people with disabilities during child custody, child protection, and probate guardianship proceedings. The purpose of this legislation is to ensure that anyone with a disability isn’t denied the right to parent, custody, or visitation with a child because they are disabled. H. 3538 passed the House and is in the Senate.

Veterans’ Affairs Complaints — H. 3428. This bill gives the Director of the Division of Veterans’ Affairs the authority to receive and respond to complaints of county veterans’ affairs officers. The Director will forward a complaint and any disciplinary recommendations, including removal of the county officer, to the legislative delegation to make a final determination. H. 3428 received a favorable report by the House 3M Committee and is pending second reading on the House calendar.

Veterans’ Affairs Officers Qualifications — H. 3469. This bill provides that a county veterans’ affairs officer must be a veteran who served on active duty for more than 24 months and was released with an honorable discharge. If the officer is a veteran who served less than 24 months active duty, the discharge must be from service-connected disability. Those who are not veterans would no longer be eligible for this position. A House 3M subcommittee amended the bill to have these qualifications also apply to the state Director of Veterans’ Affairs. The amendment also includes a grandfather provision to allow non-veterans currently serving as a county veterans’ affairs officer to hold their position until 2021. The full 3M committee failed to adopt these amendments and adjourned debate due to concerns over the prohibition of allowing non-veterans to serve as a county veterans’ affairs officer.

In-state Tuition for Veterans — H. 3034. This bill eliminates the time limits of eligibility for certain recipients of transferred veterans’ benefits who are eligible for in-state tuition. The House recalled the bill from committee and adopted an amendment to expand the eligibility for this benefit. H. 3034 was given third reading and sent to the Senate.

Fitness to Stand Trial — H. 3829. Current law states if a person is unfit to stand trial, but likely to become fit, then the court shall order the person to be hospitalized for up to 60 days. This bill will allow an order for hospitalization for up to six months. The Department of Mental Health is to house these individuals. A House Criminal Laws subcommittee adjourned debate on H. 3829 to obtain more information and will likely take the bill up at its next meeting.


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. 565Creates the offense of “Endangerment of a Highway Worker” along with penalties for this offense.

S. 579Provides that all state and county regulatory agencies should enforce the same building codes.

S. 580Provides that a child cannot be detained in an adult jail for more than six hours, even if they have been waived to general sessions to be tried as an adult. Also decreases the length of time a child may be held for violation of a court order regarding a status offense.

House Bills

H. 4020For purposes of condemnation proceedings, requires the condemnor to provide notice to the landowner of application for an ex parte order to gain entry.

H. 4027For purposes of the ethics provisions, revises the definition of “business with which he is associated.”

H. 4029Requires the Department of Revenue to follow certain North American Classification System Manual provisions when assessing the property of merchants and other related businesses, and repeals §12-39-70 relating to appraising and assessing personal property of businesses under the jurisdiction of the county auditor.

H. 4033Creates the offense of “Endangerment of a Highway Worker” along with penalties for this offense.

H. 4034Removes the Freedom of Information Act exemption for members of the General Assembly and their immediate staff.

H. 4035Allows individuals not subject to income tax withholding to claim income tax credit under the High Growth Small Business Job Creation Act, if they make a qualifying investment in a qualified business.

H. 4040Requires a specified level of competence for sign interpreters used by county hospitals and detention centers.

H. 4041Prohibits the portion of the motor fuel user fee credited to DOT from being used for employee compensation, new road construction projects, or being transferred to the SC Transportation Infrastructure Bank.

Issue 9-17 - March 10, 2017 

Friday, March 10, 2017 12:17:00 PM Categories: Budget Retirement Roads
State Budget — H. 3720

The House floor debate will begin on March 13 at 1:00 p.m.

The Ways and Means version of the budget provides an allocation that covers 1 percent of the retirement system local government employers’ increase for this fiscal year. This was a $32 million appropriation on behalf of local government. Please ask your House member to support this appropriation.

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.

