Friday Report - April 30, 2021
The Senate passed the budget bill this week while the House continues to work to clear its calendar before the General Assembly adjourns on Thursday, May 13th. However, the House introduced a Sine Die Resolution this week (H. 4285). If the Sine Die Resolution is adopted by the Senate, the General Assembly will meet several times in the month of June to complete any unfinished work on the budget, take up conference reports, Governor vetoes, and a few other specified items. They will also likely meet in the fall to adopt redistricting plans.
As a reminder, county funding allocations from the federal government should be distributed within the next week or two. For your county to receive its allocation it must have an active SAM registration and valid DUNS number. Information about this can be found on SCAC’s website.
Revenue, Finance, and Economic Development
1. H. 4100 – State Budget.
The Senate finished their debate on the budget this week and gave H. 4100 third reading. The Senate increased funding to the Local Government Fund (LGF) by $17.92 million statewide. This is the same amount that was approved by the Senate Finance Committee. This funding amount 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 funding amounts for the LGF are slightly different in the House and Senate versions of the budget. View a table showing that difference for each county. The Senate also raised library per capita funding from $2 to $2.25, an SCAC policy position. The Senate also included $47.6 million in their version of the budget to cover a 2 percent base pay increase for all state employees. In addition, the state health plan premiums will increase 2.6 percent. Counties will be responsible for funding this increase for county employees. The Senate also approved annual well visits as a benefit under the state health plan.
Other funding of note in the Senate’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 for keeping their promise to counties and working to return much needed funding to county government throughout the state.
Last week we reported on provisos adopted by the Senate Finance Committee. Below is a list of provisos of note adopted this week on the Senate Floor:
Amd. 11 – Storm Water Conveyance Systems. This proviso forbids DHEC from prohibiting against maintenance, repair, or reestablishment activities performed by an approved organization, including political subdivisions, on storm water conveyance systems that are located within critical areas.
Amd. 13 – E-Waste. This amendment deletes proviso 34.58 which extends the E-Waste statute until the end of FY 2021-2022. SCAC asked for this deletion once H. 4035, discussed below, received second reading in the Senate, as the proviso was no longer necessary.
Amd. 38 – Firearms. This proviso prohibits any law enforcement agency that receives state or local funds from enforcing a federal law, regulation, statute, executive order, or procedure related to firearms put into effect after January 1, 2021, if any such federal action requires the seizure of a firearm, firearm part, or firearm component solely because of its classification or type of weapon.
Amd. 43B – Affordable Housing Study Committee. This proviso creates a study committee charged with studying the housing shortage’s affect on affordable housing in the state and what factors are limiting affordable housing. The committee is comprised of 12 members, including a representative from SCAC, appointed by the Speaker of the House.
Amd. 51 – York County Emissions. This proviso prohibits DHEC from allowing an increase in permitted or actual emissions for any facilities in York County handling or processing pulp or paper products.
Amd. 78 – Pipeline Eminent Domain. This proviso extends the moratorium on eminent domain by any private, for-profit pipeline company that are not identified as a public utility through FY 2021-2022.
2. Legally Separated Assessment Ratio – S. 527. This bill defines “legally separated” for purposes of the certificate contained in the application for the special 4 percent assessment ratio for owner-occupied residential property, an SCAC policy position. S. 527 received a favorable report from a House Ways and Means subcommittee.
3. Property Tax Valuation Adjustments – H. 4243. This bill directs the county tax assessor or the County Board of Assessment Appeals to order the county auditor to make appropriate adjustments in the valuation and assessment of any real property and improvements which have sustained damage as a result of fire, flooding, or a hurricane. This adjustment is currently only available for property damaged by fire. A taxpayer must apply for this adjustment prior to payment of the tax. A House Ways and Means subcommittee amended the bill to include damage from tornadoes and significant wind events and gave the bill a favorable report as amended.
4. 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 House concurred in the Senate amendments to H. 4064 and the bill has been enrolled for ratification.
5. Disabled Veteran Property Tax Exemption – H. 3669. This bill allows a veteran who is permanently and totally disabled to claim the property tax exemption for disabled veterans beginning in the year in which the disability occurs. This exemption is administered by the Department of Revenue. A House Ways and Means subcommittee gave this bill a favorable report.
6. Retirement Beneficiary – S. 658. This bill would specify that a member of the state retirement system who is not retired, may nominate a contingent beneficiary for receipt of payment on death of the member within all state retirement systems. Currently, only active contributing members may nominate a contingent beneficiary. This bill would allow those members who are not an active contributing member, but are not yet retired, to make this nomination. This bill would also make technical clean-ups and provides conforming language for the Public Employee Benefits Authority (PEBA) and the retirement and insurance programs. S. 658 received a favorable report from a House Ways and Means subcommittee.
