Friday Report - April 23, 2021
The House continued to move bills along on their calendar this week, while the Senate spent most of the week debating what to do with Santee Cooper (see below). The Senate will begin debate on the budget on Tuesday of next week. We will discuss the budget as passed by the Senate Finance Committee as well as other bills of interest below.
As discussed last week, 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. SCAC has posted information about those directives.
Revenue, Finance, and Economic Development
1. H. 4100 – State Budget.
The Senate Finance Committee finished their work on the budget this week and passed H. 4100 out of committee. The committee increased funding to the Local Government Fund (LGF) by $17.92 million statewide. This amount is slightly more than what was passed by the House. Here is a link to a chart outlining the difference between the funding amounts for each county. 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. The Committee also raised library per capita funding from $2 to $2.25, an SCAC policy position. The Committee also included $47.6 million in their version of the budget to cover a 2 percent base pay increase for all state employees and $14.6 million to cover annual well visits for state employees.
Other funding of note in the Senate Finance Committee’s budget includes:
- $15 million for destination specific tourism
- $5 million for tourism advertising
- $3.784 million for the Firefighter Cancer Benefit Plan
- $500,000 for PTSD treatment for first responders
- $10 million for broadband expansion
- $46 million to the Office of Resiliency for Disaster Relief
- $5 million under Rural Infrastructure Authority for a Water and Sewer Regionalization Fund.
Please thank the members of the Senate Finance Committee for keeping their promise to counties and working to return much needed funding to county government throughout the state.
Here are some provisos of interest that were added or amended by the Senate Finance Committee:
49.pfe – PARD Fund Expiration. Added by the Senate Finance Committee, this proviso extends PARD funds which were scheduled to expire in Fiscal Year 2020-21 until Fiscal Year 2021-22.
60.ir – Intake and Review Funding. Added by the Senate Finance Committee, this proviso provides for the distribution of Intake and Review Program funds to solicitors. It directs that the first $1,248,000 be distributed as follows: $78,000 to each circuit with the remaining $2,054,000 distributed based on the average incoming caseload for each county for the prior three fiscal years. It also directs that in the current fiscal year, of the additional amounts appropriated, the first $48,000 be distributed at $3,000 to each circuit and the remaining funds be distributed based on the average incoming caseload for each county for the prior three fiscal years.
61.1 – Defense of Indigents Formula. As passed by the House Ways and Means Committee, this proviso would provide for the distribution to the Defense of Indigents funds and direct that counties contribute no less for indigent defense than they contributed as of July 1, 2005. The Senate Finance Committee amended the proviso further to delete the requirement that the State set aside $3 million for the Death Penalty Trial Fund and to add that the state shall authorize the Commission on Indigent Defense to receive up to or spend no more than $3 million for the Death Penalty Trial Fund and to receive up to or spend no more than $2.5 million to pay the fees and expenses of private counsel appointed in noncapital cases. The Senate added $3.6 million to the budget to fund the proviso. The Senate version also directs that counties contribute no less than they contributed as of July 1, 2020.
63.icf – In-Car Camera Funding. Added by the Senate Finance Committee, this proviso authorizes the Department of Public Safety to establish an In-Car Video Camera Fund to assist law enforcement agencies in purchasing and maintaining in-car video cameras and ongoing costs related to the maintenance and storage of data recorded by in-car video cameras. It also directs the Public Safety Coordinating Council to oversee the funds and establish an application and disbursement of funds process that gives priority to law enforcement agencies who prioritize DUI enforcement activity.
92D.cwe – Catastrophic Weather Event. This proviso was added by the Senate Finance Committee to direct that improvements to real or personal property used as a residence, such as a mobile home or manufactured housing unit, resulting from damage caused by the catastrophic weather event in October 2015, Hurricane Matthew of 2016, or Hurricane Florence of 2018, after the event and before June 30, 2022, is not considered an improvement and may not be reassessed at a higher rate as a result of the improvement. It also directs that for the current fiscal year, an eligible property’s tax value shall remain the same unless assessable transfer of interest occurs.
