Friday Report - February 19, 2021

The General Assembly heard testimony on various bills dealing with COVID-19 vaccinations and reopening schools to five-day in-class instruction, but took no action on the bills. They are likely to be taken up again next week. The Senate spent most of the week debating a bond bill dealing with the Port of Charleston, while the House debated an abortion bill that was signed into law by the Governor on Thursday. The General Assembly did take action on several bills of interest that will be discussed.

Revenue, Finance, and Economic Development

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 adopted an amendment requiring covered entities to “reasonably adhere” to public health guidance in order to receive the protections from liability. Also, the amendment would change the burden of proof that a claimant must meet to invalidate liability protections from a “preponderance of the evidence” to a “clear and convincing” standard. S. 147 received a second reading as amended, carrying over all remaining amendments and allowing for additional amendments to be offered on third reading.

Economic Development Bonds – S. 491. S. 491 would authorize the issuance of up to $550 million in general obligation state economic development bonds specifically for a joint project between the Port of Charleston, the Department of Commerce and Palmetto Railways. The bonds would be used for rail and port infrastructure located at the new Intermodal Container Transfer Facility and for a new waterborne cargo barge program that would run between the Wando Welch Terminal and the new Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal. S. 491 received second reading and the Senate will allow amendments to be offered on third reading.

Land Use, Natural Resources and Transportation

Pyrolysis – S. 525. 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. The Senate Medical Affairs Committee 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. An additional amendment was adopted by the committee that would require DHEC to review and consider the environmental compliance history of an applicant or person in making determinations relating to the issuance or reissuance of a permit. S. 525 received a favorable report as amended and is now pending second reading on the Senate calendar.

County Government and Intergovernmental

Permit Exemptions for Certain Residential Improvements – H. 3606. This bill would clarify what improvements homeowners may make to their homes without having to first obtain a permit. For example, the bill would clarify that homeowners may build a small deck off of the homeowner’s dwelling that is no more than 200 square feet in area and no more than 30 inches off the ground without a permit. The bill would also clarify that a residential specialty contractor is not authorized to construct additions to residential buildings or structures without supervision by a residential builder or other appropriately licensed person or entity. A House LCI subcommittee amended the bill to provide that a “residential specialty contractor” is a person who is used when undertakings exceed $500 dollars. The previous amount was $200 dollars. The subcommittee gave the bill a favorable report.


Newly-Introduced Legislation

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Senate Bills

S. 548 — Requires a person elected or appointed to a special purpose district that charges a fee or rate to a consumer to provide a service to file a statement of economic interest with the Ethics Commission.

S. 550 — Prohibits a person from voting in a partisan primary election or partisan advisory referendum unless they are registered as being a member of that political party.

S. 557 — For purposes of a business license fee on corporations, requires that the license fee does not apply to any portion of the first $50 million of certain capital stock and paid-in or capital surplus.

S. 559 — Prohibits a candidate from filing more than one statement of intention of candidacy for a single election, from being nominated by more than one political party for a single office in an election, and from having their name appear on the ballot more than once.

S. 560 — Establishes the “Heirs’ Property Study Committee.”

S. 561 — Amends the Constitution to provide for an independent reapportionment commission.

S. 572 — For purposes of sales and use taxes, excludes the funds from a buydown from the definition of gross proceeds of sales.

S. 574 — Exempts feminine hygiene products from sales taxes.

S. 575 — Provides that the Department of Motor Vehicles may add a notation to a private passenger-carrying motor vehicle registration to indicate the vehicle owner or an occupant suffers from certain medical conditions, and authorizes the Criminal Justice Academy shall offer courses to train law enforcement officers on handling situations that may arise from the enforcement of this provision.

S. 581 — Authorizes a law enforcement agency to request from a wireless telecommunications carrier the location information of a telecommunications device user in order to respond a call for emergency services, or to respond to an emergency situation that involves the risk of death or serious physical harm to someone.

S. 582 — Amends the provisions of the “Youth Access to Tobacco Prevention Act of 2006.”

S. 583 — Enacts the “Livable Homes Tax Credit Act.”

S. 584 — Enacts the “Second Amendment Sanctuary Act.”

House Bills

H. 3891 — Provides an income tax credit for certain broadband service providers that provide a discount to families with children who require internet access for educational purposes or to veterans.

H. 3892 — Prohibits DHEC from issuing any permit for the construction of a solid waste management facility or for mining activities, respectively, if located within a certain proximity to a public park or other public natural area.

H. 3893 — Enacts the “Revised Uniform Unincorporated Nonprofit Association Act.”

H. 3918 — Provides that a law enforcement agency or officer shall not install, activate, or use a biometric surveillance system in connection with an officer’s camera or data collected by an officer’s camera.

H. 3922 — Enacts the “South Carolina State Employee Equal Pay for Equal Work Act.”

H. 3923 — Exempts the gross proceeds of sales or the sales price of machinery, machine tools, and parts of them, used in the production of electricity from a renewable energy source from the state sales tax.

H. 3924 — Exempts the gross proceeds of sales or the sales price of any device, equipment, or machinery actually used in the production of electric or hybrid motor vehicles from state sales tax.

H. 3926 — Establishes the “Heirs’ Property Study Committee.”

H. 3928 — Requires the clerks of court to report to the SC Law Enforcement Division (SLED) within 10 days the disposition of each case in general sessions, and report restraining orders and various orders of protection within 48 hours of their issuance. Also requires magistrates to report the disposition of all criminal cases to SLED within 10 days, and to report restraining orders and various order of protection within 48 hours.


The following bill has been passed by both chambers and has been signed by the Governor:

(R. 4) H. 3707. Makes appropriations for the state’s public health response to COVID-19 virus, including vaccinations.

Legislative Session: