Friday Report - April 22, 2022
The House spent most of its time this week debating an education bill, while the Senate debated an elections bill. The Senate is scheduled to take up the budget on Tuesday.
The House did not take up S. 984 (User Fee Authorization) is scheduled to be heard before a House Ways and Means subcommittee on Tuesday. The subcommittee members are Reps. Rutherford, Gagnon, Dillard, and Huggins. Attached is a list of the full committee members. 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.
Several bills of note will be discussed below in this week’s Friday Report.
Revenue, Finance, and Economic Development
American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) – H. 4408. The Senate continued to make progress this week on H. 4408, the House plan for allocating state ARPA funds. The Senate amended H. 4408 with a strike and insert amendment that would apply the Senate’s plan as of allocating the first phase of funds 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 Senate’s amendment 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 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 remaining for allocation following the phase one distributions. H. 4408 received a second and third reading and will be returned to the House as amended.
Tax Credits – S. 1120 / H. 5075. S. 1120 and H. 5075 are a pair of companion bills that would cap the state’s Workforce and Senior Affordable Housing Tax Credit Program. In January, a moratorium was put in place on this tax credit program after demand exceeded financial expectations by hundreds of millions of dollars. The Senate amended H. 5075 to increase the cap to $20 million and would preserve no less than 50 percent of that amount for projects in rural areas that apply for the 9 percent federal low-income housing tax credit. A new scoring program through the Joint Bond Review Committee would also be implemented to award funds to projects that are deemed to be the highest priority setting up a more competitive process for developers to receive tax credits. The Senate gave H. 5075 a second reading and third reading and the bill was returned to the House with amendments.
A House Ways and Means subcommittee amended S. 1120 to increase the Senate’s proposed cap of $15 million to $25 million. As a result of the House amendment, there remains a difference of $5 million on the cap between the House and Senate versions of the bill. S. 1120 was given a favorable report, as amended, and will head to the full Ways and Means Committee.
Land Use, Natural Resources and Transportation
Electronic Waste – H. 4775. This legislation, an SCAC policy position, establishes a new statewide “Manufacturer Electronic Waste Recovery Program” for covered televisions and computer monitor devices (ex: old CRT TVs). Counties currently face large financial burdens to recycle these items because there is no market for the devices and they cannot go into a landfill. Under the old program, manufacturers only had to recycle 80 percent of the pounds sold, leaving counties to shoulder the cost of recycling any devices that remained at county facilities.
The new program would require that all covered television and computer monitor devices must be picked up from counties providing significant cost savings for disposing of these devices. Language in the bill provides protection to counties from financial liability once these devices leave a county facility which addresses issues that have occurred in the past where counties were sued for devices that were stored offsite. The bill provides for a sunset of the program in 2029 and also requires all stakeholders to reconvene on June 1, 2026, to assess how the program is working and whether changes or updates need to be made to the program going forward. A Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources subcommittee gave the bill a favorable report and H. 4775 will move ahead to the full committee.
Lot Clean-up – H. 5036. This legislation, an SCAC policy position, would help counties across South Carolina that continue to assume the cost of repairing or cleaning up certain properties when a landowner fails to upkeep structures on the property, an SCAC policy position. H. 5036 would allow counties to recover costs associated with repairs, improvements, or demolition and clean-up of structures on commercial or industrial properties falling under Sections 108, 109, and 110 of the International Property Maintenance Code, collected in the same manner as property taxes. The bill provides for a five-year installment for the payment of the lien, after which the property could be sold by the county at a tax sale if the debt is unpaid, and clarifies that if a property is sold by the owner prior to all five installments becoming due, the entire balance of the lien would be due and payable as property taxes at the time of sale or disposition of the property. H. 5036 received a favorable report from a Senate Labor, Commerce and Industry subcommittee and will move ahead to the full committee. Thanks to Dorchester County Council member David Chinnis for coming to Columbia and supporting the passage of H. 5036 out of subcommittee.
Public Safety, Corrections and Judicial
Law Enforcement Officer Workers’ Compensation for Psychological Injuries – H. 3939. This bill, as originally introduced, 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’s policy position is to: (1) Oppose legislation that would amend § 42-1-160 to reduce the standard for mental-mental claims; and (2) Support legislation that would provide preventative mental training and funding to ensure that there is health coverage for all first responders needing treatment for mental injuries. SCAC and other stakeholders worked out a compromise amendment that would reduce the cost to counties. However, the bill as amended has been placed on the contested calendar of the Senate.
