Friday Report - February 5, 2021
This week much of the General Assembly’s attention focused on judicial elections, selection of a new DHEC Director, and COVID-19 vaccinations. They did take action on several bills of interest that will be discussed.
Revenue, Finance, and Economic Development
Tort Claims Act – S. 82. S. 82 would raise 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. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee heard testimony from multiple groups, including SCAC, before giving the bill a favorable report as amended. This increase will still have a fiscal impact on county governments, but it is less severe than what was initially proposed last session. S. 82 is expected to be taken up at next week’s full committee meeting.
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.” A Senate Judiciary subcommittee amended the bill to require 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 expected to be taken up at next week’s full committee meeting.
Santee Cooper – S. 464. This bill would require additional reform measures to be enacted at Santee Cooper including the establishment of a two-term limit for the agency’s director and would add additional educational requirements for board members. S. 464 would also require Santee Cooper to submit a resource plan to the Public Service Commission (PSC) and would allow the Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS) to inspect the agencies' electric rates. During a Senate Judiciary subcommittee, officials from Santee Cooper provided a progress report on internal restructuring and updated members regarding the agency’s efforts to reposition the generation resource plan. The subcommittee plans to hold several more hearings before moving S. 464 to the full Senate Judiciary Committee.
Land Use, Natural Resources and Transportation
Waste Tire Regulations — H. 3222. This bill would increase the criminal penalties for violating waste tire regulations and also authorizes the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) to promulgate additional regulations, an SCAC policy position. These additional regulations would allow DHEC to inspect waste tire processing facilities to ensure compliance and invoke sanctions for noncompliant recyclers. H. 3222 received third reading in the House and has been sent to the Senate.
Abandoned Buildings – S. 271. This bill expands the South Carolina Abandoned Buildings Revitalization Act until December 31, 2025. The Senate Finance Committee gave S. 271 a favorable report as amended, and the bill is pending second reading on the Senate calendar.
Public Safety, Corrections and Judicial
Medication in Correctional Facilities – S. 454. This bill would allow certain unlicensed persons with documented medication training to provide topical medications, regularly scheduled insulin, and prescribed anaphylactic treatments within correctional facilities. This bill received third reading in the Senate and has been sent to the House.
County Government and Intergovernmental
COVID-19 Vaccination – H. 3707. This bill would appropriate $208 million toward advancing the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. The Senate amended H. 3707 and gave it second reading. The Senate is set to take up H. 3707 and S. 516 (dealing with teacher vaccinations) together next Tuesday. As currently amended, 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 healthcare providers would meet and report to DHEC weekly.
- 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.
This bill 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.
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. 509 — Amends Section 43-26-90 of the 1976 code, relating to buildings not subject to certain provisions concerning the operation of vending facilities by blind persons, to provide that local detention facilities are not subject to those provisions.
S. 514 — Enacts the "Act to Establish Pay Equity".
S. 519 — Establishes the Office of Broadband Development.
S. 525 — Defines necessary terms related to advanced recycling and advanced recycling facilities of the South Carolina Solid Waste Policy and Management Act.
S. 527 — Defines "legally separated" for purposes of the certificate contained in the application for the special 4 percent assessment ratio for owner-occupied residential property and requires annual reapplication and recertification to maintain the special 4 percent assessment ratio for certain separated spouses.
S. 528 — Enacts the "South Carolina Home Attainability Act".
H. 3782 — Provides a test for the presence of marijuana may not be performed during a urinalysis or blood test performed on a probationer.
H. 3787 — Includes the Attorney General of this state in the definition of "solicitor" as it relates to definitions pertaining to the retirement system for judges and solicitors.
H. 3790 — Provides that an additional 4 percent of the general fund portion of the admissions tax collected by the state must be funded annually to the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism for the exclusive use of the South Carolina Film Commission for a period of five years.
H. 3791 — Enacts the "Police and Communities Together (PACT) Act".
H. 3793 — Provides that if a law enforcement officer who becomes a member of any state retirement system after the effective date of this act is convicted of, pleads guilty or nolo contendere to a felony related to the person's employment, then the person forfeits all retirement benefits.
H. 3794 — Provides the Law Enforcement Training Council shall develop a minimum set of standards that a state or local law enforcement agency must follow when establishing and implementing a mediation program as an alternate method of resolving law enforcement misconduct complaints.
H. 3799 — Provides that the license fee imposed on corporations does not apply to any portion of the first $50 million of certain capital stock and paid-in or capital surplus.
H. 3805 — Provides the Department of Motor Vehicles may issue various military special license plates.
H. 3813 — Expresses the General Assembly's unwavering support for the Electoral College and urges the Governor and Attorney General of South Carolina to litigate aggressively against any effort to repeal or nullify it, including the implementation of the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.
H. 3814 — Provides the Law Enforcement Training Council shall operate and maintain the Central Registry of Police Misconduct.
H. 3815 — Provides a law enforcement officer who is the subject of a law enforcement officer misconduct investigation is prohibited from retiring from his law enforcement agency during the course of the investigation.
H. 3817 — Provides that upon request of a law enforcement agency, a wireless telecommunications carrier shall provide call location information concerning the telecommunications device of the user to the law enforcement agency in order to respond to a call for emergency services or in an emergency situation that involves the risk of death or serious physical harm.
H. 3822 — Provides that an individual who is qualified to register to vote may register in person and then immediately vote at an in-person absentee voting location in the person's county of residence during the period for in-person absentee voting established pursuant to this act.