Friday Reports

The Friday Report, is prepared and distributed every Friday of the legislative session. The most recent Friday Report will always appear on the home page. 

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Thursday, March 4, 2021 - 3:04pm

The House Ways and Means Committee completed its work on a proposed budget along with provisos. The budget legislation will be debated on the House floor beginning the week of March 22nd. The Senate spent most of the week debating a bill dealing with the execution of inmates on death row and a school choice bill. The budget and other bills of interest this week will be discussed below.

Revenue, Finance, and Economic Development

State Budget and the Local Government Fund (LGF) – H. 4100

The House Ways and Means Committee voted H. 4100, the budget bill, out of committee. The committee increased funding to the Local Government Fund (LGF) by $17,624,049 statewide. This represents full funding to the LGF including all back funding that was imperiled because of the state operating under a Continuing Resolution in light of the ongoing pandemic. Here is a link to see your county’s estimated allocation of the LGF: https://bit.ly/2NWfFnd

The committee also raised library per capita funding from $2 to $2.25, an SCAC policy position. Please thank the members of the House Ways and Means Committee for keeping their promise to counties and working to return much needed funding to county government throughout the state. Please also ask your House members to support H. 4100 as passed by the House Ways and Means Committee.

As passed, here are some provisos in H. 4100 that are of interest to counties:

34.8 – Emergency Medical Services. Provides for the allocation of Emergency Medical Services funds to counties, EMS Regional Councils, and the state EMS office. Prohibits fundsRead Full Report

Friday, February 26, 2021 - 11:16am

The General Assembly focused primarily on two issues this week. The House spent most of the week debating a bill regarding the emergency powers of the Governor, while the Senate debated a bond bill involving the Charleston Port. Several bills of interest moved through committees as well as on the House and Senate floors that will be discussed.

Revenue, Finance, and Economic Development

 

Budget Provisos

The House worked on the budget Provisos this week. Here is one Proviso of interest:

Proviso 113.cps – Capital Project Sales Tax (CPST) Revenue. This proviso allows a county that has CPST collections in excess of the amount necessary to complete all projects for which the tax was imposed to pledge and use the excess collections to fund road improvements, intersection improvements, and pedestrian transportation, as long as the tax has not yet expired. However, the county must first adopt an ordinance specifying the purposes for which the excess funds will be used.

Return to Work Earnings Cap – H. 3134. This bill removes the $10,000 earnings limitation cap for a retired employee under the State Retirement System and the Police Officers Retirement System that returns to work, an SCAC policy position. They must first be separated from employment in either system for a period of 12 consecutive months. The participating employer (county) shall pay to the respective system the employer contribution that would be required as if the return toRead Full Report

Friday, February 19, 2021 - 9:33am

The General Assembly heard testimony on various bills dealing with COVID-19 vaccinations and reopening schools to five-day in-class instruction, but took no action on the bills. They are likely to be taken up again next week. The Senate spent most of the week debating a bond bill dealing with the Port of Charleston, while the House debated an abortion bill that was signed into law by the Governor on Thursday. The General Assembly did take action on several bills of interest that will be discussed.

Revenue, Finance, and Economic Development

COVID-19 Liability Safe Harbor – S. 147. This bill would enact the South Carolina COVID-19 Liability Safe Harbor Act to provide liability protections for a limited time period for health care providers and businesses that follow public health guidance in response to the coronavirus public health emergency. Counties are listed as “covered entities” under the bill and therefore county employees are “covered individuals.” The Senate adopted an amendment requiring covered entities to “reasonably adhere” to public health guidance in order to receive the protections from liability. Also, the amendment would change the burden of proof that a claimant must meet to invalidate liability protections from a “preponderance of the evidence” to a “clear and convincing” standard. S. 147 received a second reading as amended, carrying over all remaining amendments and allowing for additional amendments to be offered on third reading.

