Friday Report - February 12, 2021
The General Assembly focused their legislative actions this week on improving the administration and distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations. There were also efforts to include school teachers, other school staff, and daycare workers in the first phase of the vaccination in an attempt to return schools to five-day in-class instruction. The House postponed budget committee hearings, but they should resume next week. The General Assembly did take action on several bills of interest that will be discussed.
Revenue, Finance, and Economic Development
Tort Claims Act – S. 82. S. 82 raises the existing caps on damages found in the Tort Claims Act (TCA) from $300,000 to $500,000 per individual, and from $600,000 to $1 million per occurrence. The bill also contains a provision to encourage settlement of litigation covered by the TCA. This increase will still have a fiscal impact on county governments, but it is less severe than what was initially proposed last session. The Senate Judiciary Committee gave S. 82 a favorable report as amended, and the bill is pending second reading on the Senate calendar.
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 Senate Judiciary Committee adopted a subcommittee amendment requiring that covered entities “substantially” adhere to public health guidance in order to receive the protections and gave S. 147 a favorable report as amended. S. 147 is pending second reading on the Senate calendar.
Land Use, Natural Resources and Transportation
Pyrolysis – H. 3753 and S. 525. A pair of bills relating to pyrolysis and gasification facilities were taken up by a House and Senate subcommittee this week. H. 3753 would provide that post use polymers and recoverable feedstocks used in pyrolysis and gasification process would no longer be classified as “solid waste” and therefore would no longer be regulated by the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). The bill also contains language that proposes increasing the current 600 tons-per-day cap on incinerator capacity. The House Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Environmental subcommittee heard from multiple groups, including SCAC, regarding the potential lack of regulatory authority by DHEC over the facilities as well as the elimination of the bond requirements for the facilities. The subcommittee struck the language regarding the capacity increase for incinerators and adjourned debate on H. 3753.
S. 525 would define the term “advanced recycling” and “advanced recycling facilities” to include processes such as pyrolysis and gasification. This bill would also exclude these facilities from classification as “solid waste facilities” and they would not be subject to current regulations and bonding requirements as required under the South Carolina Solid Waste Policy and Management Act. A Senate Medical Affairs subcommittee amended the bill to provide that DHEC could inspect the facilities and that “advanced recycling facilities” must sell or dispose of any unused material within 60 days of the closure of such a facility. SCAC expressed concern to the subcommittee regarding DHEC’s lack of ability to track any new facilities and the potential that cleanup costs would likely fall on counties and taxpayers in the event of an emergency as facilities are not bonded. After an extensive debate, the subcommittee gave S. 525 a favorable report as amended. The bill will likely be on the full Senate Medical Affairs Committee’s agenda next week.
Abandoned Buildings – S. 271. This bill expands the South Carolina Abandoned Buildings Revitalization Act until December 31, 2025. The Senate gave S. 271 third reading and sent the bill to the House.
Public Safety, Corrections and Judicial
Police Dogs and Horses – S. 378. This bill would amend current law relating to teasing, maltreating, or injuring police dogs and horses. Persons who are convicted of such crimes would be required to pay restitution to the appropriate law enforcement agency to cover the full cost of restoring or replacing a police dog or horse that was injured or killed and may be ordered to complete up to 500 hours of community service with an animal-related organization. The Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee amendment to the bill, which would have reduced the maximum sentence to five years imprisonment and would have eliminated the mandatory minimum one-year sentencing requirement, was tabled during debate on the Senate floor this week. S. 378 is pending third reading on the Senate calendar.
County Government and Intergovernmental
Firefighter Training Cost Reimbursement – H. 3466. This bill would provide that a fire department that assumes the cost of training a firefighter may be reimbursed for these costs by another fire department that subsequently hires the firefighter within a certain period of time. This is an SCAC policy position. The bill received a favorable report from the Local Government and Public Affairs 3M subcommittee and should be on the next full committee agenda.
COVID-19 Vaccination – H. 3707 & S. 516. H. 3707 would appropriate $208 million toward advancing the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. This week, the Senate further amended H. 3707, gave the bill a third reading, and sent it back to the House. The House considered one of the Senate amendments on Thursday and adjourned debate on the remaining Senate amendments until Tuesday, February 16, 2021. As amended by the Senate, H. 3707 would do the following:
- Allocate $63 million to DHEC and $45 million to MUSC to expand and administer a statewide vaccination and testing plan; and
- Allocate $100 million to the Executive Budget Office (EBO) to be distributed as follows:
- $75 million to hospitals, or a political subdivision of the state partnering with hospitals (Senate amendment); and
- $25 million to other COVID-19 vaccination providers (Senate amendment).
- Vaccines would be distributed based on four DHEC regions rather than by county.
- Regional Advisory Panel members would be appointed by the director of DHEC. The director would appoint 10 people to each panel as provided by the bill (NEW Senate amendment).
- DHEC would provide a daily report.
Where appropriate and feasible, hospitals, medical providers, and other stakeholders would need to seek reimbursement from an individual’s public or private health insurer.