Law Enforcement Certification, Reporting, and Training – H. 3050. As originally drafted, the bill would provide that, beginning on July 1, 2021, a non-certified law enforcement officer shall only perform his duties while accompanied by a certified law enforcement officer. As amended by the House, H. 3050 would also add that failure by an officer to intervene when observing another officer physically or psychologically abusing members of the public or prisoners falls under the definition of “misconduct.” Also, the bill defines “chokehold” and provides that such a method of restraint would be limited to justifiable uses only. Further, the Law Enforcement Training Council would establish required minimum standards for all law enforcement agencies, including policies relating to “no-knock” warrants, implementation of body-worn cameras, vehicle pursuit standards, and more. A Compliance Division would be created that would inspect, at least once every three years, the policies and procedures for every law enforcement agency. The bill would also provide for civil fines if an agency is non-compliant and would allow for certification suspension of every officer within an agency until the agency becomes compliant with the relevant policies and procedures. Finally, H. 3050 would require candidates for law enforcement certification to submit evidence that the candidate has signed an attestation form committing to ethical policing. The Senate made some technical amendments to H. 3050, gave it third reading and sent it back to the House.
Opioid Recovery Fund – H. 5182. This bill is part of the requirement of the opioid lawsuit settlement for this state and the 46 counties and 43 municipalities that were a part of the lawsuit. The bill establishes the opioid recovery fund accounts with the state treasurer. It also creates the South Carolina Opioid Recovery Fund Board which will administer and distribute the funds. The Board will be composed of nine members, five of which are appointed by the Governor from a list provided by the South Carolina Association of Counties, with at least one member selected from each of the South Carolina public health regions as defined by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. The House recalled the bill from the Judiciary Committee, and amended it so that that the Governor appoints three from the list provided by SCAC and the Speaker of the House and President of the Senate each appoint one from that list. The bill was given third reading and sent to the Senate.
Immigration Enforcement – S. 1032. This bill would repeal the Illegal Immigration Enforcement Unit within the SC Department of Public Safety and move the unit to the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) to enforce state and federal immigration laws. SLED would be required to enter into a Memorandum of Agreement with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The bill would also allow counties and local law enforcement agencies to enforce applicable state and federal immigration laws. The bill is now pending in the House Judiciary Committee.
Fitness to Stand Trial – H. 3773 and S. 79. These companion bills would establish restoration treatment as an option for individuals who are found unfit to stand trial, but who are likely to become fit in the foreseeable future. Currently, if an individual is found to be unfit to stand trial but likely to be fit in the foreseeable future, the individual is hospitalized for up to 60 days. After this 60-day period, if the individual is still found to be unfit to stand trial, the solicitor responsible for prosecution shall initiate judicial admission proceedings to have the individual involuntarily hospitalized. This bill would allow individuals found unfit to stand trial who are likely to become fit in the foreseeable future to undergo restoration treatment provided by the Department of Mental Health (DMH) for up to 180 days. This bill also gives DMH the discretion to provide restoration treatment at a hospital or detention facility if an individual is detained, or in a hospital or outpatient basis if the individual is on bond. The Senate amended H. 3773 so that a detention center has the option of whether or not to allow a detained individual to receive the restoration treatment while in the detention facility. They also amended the bill to clarify that a court can still impose all of the normal provisions in a bond for an individual receiving restoration treatment. S. 79 was recommitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The House concurred with the amendments to H. 3773 and it has been enrolled for ratification.
Corrections Officer Age – S. 1092. This bill would require a detention or correctional officer to be at least 18 years of age at the time of employment. The Senate adopted an amendment to exempt correctional officers employed by the Department of Juvenile Justice from this requirement. A House Judiciary subcommittee gave the bill a favorable report.
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. The Senate debated this bill in special order status and amended it with some of the following provisions:
- The State Election Commission is to be composed of five members to be appointed by the Governor, with advice and consent of the Senate;
- A candidate must not file more than one statement of intention of candidacy for a single office for the same election;
- A candidate must not be nominated by more than one political party for a single office for the same election;
- For the 2022 statewide elections, each county board of voter registration and elections must identify each early voting center it intends to utilize and provide the locations to the State Election Commission Executive Director as follows: (1) for the primary election, no later than May 24, 2022; and (2) for the general election, no later than July 1, 2022. The Executive Director must approve any additions or changes to these early voting centers, and may direct the movement of early voting centers to ensure proper distribution throughout each county;
- For statewide general elections, the early voting centers must be open from 8:30 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. on each day of the early voting period;
- For any election that is not a statewide general election or primary runoff election, the early voting centers must be open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. during the early voting period; and
- For any primary runoff election, the early voting centers must be open on the Wednesday through Friday immediately preceding the election and must be open from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.
