Friday Report - April 15, 2022
The House was on furlough this week and the Senate was in session on Tuesday only and operated in a perfunctory session for the remainder of the week. The Senate moved bills, including the budget, along in committee and placed an elections bill (H. 4919) in special order status to be taken up next week.
The House should be taking up S. 984 (User Fee Authorization) in subcommittee sometime next week. Please talk to your House members and ask them to support passing S. 984. Time is running out for us to get this essential legislation passed this session.
Although this was an abbreviated week, several bills of note will be discussed below in this week’s Friday Report.
Revenue, Finance and Economic Development
H. 5150 – State Budget.
The Senate Finance Committee worked on the budget this week and passed H. 5150 out of committee on Wednesday. Floor debate on the budget is scheduled for the week of April 25th. The committee increased funding to the Local Government Fund (LGF) by $12,583,080 statewide. This represents full funding to the LGF under the statutory formula. The Committee also directed $10 million into the rural stabilization fund (discussed below), the same amount the General Assembly allocated last year.
Other funding of note in the House budget includes:
- $72 million to cover a 3 percent base pay increase for all state employees;
- $101.7 million for the state’s share of the state health plan, including expanded well visits;
- $750,000 for PTSD treatment for first responders;
- $75,000 to the EMS Association for recruitment and retention;
- $100,000 for a statewide housing needs assessment to determine the affordable housing needs throughout the state;
- $3.784 million for the Firefighter Cancer Benefit Plan;
- $10 million for destination-specific tourism grants;
- $4 million in additional funds for tourism advertising;
- $10 million to the State Treasurer for a disaster trust fund;
- $1.6 million to coroners to fund the local child fatality review team program;
- $617,550 to supplement the sheriffs;
- $617,550 to supplement the clerks of court; and
- $1 million to supplement the Councils of Governments (COGs).
Rural Stabilization Fund – The Senate kept the fund at the same $10 million as last year. Under this proviso, any county that had a population growth, as determined by the 2020 Census, of less than 5.35 percent since the 2010 Census shall be eligible to receive monies from the fund as follows:
- a baseline of $300,000 to each eligible county;
- an additional $100,000 to eligible counties with a population between 50,000 and 99,999;
- an additional $200,000 to eligible counties with a population of more than 100,000.
After disbursal of funds, any monies remaining shall be distributed to each eligible county on a pro-rata basis. In the event the amount of funds in the fund is not sufficient to provide monies to counties according to the above formula, the amounts distributed to counties shall be reduced on a pro-rata basis.
Please thank the members of the Senate Finance Committee for keeping their promise to counties and working to return much-needed funding to county governments throughout the state!
SCAC will provide comprehensive budget analysis, including a list of adopted provisos, after the Senate finishes debating H. 5150 on the floor in a couple of weeks.
American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) – H. 4408. In addition to taking up this year’s appropriations bill, the Senate Finance Committee also met on H. 4408, the House plan for allocating state ARPA funds. The Committee amended H. 4408 by adopting a strike and insert amendment that would apply the Senate’s phase-one plan as passed earlier this year in S. 952.
Under phase one of the Senate’s plan, over $453 million in funding would be allocated to SCDOT, $400 million to the Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS) for the State Broadband Office to expand access to high-speed broadband internet, and $900 million to the South Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA). The RIA would be directed to use approximately $800 million of the designated funds to establish three separate grant programs for water, wastewater, and stormwater projects to provide local governments with opportunities to build and update aging infrastructure across the state. The RIA would also designate $100 million of its allotment for projects that are deemed significant to economic development. Additionally, the RIA would be required to transfer $500,000 to each of the 10 Councils of Governments (COGs) for planning assistance, development of grant proposals, and compliance assistance related to improvements in water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure for smaller systems.
Also included in the Committee’s amendment to H. 4408 would be the addition of $185 million from the Capital Project Expenditure Fund that would be dedicated to broadband projects under ORS as well as $104 million in funding for a new DHEC public health laboratory. As a result of the changes in the Senate plan, $818 million in state ARPA funds would be left for allocation following the phase one distributions. H. 4408 received a favorable report, as amended, and will be placed on the Senate calendar.
County Government and Intergovernmental
Early Voting and Absentee Ballot Voting – H. 4919. As initially drafted, H. 4919 provides a two-week period of no-excuse early voting prior to an election, including two Saturdays. County boards of voter registration and elections will have the discretion to determine the location of early voting locations in each county but can have no more than seven locations based on the population of the county. This week, a Senate Judiciary subcommittee adopted a working document and gave H. 4919 a favorable report, as amended. SCAC will report on the amended bill language once it is available.
The Senate recalled H. 4919 in special order status to begin debate on April 20th.
J. Mitchell Graham/Barrett Lawrimore Memorial Awards Call for Entries
The Association is currently accepting applications for the 2022 J. Mitchell Graham/Barrett Lawrimore Memorial Regional Awards Competition. All applications must be submitted online or received at the SCAC Office by 5 p.m. on Friday, May 6. Applicants who meet the submission deadline and all requirements will be scheduled to present their projects in-person on June 9 at SC ETV in Columbia. The competition will be livestreamed, and award winners will be announced during the 2022 Annual Conference.
For more information about the competition and how to apply, please see the 2022 Awards Brochure and the Awards Toolkit on the Association’s website. If you have additional questions, please contact Susan Turkopuls at STurkopuls@scac.sc.