Posts in Category: Roads

Issue 17-17 - May 12, 2017 

Friday, May 12, 2017 12:10:00 PM Categories: Alternative Energy Annual Conference Budget Roads

The House adopted S. 692, the Sine Die Resolution, this week. All bills that were not enrolled for ratification or assigned to a conference committee by 5:00 pm on Thursday, May 11, are stalled until the General Assembly reconvenes in January. The General Assembly will return on May 23 to take up conference reports, including the budget conference report, and any gubernatorial vetoes.

State Budget

After the General Assembly finished its work on the roads bill, the budget conference committee began to meet. The committee will continue to meet next week. They plan to have a budget conference report ready for adoption when the General Assembly returns on May 23.

The members of the conference committee are Senators Leatherman, Bennett, and Setzler and Representatives White, Pitts, and Stavrinakis.

For counties, the most significant difference between the House and Senate versions of the budget is the distribution of revenue to local governments. The House funded 1 percent of the mandated pension plan increase for all non-state PEBA entities. The Senate instead allocated money directly to local governments allowing the governing bodies to determine how to spend their allocation. This includes a $34 million increase to the Local Government Fund (LGF).

Most House members and Senators will be home this week. Please contact them and ask that they communicate their support for LGF funding to the budget conferees!

Roads Bill — H. 3516

The House and Senate overrode the Governor’s veto on the roads bill this week. As adopted, the bill raises the gas tax 12 cents over the next six years and raises various other fees. The bill drops the manufacturer’s assessment ratio from 10.5 percent to 9 percent but holds local government harmless by reimbursing all local revenue losses up to $85 million. If the cost of the reduction reaches $85 million, then the assessment ratio reduction will automatically adjust to keep the exemption at or below $85 million to ensure no negative fiscal impact to counties. The bill also adjusts the motor carrier property tax to capture out of state truckers. Seventy-five percent of this revenue goes to the counties, which equates to a one-time $13 million increase in these revenues in the first year of implementation. In future years, it is projected that counties will see a recurring increase of $795,000 over current motor carrier collections.

Alternative Energy Property Tax Exemption

This legislation 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. There were feverish attempts by the solar lobby to get this legislation added to other bills all the way up to the last minute of session. While these attempts proved unsuccessful, there will be attempts as soon as the General Assembly reconvenes in January to pass this legislation. Please thank your senators for working to defeat this legislation.

Legislation of Interest

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Rewrite H. 3352. The Senate amended H. 3352 by deleting the provisions creating the Office of Freedom of Information Act Review within the Administrative Law Court. All FOIA cases will be heard in circuit court within ten days of filing an action. H. 3352 was further amended to allow public bodies to withhold the release of documents until all fees for the documents have been paid. The House concurred with the Senate amendments and H. 3352 has been enrolled for ratification. SCAC will provide a Technical Bulletin outlining the changes to FOIA.

Work Zone Safety H. 4033. This bill enhances penalties for driving infractions in a work zone. Work zones are broadly defined to protect road maintenance workers and first responders. The penalties are further enhanced if injury or death occurs. The funds collected from penalties are sent to the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Transportation to pay state and local police officers to patrol work zones. Ten percent of the fine proceeds are to be remitted to local government to cover costs associated with disposing of the charges in court. H. 4033 is enrolled for ratification.

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 passed the House and has been sent back to the Senate with some technical amendments.  The Senate non-concurred in the House amendment. S. 289 now goes to conference. The House conferees are Representatives Tallon, Weeks, and McCoy. The Senate conferees are Senators Hutto, Shealy, and Timmons.

Animal Facilities H. 3929. H. 3929 establishes specific requirements for the review and appeal of DHEC decisions regarding the permitting of certain agricultural animal facilities. It also makes any local ordinance that regulates an agricultural operation or facility that is not identical to state law is null and void. This does not apply to new swine operations and new slaughterhouse operations. H. 3929 passed the House and is pending in the Senate to be considered in the next session.

Dealer Tags S. 488. This bill 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 buyers can drive a vehicle displaying a dealer tag. The bill provides that two dealer tags are to be issued for the first 15 vehicles sold in a year; current law allows two tags for the first 20 sold. The bill also allows a dealer participating in a manufacturing program to receive two tags for each additional 15 cars sold; current law allows one tag for each additional 15 cars sold. After receiving third reading in the House, S. 488 was enrolled for ratification.

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. S. 271 received third reading in the House and was enrolled for ratification.

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. After being recalled from committee, the bill was given third reading in the House and enrolled for ratification.

Expungements H. 3789. Current law requires youthful offenders to wait five years from completion of their sentence to apply for expungement. This bill provides that youths with a conviction eligible for expungement could apply for expungement upon completion of the SC Youth Challenge Academy and Jobs Challenge Program. Only 16 to 18 year olds can attend the Academy.  When the bill returned to the House, it was amended to reflect the House’s original version.

The House also amended H. 3789 to include the provisions of H. 3209. H. 3209 provides that if a person is convicted of an offense that is repealed, but the elements of the offense are similar to an existing offense that is eligible for expungement, then the repealed offense is eligible for expungement. The bill also expands the list of offenses eligible for expungement and provides more flexibility for those with multiple convictions to choose which conviction to expunge. In certain situations, multiple offenses arising from the same incident can be considered as one offense and treated as one conviction for expungement purposes. The House returned H. 3789 to the Senate where no further action can be taken until next year.

SCAC's 50th Annual Conference Registration Now Open

SCAC’s 50th Annual Conference will be held July 30 – August 2, 2017, at the Hilton Head Marriott Hotel. The registration brochure and hotel reservation forms have been mailed to county officials. You may register for the conference online by visiting: http://www.sccounties.org/annual-conference. In making hotel reservations, please keep in mind that the Institute of Government classes will be held Saturday, July 29 and Sunday, July 30. Should you have any questions or need assistance, please contact the SCAC staff toll free at 1-800-922-6081 or at (803) 252-7255.

Call for 2017-2018 NACo Policy Steering Committee Nominations

Are you interested in serving on a NACo Policy Steering Committee? As a steering committee member, you are responsible for developing national policies and priorities affecting counties, and serving as NACo’s frontline for grassroots efforts. Committees meet at the NACo legislative and annual conferences, and one other time during the year. You will be responsible for your own travel and conference expenses.

Please visit the Recent News post for the nomination form. Completed forms must be submitted to SCAC no later than June 1, 2017. The nominations will be processed by SCAC and forwarded to NACo for approval by the NACo President after the NACo Annual Conference in July. NACo will contact the committee members directly by September. If you have any questions regarding the NACo Policy Steering Committee nomination process, please contact Anna Berger toll free at 1-800-922-6081 or via aberger@scac.sc.


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."

Ratifications

The following bills have been passed by both chambers and are now before the Governor for signature or veto:

(R. 46) S. 200. For purposes of outdoor advertising signs, revises provisions that void permits for conforming and nonconforming signs removed in certain circumstances.

(R. 47) S. 315. Allows grants from the Loss Mitigation Grant Program to be made to counties to mitigate property losses due to flood.

(R. 51) H. 3516. Creates the Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund for road and bridge repair and maintenance and raises the gas tax by twelve cents to be phased in over six years and makes governance changes to the DOT Commission.