There are two items in the Ways and Means version of the budget that need the attention of every county official. Please contact your House member over the weekend and discuss this with them.

Fund the Local Government Fund.

SCAC requested the General Assembly fund the LGF at last year’s level plus any percentage growth in the General Fund. Ways and Means failed to fund the non-recurring dollars appropriated to the LGF in their version of the budget, which equates to a $10.6 million cut. Please ask your House member to fund the LGF at last year’s level plus the growth in the General Fund!

Flexibility Proviso in Peril

Ways and Means Committee adopted an 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. Please ask 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

The Senate polled out, amended, and gave the House retirement bill (H.3726) third reading this week. This will allow the bill to go to conference committee, most likely next week. The most significant difference between the House and Senate versions of the bill is a Senate amendment which states that when the system no longer has an unfunded liability, all new employees must participate in a defined contribution retirement plan.

Both the House and Senate versions 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. The unfunded amortization schedule is reduced from 30 years to 20, and the annual rate of return from investments is reduced 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 also allows the General Assembly to allocate money to relieve the employers’ increased share.

According to Revenue and Fiscal Affairs, local government employer contributions (counties, cities, and school districts) 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.

The Ways and Means version of the budget provides an allocation that covers 1 percent of the local government employers’ increase. Please contact your senator and ask that they also allocate money to the local government share of the employer increase. Otherwise, this burden will fall on property taxpayers!

Roads Bill — H. 3516

A Senate Finance subcommittee met on Tuesday to take up H. 3516, the House version of the roads bill. The subcommittee amended the House version and gave the bill a favorable report. As amended by the Senate Finance subcommittee, H. 3516: increases the motor fuel user fee two cents per year for six years; increases the registration fees sent to SCDOT as a result of Act 275 of 2016; gradually increases the sales tax cap on automobiles, referred to as an infrastructure maintenance fee, to $700 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; creates a fee in lieu of property taxes for both in-state and out-of-state motor carriers with the first 75 percent sent to counties and the remaining 25 percent to the newly created Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund (IMTF); and gradually increases the 2.66 cents per gallon of the gas tax sent to County Transportation Committees (CTCs) to 3.99 cents over the next five years. The Senate Finance subcommittee amendment also struck the SCDOT Commission restructuring language from the House version. Most of the money created by H. 3516 will be placed in the IMTF to be used exclusively on repair, maintenance, and improvements to existing roads. Revenue and Fiscal Affairs estimated that the fee-in-lieu of property taxes on motor carriers will send approximately $12 million in new revenue to counties this fiscal year.

Senator Davis stated that he plans on proposing an amendment to transfer roads from SCDOT to counties next Tuesday at the full Senate Finance Committee meeting.

Legislation of Interest

Assessment Ratio in Probate — H. 3093. This legislation states that when an owner receiving the 4 percent assessment ratio dies, the property shall continue to be assessed at 4 percent until the deceased's estate is closed, or upon recording of a deed or deed of distribution out of the estate. The property may not be rented. The bill was reported out of a Ways and Means subcommittee with a favorable report.

No Application for Ag Use — H. 3463. This bill states if in 2016, property was assessed as agricultural property or assessed as farm machinery and equipment, the property must continue to be assessed with the same assessment ratio unless a change of use occurs. Therefore, no application will be required for ag use when a transfer occurs. The bill was reported out of a Ways and Means subcommittee with a favorable report.

Rolling Back Rollback Taxes — H. 3786. This bill amends the code to only allow for one year of rollback tax when agriculture use is converted to another use. Currently rollback taxes are five years. The bill has a fiscal impact of $8.5 million. The bill was reported out of a Ways and Means subcommittee with a favorable report.

Affordable Housing Loophole Creation — H. 3867. Currently, there is a property tax exemption for all property of nonprofit housing corporations or solely-owned instrumentalities of these corporations which is devoted to providing housing to low or very low income residents. This bill would eliminate the requirement that the instrumentalities be “solely-owned” by a nonprofit and appears to exempt all low housing property owned by any partnership that includes a nonprofit housing corporation, even if the nonprofit only held 1 percent of the partnership. The bill was reported out of a Ways and Means subcommittee with a favorable report.

