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!
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.
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S. 481 — Provides 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. 482 — For 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. 501 — Directs the state treasurer to disburse funds to counties that have unreimbursed expenses associated with the recovery from the 2014 winter storm.
S. 503 — Provides 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. 505 — Requires 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.
H. 3862 — Clarifies 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. 3863 — Requires 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. 3871 — Makes technical corrections to the "Uniform Interstate Family Support Act."
H. 3879 — Increases the maximum amount of burial expenses payable under workers’ compensation for accidental death from $2500 to $7500.
H. 3891 — Enacts the “Workplace Freedom Act.”
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.