Friday Report Issue 11-19 - March 22, 2019

It was a very busy week at the statehouse. The House and Senate moved several bills through committees and on the floor.

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. The full committee gave a favorable report to H. 3274 as amended and carried over S. 492. Please contact your Senate members and ask that they oppose H. 3274 and S. 492.

Rollback Taxes — H. 3596. H. 3596 reduces the amount of rollback taxes due when agricultural property is changed to another use from five years to one year. SCAC staff testified that this bill would have a negative fiscal impact across the state and especially in fast growing areas. A House Ways and Means subcommittee gave the bill a favorable report.  

Municipal Millage — H. 3457. This bill provides that a municipality without an operating millage on January 1, 2019, or a municipality that incorporates after January 1, 2019, may impose an operating millage. A House Ways and Means subcommittee adopted an amendment to “restrict” a first-time municipal millage imposition to 33 percent of the municipality’s previous year’s operating budget. If the municipality previously imposed a millage, but repealed it, then it can re-impose the previous millage with retroactive increases subject to each year’s millage cap backdated to 2007 or to the date the  previous millage was repealed, whichever is most recent. The subcommittee gave H. 3457 a favorable report as amended.

Flooded-Home Buyouts — S. 259. S. 259 creates the “South Carolina Resilience Revolving Fund Act.” The fund will be administered through the Department of Natural Resources Flood Mitigation Office. The Office would provide low interest loans to counties and other governmental entities in order to buy out homes that have sustained repetitive damage from floods. Damages must be more than $1000 per occurrence to qualify for the fund. The fund also has some incentives for relocating residents in areas outside of the floodplain for a specific period of time. The acquired properties must be turned into open space and some type of floodplain restoration must be conducted on the properties. In Fiscal Year 2019-2020, the General Assembly shall appropriate $2 million to establish the fund. Federal grants and private sources may also be used to fund this program. All future development on the acquired property is prohibited in perpetuity through easement. The Senate amended the bill to move the funds to the Department of Administration to be distributed by the Department of Administration’s South Carolina Disaster Recovery Office. S. 259 has been passed by the Senate and sent to the House.

Annexation — H. 3661. H. 3661 expands the definition of “contiguous” to allow a municipality that is located entirely within the borders of a special purpose district to annex an unincorporated area within the special purpose district that would be adjacent with the municipality and share a continuous border but for an intervening break in the contiguity of the area of the special purpose district. This appears to only apply to the Town of James Island. A House Judiciary subcommittee amended H. 3661 to grandfather any existing outdoor advertising in the unincorporated area that is annexed and gave the bill a favorable report.

Mental Health Transport — S. 303. This bill provides that anyone who is believed to have a mental illness and requires immediate care shall be transported to a treatment facility only by a state or local law enforcement officer that is part of a therapeutic transport unit and has undergone mental health and crisis intervention training. It also allows the treating physician of the patient to notify family or friends of the patient that they can transport the person as long as they sign a statement that they assume the responsibility and liability for the transport. It would also establish a Therapeutic Transport Fund within the Department of Mental Health (DMH). State and local law enforcement agencies may apply to DMH for funds to establish their own therapeutic transport unit and pay for intervention crisis training. A law enforcement agency is not required to establish a therapeutic transport unit until it receives full funding for the unit. The Senate Medical Affairs Committee amended the bill by moving the Therapeutic Transport Fund to the Department of Public Safety and removed the requirement that members of the transport unit dress in civilian clothes and use unmarked vehicles. The Committee gave the amended bill a favorable report. Additional amendments will be offered on the Senate floor. There will be a study committee appointed within the Medical Affairs Committee to look at whether these transports should continue to be done by law enforcement or whether there should be a division within DMH to oversee and handle the transports.

Small Cells — H. 4262. This legislation would enact the Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act, the intent of which is to accelerate the placement of small cell technology in South Carolina. Small cells “boot strap” off of cellular towers to provide greater capacity to users within a dense community. Therefore the legislation is aimed at allowing wireless providers to readily place this technology in municipalities. Generally, the more rapid placement of technology in dense communities allows the providers to then move this technology into rural areas. Additionally, small cell technology allows less stress to be placed on existing cellular towers, which should enhance the ability for these towers to serve communities outside municipalities. Beginning October 1, 2019, the bill would require any agreement between a local government and a wireless provider to comply with the provisions of this legislation. A local government would be prohibited from not allowing the placement of small cell technology within their jurisdiction. The bill requires the provider to blend their technology with local aesthetics and sets a fee structure for payment to local governments for placement of small cells. The bill was introduced, reported out by subcommittee, and will be considered by the LCI Committee on Tuesday, March 26, at 11.

Veterans’ Affairs Officers — H. 3438. This bill would establish the state Division of Veterans’ Affairs as an agency within the executive branch. The bill removes the statutory requirement that VAOs be veterans. Under this bill, the qualifications of the county VAO will be set by the legislative delegation. The bill received third reading in the Senate and was returned to the House with amendments.

Uniform Recording Fees — H. 3243. Most documents recorded with the Register of Deeds (ROD) are subject to a fee schedule based on page count. This legislation would change the fee schedule to a flat fee based on the type of document. Eliminating page counting will result in increased efficiency in ROD offices. H. 3243 was amended on the House floor to change the proposed flat fee for deeds from $25 to $15. The bill is pending third reading in the House.

Income Tax Liens — S. 160. This bill authorizes the Department of Revenue (DOR) to implement an internet accessible tax lien system to be used in lieu of the current filing requirements with the county clerk of court or register of deeds. SCAC’s policy position supports this legislation. The bill received third reading in the House and was enrolled for ratification.   

