Friday Report - January 13, 2023
The General Assembly began the 2023 Legislative Session this week. Because this is the first year of a two-year session, a plethora of bills were prefiled and introduced this week on both side of the chamber. Bills of interest to the counties will be found in the Newly-Introduced Legislation below. There was very little legislative action other than the House Ways and Means subcommittees taking testimony on budget requests and the full committee voting out of committee a bill regarding the use of the state American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. The Senate indicated it will be taking up an education bill next week that would pave the way for public funds to be used for private and religious schools.
The South Carolina Association of Counties (SCAC) will host Counties Connect: A Legislative Action Day on Wednesday, February 22, 2023, at the USC Alumni Center in downtown Columbia. Formerly known as the association’s Mid-Year Conference, this is an excellent opportunity to meet with your legislators and discuss issues important to your county. See the detailed information regarding Counties Connect as well as Institute classes that follows the legislative items in this week’s Friday Report.
Revenue, Finance, and Economic Development
Local Government Fund – The Ways and Means Constitutional Subcommittee met on Tuesday to hear the budget requests for several state agencies as well as the Local Government Fund (LGF) for counties and municipalities. Under the new LGF formula that was agreed to in Act 84 of 2019, if the State General Fund increases or decreases, then the LGF will increase or decrease by the same percentage up to 5 percent. The South Carolina Board of Economic Advisors (BEA) preliminary forecast for FY 2023-2024 is $12.30 billion, which would result in an increase of $754.1 million in new recurring general fund revenue. SCAC testified at the subcommittee and asked the General Assembly to once again fully fund the LGF in this year’s budget.
American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) – H. 3604. The House Ways and Means Revenue Policy Legislative Subcommittee and the full Ways and Means Committee met this week on H. 3604, a joint resolution that would provide for the expenditure of funds from the Contingency Reserve Fund for economic development projects and for the expenditure of federal ARPA funds that were disbursed to the state under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. H. 3604 also clarifies that funds previously distributed to the ARPA Resilience Account under Act 244 of 2022 may be used for the acquisition of property throughout the state in an effort to increase resilience.
Under the current House proposal, $500 million would be appropriated from the Contingency Reserve Fund to the Department of Commerce for infrastructure funding for qualifying economic development projects that have been previously authorized by the Joint Bond Review Committee (JBRC) and the State Fiscal Accountability Authority (SFAA) during FY 2022-23.
The joint resolution also authorizes that the remaining $586,633,226 in ARPA funds disbursed to the state last year by the U.S. Department of Treasury would be appropriated to the Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA) – ARPA Water and Sewer Infrastructure Account. These funds must be used only toward existing grant applications that were submitted in September of 2022. Additionally, $86.6 million of this allocation to the RIA must be reserved for existing grant applications that are considered to be “economically significant” as determined by the Secretary of Commerce. H. 3604 received a favorable report, as amended, and will be placed on the House calendar.
County Government and Intergovernmental Relations
State Health Facility Licensure Act (Certificate of Need) – S. 164. This bill overhauls the State Certification of Need and Health Facility Licensure Act by repealing the Certificate of Need (CON) provision. SCAC supported legislation last session that would reform the state's CON to limit the appeals process, reduce the projects that require approval and streamline the system. Last session, a bill was passed by the Senate (S. 290) and was forwarded to the House; however, the stakeholders could not reach a consensus.
A Senate Medical Affairs Committee gave S. 164 a favorable report. Although S. 164 repeals the CON provision, the bill imposes the following conditions:
- Defines the word "hospital";
- Provides that MUSC must still obtain a CON or licensure;
- Provides that nursing homes must still obtain a CON from DHEC before undertaking certain health services;
- Creates a "Certificate of Need Study Committee" to examine the effect of the repeal of the CON program on the quality and quantity of access to healthcare in rural portions of South Carolina; and
- Creates a severability clause.
S. 164 is pending second reading on the Senate calendar.
SCAC’s Counties Connect: A Legislative Action Day
Make plans to join your colleagues from across the state for SCAC’s Counties Connect: A Legislative Action Day on Wednesday, February 22, 2023, at the USC Alumni Center in downtown Columbia. Formerly known as the association’s Mid-Year Conference, this event provides an excellent opportunity for county leaders to connect with their local delegation members to advocate for issues important to their counties. All county officials are encouraged to participate. The program will kick off at 10:00 a.m. with a legislative briefing followed by a group visit to the State House while the House and Senate are in session. County leaders will have opportunities to speak with delegation members while at the State House. Lunch will be provided at the USC Alumni Center, and the conference program will continue in the afternoon with timely topics. County officials will have additional opportunities to engage with their legislators during the legislative reception that evening at The Palmetto Club from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.
The following Institute of Government classes will be offered on Thursday, February 23:
Level I Electives: Employment Law: What Counties Need to Know and Building an Effective County Team
Level II: The Policy Role of Council and Effective Communications
The Council Chairperson’s Workshop will also be offered on February 23. This session is open to county council chairs and vice chairs and is free of charge.
Don’t miss this opportunity to network, engage, advocate, and learn! Visit SCCounties.org to learn more and register.
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."