Friday Report - April 21, 2023
The Senate debated the budget (H. 4300) on Tuesday and Wednesday and passed the budget, which includes increased funding to the Local Government Fund (LGF). The House worked through its calendar and continued to move several pertinent bills through committees. Bills of interest are discussed below:
Revenue, Finance and Economic Development
Budget – H. 4300. The full Senate debated and passed the budget this week. Both chambers increased funding to the LGF by $13,212,234 statewide. This represents full funding to the LGF under the statutory formula.
Other funding of note in the Senate budget includes:
- $155 million to cover a $2,500 base pay increase for state employees making under $50,000 and a 5 percent base pay increase for state employees making over $50,000;
- $121.5 million for the state’s share of the 3.7 percent increase in premiums under the State Health Plan, including expanded well visits, prescribed contraceptives for dependents, and annual gynecological visits for women;
- $40.1 million to cover the state’s share of the 1 percent retirement contribution increase;
- $12 million to the Rural County Stabilization Fund;
- $345,000 to registers of deeds (This represents increased funding for FY23-24);
- $690,000 to coroners (This represents increased funding for FY23-24);
- $690,000 to clerks of court (This represents the same funding as the current fiscal year);
- $690,000 to sheriffs (This represents the same funding as the current fiscal year);
- $690,000 to probate judges (This represents the same funding as the current fiscal year);
- $1,063,214 to county auditors (This represents the same funding as the current fiscal year);
- $1,063,213 to county treasurers (This represents the same funding as the current fiscal year);
- $1.5 million for magistrate salary increases (This represents increased funding for FY 23-24);
- $1.5 million to the Councils of Governments;
- $1.6 million to coroners to fund the local Child Fatality Review Team program;
- $750,000 for post-traumatic stress disorder treatment for first responders;
- $3 million to Labor, Licensing and Regulation for the V-SAFE Fund;
- $12 million for destination specific tourism grants;
- $3.894 million in recurring funds for Aid to Fire Districts – Statutory Funding Requirement for insurance premiums under Section 23-9-410;
- $2.5 million in additional money for tourism promotions;
- $25 million in additional money to the Conservation Bank for grant funding;
- $3.784 million for the Firefighter Cancer Benefit Plan; and
- $5 million to the Department of Mental Health for an alternative transportation program.
In addition to the provisos that remain in the budget from last year, the Senate version of the budget also includes the following new or amended provisos of note:
- 100. Incentive Prohibition. Prohibits school districts, or any of their schools, from using state funds to offer students any monetary incentive or inducement to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.
- 6. FC: Firefighting Equipment and Response Carry Forward. Authorizes the Forestry Commission to carry forward any unspent funds appropriated for firefighting equipment into the current fiscal year and to spend these funds for the same purpose.
- 16. PRT: Destination Specific Tourism. Amended to state that non-recurring funds appropriated to the Destination Specific Tourism Marketing grant program shall not be subject to a match requirement during the current fiscal year.
- 60.5. PCC: Solicitor’s Office – County Funding Level. The Senate Finance Committee amended this proviso to provide that if the county reduces the amount of support provided to solicitor’s offices below the level provided in the prior fiscal year, the State Treasurer shall withhold the county’s State Aid to Subdivision funding by a corresponding amount. SCAC staff expects this provision to be removed when the House takes up Senate amendments to H. 4300.
- 60.11. PCC: Caseload Equalization Funding. Increases the amount appropriated and authorized for Caseload Equalization. The proviso will have the first $10,350,000 distributed at an amount of $225,000 per county. The remaining $12,006,872 shall be distributed based upon the average incoming caseload for each county as reported by the Judicial Department for the prior three fiscal years.
- 61.1. INDEF: Defense of Indigents Formula. Provides that if the county reduces the amount of support provided to a public defender’s office below the level provided in the prior fiscal year, the State Treasurer shall withhold the county’s State Aid to Subdivision funding by a corresponding amount. SCAC staff expects this provision to be removed when the House takes up Senate amendments to H. 4300.
- 65.19. Corr: Quota Elimination. The Senate amended this proviso to provide that counties shall be required to provide to the Department of Corrections all available medical history and screening records, booking reports, and other documents required to assist the department in its intake processing at least one day prior to the date for transfer of an inmate. The amendment clarifies that counties are not required to perform additional medical screening at the time of transfer. However, counties shall not be allowed to have an inmate admitted to the department until after the above-mentioned records are transferred to the department.
- 108.6. PEBA: State Health Plan. Provides for an employer premium increase of 3.7 percent and a subscriber premium increase of 0 percent for the standard State Health Plan for Plan Year 2024.
