Friday Report Issue 10-19 - March 15, 2019
After more than 12 hours of debate, the House passed the Budget bill (H. 4000) and the Capital Reserve Fund bill (H. 4001). H. 4000 funds the Local Government Fund at a base level of $222,619,411 with an additional $11,121,285, for a total of $233,740,696. This represents an increase of more than $2 million above what SCAC's policy position would require. Here are some other provisions or provisos of note in the budget that were either adopted or did not pass:
- Proviso 108.16 removes the $10,000 earnings limitation for retired employees who return to work if they have been retired for 12 consecutive months.
- Proviso 117.157 decouples magistrates' salary from a circuit court judge's salary and requires magistrates to be paid the same amount as they are being paid in the current fiscal year. This proviso does not decouple masters-in-equity from a circuit judge's salary.
- A proviso was proposed by Rep. Bamberg to redefine small and medium employers for purposes of the state insurance benefits program so that small employers are those employers that have less than 150 covered lives. Medium employers are those employers that have between 150 and 500 covered lives. This proviso was discussed but not adopted.
- An allotment of $2 million was provided to the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office to do a statewide aerial imagery project.
Please thank your House members for passing the Local Government Fund as proposed in H. 4000. Now it is time to ask the members of the Senate Finance Committee to support the Local Government Fund as passed by the House. Please also ask them to support the passage of H.3137, which is SCAC's policy position regarding the Local Government Fund. Attached is a roster of Senate Finance Committee members and their contact information.
Tort Claims Act Damages Increase - S. 7
S. 7 raises the existing caps on damages found in the Tort Claims Act from $300,000 to $1 million per individual, from $600,000 to $2 million per occurrence, and indexes both increases to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). If this bill were to pass, it would codify a 333 percent increase in the existing caps. County budgets that are already pushed to the limits will be further strained by such a change. There have been several different proposals mentioned as to what amount to increase the caps. Depending on what is finally adopted, the impact could be even more severe than what is currently in the bill. The Senate began debate on S. 7 on Wednesday and discussed several amendments but didn't adopt any. All of the amendments that were discussed would increase the fiscal impact of the bill drastically and SCAC would have to oppose their adoption. There is increasing pressure in the Senate to address this bill and increase the caps. Now is the time to contact your Senate members and let them know the impact this legislation would have on your county. SCAC staff expects the Senate to resume debate on this bill next week.
Please contact your senator and convey to them the impact such an increase in liability would have on the taxpayers of your county who would bear the burden of funding any increase.
Other Legislative Action This Week
Tobacco Preemption - H. 3274 & S. 492. These bills prohibit political subdivisions from enacting any laws, ordinances, or rules pertaining to the ingredients, flavors, or licensing of cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, tobacco products, or alternative nicotine products after January 1, 2019. Any ordinances adopted prior to January 1, 2019, are exempt from the preemption. SCAC has a policy position opposing this type of preemption. A Senate Medical Affairs subcommittee amended S. 492 to make it clear that political subdivisions can adopt smoking or vaping bans. The subcommittee also amended H. 3274 to mirror S. 492. Both bills were given a favorable report as amended. Please contact your Senate members and ask that they oppose H. 3274 and S. 492.
Penalty for Failing to Register Motor Vehicles - H. 3916 & S. 162. Both bills increase the penalty for failing to register a motor vehicle from $100 to $500. This is an SCAC policy position. The current registration fee creates a disincentive to register because of a new $250 registration fee to register a vehicle when you move into the state. Increasing the penalty will remove that disincentive to register and help defray costs incurred by the county in enforcing this requirement. H. 3916 passed the House and is now pending before the Senate Finance Committee. S. 162 received a second reading by the Senate and will be up for third reading on Tuesday. Please contact your Senate member and ask that they support both bills.
Early Voting - S. 142. S. 142 provides for no excuse early voting. SCAC has a policy position that supports this type of legislation. The early voting period begins 10 days before an election and ends three days prior to an election, with the early voting center open for two Saturdays. The county board of registration and elections may establish up to three early voting centers in the county. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee carried over S. 142 for additional research.
Absentee Ballots - S. 331. This bill makes it a felony crime for someone to knowingly collect partially completed or blank absentee ballots. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee carried over the bill for additional research on who should be authorized to submit an absentee ballot on behalf of another person.
