Friday Report - Issue 15-19 - April 26, 2019
There are only two weeks left in this legislative session. The Senate introduced a Sine Die resolution (S. 785) this week. If adopted, the General Assembly will return on May 20th through May 22nd to deal with specific items such as vetoes, the budget and capital reserve fund bills (H. 4000 and H. 4001), any bills that are in conference committees, and legislation related to Santee Cooper.
Local Government Fund — H. 3137
H. 3137 encompasses SCAC’s policy position regarding the LGF. The bill was amended by the Senate Finance Committee to provide that if the State General Fund increases or decreases, then the LGF will increase or 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. H. 3137 has been pending second reading on the Senate calendar for a couple of weeks. If this bill is to pass, it is imperative that it be taken up soon.
Please contact your Senator and ask that they support passing H. 3137 as amended by the Senate Finance Committee and to do so as soon as possible.
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.”
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 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. A House 3M subcommittee further amended S. 303 so that the Therapeutic Transport Fund sunsets three years after it has been established. The bill was given a favorable report as amended.
While the bill calls for state law enforcement as well as local law enforcement to perform these transports, this function almost exclusively has fallen on sheriffs’ departments. The fact that no funding has been placed in the budget for this requirement, and no specific funding source for the Therapeutic Transport Fund is identified makes this an unfunded mandate. SCAC will be working with other stakeholders on this bill prior to it going before the full committee to try to resolve this.
Other Legislative Action this Week
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. The bill also includes a seven-year sunset and yearly review of the program by the Legislative Oversight Committee. It also requires the utility to submit all documents necessary for inclusion into the transportation improvement project at least 180 days prior to the bidding of the project. The Education and Public Works Committee gave S. 401 a favorable report and it is pending second reading on the House calendar.
Statewide 911 System — H. 3586. This bill charges the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office with creating, updating, and implementing a statewide 911 system. The system must be developed and updated with recommendations from a South Carolina 911 Advisory Committee. A county administrator recommended by SCAC will be a member of the 911 Advisory Committee. The Senate Judiciary Committee carried over the bill.
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. 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 was carried over by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
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. The facilities are required to dispose of 75 percent of the char to maintain exemption from the Solid Waste Act. H. 4152 received second reading in the House.
Animal Shelters — S. 105. This bill, among other things, would require animal control officers to inspect animal shelters to ensure compliance with certain state standards established by the bill. These standards are mandatory for private shelters, but the bill provides that for publicly operated shelters, the county or city may choose to adopt these state standards. This ensures that public shelters will not be regulated by a state agency, an SCAC policy position. After adopting an amendment dealing with the tethering of dogs, a House Judiciary subcommittee gave the bill a favorable report.
Poll Worker Residency — H. 3035. This bill would allow a poll worker to serve anywhere in the state as long as they are a resident of the state and registered to vote in the state. This is a past SCAC policy position. The Senate Judiciary Committee amended the bill to require the clerk of the polling precinct to be a resident of the county or the adjacent county they are serving in. The bill is pending second reading on the Senate calendar.
Primary Election Disputes — H. 3029. Currently, hearings for primary election protests or disputes at the local level are held by the local executive committee by partisan party. This bill would remove those hearings from the local level. Instead, all hearings for local primary protests would be held by the state party’s executive committee in Columbia. The Senate Judiciary Committee carried over H. 3029.
Professional Licenses — H. 3263 & S. 455. H. 3263 and S. 455 would allow military members and their spouses who hold a professional license in another state to have reciprocity to practice their profession while stationed in this state. This is an SCAC policy position. Both bills provide the Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation (LLR) the discretion to determine whether the out-of-state license meets the requirements for this state. H. 3263 is broader and more generous than S. 455. Earlier this year, the House amended H. 3263 to exclude lawyers and educators; however, both lawyers and educators already have reciprocity systems in place through the SC Bar and the SC Department of Education. This week, the Senate LCI Committee amended H. 3263 to reflect the Senate version of this policy (S. 455) and the bill is now pending second reading on the Senate calendar. S. 455 was amended by a House LCI subcommittee to reflect the House version of this policy (H. 3263) and given a favorable report as amended. There will likely be a conference committee on these two bills.
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. The Senate recalled H. 3951 from committee and gave the bill second reading after adopting a minor amendment.
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. 780 — Provides for the review of highway and bridge projects and the possibility of funding such projects with toll roads.
H. 4472 — Allows a Concealed Weapon Permit holder to carry a concealable weapon openly on his person.
H. 4473 — Legalizes the possession of one ounce or less of marijuana by a person who has a terminal illness.
H. 4482 — Provides that a county that intends to adopt an ordinance that may increase or decrease certain housing costs shall prepare a housing impact analysis.
H. 4483 — Transfers 1 percent of insurance premium tax revenues to the V-SAFE program.
(R33) S. 214. Defines marketplace facilitator and informs marketplace facilitators of their requirements regarding sales tax.
(R36) H. 3180. Enacts the “South Carolina Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.”
(R39) H. 3438. Makes the Division of Veterans Affairs a division within the Executive Branch and provides the qualifications of the county Veteran Affairs Officer will be established by the legislative delegation.
(R40) H. 3483. Repeals Section 3 of Act 138 of 2016 relating to the automatic repeal of statutory provisions requiring certain coal combustion residuals be placed in a Class 3 landfill.