Magistrates’ Salaries — H. 3744. This bill requires that all magistrates be paid at least 55 percent of a circuit judge’s salary. Current law has magistrates salaries tiered based on county population with the lowest tier being paid 35 percent of a circuit judge’s salary. The bill also increases the stipend for full and part-time chief magistrates from $1,500 to $5,000, and provides a new $5,000 supplement for full-time associate magistrates. It also provides a $2,500 supplement for part-time associate magistrates. The bill funds these increases by increasing civil filing fees in magistrate’s court by $15. All remaining revenue is distributed to every county on an equal basis. H. 3744 received a favorable report from a House Ways and Means subcommittee.

School First Responder Firearms — H. 3566. H. 3566 requires the Law Enforcement Training Council to develop guidelines for a one-week training program for the Criminal Justice Academy to offer to school first responders that certifies them to possess a firearm on school premises. A Ways and Means subcommittee amended the bill to require the first responder or the school to pay for the training and gave it a favorable report as amended.

Manufacturing or Industrial Nuisances — S. 323 & H. 3653. S. 323 and H. 3653 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 Senate L.C.I. subcommittee amended S. 323 to define ‘manufacturing and industrial facility’ to limit the scope of the bill and gave it a favorable report. H. 3653 is pending second reading on the contested 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 22nd.

Special Elections — H. 3685 & H. 3150. H. 3685 extends the special election calendar dates in order to comply with federal voting laws that require ballots to be mailed to members of the military and overseas citizens 45 days before the election date. The House Election Laws subcommittee gave H. 3685 a favorable report. H. 3150 requires a municipality to hold an election to fill a vacancy even if only one candidate has filed for the office to be filled. Currently, an election does not have to held by a municipality if there is a single candidate for the office. The House Election Laws subcommittee gave H. 3150 a favorable report.

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 was amended on the House floor to clarify that this only applies when state funds are used, and allows a county to use the piping material that they currently have in their inventory. H. 3652 received second reading.

Billboards — S. 200. This bill deals with billboards damaged by an act of God. A Senate amendment removes the 60-day requirement for replacing conforming billboards and allows nonconforming billboards to be restored to their prior condition within 60 days of an act of God. The amendment also allows for nonconforming billboards to be restored after an act of vandalism upon meeting certain conditions. S. 200 was given 3rd reading and sent to the House.

Administrative Court Automatic Stay — S. 105. As passed by Senate Judiciary, this bill provided 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. The Senate amended S. 105 on the floor to change the 45 day waiting period to 90 days and to provide a process by which a contested stay can be lifted. S. 105 was given 3rd reading and sent to the House.

Clerks of Court and CWPs — S. 324. This bill would allow active and retired clerks of court who possess a valid concealed weapons permit to carry a concealable weapon anywhere within the state. Senate Judiciary amended the bill to clarify that the provision applies only to the elected clerks of court, and not their staff. S. 324 was carried over after the Committee adopted the amendment.

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 their 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. A Senate Corrections and Penology subcommittee gave S. 271 a favorable report.

Coroner’s Supplement — S. 170. This bill requires each county coroner to convene a Child Fatality Review Team to review cases of children under the age of 18 who have died in the county. The bill also provides a supplement of at least $35,000 annually to each coroner for staff and office equipment. This supplement is contingent upon state appropriation or “financial support from other sources.” After paying each coroner’s supplement, any excess amount from the funding source is to be disbursed to coroners in an amount pursuant to a formula based on county population. After adopting a minor amendment, Senate Judiciary gave the bill a favorable report as amended.

Law Enforcement Training Council — S. 173. As amended by Senate Judiciary, this bill requires Class 1-LE, Class 2-LCO, and Class 3-SLE law enforcement officers to receive training in mental health and addictive disorder crisis intervention over their 3-year recertification period. The bill received a favorable report as amended and will be on the Senate calendar for second reading.

