Issue 7-17 - February 24, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flexibility Proviso in Peril

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

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

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

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

State Retirement System — H. 3726 & S. 394

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

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

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

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

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

Legislation of Interest

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Newly-Introduced Legislation

View/Download Full Text for Newly-Introduced Legislation

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

Senate Bills

S. 446Increases the Industry Partnership Fund tax credit.

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

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

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

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

House Bills

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

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

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

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

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

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