- 113.3. AS-TREAS: Salary Supplements. Directs that salary supplements for county clerks of courts, probate judges, coroners, sheriffs, and registers of deeds be distributed to each county treasurer quarterly and directs that the amounts for county auditors and county treasurers be equally distributed to each county auditor and treasurer as a salary supplement in addition to the salary and other benefits presently provided by the county. The proviso also:
- states the intent of the General Assembly that county appropriations for these salaries not be reduced as a result of the appropriation;
- exempts these funds from any across the board cut; and
- authorizes a county governing body to reduce expenditures in the operation of these offices without any required corresponding reduction in the county’s State Aid to Subdivision distribution and directs that any reduction in the officials’ budgets must be made in consultation with the affected official.
The proviso also provides for salary increases for magistrates. Full-time magistrates will receive a $5,000 increase in their base salary. Part-time magistrates will receive a $1,250 increase in their base salary. These salaries will remain decoupled from the circuit court judge salaries. The salary supplement shall not disqualify each magistrate for salary increases that they might otherwise receive from county funds in the future.
- 117.147. GP: Mental Health Transport. Allows the Department of Mental Health to amend the contract to add additional counties to the program.
American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) – S. 604. This bill would authorize the expenditure of over $586 million in federal funds disbursed to South Carolina in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and would specify the way the funds may be expended. Under the bill, the money would be appropriated to the Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA) ARPA Water and Sewer Infrastructure Account, with $100 million made available for projects designated by the Secretary of Commerce as being significant to economic development. Up to $20 million would be available for each project with no local match requirement. Only existing grant applications, as of January 1, 2023, may be considered in determining disbursements.
The House amended the bill to allow funds from the ARPA Resilience Account as a part of Act 244 of 2022 to be used for projects that mitigate the impacts from potential releases of contamination associated with natural hazards. The Senate removed an additional amendment that would have allowed any members of the General Assembly that oppose the awarding of ARPA grant funds within their respective district to notify the RIA in writing that the Authority must withhold the disbursement. The House concurred with the Senate amendments and S. 604 has been enrolled for ratification.
Public Safety, Corrections and Judicial
|Several county officials testified on S. 252, the Law Enforcement Personal Privacy Protection Act. Clockwise: Charles Reel, Edgefield County Clerk of Court; Julie Stutts, Aiken County Register of Deeds; Timothy Nanney, Greenville County Register of Deeds; and Margaret Bailey, Dorchester County Register of Deeds.||Charleston County Coroner Bobbi Jo O’ Neal and Sumter County Coroner Robbie Baker testified on H. 3691, Coroners as First Responders, and H.3685, Coroner Qualifications. They are pictured here with Sen. Penry Gustafson.|
Cell Phones in Prisons – H. 4002. As drafted, this bill would have made it unlawful for an inmate under the jurisdiction of the Department of Corrections to possess a telecommunication device unless authorized by the director. SCAC testified before a House Judiciary subcommittee and requested an amendment to also make it unlawful in county detention centers, an SCAC policy position. The subcommittee adopted SCAC’s amendment and gave the bill a favorable report, as amended. H. 4002 will be on the next full committee’s agenda.
Law Enforcement Personal Privacy Protection Act – S. 252. This bill would create the “Law Enforcement Personal Privacy Protection Act” and provide that any personal identifying information of an active law enforcement officer held or maintained by any state or local governing entity would be confidential and must not be disclosed to the public if the officer has filed a formal request with the entity. Information relating to the personal identifying information of the officer or revealing whether the individual has family members would be deemed confidential. Any government entity that redacts or withholds information under this article would be required to provide the request or a description of the redacted or withheld information. The Senate amended the to include the “Judicial Personal Privacy Protection Act” that would provide similar requirements for the withholding of personal information for judges.
Several registers of deeds and clerks of court testified before a House Judiciary subcommittee this week to express concerns about undefined terms and how the bill will be implemented.
In response to those concerns, the subcommittee amended the bill by striking the word ‘home’ in the bill, striking the phrase ‘or that reveals whether the individual has family members,’ and making the effective date of the bill July 1, 2024. S. 252 received a favorable report, as amended, and the bill will be on the next full committee’s agenda.
Lethal Injection Shield – S. 120. This bill would protect from disclosure the identity of the manufacturer or drug compounder of the drugs used to administer death by lethal injection for a person on death row. This protection would be extended to any individuals or entities involved in the planning and execution of a death sentence. The House gave S. 120 second and third readings and sent the bill to the Senate.
Antisemitism – H. 4042. This bill would add a definition of antisemitism to provide a framework in which antisemitism is considered regarding all laws prohibiting discriminatory acts. The House Judiciary Committee gave the bill a favorable report and H. 4042 is pending second reading on the House calendar.
Alternate Jurors – H. 3883. This bill would amend Section 14-7-1340 of the Code, relating to the duties and service of alternate jurors, to allow the court to retain alternate jurors upon submission of a case to a jury for deliberations. The House Judiciary Committee gave the bill a favorable report and H. 3883 is pending second reading on the House calendar.