(R. 57) H. 3531. Limits the ownership, purchase, selling, and transport of large wild cats, non-native bears, or great apes and allows counties to pass ordinances to regulate the possession and treatment of these animals.

(R. 58) H. 3538. Enacts the “Persons with Disabilities Right to Parent Act.”

(R. 61) H. 3789. Increases the maximum amount of burial expenses payable under a workers’ compensation claim for accidental death to $12,000.00.

Issue 16-17 - May 5, 2017 

Friday, May 5, 2017 10:12:00 AM Categories: Alternative Energy Annual Conference Budget Roads

The Senate adopted S. 692 this week which is the Sine Die Resolution. If it is adopted by the House, all bills not enrolled for ratification or assigned to a conference committee by 5:00 pm on Thursday will be dead for the year. The Senate is coming in Monday at 1:00 to begin finalizing legislation before Sine Die adjournment.

State Budget

Work on the state budget stalled this week as it appears as though the General Assembly plans to finish work on the roads bill before a conference committee begins work on the budget. This gives county officials another week to contact their House and Senate members!

For counties, the most significant difference between the House and Senate versions of the budget is the distribution of revenue to local governments. The House funded 1 percent of the mandated pension plan increase for all non-state PEBA entities. The Senate instead allocated money directly to local governments allowing the governing bodies to determine how to spend their allocation. This includes a $34 million increase to the Local Government Fund (LGF).

Please contact other county officials and enlist their help!

  • The House DOES NOT fund the $10.6 million non-recurring LGF appropriation from last year. Your LGF distribution will be cut under the House plan.
  • The House appropriation also pays part of the pension increase for nonprofits and federal employers – not all of the $34 million will go to county and city governments.

Not only does the Senate’s distribution to the LGF allow counties to better meet the demands of mandated services, it also clearly supports the notion of home rule, allowing the county governing body to decide how to best allocate its resources.

The members of the conference committee are Senators Leatherman, Bennett, and Setzler and Representatives White, Pitts, and Stavrinakis.

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.

S. 44 also provides that property in a 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. Projects sited this year or that are currently under negotiation will automatically receive the statewide exemption. Twenty two counties that responded to an SCAC survey reported over 30 existing or potential projects totaling over $1 billion in potential investment. S. 44 would undercut most, if not all, of these locally-negotiated projects.

A House Ways and Means subcommittee adjourned debate on S. 44 this week on a 3-1 vote, however, the well-heeled lobbyists hired by the solar industry are stopping at nothing to get their state mandated property tax break. There will be attempts until the end of session to attach the provisions of S. 44 to House bills in the Senate, particularly H. 3867. Please contact your Senator and ask that they vote against any attempt to attach the provisions of the solar bill to H. 3867 or any other legislation.

Roads Bill — H. 3516

The conference committee began work this week on H. 3516, the roads bill. The conferees are Senators Sheheen, Campbell and Turner and Representatives Simrill, White and Rutherford. On Thursday, the committee adopted all provisions that were identical in both the House and Senate versions of the bill and carried over all other provisions. They began work on the contrasting sections of the bill today. Their goal is to have a final version to present to each chamber next week.

Legislation of Interest

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Rewrite H. 3352. The Senate Judiciary Committee gave H. 3352 a favorable report after much debate. Senator Bright-Matthews voiced cost concerns about the Office of Freedom of Information Act Review within the Administrative Law Court that the bill creates. She indicated that she plans to introduce an amendment on the Senate floor to have FOIA cases heard in circuit court on an expedited basis. H. 3352 is pending second reading on the Senate contested calendar.

Loss Mitigation Grant Program S. 315. This bill, among other things, changes the Department of Insurance’s loss mitigation grant program and the purposes for which grants may be awarded to local governments. Grants to local governments will no longer be for the purposes of building code programs, but instead for mitigating residential property loss. Criteria for grant eligibility under the Hurricane Damage Mitigation Program are also changed. The bill passed the House and enrolled for ratification.

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. The House adopted an amendment requested by SCAC to require a sign owner to begin restoration of a billboard damaged by vandalism within 180 days of notifying DOT and passed the bill. The Senate concurred in the House amendment and S. 200 is enrolled for ratification.

Dealer Tags S. 488. This bill 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 buyers can drive a vehicle displaying a dealer tag. It was amended to provide that two dealer tags are to be issued for the first 15 vehicles sold in a year; current law allows two tags for the first 20 sold. The amendment also allows a dealer participating in a manufacturing program to receive two tags for each additional 15 cars sold; current law allows one tag for each additional 15 cars sold. The House recalled S. 488 from subcommittee and it has been placed on the calendar pending second reading.

Straight Party Ticket Voting H. 3147. This bill provides that general and special election ballots may not allow straight party ticket voting after July 1, 2017, except as provided by federal law for uniformed and overseas citizens voting a straight party ticket on a write-in absentee ballot for national offices. The House Judiciary Committee failed to give the bill a favorable report, effectively killing this legislation.

Special Elections H. 3150. H. 3150 requires a municipality to conduct 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. Due to concerns that the Fifth Congressional District election would be in violation of federal law, the Senate amended H. 3150 to extend 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. The bill was further amended to require a special election to be held for every office vacancy even if there is a single candidate for the office. Having to conduct an election for a single candidate will increase county costs for elections. The House concurred with the Senate amendments and H. 3150 has been enrolled for ratification.

Law Enforcement Training Council S. 173. 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 three-year recertification period. The House amended the bill to provide training to help officers identify post traumatic disorder and stress related disorders in their fellow officers as well as counseling for these disorders. S. 173 was returned to the Senate as amended.

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 passed the House and was returned to the Senate with some technical amendments.

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. S. 271 is pending second reading on the House calendar.

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. It was amended 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 received third reading and has been sent to the Senate.

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 magistrates’ court requesting the accused to deposit funds into an account to pay for the animal’s care. A House Judiciary subcommittee had previously adopted an amendment to provide that the custodian can only be reimbursed for “reasonable costs” determined by the court or a jury and that the accused can avoid paying any costs to the custodian if they surrender the animal to the custodian. The House Judiciary Committee recommitted the bill to the Criminal Laws subcommittee.

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. After concurring in a Senate amendment that ensures this legislation does not interfere with movie production, the House enrolled the bill for ratification.

Animal Facilities H. 3929. H. 3929 establishes specific requirements for the review and appeal of DHEC decisions regarding the permitting of certain agricultural animal facilities. It also makes any local ordinance that regulates an agricultural operation or facility that is not identical to state law null and void. This does not apply to new swine operations and new slaughterhouse operations. H. 3929 is pending second reading on the House contested calendar.

Clerks of Court and CWPs S. 324. This bill allows active and retired clerks of courts who possess a valid concealed weapons permit to carry a concealable weapon anywhere within the state. This provision does not apply to the clerk’s staff. After adopting amendments that extend these privileges to other judicial officers, the Senate carried the bill over on second reading.

Right to Parent Act H. 3538. This bill enacts 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 Senate and was enrolled for ratification.

