This week in the General Assembly, the Senate completed its debate and passed the Certificate of Need bill, S. 164, and debated and passed a fetal heartbeat bill, S. 474. The House debated and passed an education bill, H. 3728, that would prohibit certain concepts from being taught in public schools and professional development. Bills of interest are discussed below:
Public Safety, Corrections, and Judicial
SCAC Director of Governmental Affairs Kent Lesesne testifies before a House Judiciary subcommittee.
– H. 3532
& S. 368
H. 3532 would provide for a five-year sentencing enhancement for persons who commit certain additional crimes while they are out on bond, and it prohibits bond for certain crimes. It would also require a full cash bond for certain crimes. SCAC testified about concerns of the financial impact this would have on county detention centers due to the jail population increase that would be created by this bill. The House Judiciary Criminal Laws subcommittee amended the bill with a strike and insert that allows some discretion in setting bond along with electronic monitoring on a subsequent offense committed while out on bond, but still requires a full cash bond for certain crimes.
H. 3532 received a favorable report as amended and will be on the next full committee’s agenda.
S. 367 would amend the criteria that must be considered by a court in setting bond for a person. The bill would also restrict electronic monitoring to licensed professional bondsmen, surety bondsmen, or runners. However, this restriction would not prevent the state, county, municipality, or division of the federal government from conducting electronic monitoring. S. 367 would also change the reporting requirements of bondsmen.
S. 368 would amend the criteria that must be considered by a court in setting bond for a person and would provide that if a person is out on bond for committing a violent offense or a felony involving a firearm and commits a subsequent violent offense or felony offense involving a firearm, the court may deny bond altogether, or the bond must be a full cash bond. SCAC also testified on its concerns of the financial impact S.368 would have on county detention centers because of the increase in jail populations created by this bill. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee carried over S. 367 and S. 368 for additional information.
County Government and Intergovernmental Relations
State Health Facility Licensure Act (Certificate of Need)
– S. 164
. This bill would overhaul the State Certification of Need and Health Facility Licensure Act by repealing the Certificate of Need (CON) provision. 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.
Although S. 164 repeals the CON provision, the bill now imposes the following conditions:
- Defines the word "hospital;”
- Provides that the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) must still obtain a CON or licensure;
- Provides that nursing homes must still obtain a CON from the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) before undertaking certain health services;
- Creates a "Certificate of Need Study Committee" to examine the effect of the repeal of the CON program on the quality and quantity of access to healthcare in rural portions of South Carolina;
- Creates a severability clause;
- Provides that a person or health care facility is required to obtain a CON before undertaking the construction or establishment of an ambulatory surgical facility with more than eight operating rooms; and
- Provides a hospital employment agreement provision.
The Senate gave the S. 164 second and third readings before sending the bill to the House.
– S. 414
. This bill would prohibit political subdivisions from enacting any laws, ordinances, or rules pertaining to the ingredients, flavors, or licensing of cigarettes, electronic smoking devices, e-liquid, vapor products, tobacco products, or alternative nicotine products. A Senate Medical Affairs subcommittee gave S. 414 a favorable report, and the bill will be on the next full committee's agenda.
Freedom of Information Act
– H. 3327
. This bill would require the circuit court to make a final ruling in an action brought to enforce the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) no later than one year from the filing date of the action. It would also make a mandatory award of attorney’s fees to a party that prevails against a public body, but it would prohibit a public body from being awarded attorney’s fees if they are the prevailing party in a FOIA lawsuit. The House Judiciary Constitutional Laws subcommittee adjourned before taking up H. 3327, but the bill will be on the next subcommittee’s agenda.
Veterans’ Trust Fund
– S. 317
. This bill reorganizes the Board of Trustees for the Veterans' Trust Fund of South Carolina by reducing the number of board members from 19 to 11. The Senate Family and Veterans’ Services Committee amended the bill this week to provide that the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint the board consisting of seven members that are selected at large, two members that are currently serving as County Veterans’ Affairs Officers, and two members that represent veterans' service organizations. The amendment further provides that of the 11 appointed members, at least six members must be United States Armed Forces veterans. The Secretary of the Department of Veterans' Affairs shall serve as the executive director of the Trust Fund and an ex officio non-voting member of the board. Further, the bill provides that individuals appointed by the Governor shall serve four-year terms, and the remaining initial appointees shall serve two-year terms. No board member shall serve more than two consecutive terms or eight continuous years, whichever is greater. The Senate gave S. 317 a favorable report and the bill is pending second reading on the Senate calendar.
Land Use, Natural Resources and Transportation
Beach Preservation Trust Fund
– S. 282
. This legislation would provide a dedicated state fund for beach preservation that would serve as a possible financial resource for cities and counties with public beaches. S. 282 renames the “South Carolina Beach Restoration and Improvement Trust Fund” to the “South Carolina Beach Preservation Trust Fund” and moves its administration from the DHEC Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management to the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism (PRT).
Under the current proposal, the General Assembly would be required to appropriate an amount equal to 25 percent of the State General Fund’s portion of Admission Tax (A-Tax) revenue to the trust fund annually beginning in FY 2023-24. PRT would be charged with administering the fund and would approve and rank proposed projects according to specified criteria. Trust fund monies must be allocated for public beach restoration and maintenance or for improvements to public beach accesses and must be matched equally by the municipality or county, or a combination thereof, in which the project site is located. S. 282 received a favorable report from a Senate Fish, Game and Forestry subcommittee and will be on the next full committee’s agenda.
South Carolina Waterways Protection Act
– S. 484
. This legislation would establish the “South Carolina Waterways Protection Fund” to be used for purposes such as the establishment of a grant program under the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to provide funds to public and private applicants for the removal of abandoned or unattended watercraft. A Senate Fish, Game and Forestry subcommittee amended the bill to provide that the fund must receive a $3 “waterways protection fee” that is attached to each county’s tax notice for watercraft as provided in Section 12-37-3215. The fee must be remitted to the county and deposited by the county treasurer into the “South Carolina Waterways Protection Fund.” S. 484 received a favorable report as amended, and will be on next full committee’s agenda.
SCAC's Counties Connect: A Legislative Action Day
Join your colleagues from across the state for SCAC’s Counties Connect: A Legislative Action Day on Wednesday, Feb. 22, at the USC Alumni Center in Columbia. This event provides an excellent opportunity for county leaders to connect with local delegation members and advocate for issues important to their counties. All county officials are encouraged to participate in the daylong event that includes a legislative briefing, a trip to the State House during session, lunch, and an evening reception with legislators at the Palmetto Club.
Learn more and register online.
Reserve your room at the Hilton Columbia Center by Feb. 3 to get the special SCAC block rate.
Stay in town for more learning opportunities. The Institute of Government for County Officials and Council Chairperson Workshop will be Feb. 23 at USC Alumni Center. Learn more and register here.
View/Download Full Text for Newly-Introduced Legislation
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.