Economic Development Bonds – S. 491. S. 491 wouldRead Full Report

Friday, February 12, 2021 - 9:44am

Daina Riley testifies virtually before a House Medical, Military,
Public and Municipal Affairs subcommittee.

The General Assembly focused their legislative actions this week on improving the administration and distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations. There were also efforts to include school teachers, other school staff, and daycare workers in the first phase of the vaccination in an attempt to return schools to five-day in-class instruction. The House postponed budget committee hearings, but they should resume next week. The General Assembly did take action on several bills of interest that will be discussed.

Revenue, Finance, and Economic Development

Tort Claims Act – S. 82. S. 82 raises the existing caps on damages found in the Tort Claims Act (TCA) from $300,000 to $500,000 per individual, and from $600,000 to $1 million per occurrence. The bill also contains a provision to encourage settlement of litigation covered by the TCA. This increase will still have a fiscal impact on county governments, but it is less severe than what was initially proposed last session. The Senate Judiciary Committee gave S. 82 a favorable report as amended, and the bill is pending second reading on the Senate calendar.

COVID-19 Liability Safe Harbor – S. 147. This bill would enact the South Carolina COVID-19 Liability Safe Harbor Act toRead Full Report

Tuesday, February 2, 2021 - 4:54pm

This week much of the General Assembly’s attention focused on judicial elections, selection of a new DHEC Director, and COVID-19 vaccinations. They did take action on several bills of interest that will be discussed.

Revenue, Finance, and Economic Development

Tort Claims Act – S. 82. S. 82 would raise the existing caps on damages found in the Tort Claims Act (TCA) from $300,000 to $500,000 per individual, and from $600,000 to $1 million per occurrence. The bill also contains a provision to encourage settlement of litigation covered by the TCA. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee heard testimony from multiple groups, including SCAC, before giving the bill a favorable report as amended. This increase will still have a fiscal impact on county governments, but it is less severe than what was initially proposed last session. S. 82 is expected to be taken up at next week’s full committee meeting.

COVID-19 Liability Safe Harbor – S. 147. This bill would enact the South Carolina COVID-19 Liability Safe Harbor Act to provide liability protections for a limited time period for health care providers and businesses that follow public health guidance in response to the coronavirus public health emergency. Counties are listed as “covered entities” under the bill and therefore county employees are “covered individuals.” A Senate Judiciary subcommittee amended the bill to require that covered entities “substantially” adhere to public health guidance in order to receive the protections and gave S. 147 a favorable report asRead Full Report

Tuesday, January 26, 2021 - 5:03pm
Josh Rhodes testifies before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee

The General Assembly was back in full swing this week. Several bills moved out of committees, were debated, and passed from one chamber to the other. Much of the  debate in the chambers dealt with Santee Cooper, abortion, and efforts to expedite COVID-19 vaccinations.


Revenue, Finance, and Economic Development

Budget and Provisos of Interest

While the House continues to work on the budget in subcommittees, here are some provisos of interest:

State Retirement System – Proviso 106.2. State law requires the employer contribution rate in the state retirement systems to increase 1 percent per year. A House Ways and Means subcommittee adopted Proviso 106.2 to meet that requirement. Pursuant to the proviso, the employer’s contribution rate under the South Carolina Retirement System (SCRS) and the Police Officer Retirement System (PORS) will increase 1 percent for fiscal year 2021-2022.

Proviso 81.FR – First Responder PTSD Funds to FAST. This new proviso would direct the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation (LLR) to distribute first responder Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) treatment funds to the S.C. Firefighters Assistant Support Team (FAST) to reimburse firefighters and EMTs who sustain a mental injury as a result of critical incidents that occur within their scope of employment. These funds would provide for out-of-pocket expenses that are not covered through workers’ compensation and other insurance. ThisRead Full Report

Thursday, January 21, 2021 - 9:39am

The General Assembly met primarily in perfunctory session this week. The Senate met briefly on Thursday and discussed their disappointment with the lack of COVID-19 vaccination throughout the state.