State Guard Military Leave — S. 78. This bill provides that any officer or employee of the state or a political subdivision who is a member of the South Carolina State Guard must be granted military leave for training or when the guard is activated. There can be no loss of pay, seniority, or efficiency rating while the employee is on leave. S. 78 received third reading in the Senate this week and was sent to the House.

Coroner Qualifications — H. 3019. This bill originally provided that a coroner elected without meeting the statutory requirements for being a coroner could remain coroner if he completes the requirements within a year of being elected. A House Judiciary subcommittee amended H. 3019 to require the coroner’s office to employ a medical examiner if the coroner doesn’t meet the statutory requirements for being a coroner when elected. H. 3019 received a favorable report as amended last week and will be debated by the House Judiciary Committee at its next meeting.

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 is on the House contested calendar.

Non-Profit Transparency — H. 3931. H. 3931 requires a non-profit that received more than $100 in public funds from a state agency or political subdivision in the previous or current calendar year to submit quarterly reports to the entity that provided the funds. The report must include the amount of the funds, the purposes for which they were expended, and any other information required by the awarding jurisdiction. The reports received by a state agency or political subdivision will be subject to the Freedom of Information Act. A House Ways and Means subcommittee gave H. 3931 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. 516Requires clerks of court and magistrates to report the disposition of general session and criminal cases as well as certain restraining orders and orders of protection to SLED within a certain period of time.

S. 518Provides that no person who has a pending allegation of misconduct may be employed as a law enforcement officer or telecommunications operator until the Law Enforcement Training Council has issued a final agency decision, or an appellate court directs the Council to issue the law enforcement or telecommunications certification.

S. 531Expands the definition of “covered individual” for purposes of veterans and active military personnel and their children or spouses receiving in-state tuition rates.

S. 533Requires a public official whose office becomes vacant due to a criminal conviction during the official’s term of office to reimburse the county board of voter registration and elections for the actual costs of holding a special election to fill the vacated office.

S. 536Prohibits a person from voting in a partisan primary election or advisory referendum unless they are registered as a member of that party.

HOUSE BILLS

H. 3720Provides for the annual state budget for fiscal year beginning July 1, 2017.

H. 3721Provides for the Capital Reserve Fund for fiscal year 2016-2017.

H. 3896Authorizes counties to adopt an ordinance to require that residential and commercial property owners shall keep lots and other property clean and free of rubbish.

H. 3918Enacts the “Asset Forfeiture and Private Property Protection Act.”

H. 3919Enacts the “South Carolina Service Members Civil Relief Act.”

H. 3922Creates the “Rural County Transformation Fund.”

H. 3924Revises the penalties regarding littering.

H. 3925Provides that common-law marriage shall not be valid in this state on or after January 1, 2018, but grandfathers common-law marriages existing prior to that date.

H. 3930Revises the provisions as to where a person may lawfully carry a handgun to include the lawful possession of a firearm on school property.

H. 3931Requires certain nonprofit corporations that receive more than $100 in public funds must make quarterly expenditure reports to the awarding jurisdiction, and the awarding jurisdiction must make these reports available to the public.

H. 3946Provides that a child cannot be detained in an adult jail for more than six hours, even if they have been waived to general sessions to be tried as an adult. Also decreases the length of time a child may be held for violation of a court order regarding a status offense.

H. 3948Gives family court judges the discretion of whether or not to require a child of 14 years or older to be placed on the sex offender registry.

H. 3956Requires DOT to maintain any outfall or drainage ditch that was constructed as part of state highway construction project.

Issue 8-17 - March 3, 2017 

Friday, March 3, 2017 11:51:00 AM Categories: Budget Retirement Roads
State Retirement System — H. 3726 & S. 394

The House passed H. 3726, and the Senate passed S. 394 this week. These are each chambers’ version of State pension system reform. The most significant difference between the bills is that the Senate adopted an amendment which states that when the system no longer has an unfunded liability, all new employees must participate in a defined contribution retirement plan.