The Senate gave H. 4919 third reading as amended and sent it back to the House.
"South Carolina Religious Freedom Act" – H. 3105. This legislation would designate religious services that take place in "houses of worship" as essential services during a declared state of emergency. As a result, religious services, as defined under the bill, would be allowed to continue operating throughout the duration of any such state of emergency. Any "houses of worship" that are denied their right to worship in such conditions would be provided the right to seek declaratory and injunctive relief in addition to compensatory damages for pecuniary and nonpecuniary losses. The House concurred in the Senate amendments to the bill and H. 3105 has been enrolled for ratification.
Vaccine Mandates – H. 3126. This bill would prohibit political subdivisions from enforcing a federal COVID-19 vaccine mandate or enacting a COVID-19 vaccine mandate. The House concurred in Senate amendments to the bill and it has been enrolled for ratification.
Medical Marijuana – S. 150. The amended bill establishes the "SC Compassionate Care Act." The South Carolina Medical Cannabis Program creates a seed-to-sale system to provide for the sale of medical cannabis to treat a qualifying patient's debilitating medical condition or alleviate symptoms when recommended by a physician. SCAC's policy position is to oppose the legalization of medicinal marijuana due to the lack of FDA approval. S. 150 is pending second reading on the House contested calendar.
Family Leave – S. 11 This bill provides any person employed by the state, its departments, agencies, or institutions with six weeks of paid parental leave for the birth of a child. Two weeks of paid parental leave are provided for the co-parent of a newborn or for the placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care. The House recalled the bill from the Ways and Means Committee, gave it third reading, and S. 11 has now been enrolled for ratification.
Veterans Service Organization Burial Honor Guard Support Fund – S. 968. This bill establishes the "Veterans Service Organization Burial Honor Guard Support Fund" as a new fund created in the State Treasury. Revenues of the fund may include gifts, grants, federal funds, donations, and appropriations from the General Assembly. These funds are to be used to offset costs paid by organizations that provide honor guard burial details at the funerals of qualifying South Carolina veterans. A House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs subcommittee amended the $100 cap provision in the bill to “no less than $100” and gave the bill a favorable report as amended.
Coroner Anatomical Gift - S. 697. S. 697 clarifies that a coroner must cooperate expeditiously with a procurement organization to maximize the opportunity to recover anatomical gifts for the purpose of transplantation, therapy, research, or education, even when performing an investigation. The Senate amended the bill to require the coroner to have a teleconference with the procurement organization as well as a forensic pathologist to ensure that there has been a collaborative review of any potential decline of the anatomical gift. There are only a few counties that employ a forensic pathologist, and so this will be an additional cost to most of the counties. A House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs subcommittee gave the bill an unfavorable report.
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.
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."
H. 5249 — Repeals Section 59-111-50 relating to the prohibition on the state or its political subdivisions employing persons who default on certain student loans.
H. 5252 — Encourages economic growth in South Carolina through the establishment of competitive electric rates, terms, and conditions for certain qualifying commercial and industrial customers seeking to locate in South Carolina.
H. 5275 — Designates April 20 of each year as "420 Day" and directs the Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services to pardon at least 20 percent of persons convicted of simple possession of marijuana on that date each year.
H. 5278 — Provides for the continuing authority to pay the expenses of state government if the 2022-2023 fiscal year begins without a General Appropriations Act for that year in effect and provides exceptions.
The following bills have been passed by both chambers and have been sent to the Governor for approval or veto:
(R155) H. 3105 — Provides for the protection of the exercise of religion during a state of emergency.
(R156) H. 3126 — Provides that the state or any political subdivision may not enact a COVID-19 vaccination mandate.
(R158) H. 3524 — Provides that the provisions of Section 58-9-2030 and of Chapter 2, Title 28 do not apply to private, for-profit pipeline companies, including publicly traded for-profit companies, that are not defined within Title 58 as a public utility.
(R159) H. 3773 — Extends the length of time certain persons unfit to stand trial may be hospitalized for restoration to 180 days.