Revenue, Finance, and Economic Development

Retiree Health Insurance Fund – H. 3481. This joint resolution suspends the statutory transfer of funds from the operating account for the state's employee health insurance program to the South Carolina Retiree Health Insurance Trust Fund for fiscal year 2020-2021. H. 3481 received third reading in the Senate and will be enrolled for ratification.

County Government and Intergovernmental Relations

Gubernatorial Proclamations of Emergency – H. 3443. This bill would further define the Governor’s declaration of emergency powers and the Legislative Branch’s role with any proclamation beyond 30 days. Pursuant to this bill, 30 days after the Governor has declared a state of emergency, the South Carolina General Assembly could, by concurrent resolution, terminate, alter, amend, or consent to the terms of any declaration of emergency. The bill would further define the limitations on the Governor declaring successive states of emergency. The House Judiciary Constitutional Subcommittee gave H. 3443 a favorable report, and the bill will be on the next full House Judiciary Committee agenda.

COVID-19 Vaccinations

A House Legislative Oversight Ad Hoc Committee met Thursday to hear from DHEC officials regarding the agency’s receipt andRead Full Report

Thursday, January 14, 2021 - 9:59am

The General Assembly began session this week and focused on organization and rule changes. The Senate passed a rule that makes the budget more transparent so that special fund projects are not hidden within the budget. They also amended their rule on cloture, which makes it less likely that the Senate will be bogged down with filibusters. The House amended its rules to allow committees to meet virtually or through alternate means in the event of extraordinary circumstances such as a pandemic. Both chambers will meet mostly in perfunctory session next week and will instead conduct committee meetings.

Revenue, Finance, and Economic Development

State Health Plan

The PEBA Executive Director testified before the Ways and Means Healthcare Subcommittee this week and indicated there will be a .6 percent increase in premiums to the State Health Plan. While the specifics of this increase were not discussed, it is likely to be paid by counties and other employers under the State Health Plan.

Retiree Health Insurance Fund – H. 3481. This joint resolution suspends the statutory transfer of funds from the operating account for the state's employee health insurance program to the South Carolina Retiree Health Insurance Trust Fund for fiscal year 2020-2021. H. 3481 received third reading in the House and has been sent to the Senate.

Santee Cooper – H. 3194. This bill will authorize the sale or reorganization of Santee Cooper. The bill is pending second reading on the House floor.

Read Full Report

Wednesday, January 6, 2021 - 2:34pm

Happy New Year! In light of COVID-19 concerns, our Friday Report is being distributed by email only. Please share this information with those who are accustomed to receiving a mailed version of the Friday Report and may not have email access.

The first regular session of the 124th South Carolina General Assembly will officially convene on Tuesday, January 12, 2021, however, there were several committee meetings this week. Of particular note, there was a subcommittee meeting regarding the Local Government Fund (LGF) that is discussed below. SCAC also conducted a two-day orientation for newly-elected council members.

Orientation for Newly Elected Council Members

SCAC conducted a virtual orientation for newly-elected officials on Tuesday and Thursday. The orientation covered several topics such as “Powers & Forms of County Government,” “Budget Basics & Funding Sources,” and “Overview of the State Ethics, Government Accountability and Campaign Reform Act.” The sessions were recorded and will be available for any council members who may not have been able to attend the orientation.

Local Government Fund (LGF)

A Ways and Means subcommittee met on Tuesday to hear the budget request for several state agencies as well as the LGF for counties and municipalities. Under the new LGF formula that was agreed to in Act 84 of 2019, there would have been a 5 percent increase to the LGF base fund of $233.7 million for the 2020-2021 budget year for a total of about $245 million. However, in light of the pandemic, the General Assembly did not pass a budget and instead operated under a continuing resolution based on the 2019-2020 budget. SCAC testified virtually that that increase should be included in the LGFRead Full Report