Friday Report - April 16, 2021
After the mad rush to meet the crossover deadline of April 10th last week, the House calendar was rather light, while the Senate spent most of the week in committees working on the budget. Still, there was movement on a few bills of interest that will be discussed below.
On an additional note, the US Treasury Department issued initial directives on steps counties need to take to begin the process of drawing down the American Rescue Plan funds for counties. Information from SCAC about those directives is available on the SCAC website.
Revenue, Finance, and Economic Development
Budget – H. 4100. The Senate Finance Committee met this week to take up provisos within the 2021-2022 budget bill. The plan is for the committee to meet again next week to take up the line-item appropriations and hopefully pass the budget bill on to the Senate floor by the end of the week. SCAC staff will report on all relevant provisos and appropriations once the full committee gives H. 4100 a favorable report.
Manufacturing Property Tax Exemption Exclusion – H. 4064. At least one major utility is paying its property taxes under protest claiming it is eligible for the manufacturing property tax exemption, which the state fully funds. H. 4064 clarifies that the manufacturing property tax exemption does not apply to utilities, which was the original intent of the exemption. The Senate Finance Committee gave H.4064 a favorable report as amended. The amendment allows necessary money to be transferred from the Contingency Reserve Fund to the Trust Fund for Tax Relief to carry out the provisions of the bill. H. 4064 is pending second reading on the Senate calendar.
Abandoned Buildings – S. 271. This bill expands the South Carolina Abandoned Buildings Revitalization Act until December 31, 2025. The House gave S. 271 third reading and the bill was enrolled for ratification.
Return to Work Within School System – S. 704. This bill would provide for a return to five-day in-person classroom instruction. It would also suspend the earnings limitation for SC Retirement System members who return to covered employment in the K-12 public education system to participate in the state’s public health response to the COVID-19 virus. The House did a strike and insert amendment so that the bill only deals with returning to five-day in-person classroom instruction. The bill has been sent back to the Senate for consideration of the House amendments.
Public Safety, Corrections and Judicial
Law Enforcement Officer Workers’ Compensation for Psychological Injuries – H. 3939. This bill would exempt law enforcement officers from having to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that stress, mental injury, or mental illness arising out of or in the course of employment when the officer is directly involved in, or subject to, the use of deadly force in the line of duty stems from conditions that are extraordinary or unusual relative to the normal conditions of employment for purposes of collecting workers’ compensation. SCAC staff testified against the bill in accordance with SCAC’s policy position. The House Special Laws Judiciary Subcommittee gave the bill a favorable report with the understanding that interested parties will likely be working on amendment language.
Land Use, Natural Resources and Transportation
Commercial Vehicle Registration – H. 3689. This legislation would provide clean up language from Act 40 of 2017 to clarify that if a commercial motor vehicle is registered through the international registration plan and is operated under a United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) number assigned to a person other than the vehicle's owner, then the person to whom the USDOT number is assigned may register the commercial motor vehicle by submitting the appropriate application and fees to the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The bill also codifies existing agency procedures.
The Senate amended the bill to add language from S. 442, which clarifies that the DMV may register and collect quarterly installment payments on large commercial motor vehicles registered in this state with a registration fee of at least $400. The owners of such vehicles must establish an account and remit payment of fees directly to the DMV. When choosing to pay the registration fee in installments, the owner must also pay the road use fee in the same installments. The bill would also exempt large commercial vehicles (with a gross weight of 26,000 pounds or more) from paying taxes to the counties, however, counties will still mail bills for road use fees and registration to large commercial vehicle owners as outlined below. The road use fee is in lieu of all ad valorem taxes and any road use or other vehicle-related fees imposed by political subdivisions of the state. Counties would no longer be required to mail bills for road use fees and registration to large commercial motor vehicle owners operating within the state 24 months after the new program is fully funded. Because of this change, these vehicles will be exempted from paying local fees such as bridge and EMS fees. H. 3689 as amended was carried over before receiving a second reading.
Municipal Parking – S. 40. This bill would prohibit a municipality from altering or establishing parking facilities on any state highway without prior approval of the South Carolina Department of Transportation. The legislation requires beach communities, who are eligible for beach renourishment funds, to offer free public beach parking but allows for paid public beach parking as well. Fees collected for parking may be used for beach access or renourishment, traffic enforcement, first responders and sanitation. S. 40 received a favorable report from a House Education and Public Works subcommittee and will move to the full committee.
Plastic Nurdles – S. 596. This bill would require the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) to establish regulations for preproduction plastic materials, such as plastic pellets commonly referred to as plastic nurdles. With certain exceptions, preproduction plastic facilities must adopt and implement best management practices as established by DHEC. S. 596 received a technical amendment and received a favorable report as amended by the Senate Medical Affairs Committee and will be placed on the Senate calendar.
County Government and Intergovernmental
County Veteran Affairs Officers – H. 3416 and H. 3839. H. 3416 would clarify that a county veterans’ affairs officer is an at-will employee of the county legislative delegation and considered a county employee. The bill would provide that the Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs may offer recommendations to the county delegation after annual reviews of the local county veterans’ affairs office.
H. 3839 would provide that county veteran affairs officers are at-will employees of the State and are funded with monies appropriated by the General Assembly for that purpose. County veterans’ affairs officers would be appointed by the Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs and would perform duties as established by the Secretary.
SCAC staff testified to both bills. SCAC staff supported H. 3416, and staff expressed concern regarding H. 3839, pointing out the funding called for by the bill has not been appropriated.
A House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs (3M) subcommittee held three subcommittees to hear testimony and to discuss the two bills. At the third subcommittee meeting, the 3M subcommittee gave H. 3416 a favorable report and tabled H. 3839.
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."
S. 750 — Establishes the “South Carolina Fairness, Accountability, and Integrity in Redistricting Act.”
S. 751 — Provides that solar choice metering requirements shall reduce any cost shift or subsidization associated with net metering while avoiding any disruption to the market for customer-scale distributed energy resources.
H. 4187 — Requires tax levy referendums for special purpose districts to be held at the same time as the general election.
H. 4197 — Extends the homestead property tax exemption to the entire fair market value of the homestead when the homeowner reaches the age of 85 if the gross income of the household is $50,000 or less.
H. 4201 — Amends the Constitution to provide for an independent citizen’s redistricting commission to be known as the “South Carolina Citizens Redistricting Commission.”
H. 4202 — Establishes the “South Carolina Citizens Redistricting Commission”.
H. 4210 — Prohibits a person from knowingly making restricted personal information publicly available of a covered person or their immediate family with the intent to threaten, intimidate, or commit a violent crime.
H. 4211 — Authorizes law enforcement to seize a person’s firearms and ammunition if the person poses a risk of imminent personal injury to himself or others.