Expungements H. 3209. This bill provides that if a person is convicted of an offense that is repealed, but the elements of the offense are similar to an existing offense that is eligible for expungement, then the repealed offense is eligible for expungement. The bill also expands the list of offenses eligible for expungement and provides more flexibility for those with multiple convictions to choose which conviction to expunge. In certain situations, multiple offenses arising from the same incident can be considered as one offense and treated as one conviction for expungement purposes. H. 3209 received a favorable report by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Youthful Offender Expungements H. 3789. Current law requires youthful offenders to wait five years from completion of their sentence to apply for expungement. This bill provides that youths with a conviction eligible for expungement could apply for expungement upon completion of the SC Youth Challenge Academy and Jobs Challenge Program. Only 16 to 18 year olds can attend the Academy. Senate Judiciary Committee adopted amendments to expand and clarify the type of criminal records eligible for this expungement program and allows law enforcement to retain certain documents that have been expunged. The committee gave H. 3789 a favorable report as amended.

SCAC's 50th Annual Conference Registration Now Open

SCAC’s 50th Annual Conference will be held July 30 – August 2, 2017, at the Hilton Head Marriott Hotel. The registration brochure and hotel reservation forms have been mailed to county officials. You may register for the conference online by  visiting: http://www.sccounties.org/annual-conference. In making hotel reservations, please keep in mind that the Institute of Government classes will be held Saturday, July 29 and Sunday, July 30. Should you have any questions or need assistance, please contact the SCAC staff toll free at 1-800-922-6081 or at (803) 252-7255.

Call for 2017-2018 NACo Policy Steering Committee Nominations

Are you interested in serving on a NACo Policy Steering Committee? As a steering committee member, you are responsible for developing national policies and priorities affecting counties, and serving as NACo’s frontline for grassroots efforts. Committees meet at the NACo legislative and annual conferences, and one other time during the year. You will be responsible for your own travel and conference expenses.

Please visit the Recent News post for the nomination form. Completed forms must be submitted to SCAC no later than June 1, 2017. The nominations will be processed by SCAC and forwarded to NACo for approval by the NACo President after the NACo Annual Conference in July. NACo will contact the committee members directly by September. If you have any questions regarding the NACo Policy Steering Committee nomination process, please contact Anna Berger toll free at 1-800-922-6081 or via aberger@scac.sc.


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. 691A joint resolution to extend the voting ballots cast in accordance with the Uniform and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act for two weeks for the fifth Congressional District primary election held on May 2, 2017.

S. 692Provides for a Sine Die resolution allowing the General Assembly to reconvene on May 23rd through May 25th to deal with certain items such as vetoes and conference committee reports.

House Bills

H. 4271Amends the Constitution to provide for an independent reapportionment commission.

H. 4277Provides for certain requirements pertaining to aerial spraying to include the prohibition of aerial spraying within a defined proximity of a school.

Ratifications

The following bills have been passed by both chambers and are now before the Governor for signature or veto:

(R. 34) S. 415. Amends the Probate Code with various changes to the probate court to include the court’s authority to impose penalties and waive filing fees for persons that are indigent.

(R. 38) H. 3034. For purposes of providing in-state tuition rates for children and spouses of veterans and active duty personnel, expands the definition to include a child or spouse enrolling within three years of a veteran’s discharge.

(R.39) H. 3150. Adjusts the dates on which primaries, runoff primaries, and special elections must be held; requires all elections to be held even if there is a single candidate; and requires the Election Commission to provide rank choice ballots for the federal special election held on May 2, 2017.

(R.44) H. 3792. Requires a minimum amount of toilets at middle school and high school stadiums based on gender and seating capacity regardless of otherwise applicable building and plumbing codes.

Issue 15-17 - April 28, 2017 

Friday, April 28, 2017 10:22:00 AM Categories: Budget Retirement Roads
State Budget Headed to Conference Committee Next Week

The House amended the budget back to its version this week and the Senate insisted on its amendments. This sets the budget up for conference committee next week. The members of the conference committee have not been announced.

For counties, the most significant difference between the House and Senate versions of the budget is the distribution of revenue to local governments. The House funded 1 percent of the mandated pension plan increase for all non-state PEBA entities. The Senate instead allocated money directly to local governments allowing the governing bodies to determine how to spend their allocation. This includes a $34 million increase to the Local Government Fund (LGF).

It is vitally important that all local government officials note:

  • The House DOES NOT fund the $10.6 million non-recurring LGF appropriation from last year. Your LGF distribution will be cut under the House plan.
  • The House appropriation also pays part of the pension increase for nonprofits and federal employers – not all of the $34 million will go to county and city governments.

Not only does the Senate’s distribution to the LGF allow counties to better meet the demands of mandated services, it also clearly supports the notion of home rule, allowing the county governing body to decide how to best allocate its resources.

This funding remains in flux!

Ask BOTH your House AND Senate member to support the Senate version! Increased funding to the LGF will save the taxpayers from massive property tax increases!

Other Budget Differences

The Senate version of the Capital Reserve Fund reduced the allocation for Hurricane Matthew and the Pinnacle Mountain Fire to $69,250,000 million and directed $7,272,282 to 2014 Winter Storm Local Matching Funds. The House version of the Capital Reserve Fund allocates $79,147,881 to Hurricane Matthew and the Pinnacle Mountain Fire.

Proviso 34.61. This proviso states that funds in each county's Hazardous Waste Fund County Account must be released by the State Treasurer upon the written request of a majority of the county's legislative delegation representing the economically depressed area of the county. The money must be used for infrastructure within the economically depressed area of that county. This is in the Senate budget.

Proviso 101.13. This proviso states that any county whose Board of Voter Registration and Elections has, as of July 1, 2017, not paid for fees related to the provision of legal services associated with the conduct of any election in prior fiscal years shall have $100,000 of its Aid to Subdivisions allocation withheld until such time as payment for such legal services has been rendered. This proviso represents another example of the state punishing county taxpayers for the actions of an agency they control. This is in the Senate budget.

Proviso 84.15 - 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. This is in the House budget.

Note: The House also attached its version of the Roads Bill to the State Budget, which could create debate on roads during the conference committee.

State Retirement System Bill Signed by Governor — H. 3726

The Governor signed the State Retirement System bill this week.

The legislation increases and caps South Carolina Retirement System (SCRS) employee contribution rates at 9 percent. Employer contribution rates are increased 2 percent 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. Police Officers Retirement System (PORS) employee contribution rates are increased and capped at 9.75 percent. PORS employer rates are increased 2 percent to 16.24 percent for FY 17-18 and increase 1 percent every year thereafter, 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.

According to the SC Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office, 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.

Roads Bill — H. 3516

After five days of debate on the floor, the Senate passed H. 3516, the roads bill, this week. As passed by the Senate the bill raises the gas tax 2 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 $600 for cars first registered in South Carolina and 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 (FILOT) 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.

More than 70 amendments were proposed on the Senate floor during the debate with only five being adopted. One of the amendments adopted reduces the tax rate of manufacturing and business personal property. Beginning in tax year 2019, the property tax assessment ratio for manufacturing property will be reduced from 10.5 percent to 8.5 percent over two years. Beginning in tax year 2018, the property tax assessment ratio for business personal property will be reduced from 10.5 percent to 9.5 percent. The revenue loss resulting from this exemption will be reimbursed up to $85 million. If the projected revenue loss exceeds $85 million, the exemption amounts shall be proportionally reduced so as not to exceed the reimbursement cap.