98.9 – Penalties for Non-Reporting. Directs that if a municipality does not submit audited financial statements within 13 months of the end of their fiscal year, the State Treasurer must withhold their state payments until the statement is received. It also provides penalties for deficiencies and delinquent reports. The Senate Finance Committee suspended the penalty provisions during Fiscal Year 2021-22 and authorized and directed the State Treasurer to release all funds withheld from municipalities in previous fiscal years due to a municipality not submitting the required audited financial statements or financial information.
105.afs – Audited Financial Statements. Added by the Senate Finance Committee, this proviso directs the State Auditor’s Office to issue a statewide contract for audit services to facilitate timely reporting from municipalities and to convene a working group of stakeholders to develop municipalities auditing requirements and to make recommendations to the General Assembly.
109.ef – Electronic Filing. Added by the Senate Finance Committee, this proviso allows the Department of Revenue to require a statement subject to penalties or perjury in order for certain applications for licenses or permits to be filed electronically.
109.rd – Referendum Notification. Added by the Senate Finance Committee, this proviso requires a county or municipal election commission to notify the Department of Revenue 60 days before a referendum on imposing a local sales tax or local option permit.
117.161 – Statewide Mobile Health Units Coordination Project. The Senate Finance Committee version allows the SC Center for Rural and Primary Healthcare to provide coordination and requested technical assistance to mobile units to coordinate statewide delivery or services to increase access to preventative and diagnostic health care and to reduce health inequalities for rural, vulnerable, underserved, and displaced populations. The House Ways and Means Committee version directs the SC Center for Rural and Primary Healthcare to provide technical assistance and coordination to mobile units for the purpose listed above.
117.ap – Agribusiness Processor. Added by the Senate Finance Committee, this proviso exempts for the current fiscal year, local and state sales tax collection for material handling and construction materials on agribusiness facilities that invest at least $100 million in the state.
117.hp – Heirs’ Property Study Committee. Added by the Senate Finance Committee, this proviso creates the Heirs’ Property Study Committee to examine the current and prospective methods to address heirs’ property issues in South Carolina.
2. 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. The Senate gave H. 4064 second and third readings this week as amended and the bill has been returned to the House.
3. 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 Senate further amended the bill, the House concurred with the amendments, and the bill is now enrolled for ratification.
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 testified in opposition to this bill pursuant to our policy position. The House Judiciary Committee amended the bill. The new bill language would do the following:
- Exempt first responders from having to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that stress, mental injury, or mental illness diagnosed as an anxiety disorder, conduct disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, sleep-wake disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder as described in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association and arises from the first responder's involvement in a significant traumatic experience or situation in the course and scope of his employment stems from conditions that are extraordinary or unusual relative to the normal conditions of employment for purposes of collecting workers’ compensation.
- Define “first responders” as law enforcement officers and firefighters, including volunteers.
- Define “significant traumatic experience” to mean one of 11 defined events. The 11 compensable events in the new language are:
- Witnessing a deceased minor or the death of a minor;
- Witnessing an injury to a minor who subsequently died before or upon arrival at a hospital emergency department;
- Participating in the physical treatment of an injured minor who subsequently died before or upon arrival at a hospital emergency department;
- Manually transporting an injured minor who subsequently died before or upon arrival at a hospital emergency department;
- Seeing for oneself a decedent whose death involved grievous bodily harm;
- Witnessing a death, including suicide, that involved grievous bodily harm;
- Witnessing a homicide regardless of whether the homicide was criminal or excusable, including murder, mass killing (killing three or more individuals in a single incident), voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, and self-defense;
- Witnessing an injury, including an attempted suicide, to a person who subsequently died before or upon arrival at a hospital emergency department if the person was injured with grievous bodily harm;
- Participating in the physical treatment of an injury, including an attempted suicide, to a person who subsequently died before or upon arrival at a hospital emergency department if the person was injured with grievous bodily harm;
- Manually transporting a person who was injured, including by attempted suicide, and subsequently died before or upon arrival at a hospital emergency department if the person was injured with grievous bodily harm; or
- Using deadly force or being subjected to deadly force in the course of the employment.
