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

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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.


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.