The amended bill also creates a rebate system for gas purchased in the state by residents of South Carolina; creates an earned income tax credit for college students; sends additional C-Fund revenue back to donor counties; adds another at-large SCDOT commissioner; and provides penalties for self-serving acts by SCDOT commissioners who will now serve at the will of the Governor. H. 3516 will be sent back to the House next week where the members are likely to non-concur with the Senate amendments, thereby sending the bill to conference committee.

Alternative Energy Property Tax 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 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. Projects sited this year or that are currently under negotiation will automatically receive the statewide exemption.

A House Ways and Means subcommittee is scheduled to take up S. 44 next week. County government does not need the state giving across-the-board property tax breaks to solar companies when counties are empowered to do so and currently are. Please contact your House member, especially those on Ways and Means, and express your opposition to this bill.

Legislation of Interest

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. The House adopted an amendment requested by SCAC to require a sign owner to begin restoration of a billboard damaged by vandalism within 180 days of notifying DOT and passed the bill. S. 200 goes back to the Senate for consideration of the House amendment.

Utility Relocation as Part of Transportation Projects H. 3739. This bill provides that an entity undertaking a transportation project, including a county, must bear the costs of relocating water and sewer utilities up to 7.5 percent of the project cost. Current law requires the utility to pay for relocation. There is an agreement between the utilities and DOT to require the party undertaking the transportation project to cover all costs of relocating utilities with less than 10,000 taps and all costs for utilities over 10,000 taps up to 4.5 percent of the project cost. For the utility to be covered, their relocation costs must be included in the initial bid for the transportation project and the relocation project must be placed under control of the general contractor. SCAC expects the House Education and Public Works subcommittee to consider this proposal next week.

Straight Party Ticket Voting H. 3147. This bill provides that general and special election ballots may not allow straight party ticket voting after July 1, 2017, except as provided by federal law for uniformed and overseas citizens voting a straight party ticket on a write-in absentee ballot for national offices. A House Judiciary subcommittee gave H. 3147 a favorable report.

Law Enforcement Training Council S. 173. 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 three-year recertification period. The House Judiciary Committee gave S. 173 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. The House Judiciary Committee made some technical amendments to S. 289 and gave it a favorable report.

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 magistrates’ court requesting the accused to deposit funds into an account to pay for the animal’s care. A House Judiciary subcommittee adopted an amendment to provide that the custodian can only be reimbursed for “reasonable costs” determined by the court or a jury and that the accused can avoid paying any costs to the custodian if they surrender the animal to the custodian. The subcommittee gave S. 3 a favorable report as amended.

Expungements H. 3209. This bill provides that if a person is convicted of an offense that is repealed, but the elements of the offense are similar to an existing offense that is eligible for expungement, then the repealed offense is eligible for expungement. The bill also expands the list of offenses eligible for expungement and provides more flexibility for those with multiple convictions to choose which conviction to expunge. In certain situations, multiple offenses arising from the same incident can be considered as one offense and treated as one conviction for expungement purposes. H. 3209 received a favorable report by a Senate Judiciary subcommittee.

Youthful Offender Expungements H. 3789. Current law requires youthful offenders to wait five years from completion of their sentence to apply for expungement. This bill provides that youths with a conviction eligible for expungement could apply for expungement upon completion of the SC Youth Challenge Academy and Jobs Challenge Program. Only 16 to 18 year olds can attend the Academy. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee adopted an amendment that expands the type of criminal records eligible for this expungement program and allows law enforcement to retain certain documents that have been expunged. The bill received 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 received third reading in the House and was enrolled for ratification.

Agricultural Animal Facilities H. 3929. This bill establishes specific requirements for the review and appeal of decisions by DHEC regarding the permitting of certain agricultural animal facilities, other than swine facilities. The bill sets forth setbacks, buffers, and other requirements that must be met in order for DHEC to approve a permit. The House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee gave H. 3929 a favorable report and the bill is pending second reading on the House calendar.

SCAC's 50th Annual Conference Registration Now Open

SCAC’s 50th Annual Conference will be held July 30 – August 2, 2017, at the Hilton Head Marriott Hotel. The registration brochure and hotel reservation forms have been mailed to county officials. You may register for the conference online by  visiting: http://www.sccounties.org/annual-conference. In making hotel reservations, please keep in mind that the Institute of Government classes will be held Saturday, July 29 and Sunday, July 30. Should you have any questions or need assistance, please contact the SCAC staff toll free at 1-800-922-6081 or at (803) 252-7255.

Call for 2017-2018 NACo Policy Steering Committee Nominations

Are you interested in serving on a NACo Policy Steering Committee? As a steering committee member, you are responsible for developing national policies and priorities affecting counties, and serving as NACo’s frontline for grassroots efforts. Committees meet at the NACo legislative and annual conferences, and one other time during the year. You will be responsible for your own travel and conference expenses.

Please visit the Recent News post for the nomination form. Completed forms must be submitted to SCAC no later than June 1, 2017. The nominations will be processed by SCAC and forwarded to NACo for approval by the NACo President after the NACo Annual Conference in July. NACo will contact the committee members directly by September. If you have any questions regarding the NACo Policy Steering Committee nomination process, please contact Anna Berger toll free at 1-800-922-6081 or via aberger@scac.sc.


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. 650Prevents a court or other enforcement authority from enforcing foreign law in this state from a forum outside of the U.S. and its territories.

S. 664To clarify and affirm that the Greenville Health System’s Board of Trustees has the power and authority to create a health care system that meets its obligations to provide accessible, quality, and affordable health care to the communities it serves.

S. 671Authorizes the continued payment of state expenses in the event that the budget is not passed by the beginning of the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

S. 672Provides a Sine Die resolution for the General Assembly to return to session from May 23, 2017, to May 25, 2017, to deal with certain matters such as vetoes and conference committee reports.

House Bills

H. 4177For purposes of turnpike projects, includes nontax revenues that are available within the definition of “turnpike facilities revenues”; provides which roads may be designated as a turnpike facility; and allows DOT to contract with counties to establish, finance, and operate turnpike facilities.

Issue 14-17 - April 21, 2017 

Friday, April 21, 2017 11:24:00 AM Categories: LGF Retirement Roads
$33 Million Local Government Fund Increase in Peril!

The Budget bill is on the House calendar. The bill will be re-amended on the House floor and then sent to conference committee.

The budget adopted by the Senate includes a $33,692,568 recurring increase to the Local Government Fund (LGF).

This increase was created by taking the House allocation of $33 million to cover 1 percent of the retirement system local government employers’ increase, and appropriating that money to the LGF.

There are two important aspects to remember about the House proposal:

  • The House DOES NOT fund the $10.6 million non-recurring LGF appropriation from last year. Your LGF distribution will be cut under the House plan.
  • The House appropriation sends money to nonprofits and federal employers – not all of the $33 million will go to county and city governments.

By directing the money to the LGF, the Senate plan successfully covers more of the required retirement system increase for most county and city governments.

Please take action NOW: Ask BOTH your House AND Senate member to support the Senate version because it ensures more money going back to county government, saving the taxpayers from massive property tax increases!

State Retirement System Bill Ratified — H. 3726

The State Retirement System bill was ratified this week and sent to the Governor for his approval.