If hospitals, medical providers, and other stakeholders also receive distributions from insurers or federal funds in addition to state funds for the same purposes, the relevant stakeholder would need to remit monies exceeding the actual costs of vaccine administration to the agency or fund that distributed the funds.
H. 3707 would also expand who may administer the COVID-19 vaccine to include among others, medical students, retired nurses, physician assistants, as well as dentists and optometrists.
S. 516 would require DHEC to designate certified teachers and support staff as critical workers, and implement a plan to include them in Phase 1a of the South Carolina COVID-19 vaccination plan. Schools may be used as vaccination sites for certified teachers and support staff. The Senate amended the bill to also include daycare workers in Phase 1a of the vaccination plan. For the purpose of employing any person to serve in the state's public school system while the State recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, the bill was further amended to increase the earnings cap for retired state workers from $10,000 to $50,000 until June 30, 2024, as long they have been retired for two years. S. 516 was also amended to require all school districts to offer five-day in-class instruction beginning the Monday after the school district’s scheduled spring break. The bill was given third reading as amended and sent to the House.
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. 530 — Establishes that county veterans’ affairs officers are at-will employees of the State and their support employees are state employees funded with monies appropriated by the General Assembly for that purpose.
S. 540 — Provides that the house of a qualified surviving spouse is exempt from property tax as long as the individual and the qualified surviving spouse were domiciled in the house prior to the individual’s death and the surviving spouse had at least a 50 percent ownership interest in the house prior to the individual’s death.
S. 541 — Authorizes a unit of local government to adopt an ordinance requiring a permit for a watercraft or a floating structure to remain at anchorage on public waters within its jurisdiction for more than 14 consecutive days.
H. 3838 — Requires the Department of Health and Environmental Control to identify certified teachers, school support staff, and first responders as mission critical workers and individuals who are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination under Phase IA of the COVID-19 vaccination plan.
H. 3839 — Establishes that county veterans’ affairs officers are at-will employees of the State and their support employees are state employees funded with monies appropriated by the General Assembly for that purpose. The funds are phased in over a three-year period.
H. 3849 — Enacts the “Revised Uniform Unclaimed Property Act of 2021.”
H. 3851 — Establishes an “In-Car-Video Cameras Fund’ within the SC Department of Public Safety for the purpose of assisting law enforcement agencies in purchasing, maintaining, and replacing in-car video cameras and other costs related to the cameras.
H. 3857 — Provides that the laws that regulate traffic from state’s public roads to private roads do not preempt or prevent any private limitations or restrictions regarding the use of a private road.
H. 3858 — Directs the Department of Health and Environmental Control to include public and private K-12 school teachers and anyone whose employment places them in public or private school building to be place in Phase1A of the COVID19 vaccination plan and requires every school district within a certain time period to offer five-day in-person classroom instruction.
H. 3861 — Provides that it is unlawful for a law enforcement officer to use any chemical agent to incapacitate certain minors.
H. 3863 — Enacts the “South Carolina Home Attainability Act.”
H. 3865 — Authorizes local governments to adopt ordinances requiring a permit for a watercraft or a floating structure to remain at anchorage on public waters within its jurisdiction for more than 14 consecutive days.
H. 3866 — Enacts the “Ethical Policing Transparency and Accountability Act.”
H. 3870 — Authorizes a person who is a subject in data recorded by a body-worn camera may request and must receive the data without a court order or without pursuing any rules of civil or criminal procedure.
H. 3871 — Requires the Department of Transportation to maintain a toll-free hotline system whereby a motorist that suffers property damage resulting from a road hazard may call and file a complaint and to require the department to forward the forward information to local officials in certain situations.
H. 3876 — Requires directors of licensed nursing homes or community residential care facilities to assist facility residents who desire to register to vote or to vote by absentee ballot and requires county boards of voter registration and elections to provide voter registration application forms to these facilities.
H. 3877 — Prohibits county boards of voter registration and elections from receiving or accepting gifts, funding, or donations from private individuals, corporations, or third parties.
H. 3881 — Suspends the statute of limitations for a civil action that arises after March 13, 2020, or a civil action whose statute of limitations expires after March 13, 2020, until such time as the Governor’s state of emergency order is no longer in effect.
H. 3884 — Authorizes the Department of Natural Resources to transmit certain documents for a certificate of title electronically, and to require the use of an electronic lien system for businesses engaged in the sale and financing of watercraft and outboard motors.
H. 3886 — Directs the Department of Health and Environmental Control to include public and private K-12 school teachers and anyone whose employment places them in public or private school building to be place in Phase1A of the COVID19 vaccination plan and requires every school district within a certain time period to offer five-day in-person classroom instruction.
H. 3887 — Authorizes the capital improvement sales tax to be imposed in a county with only one school district in the county and the district has more than 30,000 students.
H. 3888 – Creates a study committee to examine the state of mental health of SC residents, and to require the committee to make certain findings and prepare a report to the General Assembly before January 1, 2022.