- Defines “grievous bodily harm” as seriously bodily injury including fractured or dislocated bones, deep cuts, torn members of the body, serious damages to internal organs, and other severe bodily injuries.
H. 3939 will have a significant impact on county government and is now on the House calendar.
Law Enforcement Certification, Reporting, and Training – H. 3050. This bill would make a few law enforcement reforms. 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. The House Judiciary Committee amended the bill by adding several sections. Pursuant to the committee amendment, the bill would add failure to intervene when observing another officer physically or psychologically abusing members of the public or prisoners to the definition of “misconduct.” Second, “chokehold” would be defined and the use of such a method would be limited to justifiable uses only. 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. Finally, the bill would 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. H. 3050, as amended, is now on the House calendar.
Coroner Continuing Education – H. 3369. H. 3369 would require coroners and medical examiners to complete at least one hour of continuing education every three years on the identification of deaths caused by opiates. This bill received second and a third reading in the House.
Calculation of Time Served (GPS) – H. 3010. This bill would provide that a prisoner may be given full credit against a sentence for the time spent under GPS monitoring. The House Judiciary Criminal Laws subcommittee gave the bill a favorable report.
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 property taxes to the counties. A road use fee is implemented in lieu of all ad valorem taxes. 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. The Senate gave H. 3689 a second and third reading this week and the bill was returned to the House.
Electronic Waste (E-Waste) Sunset Extension – H. 4035. This legislation would extend the sunset on the South Carolina Manufacturer Responsibility and Consumer Convenience Information Technology Equipment Collection and Recovery Act and applicable regulations until December 31, 2023. This is an SCAC policy position. The bill would allow a stakeholder working group, including SCAC staff, to continue pursuing efforts to reform the current program and to alleviate the financial burden faced by many counties in storing e-waste. H. 4035 received a favorable report from the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee and will be placed on the Senate calendar.
Advanced Recycling – S. 525. This legislation pertains to Advanced Recycling and Advanced Recycling Facilities. SCAC expressed support to members and staff to require additional financial assurances for these facilities through a potential amendment that could be offered at the next hearing on the bill. In its current form, the legislation includes:
- A provision allowing DHEC to review/consider the environmental compliance history of an applicant or person who operates an Advanced Recycling Facility in making a determination to issue/reissue/deny/revoke/modify/suspend a permit or to prohibit the transfer of a permit.
- A provision requiring an Advanced Recycling Facility to demonstrate adequate financial responsibility by establishing a cash trust fund under DHEC or a security bond must be issued for which DHEC is the sole beneficiary in an amount sufficient to meet all reasonable foreseeable costs of clean-up, environmental remediation, fire-fighting, contamination, etc.
- A provision requiring DHEC to issue a report to the General Assembly two years after the Act’s effective date that includes an analysis of an Advanced Recycling Facility.
- A provision that terminates the above sections of the Act on the third anniversary of the effective date of the Act.
S. 525 received a favorable report from a House Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs subcommittee and will now move to the full committee.
Billboard Relocations Involving Highway Projects – S. 667. This bill would provide options and parameters to adjust or relocate outdoor advertising signs due to highway projects in order to restore visibility and would provide for the costs of adjustment or relocation. An owner of a conforming outdoor advertising sign, whose property interests in the sign are acquired by a state or local highway project along an interstate or federal-aid primary routes, would have the option to relocate the sign within 500 feet of the original site under certain circumstances. Alteration or relocation costs would be capped at $5 million and would be paid by the SC Department of Transportation or the political subdivision that is responsible for the highway project. The House Education and Public Works Transportation Committee gave the bill a favorable report and the bill is pending second reading on the House calendar.