The legislation increases and caps South Carolina Retirement System (SCRS) employee contribution rates at 9 percent. Employer contribution rates are increased 2 percent 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. Police Officers Retirement System (PORS) employee contribution rates are increased and capped at 9.75 percent. PORS employer rates are increased 2 percent to 16.24 percent for FY 17-18 and increase 1 percent every year thereafter, 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.

According to the SC Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office, 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.

Roads Bill — H. 3516

The Senate began debate on H. 3516 this week. The body adopted the Senate Finance Committee amendment as a working document. This committee amendment, which among other things raises the gas tax two cents per year for six years, was the only amendment adopted during the three days of debate this week. Senator Timmons introduced an amendment that would allow counties to hold a referendum for a new local option transportation penny. If the county does not wish to implement the new tax, cities within the county will then be given the option. This amendment was carried over. The roads bill remains in interrupted debate pending second reading.

Leasehold Exemption Attached to Low Income Housing Bill — 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, as passed by the House, eliminates the requirement that the instrumentalities be “solely-owned” by a nonprofit and allows any instrumentality controlled by a nonprofit to receive the exemption. The bill also limits the property tax exemption to property devoted to low income housing.

A Senate Finance subcommittee amended the bill this week and attached a property tax exemption for “a leasehold interest conveyed by the South Carolina Public Service Authority, regardless of the use made of the leasehold interest. . .”  This appears to exempt all property rented from Santee Cooper.

The bill will be heard by the full Finance Committee next week.

Legislation of Interest

Dealer Tags — S. 488. This bill 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. A Senate amendment also provides that two dealer tags are to be issued for the first 15 vehicles sold in a year; current law allows two tags for the first 20 sold. The amendment also allows a dealer participating in a manufacturing program to receive two tags for each additional 15 cars sold; current law allows one tag for each additional 15 cars sold. A House Education and Public Works subcommittee approved a technical amendment and gave S. 488 a favorable report as amended.

DOR Electronic Liens Database — H. 3684. This bill allows the Department of Revenue to implement a statewide electronic filing system for certain tax liens. This is an SCAC policy position and is supported by the clerks of court and registers of deeds. A House Ways and Means subcommittee gave H. 3684 a favorable report.

Affordable Housing — S. 346. This bill provides counties and cities with the authority to require developers to designate affordable housing to be sold or rented within new residential development. Developers must be offered the option to pay a fee in lieu to avoid this requirement and certain incentives are to be provided to those who comply. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee amended the bill to provide that developers cannot be required to designate more than 25 percent of new development for affordable housing. The bill received a favorable report as amended.

Recording of HOA Documents — H. 3886. This bill, among other things, requires all governing documents of a homeowners’ association (HOA) to be recorded with the clerk of court or register of deeds within six months from the effective date of this legislation. Magistrate’s court will have concurrent jurisdiction with circuit court over HOA monetary disputes. H. 3886 received a favorable report by the Senate Judiciary Committee and will be placed on the Senate calendar for second reading.

Magistrates’ Salaries and Jurisdiction – S. 148. This bill provides for an increase in magistrates’ baseline salaries. Currently, a magistrate’s salary is set by a formula categorized by three tiers of county population and based on a percentage of a circuit judge’s salary. As amended by the Senate Judiciary Committee, a magistrate’s salary base in lower tier counties will increase from 35 percent to 40 percent of a circuit judge’s salary. A magistrate’s salary base in the middle tier will increase from 45 percent to 50 percent of a circuit judge’s salary. There is no salary change for upper tier magistrates. For the purposes of calculating magistrates’ salaries, the circuit judge’s salary amount to be used is that which was set for FY 16-17. Only full-time and part-time chief magistrates are to be paid supplements at $5,000 and $2,500. Salary increases do not go into effect until January 2018.

The committee amendment funds these changes by imposing a $10 assessment on civil filing fees in magistrates’ court. After funding the salary increases, any remaining revenue will be distributed to counties with a population greater than 150,000 in proportion to the amount of revenue the county generated from this assessment. A separate amendment also increases the civil jurisdiction in magistrates court from $7,500 to $10,000. The bill received a favorable report as amended by the Senate Judiciary Committee and will be placed on the Senate calendar for second reading.

Clerks of Court and CWPs — S. 324. This bill allows active and retired clerks of courts who possess a valid concealed weapons permit to carry a concealable weapon anywhere within the state. This provision does not apply to the clerk’s staff. S. 324 received a favorable report by a Senate Judiciary Committee and is on the Senate calendar pending second reading.

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. A House Criminal Laws subcommittee gave S. 271 a favorable report.

In-state Tuition for Veterans — H. 3034. This bill expands the definition of a “covered individual” eligible for in-state tuition rates provided to veterans and certain relatives of veterans. The Senate gave H. 3034 third reading and enrolled the bill for ratification.

Administrative Court Automatic Stay — S. 105. A House Judiciary subcommittee adopted substantial changes to this bill that deals with contested case hearings of decisions made by state departments. As amended, the bill provides that a party may move to lift an automatic stay at any time after a contested case is initiated in Administrative Court. 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 subcommittee also removed the language stating this method of removing a stay does not apply to cases concerning hazardous waste. The bill was given a favorable report as amended by the subcommittee. 

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. A House Labor, Commerce and Industry subcommittee approved an amendment requested by SCAC to provide that restoration of a billboard damaged by vandalism must begin no later than 180 days after DOT is notified. The subcommittee gave S. 200 a favorable report as amended.

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 received a favorable report from a Senate General subcommittee.

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. The Senate Agriculture Committee amended the bill to ensure it doesn’t interfere with movie production in the state and gave the bill a favorable report as amended.

SCAC's 50th Annual Conference Registration Now Open

SCAC’s 50th Annual Conference will be held July 30 – August 2, 2017, at the Hilton Head Marriott Hotel. The registration brochure and hotel reservation forms have been mailed to county officials. You may register for the conference online by clicking here. In making hotel reservations, please keep in mind that the Institute of Government classes will be held Saturday, July 29 and Sunday, July 30. Should you have any questions or need assistance, please contact the SCAC staff toll free at 1-800-922-6081 or at (803) 252-7255.

Call for Entries — J. Mitchell Graham/Barrett Lawrimore Memorial Awards

SCAC is currently accepting applications for the 2017 J. Mitchell Graham/Barrett Lawrimore Memorial Awards Competition. The awards program accepts applications that address all areas of county government - from simple, unique ideas that maximize limited resources, to major collaborative efforts that tackle complex issues.

Counties are invited to submit applications that describe the purpose and significance of their innovative projects. All applications must be submitted online or received at the SCAC Office by 5 p.m. on Friday, June 23. Applicants who meet the deadline and all requirements will be scheduled to present their projects during the awards competition on Sunday, July 30, at SCAC's 50th Annual Conference.

To access the rules and requirements, frequently asked questions, and examples of previous projects, please visit the Awards webpage. Counties are able to submit applications online by using the online Awards Toolkit. If you have additional questions, please contact Anna Berger at 1-800-922-6081 or aberger@scac.sc.


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

H. 4126Establishes penalties for the crime of 911 call abuse via text messaging.

H. 4127Provides an income tax deduction for benefits paid by the South Carolina Police Officers Retirement System for a service-connected disability.