Certification of Coroner and Sheriff Candidates - S. 17. S. 17 requires the county board of registration and elections to certify the candidates for the offices of coroner and sheriff. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee carried the bill over for additional research after concerns were raised on whether the registration and election boards should be responsible for verifying the candidates' qualifications for these offices.
Veterans' Affairs Officers - H. 3438. Current law requires a county veterans' affairs officer (VAO) to be a veteran, but also provides an exception for a nonveteran candidate to fill this position if there is no qualified veteran candidate. This bill would establish the state Division of Veterans' Affairs as an agency within the executive branch. The bill would also remove the exception for qualified nonveteran candidates. The Senate Family and Veterans' Services subcommittee amended H. 3438 to remove all of the language and insert the Senate's version of the bill, S. 454. The Senate further amended the bill to allow nonveterans to serve as VAOs by removing the requirement that VAOs be veterans. The bill received a favorable report as amended by the committee and is pending second reading on the Senate calendar.
Dam and Reservoir Safety - S. 107. This bill imposes increased regulations on dams and reservoirs. Owners of dams and reservoirs would be required to provide DHEC and state and local emergency officials with updated contact information, as well as completing a safety checklist. If DHEC requires an owner to make repairs to a dam or reservoir that is deemed to be a danger to life or property of others, this bill would allow the owner to claim a tax credit for the cost of repairs, not to exceed $50,000. After several amendments were adopted, the bill was given a favorable report by the Senate Agricultural and Natural Resources Committee.
Flood Mitigation Program - S. 181. This bill amends the laws relating the State Hurricane Damage Mitigation Program by expanding the program to include flood damage. The program, administered by the Department of Insurance, provides grants to homeowners and local governments to be spent on projects that mitigate hurricane damage to residential property. The Senate Banking and Insurance Committee gave the bill a favorable report.
Call for Entries - J. Mitchell Graham/Barrett Lawrimore Memorial Awards
SCAC is currently accepting applications for the 2019 J. Mitchell Graham/Barrett Lawrimore Memorial Awards Competition. The awards program accepts applications that address all areas of county governmentâ€“from simple, unique ideas that maximize limited resources to major collaborative efforts that tackle complex issues.
Counties are invited to submit applications that describe the purpose and significance of their innovative projects. All applications must be submitted online or received at the SCAC Office by 5 p.m. on Friday, June 21. Applicants who meet the deadline and all requirements will be scheduled to present their projects during the awards competition on Sunday, August 4, at SCAC's 52nd Annual Conference.
To access the rules and requirements, frequently asked questions, and examples of previous projects, please visit the Association's website at http://www.sccounties.org/awards. Counties are able to submit applications online by using the online Awards Toolkit. If you have additional questions, please contact Anna Berger at 1-800-922-6081 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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. 636 - Extends the time period for medical treatment in workers' compensation cases under certain circumstances.
S. 637 - Provides that a toxicology report or a drug or alcohol screening report performed on an employee of a local governmental agency is subject to FOIA under certain circumstances.
S. 638 - Provides that units of state or local government authorities with control over rights of way may not prohibit, regulate, or charge for the collocation of certain small wireless facilities.
S. 639 - Provides for comprehensive sentencing reform.
S. 642 - Allows for a dollar-for-dollar credit for payment of indemnity benefits under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act under certain circumstances.
S. 655 - Prohibits a county from levying license fees and taxes on a professional sports team.
S. 656 - Provides for the transfer of a vehicle to an automotive dismantler or recycler or secondary metals recycler for demolition, wrecking, or dismantling.
S. 658 - Provides that vehicles leased by churches are exempt from property taxes.
S. 666 - Provides that a municipality may, by ordinance, restrict the operation of a golf cart to only daylight hours.
S. 669 - Clarifies the term â€œcontiguousâ€ when a municipality located entirely within a special purpose district annexes unincorporated property also located within the special purpose district.
H. 4238 - Provides that after a certain date, the governing bodies of special purpose and public service districts must be composed of no less than five members.
H. 4241 - Requires members of the state guard to complete at least 192 hours of training or drill annually in order to qualify an individual tax deduction.
H. 4243 - Prohibits a county from levying license fees and taxes on a professional sports team.