7. Criminal Background Checks – S. 609. This bill authorizes state agencies and political subdivisions to obtain state and national criminal history background checks and investigations performed by the State Law Enforcement Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation on all employees and contractors with access to federal tax information to comply with Internal Revenue Service Publication 1075. S. 609 received a favorable report from a House Ways and Means subcommittee.
Public Safety, Corrections and Judicial
1. 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. 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 serious bodily injury including fractured or dislocated bones, deep cuts, torn members of the body, serious damages to internal organs, and other severe bodily injuries.
This week, the House adopted the committee amendment explained above and another amendment that would require a law enforcement officer who has received a workers’ compensation benefit and who is later convicted of an unlawful killing to pay the benefit back to his employer. The bill passed the House and is now in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Please thank Reps. Ott, White, and Lowe for asking important questions on the House floor regarding the financial impact this legislation will have on counties.
2. Open Carry with Training Act – H. 3094. This bill would enact the “Open Carry with Training Act.” This Act would allow a permit holder to carry a concealable weapon openly on his person and openly about his person in a vehicle. The House amended the bill to provide that a public or private employer may prohibit a permit holder from openly carrying upon the premises. The House also amended the bill to provide that counties may temporarily restrict otherwise lawful open carrying of a firearm on public property when the county issues a permit to allow a public protest, rally, fair, parade, festival, or other organized event. A county exercising such authority would need to be specific in their restriction and provide notice when feasible. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee gave the bill a favorable report and H. 3094 has been placed on the Senate calendar in Special Order status.
3. Marriage Age – S. 591. This bill would increase the minimum age a person may enter into marriage to 18 years old. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee gave the bill a favorable report, and the bill will be on the next full committee agenda.
4. 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. H. 3369 has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Land Use, Natural Resources and Transportation
1. Local Government Planning – S. 528. This legislation would mandate that municipalities and counties must implement and expedite administrative and permitting requirements relating to development. Although the preamble of the bill states that the goal of the legislation is to promote access to attainable housing, the incentives that local governments must provide, and the expedited permitting requirements would apply to all types of housing and development across the state. SCAC testified this week in opposition to the bill and expressed major concerns regarding a 10 percent cap that would be placed on the fees and taxes that are charged to developers on all residential construction. Members of a Senate Judiciary subcommittee also shared concerns on the bill and S. 528 was carried over.
2. 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 second reading this week in the Senate.
3. 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, decontamination, 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 the House Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee and is pending a second reading on the contested calendar.
4. 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. S. 667 received third reading in the House and is now enrolled for ratification.
5. 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 House concurred in the Senate amendments to H. 3689 and the bill is now enrolled for ratification.
6. 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 is pending third reading on the Senate calendar.
7. 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 is pending second reading on the House contested calendar.
County Government and Intergovernmental Relations
1. County Veteran Affairs Officers – H. 3416. 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. The House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee gave the bill a favorable report.
2. Vaping and Tobacco Ordinances – H. 3681. This legislation would provide that after December 31, 2020, political subdivisions would be preempted from regulating the ingredients, flavors, or licensing of cigarettes, electronic smoking devices, e-liquid, vapor products, tobacco products, or alternative nicotine products. However, the use of these products in public areas would still be subject to local laws and ordinances. SCAC previously testified in opposition to the bill. H. 3681 was polled out of the Senate Medical Affairs Committee and is now contested on the Senate calendar.
3. Tax Levy Referendums – H. 4187. This bill would require tax levy referendums to be conducted at the same time as the next general election. H. 4187 has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
4. 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. H. 3124 has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
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. 774 — Provides for an income tax credit to a property owner who encumbers his property with a perpetual recreational trail easement.
H. 4268 — Prohibits public bodies from releasing the names or other personal identifying information of jurors.
H. 4283 — Enacts the “Judicial Emergencies Act.”
H. 4284 — Enacts the “Caution Against Racially Exploitative Non-Emergencies (CAREN) Act.”
H. 4285 — Enacts the Sine Die Resolution for the General Assembly such that after the General Assembly adjourns on May 13th, it shall return on June 8th and meet up to June 10th to address certain specific matters. The General Assembly will return again on June 21st and meet until June 23rd to address certain matters. Finally, the General Assembly will reconvene again on June 29th through June 30th. The General Assembly will only meet after these dates subject to the call of the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House.
The following bill has been passed by both chambers and has been sent to the Governor for approval or veto:
(R. 39) S. 147. Enacts the “South Carolina COVID-19 Liability Immunity Act.”