H. 4135Provides for regulation changes by the Department of Revenue regarding the application of the sales tax imposed on various charges by hotels, motels, and similar facilities to transient customers.

H. 4154Provides that a telecommunications or internet service provider that has any kind of contract with the state or any of the counties may not collect personal information from a customer without express written approval from the customer.

H. 4162Enacts the “South Carolina Inclusionary Zoning Act” to provide that counties are authorized to use inclusionary zoning strategies to increase the availability of affordable housing.

Ratifications

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

(R. 22) H. 3726. Amends provisions of the various state retirement systems to address the unfunded liabilities for those systems.

Issue 13-17 - April 7, 2017 

Friday, April 7, 2017 11:55:00 AM Categories: Budget LGF Retirement Roads

Both the House and the Senate are taking an Easter break next week. This is an excellent opportunity to talk to the members of the General Assembly while they are home.

Senate adopts $33 million Local Government Fund increase!

The Senate adopted its version of the budget this week, which included a $33,692,568 recurring increase to the LGF.

Please note: This increase was created by taking the House allocation of $33 million to cover 1 percent of the retirement system local government employers’ increase, and appropriating that money to the LGF.

Please thank your Senator for this increase.

Please contact your House member and thank them for the effort they made to cover 1 percent of the retirement system local government employers’ increase. Ask your House member to support the Senate version because it ensures more money going back to county government, likely saving the taxpayers from property tax increases!

 

New Budget Items:

Amended FEMA Match

The Finance Committee appropriated $76.5 million from nonrecurring funds in the Capital Reserve Fund for the state and local FEMA match for Hurricane Matthew and the Pinnacle Mountain Fire. The Senate amended the Finance Committee version of the Capital Reserve Fund to reduce the allocation for Hurricane Matthew to $68 million and direct $7,272,282 to 2014 Winter Storm Local Matching Funds.

Almost 60 percent of FEMA match money will go to local governments.

 

New Provisos of Interest:

Proviso 34.___. This proviso states that funds in each county's Hazardous Waste Fund County Account must be released by the State Treasurer upon the written request of a majority of the county's legislative delegation representing the economically depressed area of the county. The money must be used for infrastructure within the economically depressed area of that county.

Proviso 101.___. This proviso states that any county whose Board of Voter Registration and Elections has, as of July 1, 2017, not paid for fees related to the provision of legal services associated with the conduct of any election in prior fiscal years shall have $100,000 of its Aid to Subdivisions allocation withheld until such time as payment for such legal services has been rendered. This proviso represents another example of the state punishing county taxpayers for the actions of an agency they control. Please contact your House member and ask that they strip this proviso from the budget.

 

State Retirement System “Fix” Adopted by Both Chambers — H. 3726

The conference report on the Retirement System was adopted by both chambers this week.

The most significant difference between the House and Senate versions of the bill was a Senate provision that stated that when the system no longer has an unfunded liability, all new employees must participate in a defined contribution retirement plan. This provision was stricken from the final version of the legislation.

The legislation increases and caps SCRS employee contribution rates at 9 percent. Employer contribution rates are increased two percent 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 two percent 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.

According to the SC Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office, 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.

Please note that the House version of the budget appropriates money to offset 1 percent of the local government employer increase required under this legislation. The Senate version of the budget would require the full 2 percent to be paid by local government; however, the Senate appropriated $33 million to the LGF to offset the mandated increase. The Senate appropriation represents more money returning to the county taxpayers.

 

Roads Bill — H. 3516

H. 3516, which among other things raises the gas tax 2 cents per year for six years, was placed into interrupted debate this week. “Interrupted debate” is a special position on the Senate calendar and makes it likely the Senate will begin debating this bill when they return the week of Tuesday, April 18. 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. Also, Senator Timmons is expected to introduce amendments allowing counties to impose a local gas tax, and allowing counties and municipalities to impose a new local option tax for existing infrastructure.

 

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 to take advantage of the ratio. H. 3093 passed the House and is pending in the Senate Finance Committee.

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 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. After adopting an amendment to require the Chief Magistrates to report actual magistrate salaries annually to Court Administration, the House rejected H. 3744 by refusing to give the bill second reading.

Expungements H. 3209. This bill provides that if a person is convicted of an offense that is repealed, but the elements of the offense are similar to an existing offense that is eligible for expungement, then the repealed offense is eligible for expungement. The House amended the bill to expand the list of offenses eligible for expungement and to provide more flexibility for those with multiple convictions to choose which conviction to expunge.  The House removed a previously adopted amendment that would allow those who have been pardoned for a non-violent offense to expunge records related to the offense. H. 3209 received third reading by the House and was sent to the Senate.

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 magistrate’s court requesting the accused to deposit funds into an account to pay for the animal’s care. The Senate adopted a committee amendment which provides 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 bill was given third reading in the Senate and was sent to the House.

Dealer Tags 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 third reading and has been sent to the Senate.

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 passed the Senate and is pending in the House Judiciary Committee.

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 amount from the funding source is to be disbursed to coroners pursuant to a formula based on county population. The Senate adopted several amendments to provide that information obtained by the Child Fatality Review Team is not subject to FOIA, subject to exceptions, but the information is subject to subpoena and discovery. The bill received third reading and was sent to the House.

Work Zone Safety H. 4033 & S. 565. These bills drastically enhance penalties for driving infractions in a work zone. Work zones are broadly defined to protect road maintenance workers and first responders. The penalties are further enhanced if injury or death occurs. The funds collected from penalties are sent to the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Transportation to pay state and local police officers to patrol work zones. The House adopted an amendment to H. 4033 that will remit 10 percent of the fine proceeds to local government to cover costs associated with disposing of the charges in court. H. 4033 received third reading in the House and was sent to the Senate where it was recalled from committee and placed on the Senate calendar for second reading. S. 565, which does not remit fine proceeds to local government, was recommitted by 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. It was amended 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 contested calendar.

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 received third reading in the Senate and was sent to the House.

 

Call for Entries — J. Mitchell Graham/Barrett Lawrimore Memorial Awards

SCAC is currently accepting applications for the 2017 J. Mitchell Graham/Barrett Lawrimore Memorial Awards Competition. The awards program accepts applications that address all areas of county government — from simple, unique ideas that maximize limited resources, to major collaborative efforts that tackle complex issues.

Counties are invited to submit applications that describe the purpose and significance of their innovative projects. All applications must be submitted online or received at the SCAC Office by 5 p.m. on Friday, June 23. Applicants who meet the deadline and all requirements will be scheduled to present their projects during the awards competition on Sunday, July 30, at SCAC's 50th Annual Conference.

To access the rules and requirements, frequently asked questions, and examples of previous projects, please visit the Association’s website at www.sccounties.org/awards. Counties are able to submit applications online by using the online Awards Toolkit. If you have additional questions, please contact Anna Berger at 1-800-922-6081 or aberger@scac.sc.


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. 610Establishes a working group for the purpose of developing a long-range comprehensive beach management plan in order to quantify nourishment volume needs and the benefits of investing in beach preservation.

S. 612Prohibits the deletion or destruction of data from a body-worn camera with the intent to alter or influence a criminal action or investigation, or a civil action.

