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 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.