Solicitor’s Funding – H. 3091. This bill would prohibit a county from reducing its funding for circuit solicitor operations in a fiscal year below the amount it funded in the immediate previous fiscal year. A House Judiciary subcommittee adjourned debate on the bill.
County Auditor Records – H. 3608. This bill removes the requirement that county auditors endorse deeds for conveyance for real property but permits them to do so either before or after recording the deed, an SCAC policy position. All conveyances of real estate that were recorded by a clerk of court or register of deeds of any county that meet the requirements of Section 30-5-20 but are without the endorsement of the county auditor will be valid and binding. A House Judiciary subcommittee gave H. 3608 a favorable report and the bill will be on the next full committee’s agenda.
DHEC Restructuring – S. 399. This bill would restructure the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and amend Chapter 1 of Title 44 to create the “Department of Behavioral and Public Health” and would add Chapter 5 to Title 38 to create the “Department of Environmental Services.” The bill would direct the Department of Administration to analyze and determine the best manner to restructure the agency effectively and efficiently and to submit a report to the General Assembly. A Senate Medical Affairs subcommittee did a strike and insert amendment to serve as the working document for the bill. S. 399 received a favorable report, as amended, and will be on the next full committee’s agenda.
Increase Limit of Small Estate – H. 3906. This bill would limit the increase of small estates from $25,000 to $50,000 and would increase the fee from $25 to $50. A House Judiciary subcommittee adopted an amendment to change the threshold amount to $35,000 dollars and the fee to $35 and gave H. 3906 a favorable report, as amended. The bill will be on the next full committee’s agenda.
Coroner Qualifications – H. 3865. This bill would extend the qualifications for a coroner to include a licensed paramedic who has at least three years of experience. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee adopted an amendment to delete the option that a candidate be enrolled in a certification program to be completed within one year of being elected to the office of coroner in order to qualify as a coroner. As a result, candidates would have to have completed a recognized forensic science degree or certification program in order to qualify. The Senate Judiciary subcommittee gave the bill a favorable report, as amended, and H. 3865 will be on the next full committee’s agenda.
Coroners as First Responders – H. 3691. This legislation would allow a coroner, deputy coroner or the coroner’s designee to possess and administer an opioid antidote pursuant to the requirements of the South Carolina Overdose Prevention Act. DHEC may promulgate regulations related to coroners possessing and administering opioid antidotes, and DHEC’s Bureau of Drug Control must maintain data on the administering of opioid antidotes by coroners and their designees.
Further, the bill would specify that a coroner or deputy coroner is considered a public safety officer (first responder) if killed in the line of duty, an SCAC policy position. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee gave H. 3691 a favorable report and the bill will be on the next full committee’s agenda.
County Government and Intergovernmental Relations
Municipal Elections – H. 3734. This bill would require all municipal elections to be conducted using the voting system approved and adopted by the State Election Commission. It would also require all municipal elections to be held on odd-numbered years on one of the following three dates: (1) on the third Tuesday in March; (2) on the first Tuesday in July; or (3) on the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November. A county board of registration and elections shall conduct a municipal election if a municipality elects to transfer its election authority to the county. The House Judiciary Committee amended the bill to provide that the terms of incumbent council members elected in an odd year may be extended to the new election date and that the terms of newly elected officers do not commence until the next regular meeting of the municipal council in the month following certification of the election results by the election commission. The Committee then gave the bill a favorable report, as amended, and H. 3734 is pending second reading on the House calendar.
Address Confidentiality – S. 147. This bill would establish the address confidentiality program, whereby a victim of domestic violence, dating violence, human trafficking, stalking, harassment, or sexual offenses may use a designated address rather than their residential address to conceal their place of residence from assailants or probable assailants. This program would be administered by the Attorney General. The Senate amended the bill to provide that a participant in the address confidentiality program may not be mailed an absentee ballot unless they have requested an absentee ballot pursuant to Section 7-15-330. The participant’s absentee ballot must be the same ballot used in the precinct assigned to the participant’s residential address. The request for an absentee ballot by a participant is not a public record subject to the Freedom of Information Act and must be kept confidential by the county board of registration and elections to which the request was made. The Senate gave S. 147 a third reading and the bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
State Health Facility Licensure Act (Certificate of Need) – S. 164. This bill would eliminate the requirement of obtaining a Certificate of Need (CON) from the DHEC, with the exception of nursing homes and ambulatory surgical facilities with more than eight operating rooms. Additionally, before acquiring a hospital facility, the bill requires the Medical University of South Carolina to submit details of the proposed acquisition to the Joint Bond Review Committee, receive approval by the Fiscal Accountability Authority, and apply for a CON or licensure. Further, the bill creates the CON study committee to examine the effect of the repeal of the CON program in rural parts of the state.