S. 618Authorizes municipalities without an operating millage on January 1, 2017, or municipalities that incorporate after January 1, 2017, to impose an operating millage.

House Bills

H. 4093Enacts the “Employment First Initiative Act” to establish policies supportive of competitive and integrated employment of individuals with disabilities.

H. 4115Provides that a person is not allowed to vote in a partisan primary election or partisan advisory referendum unless the person has registered as being a member of that party.

Ratifications

The following bills have been passed by both chambers and are now before the Governor for signature or veto:

(R. 9) S. 218. Prohibits a county from establishing, mandating, or otherwise requiring employee benefits from employers operating within the county.

(R. 13) H. 3358. Provides that the state shall meet all of the requirements of the “Federal Real ID Act”, and a real ID card may be a driver’s license or an ID card issued by DMV.

Issue 12-17 - March 31, 2017 

Friday, March 31, 2017 12:08:00 PM Categories: LGF Retirement Roads
Senate Finance adopts $33 million Local Government Fund increase!

The Senate Finance Committee completed its work on the budget this week.

The Finance Committee adopted the proposal presented last week by Senator Vincent Sheheen that would significantly increase the funding of the LGF. The committee shifted the House allocation covering 1 percent of the retirement system local government employers’ increase and appropriated the money to the LGF. In the Finance version of the budget this is a $33,692,568 recurring increase to the LGF.

Please note, this increase is far from a “done deal” even on the Senate floor! You must contact your Senators!

All members of Senate Finance should be contacted, thanked, and congratulated for their work on the state budget. Their actions show their concern for the taxpayers of South Carolina and they put the money where their mouth is!

If your Senator is not on Finance, ask for their support during the floor debate.

FEMA Match

The Finance Committee appropriated $76.5 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. The committee also appropriated $3,826,031 in nonrecurring money to 2014 Winter Storm Local Matching Funds.

Flexibility Proviso — Last week Senate Finance adopted the House amended version of the County Flexibility Proviso. The proviso now 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!

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. The Senate attempted to take up H. 3516 this week but failed to receive the needed votes to debate it. If 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

Conferees have been appointed to the State Retirement System bill. The conferees are Senators Sheheen, Bennett, and Gambrell and Representatives Herbkersman, Stringer, and Cobb-Hunter.

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. As discussed above, Senate Finance shifted this money to the LGF, which could be used to offset more than 1 percent of the increase.

According to the SC Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office, 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.

Legislation of Interest

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. Originally, this bill eliminated the requirement that the instrumentalities be “solely-owned” by a nonprofit and appeared 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 amended by Ways and Means so that the instrumentality would have to be controlled by the nonprofit in order to receive the exemption. H. 3867 passed the House and has been sent to the Senate.

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 and take advantage of the ratio. Ways and Means passed H. 3093 out favorably and the bill is pending second reading on the House calendar.

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 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 magistrates’ court by $15. All remaining revenue is distributed to every county on an equal basis. The Ways and Means Committee amended the bill to require the Chief Magistrates to report actual magistrate salaries annually to Court Administration and gave the bill a favorable report. H. 3744 is pending second reading on the House calendar.

Expungements H. 3209. This bill provides that if a person is convicted of an offense that is repealed, but the elements of the offense are similar to an existing offense that is eligible for expungement, then the repealed offense is eligible for expungement. House Judiciary amended the bill to expand the list of offenses eligible for expungement and to provide more flexibility for those with multiple convictions to choose which conviction to expunge. Those who have been pardoned for, or are applying for pardon for a non-violent offense, may apply for expungement of records related to the offense. H. 3209 received a favorable report and is pending second reading.

Youthful Offender Expungements H. 3789. Current law requires youthful offenders to wait five years from completion of their sentence to apply for expungement. This bill provides that youths with a conviction eligible for expungement could apply for expungement upon completion of the SC Youth Challenge Academy and Jobs Challenge Program. Only 16 to 18 year olds can attend the Academy. The bill received third reading in the House.

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 magistrates’ court requesting the accused to deposit funds into an account to pay for the animal’s care. The Senate adopted a committee amendment which provides 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 bill was given second reading in the Senate.

Dealer Tags S. 488. This bill 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. A Senate amendment also provides that two dealer tags are to be issued for the first 15 vehicles sold in a year; current law allows two tags for the first 20 sold. The amendment also allows a dealer participating in a manufacturing program to receive two tags for each additional 15 cars sold; current law allows one tag for each additional 15 cars sold. S. 488 received third reading in the Senate and was sent to the House.

Dealer Tags 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 House Education and Public Works Committee.

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 received third reading in the Senate and was sent to the House.

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 received second reading in the Senate.

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 amount from the funding source is to be disbursed to coroners pursuant to a formula based on county population. The Senate adopted several amendments to provide that information obtained by the Child Fatality Review Team is not subject to FOIA but is subject to subpoena and discovery. The Senate carried over S. 170 on third reading.

Work Zone Safety H. 4033. H. 4033 drastically enhances penalties for driving infractions in a work zone. Work zones are broadly defined to protect road maintenance workers and first responders. The penalties are further enhanced if injury or death occurs. The funds collected from penalties are sent to the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Transportation to pay state and local police officers to patrol work zones. House Education and Public Works Committee adopted an amendment to remit 10 percent of the fine proceeds to local government to cover costs associated with disposing of the charges in court. The committee gave H. 4033 a favorable report as amended and it is pending second reading on the House calendar.

Homeowners Association Act H. 3886. This bill requires owners of property subject to a homeowners association to disclose all information related to the homeowners association to prospective buyers. H. 3886 was amended on the House floor to require governing documents of a homeowners association to be recorded at the offices of the clerk of court or register of deeds. H. 3886 passed the House as amended and was sent to 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. The House gave H. 3428 third reading and sent the bill to the Senate.

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. 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. Both bills passed the House and have been 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. It was amended 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 contested calendar.


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. 587Provides that when an owner of a home receiving the 4 percent assessment ratio dies, the property will continue to be assessed at 4 percent until the estate is closed, as long as the property is not rented.

S. 588Authorizes individuals not subject to income tax to receive the income tax credit under the provisions of the High Growth Small Business Job Creation Act.

S. 589Allows a probate action to be commenced 10 years after a person’s death if, in the discretion of the court, extraordinary circumstances prevented the commencement of the action sooner than 10 years after the person’s death.

S. 600Increases the gas tax by 2 cents each year over the next six years, for a total increase of 12 cents, and creates the Infrastructure Maintenance Fund.

House Bills

H. 4064For purposes of annexation, clarifies 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 as the municipality.

H. 4066Creates a biennial State General Appropriations Act beginning with the 2019 session of the General Assembly.

H. 4075Provides that any ordinance or regulation regarding on-street parking privileges for residents of a municipality that are not available to nonresidents of the municipality of that county must be approved only by the General Assembly.

H. 4076Creates an additional annexation method by resolution of a special purpose district when a preexisting municipality that does not operate an electricity distribution system annexes a majority of the population of the district, or when a municipality incorporates a majority of the population of a district.

H. 4078Enacts the “Military Priority Registration Act.”

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 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 2-17 - January 20, 2017 

Friday, January 20, 2017 11:17:00 AM Categories: Ethics LGF Roads

This week the Senate met in perfunctory session in order to allow committees to meet and move legislation to the calendar. Although the House did meet in statewide session, there was a limited amount of work for the full chamber to consider.