Sheriff Qualifications — S. 534. This bill would impose additional qualifications on sheriffs and sheriff candidates, such as having the ability to obtain a Class 1 law enforcement certification and having no convictions of a felony or crimes of moral turpitude. The new qualifications would not apply to sheriffs currently in office. The House Judiciary Committee adopted a subcommittee amendment and gave the bill a favorable report.

Seized Property Tracking System — H. 3307. This bill would require SLED to establish a tracking system and searchable public website that includes information about property seized by state and local law enforcement. The law enforcement agency that seizes the property or expends forfeiture related proceeds would be responsible for updating the website. The bill received a favorable report by the House Judiciary.

Court Reporting — S. 640. This bill amends Section 14-17-325 to change the 30-day time period that clerks of court have to report General Sessions case dispositions to SLED. The bill would reduce the time period from 30 days to 10. Additionally, clerks would now be required to report to SLED, within 48 hours, certain “VIP” orders, such as permanent restraining orders or orders prohibiting firearms. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee amended the bill to provide that the “VIP” orders that are to be reported to SLED within 48 hours would have a standard court administration form or be flagged by a judge. The bill received a favorable report as amended.

Medicinal Marijuana — S. 366. This bill would legalize medicinal marijuana. The bill would regulate the cultivation, harvesting, dispensing, and use of medicinal marijuana. A Senate Medical Affairs subcommittee adopted a comprehensive amendment that has not yet been released to the public. The bill received a favorable report as amended.

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.

Utility Relocation — S. 401. This bill provides circumstances under which a public entity undertaking a transportation improvement project must bear the costs related to relocating water and sewer lines. S. 401 requires the entity undertaking the project to pay 100 percent of the costs of relocating any water and sewer lines that are within the right-of-way and owned by a public utility that has 10,000 or fewer taps or connections and serves a population of 30,000 or less. The entity undertaking the project must pay 100 percent of the costs, up to 4 percent of the total project costs, of relocating water and sewer lines within the right-of-way and owned by a public utility with more than 10,000 taps or connections or that serves a population of more than 30,000. A Senate Transportation subcommittee amended the bill to include a seven year sunset and yearly review of the program by the Legislative Oversight Committee. Another amendment was adopted by the Senate Transportation Committee requiring the utility to submit all documents necessary for the inclusion into the transportation improvement project to be submitted at least 180 days prior to the bidding of the project. S. 401 received a favorable report and is pending second reading on the Senate calendar.

Plastic Recyclers — H. 4152. This bill exempts facilities that use pyrolysis and gasification to turn plastics into fuel from DHEC regulations under the Solid Waste Act. During testimony it was stated that these recyclers, once operating in South Carolina, will purchase plastic material from landfills or from haulers prior to its arrival in landfills. As a result of the process, 80 percent of the plastic will be turned into fuel and 10 percent will be a char material that would then be deposited back into landfills. A House Agriculture and Natural Resources subcommittee adopted an amendment requiring the facilities to dispose of 75 percent of the char to maintain exemption from the Solid Waste Act. H. 4152 received a favorable report as amended and will be on the full committee’s next agenda.

Inmate Restraint — H. 3967. This bill provides that during certain situations that are related to pregnancy, inmates who are pregnant may only be restrained if they pose a risk to themselves or others, or if they are a flight risk. The bill further provides for how a pregnant inmate may be restrained when those certain situations of pregnancy do not exist. A House Judiciary subcommittee gave the bill a favorable report.

Statewide Voting Solution — H. 4157. This joint resolution would extend the deadline to April 4, 2019, for the submission of offers to bid on a statewide voting system solution. It also creates a panel to evaluate and score each proposal. The state Fiscal Accountability Authority would award the contract to the highest-ranking proposal based on the scoring from the panel. The resolution is pending second reading on the Senate calendar.

Newly-Introduced Legislation

View/Download Full Text for Newly-Introduced Legislation

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 and click on "Legislation," then "Introduced Legislation."

Senate Bills

S. 677 — Provides that prudent and feasible alternatives to condemning property must be considered for certain types of property prior to condemnation.

S. 679 — Defines “economic development project” within the State General Obligation Economic Development Bond Act.

S. 696 — Enacts the “South Carolina Uniform Transfers to Minors Act.”

S. 698 — Provides that the State Fiscal Accountability Authority shall rate an insurance policy according to the risk involved with each participating governmental entity based on certain factors.

House Bills

H. 4249 — Deletes the earnings limitation that may be earned upon returning to covered employment under the South Carolina Retirement System and the Police Officer Retirement System.

H. 4257 — Prohibits a nongovernmental entity from collecting an insurance premium tax or broker’s premium tax.

H. 4259 — Provides that a toxicology report or a drug or alcohol screening report performed on an employee of a local governmental agency is subject to the Freedom of Information Act under certain circumstances.

H. 4262 — 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.

H. 4275 — Authorizes a county to allow animal control officers to carry firearms.

H. 4277 — Adopts “The Agreement Among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote.”

H. 4280 — Requires a person operating a by-owner vacation rental business to obtain a business license.

H. 4293 — Establishes the South Carolina Election Security Council and provides that all voting systems must use a paper ballots.

H. 4294 — Provides that a county may adopt alternative dates for the application of penalties on delinquent taxes.


The following bills have been passed by both chambers and are now before the Governor for signature or veto:

(R. 8) S. 326. Directs SLED to distribute $250,000 to the S.C. State Firefighters Association for post-traumatic stress disorder insurance.

(R. 16) H. 3127. Establishes the Mold Abatement and Remediation Study Committee.

(R. 17) H. 3639. Expands the amount of military personnel and their dependents who are entitled to in-state tuition.

(R. 20) H. 3849. Provides for a grace period on the enforcement of the stamp tax on cigarettes.

Legislative Session: