Friday Report - February 14, 2020
The Senate continued to debate the comprehensive education reform bill this week. The Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways & Means Committee received the findings from the Department of Administration pursuant to a 2017 joint resolution on whether or not to sell Santee Cooper. In a joint meeting, the committees heard testimony from the Department of Administration regarding its findings and recommendations. Testimony from Santee Cooper as well as the recommended preferred bidders is expected to be taken well into next week. The House announced that it will take a furlough on March 17th through the 19th and April 14th through the 16th. The Senate has not announced any plans for a furlough. SCAC’s Mid-Year Conference will be held next week on Wednesday, Feb. 19. See the detailed information regarding the conference and the Institute classes below.
Revenue, Finance, and Economic Development
Business License Tax – H. 4431. The House Labor, Commerce and Industry ad hoc subcommittee on business license tax reform met again this week and adopted a comprehensive amendment to H. 4431. The new bill language still provides for standardization, including license forms, renewal dates, and the appeals procedure. The new language now bases a business license tax on a business’s gross income and further defines “gross income.” The original bill language would have based a business license tax on a business’s net income. This change should ensure that the bill will be revenue neutral. Class schedules would be determined by the Municipal Association of South Carolina (MASC) and then certified by the Director of the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office. The new language also allows the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office to contract with software providers and payment processors to implement a payment portal. H. 4431 was given a favorable report, as amended, and will be taken up at the next full House LCI committee meeting.
Land Use, Natural Resources and Transportation
Billboard Obstruction Liability – S. 1084. This bill provides that if an outdoor advertising sign is obstructed by a sound barrier that is constructed by the Department of Transportation or a political subdivision along an interstate, federal-aid primary road system, or highway, the department or political subdivision must provide compensation to the owner of the sign if certain conditions are met. The compensation must include damage to the landowner’s property as a result of the removal of the sign as well. The Department of Transportation liability is limited to 5 million dollars. During a Senate Transportation subcommittee, SCAC requested that a political subdivision’s liability also be capped. The subcommittee was willing to cap the liability at the same five million dollar level as for SCDOT and passed the bill out favorably as amended. S. 1084 will be on the Senate Transportation Committee’s agenda for their next meeting.
Public Safety, Corrections and Judicial
Arrest Records — H. 3066. This bill, as introduced, would prohibit a law enforcement or prosecution agency from charging or collecting a fee for the destruction of arrest records for persons arrested as a result of mistaken identity. The House gave the bill second and third reading this week. The bill has now been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Child Abuse Response Protocol – S. 892. This bill, in part, would establish an advisory committee that would review and update annually the South Carolina Child Abuse Response Protocol. SCAC was successful in amending the bill to add a representative of county law enforcement as a member of the committee. Other members of the advisory committee include representation from a solicitor’s office, the executive director of the S.C. Network of Children’s Advocacy Centers, the executive director of the S.C. Department of Social Services, state law enforcement, the State Guardian Ad Litem Program, a child abuse pediatrician, and other at-large seats. The Senate Family and Veterans’ Services Committee gave the bill a favorable report, and the bill is pending second reading on the Senate Calendar.
Operation of Vending Facilities within Local Detention Facilities – S. 1017. This bill, as introduced, would prevent the S.C. Commission for the Blind from operating any vending facility at a local detention center. The bill has been amended to prevent blind persons from operating any commissary services provided in local detention facilities but would allow them to operate vending machines outside of the secured areas of a detention facility, or within the secured areas if those operations began prior to the effective date of the Act. The Senate Family and Veterans’ Services Committee gave the bill a favorable report, and the bill is pending second reading on the Senate Calendar.
Raise the Age Juvenile Justice Reform – S. 1018. This bill would enact the “South Carolina Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2020.” The bill comes from the Senate Select Study Committee on the Raise the Age Act of 2016. This bill aims to keep juveniles out of detention facilities and focuses on providing services to juveniles in need. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee gave the bill a favorable report, and the bill will be on the next full committee agenda.
County Government and Intergovernmental
Absentee Ballots — S. 867. S. 867 would allow poll workers to open and scan absentee ballots beginning at 9:00 a.m. on the day preceding an election. Currently, they can only begin this process at 9:00 a.m. on Election Day. The absentee ballots would not be tabulated until the polls close on Election Day. The Senate adopted an amendment to address the problem of not having a procedure to process a challenge to an in-person absentee ballot as a result of the new paper-based voting system and gave the bill second reading. A motion was made and adopted allowing the Senate to take up amendments on third reading.
Veterans Affairs – H. 4724. This bill would establish a committee to study veteran homelessness, unemployment, job placement, incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder, access to basic human services, and other issues affecting South Carolina veterans. A House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs subcommittee adopted an amendment adding the Director of Veterans Affairs or his designee to the study committee. The bill was given a favorable report, as amended, and it will be on the next full committee’s agenda.
SCAC's Mid-Year Conference and Institute of Government Classes
The SCAC Mid-Year Conference will be held at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Columbia on Wednesday, February 19. Copies of the registration material and conference agenda are available on the SCAC website where you can also register online. The program will include a legislative panel and other timely topics. Following lunch, buses will provide transportation to the State House for visits with legislators. The legislative reception will be Wednesday evening from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at The Palmetto Club in downtown Columbia. Now is the time to set up appointments to see your Senators or Representatives or arranging a joint meal, function, or meeting.
The Institute of Government classes are being offered on Thursday, February 20 and include: Employment Law: What Counties Need to Know, Measuring and Reporting County Performance, The Property Taxation Process, and Understanding and Seeking Differences. The Council Chairperson's Workshop will be offered free-of-charge on Thursday, February 20, from 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. This workshop is open to all council chairmen and vice chairmen and registration is required. You may register for the Institute classes and the Council Chairperson's Workshop on the SCAC website.
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. 1094 — Provides that, for purposes of obtaining the special 4 percent assessment rate, a person who owns and occupies a residence as his legal residence is deemed to be domiciled at that residence if the person is in the United States on an E-2 visa.
S. 1100 — Establishes provisions relating to petroleum pipelines.
S. 1101 — Revises the membership of the governing commission of the Renewable Water Resources (ReWa), formerly the Western Carolina Regional Sewer Authority, to remove one member from Spartanburg County and to add one member from Greenville County.
S. 1102 — Provides for an income tax credit for an employer who establishes certain group disability income protection plans.
S. 1111 — Requires the Department of Health and Environmental Control to promulgate regulations to establish maximum contaminant levels for certain pollutants in public water systems.
H. 5124 — Provides procedures through which a fire department that assumes the cost of training a firefighter may be reimbursed for these costs by other fire departments that subsequently hire the firefighter within a certain period of time.
H. 5139 — Establishes the "Firefighter Cancer Health Care Benefit Plan" to provide a supplemental insurance policy upon a firefighter being diagnosed with cancer.
H. 5149 — Eliminates five voting precincts in Saluda County and updates the map number on which the names of these precincts may be found and maintained by the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office.
H. 5150 — Provides that the Infrastructure Maintenance fee assessed against a vehicle, or other item upon its first registration, also applies to the first titling of a vehicle or other item and that the Department of Motor Vehicles may not issue a title until the fee has been collected.