Santee Cooper – H. 3194 & S. 464. The Senate debated a pair of bills this week relating to Santee Cooper and voted to reject a sale and instead, move forward with reform measures. Although much of the debate focused on S. 464, the Senate ultimately amended H. 3194 to implement several reform measures and agreed to replace Santee Cooper’s 12-member board at a gradual pace starting in 2022. An exception was included in this provision to allow for the reappointment of directors who were selected after January 1, 2018. Santee Cooper would also be subject to similar oversight processes that for-profit electric providers must go through. H. 3194 received a third reading and was returned to the House as amended.
Watercraft Electronic Lien System – H. 3884. This legislation would authorize the Department of Natural Resources to use an electronic lien system to transmit and receive certificate of title for businesses and lenders engaged in the sale of watercraft was given a favorable report by the committee. The certificate of title record must contain the same information noted on a paper certificate of title. The bill would also allow for the collection of an electronic transmission fee not to exceed $5 for each transaction. H. 3884 received a favorable report by the Senate Fish, Game and Forestry Committee and will be placed on the Senate calendar.
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 the House Education and Public Works Committee and is pending second reading on the House calendar.
County Government and Intergovernmental
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 bill received a second and a third reading in the House this week.
Tax Levy Referendums – H. 4187. This bill would require tax levy referendums to be conducted at the same time as the next general election. The House gave the bill a second and a third reading this week.
Examination of County Offices – H. 3124. This bill would repeal Section 1-7-730, which requires the Attorney General and solicitors to annually examine the condition of the offices of the clerk of court, the sheriff, and the register of deeds. The House understands this is not a necessary section and gave the bill a second and a third reading this week.
Fusion Voting – H. 3206. This bill would prohibit a candidate from filing more than one statement of intention of candidacy for a single election. Further, a candidate could not be nominated by more than one political party for a single office for the same election. The House Judiciary Election Laws Subcommittee gave the bill a favorable report.
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. 763 — Enacts the “Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Claims Transparency and Claims Legitimacy Act.”
S. 764 — A Joint Resolution that prohibits the enforcement of Section 16-7-110, which deals with wearing mask to conceal your identity, so as to allow a person to wear a mask as a means of limiting exposure to respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
S. 765 — Amends Section 16-7-110 so that the prohibition against wearing a mask to conceal your identity does not apply during an active pandemic or epidemic in this state, or during a declared state of emergency in this state.
H. 4222 — Provides that any homeowner receiving the homestead property tax exemption may receive an exemption for any increase in the fair market value of the property as a result of a reassessment of property taxes.
H. 4229 — Establishes the “South Carolina Fairness, Accountability, and Integrity in Redistricting Act.”
H. 4232 — Amends the Constitution to provide for an independent citizen’s redistricting commission to be known as the “South Carolina Citizens Redistricting Commission.”
H. 4244 — Establishes the “South Carolina Citizens Redistricting Commission.”
H. 4246 — Authorizes county and municipal animal control officers to carry firearms.
H. 4248 — Prohibits a county detention center or municipal jail from interrupting, recording, monitoring, or divulging telephone communications between an inmate and another person under certain circumstances.
H. 4251 — Reduces the time before a person can be eligible to hold a popularly elected office in this state after completing certain criminal sentences from 15 years to one year.
H. 4252 — Makes certain changes to the Enterprise Zone Act of 1995.
H. 4255 — Provides for certain security-related requirements to safeguard the voting process, equipment, and ballots.
The following bills have been passed by both chambers and have been sent to the Governor for approval or veto:
(R. 26) H. 3770. Authorizes the use of federal funds disbursed to the state pursuant to the federal “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021” for an emergency rental assistance program.
(R. 27) H. 3726. Excludes the amounts received by a buydown between a retailer and manufacturer or wholesaler from the definition of gross proceeds for purposes of determining the sales and use tax.
(R. 30) S. 271. Extends the provisions of the South Carolina Abandoned Buildings Revitalization Act until December 31, 2025.
(R. 33) S. 704. Provides for a return to five-day in-person classroom instruction for the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school years, suspends the earnings limitation cap for certain members of the South Carolina Retirement System.