Local Government Fund (LGF)

SCAC staff met this week with Brian White, the Chairman of Ways and Means, regarding various county issues including the LGF. Although the Chairman is not in support of SCAC’s position regarding the LGF, he was very receptive to working with SCAC regarding resolving both the LGF and working with SCAC on other issues. Specifically, the Chairman is interested in eliminating some mandates currently burdening county government and assisting counties based upon need. Chairman White committed that his staff will work with SCAC on a holistic approach to local government funding. 

Please thank Chairman White for meeting with SCAC staff and for his commitment to working towards better county and state government relationships! 

Unfortunately, given the current condition of the state budget, Chairman White will only recommend an appropriation of last year’s recurring line. This would represent a reduction of $10.6 million in nonrecurring funds from last year’s appropriation. The Chairman is very concerned that the pension system will take most of this year’s fiscal growth and believes several agencies will see reductions in their base recurring revenue.

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! 

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.”

Dam Regulations

S. 5 — This bill would require DHEC to inspect dams that are traversed by a state road, regardless if the dam is regulated. SCAC provided testimony to a Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources subcommittee in order to amend the bill to require DHEC to also inspect dams that have a county-owned road over it. The subcommittee was concerned with the volume of private dams that would be subject to DHEC oversight and has asked SCAC to obtain information on how many dams would be affected by this proposal. The subcommittee gave S. 5 a favorable report without any amendments but reserved the right to amend the bill based on the information requested from SCAC. 

H. 3218 — This bill provides DHEC with regulatory authority over a dam that is currently unregulated if DHEC determines that the dam’s failure will damage homes, public utilities, highways, or railroads. A House Agriculture subcommittee adopted two minor amendments but the bill did not receive a favorable report. However, it is very likely that the subcommittee will reconsider H. 3218.

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. Senate Finance Committee amended S. 44 to redefine residential use and gave S. 44 a favorable report.

Legislative Action of Interest

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 was amended to provide 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. Both bills were given a favorable report by a House Education and Public Works subcommittee and will be on the full Committee’s agenda.  

Drone Use over Jails — S. 176. This bill prohibits drones from flying within 500 feet of a state prison. Senate Corrections and Penology Committee adopted a subcommittee amendment to also restrict drones from flying within 500 feet of a local detention facility without written consent from the jail administrator. S. 176 received a favorable report by the Committee and will be on the Senate calendar for second reading.

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 Senate L.C.I. subcommittee.

Roads — H. 3516. The House introduced a roads bill on Wednesday. The main components of the bill are: a 10 cent increase in the motor fuel user fee over five years; an increase in registration fees; a new statewide road maintenance fee to be paid upon the initial registration of a vehicle; and a fee in lieu of property taxes on motor carriers. Under the fee in lieu, counties would receive the first $26.5 million generated by the fee. Any revenue generated over this amount would be credited to the State Highway Fund to finance expansion and improvements to existing mainline interstates.

Motor Vehicle Valuation Appeals — S. 56. S. 56 provides that if a taxpayer objects to a motor vehicle tax assessment and produces a bill of sale showing a value less than the assessment, then the county auditor must reduce the assessment to the sales price. S. 56 provides that any rebate or dealer incentive must also be subtracted from the reduced assessment. A Senate Finance subcommittee carried over S. 56 for further study but it will likely be scheduled for another hearing next week.

Internet Sales Tax — S. 214. This bill requires a retailer who has internet sales in excess of $10,000 in the preceding 12 months to obtain a retail license. They are then required to collect and remit sales tax on all items sold in this state. A Senate Finance subcommittee amended the bill and full Finance gave S. 214 a favorable report as amended. SCAC will report on the amendment once it is published.

State Budget — Election Commission. The Election Commission made its budget request presentation before the Ways & Means Legislative, Executive and Local Government subcommittee. Among other things, they are requesting $7.5 million to refurbish the current voting machines, which should extend their life cycle for an additional five years. They are also requesting a pay increase for poll workers and managers from $60 to $75.

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. 255 — Provides for disclosures and disclaimers by independent expenditure committees related to the independent expenditure committee’s election communications.

S. 256 Authorizes a county legislative delegation to remove, for cause, a delegation appointee to a board or commission whom the delegation formally recommended to another public official or entity for appointment.

S. 257 — Enacts the “South Carolina Equal Pay for Equal Work Act.”

S. 261 Enacts the “South Carolina Commercial-Property Assessed Clean Energy Act (C-PACE) that allows a county to establish a district by adoption of an ordinance for the purpose or promoting, encouraging, and facilitating clean energy improvements within its geographic area.

House Bills

H. 3478 Prohibits a law enforcement officer from using excessive force when making an arrest or excessive restraint when detaining a person.

H. 3480 Exempts the purchase of certain hurricane preparedness items from the state sales tax.

H. 3481 — Provides that a person or entity whose website publishes the arrest and booking records of a person whose charges have been dismissed, or who has been found not guilty, shall remove the information from their website within 30 days of a written request.

H. 3482 — Prohibits the use of personal information obtained from a local government for commercial solicitation.

H. 3483 — Provides that a person who injures a healthcare professional such as an EMS provider or firefighter while they are performing their duties, and knows or has reason to know their status, commits the offense of assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature.

H. 3485 Requires the General Assembly to provide a definition for “fair market value” for purposes of property taxes, eliminates the 15 percent cap on increases in the value of property for reassessment, and eliminates an assessable transfer of interest as an event that may change the value of property.

H. 3486 Restores the former method of overriding the annual millage cap by a positive majority vote of the appropriate governing body and amends other provisions of Act 388 of 2006.

H. 3511 — Clarifies that a probate judge can waive filing fees for indigent persons in the same manner as other civil cases.

H. 3514 — Requires a person who is not a political committee and who makes an independent expenditure in excess of $500 during a calendar year, or makes an electioneering communication, to file a report of the expenditure or communication with the Ethics Commission.

H. 3516 Increases the gas tax from $.16 per gallon to $.26 per gallon to be phased in over a five year period to begin on July 1, 2017.

H. 3522 Caps the general fund revenues available for appropriation by restricting any increase to a percentage that is equal to the average annual percentage change from the previous ten completed fiscal years.

H. 3523 For purposes of workers’ compensation, provides a definition for “first responder” and allows a first responder workers’ compensation for personal injury caused by stress, mental injury, or mental illness if it arises as a result of the first responder’s direct involvement in a significant traumatic situation or experience.

H. 3524 — Adds firefighters to the list of persons that are required to report any suspected incidents of child abuse and neglect.

H. 3525 — Provides that only certain entities may use an automatic license plate reader system.

H. 3526 — Prohibits the use of a cell phone or other wireless communication devices while driving unless the device has a hands-free mechanism.

H. 3527 — Restricts the use of certain data obtained by a recording device in a vehicle that is equipped with a recording device capable of recording or transmitting certain information.

H. 3529 — Prohibits a county from regulating the use, disposition, or sale—including any fee imposition or taxation—of auxiliary containers.

H. 3536 — Requires of the Division of Aging in Lieutenant Governor’s office to fund a program to provide subsidies to senior citizens to purchase a personal emergency response system.