SCAC supported legislation last session that would reform the state's CON to limit the appeals process, reduce the projects that require approval, and streamline the system. Last session, the bill was passed by the Senate (S. 290) and was forwarded to the House; however, the stakeholders could not reach a consensus. A House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs subcommittee gave S. 164 a favorable report and the bill will move forward to the full committee for consideration.
Land Use, Natural Resources and Transportation
Septic Tank Permits – H. 3769. As introduced, this bill would have prohibited DHEC from denying a property owner of rural land of no more than five acres the right to repair and replace any well or septic tank existing on the property because of any other available water or sewer services. The bill would also have prohibited DHEC from denying the property owner of family farmland of no more than five acres the right to construct new wells or septic tanks on the property because of other available water or sewer services. Additionally, DHEC would have been required to accept soil work from a professional engineer as part of an onsite wastewater permit application that met certain certification criteria.
The House adopted an amendment to H. 3769 that would strike the original language and the bill now simply prohibits DHEC from denying a property owner the right to repair and replace any well or septic tank existing on the property because of any other available water or sewer services. The House then gave H. 3769 second and third readings and sent the bill to the Senate.
State Aviation Fund: Regulation on Land Use Around Airports – Doc. No. 5134. This land use regulation, proposed by the South Carolina Aeronautics Commission, would place additional requirements on local governments relating to zoning requirements of properties surrounding airports. Some counties have raised concerns about these requirements and the potential impact on Home Rule.
Review a copy of the document to determine how this may impact your county and its airport. A House Regulations and Administrative Procedures subcommittee adjourned debate on the regulation but plans to take the regulation up at its next meeting scheduled for Thursday, April 27 at 9:30 a.m. in Room 321 of the Blatt Building.
You can also go to www.scstatehouse.gov and click on "Legislation," then "Introduced Legislation."
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.
H. 4321 (Rep. Gilliard) – Enacts the "Weapons Detector Systems in Schools Act" by adding Article 10 to Chapter 63, Title 59 to provide weapons detector systems must be installed in all public school buildings and athletics venue entrances.
H. 4322 (Rep. Gilliard) – Creates the "Weapons Detectors in Schools Study Committee" to evaluate whether it is in the public interest to require the installation and use of weapons detectors at public schools in this state and to provide for the membership and duties of the study committee.
H. 4334 (Rep. W. Jones) – Enacts the "South Carolina Residential Opportunity and Education Act," which adds Article 5 to Chapter 7, Title 6. It includes the General Assembly’s findings on affordable housing and provides that counties and municipalities are authorized to use inclusionary zoning strategies to increase the availability of affordable housing.
H. 4348 (Reps. Burns and Chumley) – Adds Section 46-3-290 to prohibit the use of the "Certified SC Grown" designation on food or food products that contain mRNA and to provide penalties.
H. 4350 (Reps. Moss and Lawson) – Amends Section 7-7-160 relating to designation of voting precincts in Cherokee County to redesignate the map number on which these precincts may be found on file with the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office.
H. 4358 (Reps. J. Moore, Bamberg and Herbkersman) – Adds Section 1-1-619 to designate April 20 of each year as "420 Day" and to direct the Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services to pardon at least 20 percent of people convicted of simple possession of marijuana on that date each year.
S. 731 (Sen. Goldfinch) — Amends Section 38-7-20 relating to the allocation of insurance premium taxes to direct 15 percent to the South Carolina Office of Resilience.
S. 738 (Sen. K. Johnson) — Delineates the nine single-member districts from which members of the Clarendon County School Board of Trustees must be elected beginning with the 2024 general election and provides demographic information regarding these districts.
S. 739 (Sen. Setzler) —A joint resolution providing for a one-time authorization for use of certain remaining South Carolina housing tax credits provided pursuant to Section 1.b.1 of Act 202 of 2022, certain remaining South Carolina housing tax credits authorized pursuant to Section 12-6-3795 for the tax year ending December 31, 2023, and not exceeding $25 million in one-time, non-recurring funding from the South Carolina Housing Trust Fund established pursuant to Article 4 of Chapter 13, Title 31 of the South Carolina Code, all for the limited purpose of providing supplemental financial support to address escalations and other costs for certain multi-family housing developments.
S. 743 (Sen. Kimbrell) — Adds Chapter 23 to enact the Parental Bill of Rights by adding Section 63-23-110 to provide that parents have fundamental rights regarding the upbringing, education, and care of their children.
The following bill has been passed by both chambers and was signed by the Governor on Thursday:
R10, S. 604 (Sens. Peeler, Alexander, Setzler, Malloy and Scott): A joint resolution to authorize the expenditure of federal funds disbursed to the state in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and to specify how the funds may be expended.