Friday Report Issue 14-19 - April 12, 2019
The Senate and House worked furiously this week to pass bills before the crossover date of Wednesday, April 10th. Bills that do not make the crossover date will probably not be taken up until next year. The House is on furlough next week. The Senate will meet in perfunctory session on Tuesday and begin debate on the budget on Wednesday.
The full Senate will begin debating the budget on the floor on Wednesday. The Senate Finance Committee allocated $9,511,285 in additional funding to the LGF. The House-passed version of the budget included $11.1 million in additional funding to the LGF over last year's funding amount. The $1.6 million difference between the two was allocated by the Senate Finance Committee to fund a corone's mandate to establish county-level child fatality review committees. Attached is a chart showing the county-by-county breakdown of what counties would receive under each proposal.
Local Government Fund — H. 3137
H. 3137 encompasses SCAC's policy position regarding the LGF. A Senate Finance subcommittee met on H. 3137, amended it, and gave it a favorable report as amended. The amendment added a provision that if the State General Fund decreases, then the LGF will decrease by the same percentage up to 5 percent. The amendment also changed which revenue forecast the increase will be based on, changed the effective date, and made technical changes. Immediately following the subcommittee hearing, the full Finance Committee met and passed the bill as amended. H. 3137 is pending second reading on the contested Senate Calendar.
Please contact your Senator and ask that they support passing H. 3137 as amended by the Senate Finance Committee.
SCAC's policy position regarding the LGF is as follows:
"Support amending the Local Government Fund Formula to set the base funding level at $223.2 million with a yearly increase in the fund that corresponds with the growth in the State General Fund up to 5 percent. Also, standardize a list of state mandates that all counties are responsible for in order to quantify the need for the LGF."
Tort Claims Act — S. 7
S. 7, as passed by committee, raised the existing caps on damages found in the Tort Claims Act (TCA) from $300,000 to $1 million per individual, from $600,000 to $2 million per occurrence, and indexed both increases to the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The Senate adopted a compromise amendment to increase the caps to $500,000 and $1 million and removed the yearly increase indexed to CPI. The amendment also contains a provision to encourage settlement of litigation covered by the TCA. This increase will still have a fiscal impact on county governments, but it is less severe than the original proposal. S. 7 passed the Senate and was referred to the House Ways & Means Committee.
Other Legislative Action this Week
Retiree's Earning Limitation — H. 3620. This bill provides that a retiree from the State Retirement System or Police Officers Retirement System can return to work for a covered employer and be exempt from the $10,000 earnings limitation. The retiree must not have worked for a covered employer in any capacity, including as an independent contractor, for at least 12 months. H. 3620 also permits PEBA to audit participating employers to determine if an employer has retained a retiree as an independent contractor or any other classification of worker to perform services normally provided by a covered employee. If they make this determination, then the participating employer must pay the employer contribution for the worker to the retirement systems. After taking testimony, a Senate Finance subcommittee carried over H. 3260 and plans to meet sometime next week to continue taking up the bill.
Plastic Bag Ban — S. 394. This bill provides that any regulation regarding the use, disposition, sale, or imposition of any prohibition, restriction, fee imposition, or taxation of auxiliary containers must be done only by the General Assembly. The bill supersedes and preempts any ordinance enacted by a political subdivision regulating these auxiliary containers. The Senate Labor, Commerce, and Industry Committee gave S. 394 a favorable report and the bill is pending second reading on the Senate calendar.
Municipal Millage — S. 227 & H. 3457. These bills provide 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 & Means subcommittee adopted an amendment to â€œrestrictâ€ 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. H. 3457 was recommitted to the Ways & Means Committee, called back to the floor and received second reading. Because the bill did not get third reading before the crossover date, it will likely be carried over to next year. However, S. 227, which is identical to H. 3457, passed the Senate and remains viable.
Low Income Housing Tax Credit — H. 3998. H. 3998 creates a state income tax credit for an individual, partnership, or corporation that creates a low income housing building. The House amended the bill so that any building that qualifies for the tax credit is exempt for 10 years from all fees and taxes imposed by the municipality in which the property is located to include, but not limited to, property taxes, impact fees, development fees, sewer and wastewater fees, sanitation fees, infrastructure fees, administrative fees, permit fees, and planning fees. It is not clear if this applies to county fees and taxes. H. 3998 received third reading as amended and has been sent to the Senate.
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 property's information and status on the website. H. 3307 received third reading and has been sent to the Senate.
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. The House amended H. 3596 to reduce rollback taxes from five years to three years, effective January 1, 2020. H. 3596 was given third reading as amended and sent to the Senate.
Internet Sales — S. 214. This bill clarifies what the requirements are for marketplace facilitators as it relates to tax collection to make it easier for DOR to enforce South Carolina's sales tax policy and capture internet sales tax from third parties. S. 214 passed the House and is enrolled for ratification.
Inmate Restraints — H. 3967. This bill provides that pregnant inmates may not be restrained except for when being transported. The bill also provides that during certain situations that are related to pregnancy such as labor, delivery, and postpartum recovery, the inmate may only be restrained if they pose a risk to themselves or others, or if they are a flight risk. The bill provides for the method of restraint when restraint is allowed. H. 3967 received third reading in the House and is in the Senate Corrections and Penology Committee.
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 Senate further amended S. 303 so that law enforcement agencies are required to establish the therapeutic transport units and have crisis intervention training regardless of the funding, and they cannot apply for funding until they have completed crisis intervention training. S. 303 passed the Senate and is now in the House.
Sheriff Qualifications — H. 3951. 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. H. 3951 was recalled from the Senate Judiciary Committee and is pending second reading on the Senate calendar.
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 â€œboot strapâ€ 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. The House amended the bill so that any agreement between a local government and a wireless provider after December 31, 2019, has 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. H. 4262 has passed the House and is in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
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. After amending S. 17, the Senate gave it third reading and sent it to the House.
First Responders — H. 3728. This bill establishes a prescription monitoring program for when an opioid antidote is administered to a patient experiencing an opioid overdose. First responders would have to submit to DHEC specific information relating to the patient and the antidote within 72 hours of administering the antidote. The bill received third reading in the House and was sent to the Senate.
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. 747 — Authorizes local governments and local authorities to adopt ordinances for the civil enforcement of certain traffic laws by using traffic-control signal monitoring systems.
S. 753 — Transfers 1 percent of insurance premium tax revenues to the V-SAFE program.
S. 756 — Combines and consolidates boards of commissioners of public works and the governing bodies of certain special purpose districts.
H. 4431 — Enacts the "South Carolina Business License Tax Reform Act."
H. 4438 — Provides that a county that has imposed a tax pursuant to Chapter 37, Title 4 may also impose another sales and use tax.
H. 4439 — Designates July 16th of each year as "Atomic Veterans Day."
(R31) H. 4157. Extends the deadline to submit offers for a solicitation for a statewide voting system and creates a special evaluation panel to evaluate and score each proposal.