Both 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. Both 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.

According to Revenue and Fiscal Affairs, local government employer contributions (counties, cities, and school districts) 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.

The Ways and Means version of the budget provides an allocation that covers 1 percent of the local government employers’ increase for this fiscal year. There was no discussion regarding this funding on the Senate floor during the retirement bill debate. Please contact your senator and ask that they also allocate money to the local government share of the employer increase. Otherwise, this burden will fall on property taxpayers!

Roads Bills — H. 3516 & S. 384

The House passed H. 3516, its version of the roads bill, on Thursday. H. 3516: increases the motor fuel user fee two 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; creates a fee in lieu of property taxes for both in-state and out-of-state motor carriers with the first $26.5 million sent to counties and any excess revenue to the State Highway Fund; and restructures the SCDOT Commission. Most of the money created by H. 3516 will be placed in an Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund to be used exclusively on repair, maintenance, and improvements to existing roads.

An amendment adopted on the floor will gradually increase the 2.66 cents per gallon of the gas tax sent to County Transportation Committees (CTCs) to 3.99 cents over the next five years.

S. 384 increases the motor fuel user fee two 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. The Senate Finance Committee has not yet scheduled a subcommittee meeting for S. 384.

State Budget — H. 3720

The Ways and Means Budget Schedule reflects that the House Floor debate will begin on March 13.

As noted above, the Ways and Means version of the budget provides an allocation that covers 1 percent of the local government employers’ increase for this fiscal year. 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 and ask your House member to support this appropriation.

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.

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!

Legislation of Interest

Billboards — S. 200. This bill deals with billboards damaged by an act of God. The Senate Transportation Committee adopted an amendment to remove the 60 day requirement for replacing conforming billboards and to allow nonconforming billboards to be restored to their prior condition within 60 days of an act of God. The amendment also allows for nonconforming billboards to be restored after an act of vandalism upon meeting certain conditions. The committee gave S. 200 a favorable report as amended and it is pending second reading on the Senate Calendar.

Coroner’s Child Fatality Review Team — S. 170. S. 170 requires each county coroner to convene a Child Fatality Review Team to review cases of children who have died in the county under the age of 18. The team is composed of the coroner or his designee, a local law enforcement officer, an agent from SLED’s Department of Child Fatalities, a board-certified child abuse pediatrician or a forensic pathologist, a representative from the local Department of Social Services (DSS), and any other person the coroner deems necessary. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee gave the bill a favorable report.

Law Enforcement Training Council — S. 173. This bill requires all law enforcement officers to receive annual training in mental health and addictive disorder crisis intervention. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee amended the bill and gave it a favorable report.

Crime Victim Services — S. 289. This bill is an attempt to consolidate victim services by creating the South Carolina Crime Victim Services Division within the Office of the Attorney General. The Division will ensure that victims throughout the state have access to the same services, regardless of where they reside. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee made some technical amendments to S. 289 and gave it a favorable report.

State Guard Military Leave — S. 78. This bill provides that any officer or employee of the state or a political subdivision who is a member of the South Carolina State Guard must be granted military leave for training or when the guard is activated. There can be no loss of pay, seniority, or efficiency rating while the employee is on leave. S. 78 received second reading on the Senate calendar.

Veterans’ Affairs Complaints — H. 3428. This bill gives the Director of the Division of Veterans’ Affairs the authority to receive and respond to veterans complaints of county veterans’ affairs officers. The director will forward a complaint and any disciplinary recommendations, including removal of the county officer, to the legislative delegation to make a final determination. H. 3428 received a favorable report by a House 3M subcommittee and will be on the full committee’s next agenda.

Veterans’ Affairs Officers Qualifications — H. 3469. This bill provides that a county veterans’ affairs officer must be a veteran who served on active duty for more than 24 months and was released with an honorable discharge. If the officer is a veteran who served less than 24 months active duty, the discharge must be from service-connected disability. Those who are not veterans would no longer be eligible for this position. A House 3M subcommittee amended the bill to have these qualifications also apply to the state Director of Veterans’ Affairs. The amendment also includes a grandfather provision to allow non-veterans currently serving as a county veterans’ affairs officer to hold their position until 2021. H. 3469 received a favorable report as amended and will be on the 3M Committee’s next agenda.

Coroner Qualifications — H. 3019. This bill originally provided that a coroner elected without meeting the statutory requirements for being a coroner could remain coroner if he completes the requirements within a year of being elected. A House Judiciary subcommittee amended H. 3019 to require the coroner’s office to employ a medical examiner if the coroner doesn’t meet the statutory requirements for being a coroner when elected. H. 3019 received a favorable report as amended and will be debated by the House Judiciary Committee at its meeting on Tuesday.

Right to Parent Act — H. 3538. H. 3538 would enact the “Persons with Disabilities Right to Parent Act” to require the DSS, law enforcement, family, and probate courts to protect the parenting rights of people with disabilities during child custody, child protection, and probate guardianship proceedings. The purpose of this legislation is to ensure that anyone with a disability isn’t denied the right to parent, custody, or visitation with a child because they are disabled. A House Judiciary subcommittee adjourned before taking any action on this proposal.

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 House L.C.I. Committee and will be up for debate in the full House next week.

Manufacturing or Industrial Nuisances - H. 3653. H. 3653 prohibits 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. House L.C.I. Committee gave H. 3653 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. 481Provides that certain data from law enforcement dash-cam video and recordings are subject to the Freedom of Information Act, and authorizes law enforcement to obtain a court order to prevent the release of this information in certain circumstances.

S. 482For purposes of the capital projects sales tax, provides that if the tax proceeds are only for one project, counties that meet a certain requirement do not have to create a commission, and they can perform the duties of the commission.

S. 501Directs the state treasurer to disburse funds to counties that have unreimbursed expenses associated with the recovery from the 2014 winter storm.

S. 503Provides for the expedited return of certain property and monies seized when forfeiture proceedings have not been instituted and charges have not been filed within 30 days of seizure.

S. 505Requires the Department of Transportation Commission to establish project priority lists for each program category proposed to be included in the statewide transportation infrastructure plan and the state non-federal aid program.

House Bills

H. 3862Clarifies which entities are required to report information to DSS’ Division of Child Support Services for the purpose of locating persons to establish paternity and child support obligations.

H. 3863Requires every employer in this state to report every new hire or rehired person to the DSS’ Child Support Services Division Employer New Hire Reporting program.

H. 3871Makes technical corrections to the "Uniform Interstate Family Support Act."

H. 3879Increases the maximum amount of burial expenses payable under workers’ compensation for accidental death from $2500 to $7500.

H. 3891Enacts the “Workplace Freedom Act.”

Ratifications

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

(R. 2) S. 310. Authorizes the Town of Camden to annex property located in an enclave by ordinance upon a finding that the property is blighted.

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 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.

Issue 3-17 - January 27, 217 

Friday, January 27, 2017 11:51:00 AM Categories: Budget FOIA LGF

A large portion of the Senate’s work this week dealt with the succession of Kevin Bryant to Lt. Governor, reelecting Senator Hugh Leatherman President Pro Tem of the Senate, and doing committee work. This week the House tackled House rule changes on the calendar, and did a good bit of subcommittee work.

SCAC staff met with Rep. Bill Sandifer, Chairman of the House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee, to discuss various issues that come before his committee. Chairman Sandifer was very receptive to our issues and expressed support for several SCAC policy positions. The meeting was very amicable and productive and Chairman Sandifer was adamant that he wanted to include SCAC in discussions of any proposals that impact county government. Chairman Sandifer’s goal is to create an open and friendly business climate AND protect the interests of county government.

Please thank Chairman Sandifer for taking time out of his busy schedule to meet with SCAC staff and for supporting several SCAC policy positions.

Local Government Fund (LGF) and State Budget

Full Ways and Means met this week and heard from the SC Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office (RFA) as well as the South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD). RFA testified that the General Fund will increase by roughly $320 million this year. Unfortunately, they further explained that recurring statewide funding issues, which include rising state health insurance costs, lottery scholarship costs, and retirement fund increases, will eat most - if not all - of that growth. SCEMD presented the following costs of Hurricane Matthew to the committee:

  • $ 345,810,216 in total costs
  • $ 138,059,422 in state costs
  • $ 207,750,794 in local costs

The projected non-federal share for Hurricane Matthew is $88,320,217.

For the Pinnacle Mountain Fire, SCEMD presented the following:

  • $4,860,522 in total costs
  • $3,960,522 in state costs
  • $900,000 in local costs

The projected non-federal share is $1.25 million.

The projected total for both disasters is $89,570,217.

As stated last week, because recurring statewide funding costs limit the availability of recurring dollars, Chairman White will only recommend an appropriation to the LGF of last year’s recurring line. This would represent a reduction of $10.6 million in nonrecurring funds from last year’s appropriation.

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.”

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!

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Rewrite

H. 3352 does the following:

  • For documents two years old or less, the response time for availability is reduced from 15 to 10 business days and the documents must be produced within 30 calendar days of the date the FOI request is granted.
  • For documents older than two years, the response time is 20 business days and documents must be produced within 35 calendar days of the date the FOI request is granted.
  • Requires each public body to establish a fee schedule which must be posted online. Allows administrative charges to be based on the prorated hourly salary of the lowest paid employee who has the skill and training to fulfill the request. When a deposit is required, the time to produce a record does not start until the deposit is received.
  • Creates the Office of FOI Act Review within the Administrative Law Court (ALC) to hear FOI violation complaints and complaints of frivolous or overly burdensome requests.
  • Changes the criminal penalties under FOI to civil penalties.

H. 3352 also requires a law enforcement agency to seek an injunction in circuit court to prevent the release of dash cam video pursuant to an FOI request. Current law allows the agency to deny a request and a requester who disagrees may bring suit. Finally, H. 3352 exempts the release of the final words uttered in a 911 call before the caller dies, unless the family waives the exemption. The bill received a favorable report from the House Constitutional Laws subcommittee.

Alternative Energy Property Tax Exemption

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.

Also, S. 44 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. S. 44 is pending second reading on the contested Senate calendar.

Dam Regulations

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

A House Agriculture subcommittee amended a provision of the bill 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 local emergency management officials of a failure or potential failure. It is then the responsibility of the local 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. The full committee gave H. 3218 a favorable report, as amended, and the bill will be on the House calendar for second reading.

Legislative Action of Interest

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. A Senate Finance subcommittee amended the bill to provide that the owner may still rent the property up to 72 days without losing their 4 percent ratio as provided in current law. The amendment further clarified that this section also applies to persons who are moved to assisted living facilities and in-patient rehabilitation facilities. The subcommittee gave the bill a favorable report as amended.

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. SCAC staff requested an amendment to provide that in the event of the release or escape of one or more of these animals that state and local law enforcement will assist animal control in recapturing, containing, or destroying the animal. House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee adopted the subcommittee amendment and gave the bill a favorable report.

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. SCAC staff requested an amendment to provide that nothing in the bill can be construed to affect county ordinances or agreements that regulate solid waste or recyclables. A House L.C.I. subcommittee approved the amendment and gave H. 3529 a favorable report.

State Guard Military Leave – S. 78. This bill provides that any officer or employee of the state or a political subdivision who is a member of the South Carolina State Guard must be granted military leave for training or when the guard is activated. There can be no loss of pay, seniority, or efficiency rating while the employee is on leave. A Senate General subcommittee gave S. 78 a favorable report.

Drone Use over Jails – S. 176. This bill, as amended, prohibits drones from flying within 500 feet of a prison or jail without written consent of the facility. The bill is on the Senate calendar for second reading and was carried over.

DSS Sign Language Interpreters – S. 220. This bill requires a local law enforcement agency conducting a child abuse investigation involving a hearing impaired child to use a sign language interpreter that is not a parent or family member of the child when the child is being interviewed. DSS shall maintain a list of qualified interpreters in each county. The interpreter may communicate with a child from a remote location by communicating with the child using video remote interpreting. The Senate Judiciary amended the bill to give DSS or law enforcement the discretion to allow the parents to be present during the interview as long as they are not the alleged abuse perpetrator. The bill was given a favorable report as amended and is pending second reading on the Senate calendar.

In-state Tuition for Veterans – H. 3034 & 3035. H. 3034 eliminates the time limits of eligibility for certain recipients of transferred veterans’ benefits who are eligible for in-state tuition. H. 3035 waives the one-year residency requirement for in-state tuition for veterans and their dependents so long as there is intent to establish domicile in the state. The House Education and Public Works Committee recommitted H. 3034 but gave H. 3035 a favorable report.

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 replace or restore the dog or horse. A Senate Agriculture subcommittee gave S. 6 a favorable report.

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 the Senate L.C.I. Committee and is pending second reading on the Senate calendar.

SC House Tax Policy Review Committee – The Ad Hoc House Tax Policy Review Committee met this week to begin finalizing proposals to address sales, income, business license, and property taxes. During the meeting, legislative staff presented information relating to reducing the assessment ratios on manufacturing property, business personal property, and commercial real property. While the committee did not take any action on this proposal, a recurring discussion of the committee is to reduce the assessment ratios for property taxes. SCAC staff will continue to monitor this committee and will report on any legislation that emanates from it.

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. 271 – Establishes a procedure that allows an inmate whom the Department of Corrections determines is not a security risk to attend the funeral services of certain family members and visit certain family members while they are hospitalized.

S. 278 – Provides uniform standards for formatting documents submitted to a clerk of court or register of deeds for recording.

S. 281 – Determines when roll back taxes are applicable to certain properties that are no longer used for agricultural purposes.

S. 289 – Enacts the “South Carolina Crime Victims Services Act.”

S. 301 – Removes the Department of Transportation Commission.

S. 309 – Authorizes pari-mutuel betting and other forms of gambling in specified areas of the state.

S. 313 – Allows a county to establish a windstorm protection and homeowner’s insurance program to assist a homeowner with the financial costs of qualified wind resistance improvements.

S. 314 – Allows municipalities with fewer than 8,000 residents and fewer than 11 square miles to annex certain real property, by ordinance, upon a finding that the property is blighted.

S. 315 – Authorizes the Hurricane, Earthquake, and Fire Advisory Committee to address the mitigation of property losses due to flood, and allows grants to be made to local governments to mitigate losses.

House Bills

H. 3549 – Provides that when a business is applying for a permit for on-premises alcohol consumption and the business is located within the proximity of a school, the governing body of the school must affirmatively state that it does not object to the issuance of a permit.

H. 3566 – Requires the Law Enforcement Training Council to develop guidelines for a one-week training program offered by the Criminal Justice Academy to school first responders that certifies them to possess firearms on school premises.

H. 3570 – Allows a county to establish a windstorm protection and homeowners insurance program to assist a homeowner with the financial costs of qualified wind resistance improvements.

H. 3579 – Among other things, provides that a person who has been fined for an ethics violation and who has failed to pay the fine may not be a candidate for an elected or appointed position within a state or local government entity.

H. 3581 – Provides that the registered owner of a vehicle that unlawfully overtakes a school bus may be subject to a civil penalty if the identity of the vehicle operator cannot be determined.

H. 3590 – Requires that public schools provide at least one hour of instruction on November 11th on the history and meaning of Veterans Day.

H. 3594 – To provide that certain improvements made to damaged homes as a result of the floods in 2015 are not considered improvements for purposes of property taxes.

H. 3595 – Provides that the driver of a motor vehicle approaching a vehicle collecting solid waste must proceed with caution and, if possible, yield the right of way by making a lane change that is not adjacent to the vehicle collecting solid waste.