Friday Report - January 31, 2020
This week the General Assembly spent most of its time debating education bills. The House debated bills that dealt with assessment and student performance, and teachers’ rights, while the Senate continued to debate a comprehensive education bill. Despite the education issue dominating the bulk of the time of the General Assembly, SCAC was successful in moving some of the bills that are policy positions.
SCAC’s Mid-Year Conference, scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 19, provides an excellent opportunity to meet with your legislators and discuss issues important to your county. See the detailed information regarding the conference and the Institute classes that follows the legislative items in this week’s Friday Report.
Revenue, Finance, and Economic Development
Property Assessment – S. 545. This bill would require the Department of Revenue to follow certain North American classification system manual provisions and repeals a provision relating to the appraisal and assessment of personal property of businesses under the jurisdiction of the county auditor. A Senate Finance subcommittee adopted an amendment correcting the effective date. Further, an amendment was recommended to create a form, with input from all interested parties as to content, that would be consistent with the state form that the Department of Revenue utilizes. Currently, the form utilized by each county varies. The subcommittee adopted this amendment and gave the bill a favorable report. It will be on the next full committee’s agenda
|Leslie Simpson discusses legislation with Charleston County
Treasurer Mary Tinkler and Charleston County Auditor Peter Tecklenburg prior to the Senate Finance subcommittee meeting.
Leslie Simpson discusses legislation with Charleston County
|Josh Rhodes and Charleston County Auditor Peter Tecklenburg testify at the Senate Finance subcommittee.|
Land Use, Natural Resources and Transportation
Handsfree Act — S. 723. This bill would enact the "South Carolina Hands-Free Act". More specifically, the bill would prohibit holding a device while driving to compose, read, or send any text-based communication, including text, email, internet data, or video. A Senate Transportation subcommittee adopted an amendment which increased the fine for the first offense from $100.00 to no more than $150.00. The fine for subsequent offenses remained no more than $300.00. The Department of Public Safety would still receive $25.00 of the $150.00 fine for first offense and $75.00 of the $300.00 fine for a second or subsequent offense. These funds must be used to conduct public awareness campaigns and activities to educate the public on the hands-free requirements and the dangers of distracted driving. The full committee debated the bill extensively. Several concerns were raised and the bill was carried over. Based on the debate, it would appear that S. 723 is in jeopardy of not moving forward.
Public Safety, Corrections and Judicial
Operation of Vending Facilities within Local Detention Facilities – S. 1017. This bill, as introduced, would prevent the S.C. Commission for the Blind from operating any vending facility at a local detention center. SCAC staff and Director Ronaldo Myers, Assistant Director Shane Kitchens, and Director John Vandermosten worked with the S.C. Sheriffs’ Association and the Commission for the Blind on an amendment that would prevent blind persons from operating any commissary services provided in local detention facilities but would allow them to operate vending machines outside of the secured areas of a detention facility in public areas. A Senate Family and Veterans’ Services subcommittee adopted the amendment, and the bill will be heard at full committee on February 12, 2020.
Child Abuse Response Protocol – S. 892. This bill, in part, would establish an advisory committee that would review and update annually the South Carolina Child Abuse Response Protocol. SCAC staff asked a Senate Family and Veterans’ Services subcommittee to amend the bill to provide that one member of the committee be representative of county law enforcement. Other members of the advisory committee include representation from a solicitor’s office, the executive director of the S.C. Network of Children’s Advocacy Centers, the executive director of the S.C. Department of Social Services, state law enforcement, the State Guardian Ad Litem Program, a child abuse pediatrician, and other at-large seats. The subcommittee adopted the proposed amendment, and the bill will be on the next full committee’s meeting agenda.
County Government and Intergovernmental
Municipal Elections — S. 866. This bill changes the election certification and protest dates for municipal elections to the same dates as county-wide elections and authorizes county boards of voter registration and elections to hear contests in municipal elections. The Senate Judiciary Committee gave S. 866 a favorable report as amended and the bill is pending second reading on the Senate calendar.
Absentee Ballots — S. 867. South Carolina has seen steady increase in the number of voters voting by absentee ballot for the last several elections. This has resulted in longer working time for poll workers, who under current law cannot begin to process the absentee ballots until 9:00 a.m. on election day, and therefore, has led to delayed election results. S. 867 would solve this problem by allowing poll workers to open and scan absentee ballots beginning at 9:00 a.m. on the day preceding an election. The absentee ballots would not be tabulated until the polls close on election day. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee proposed an amendment to address the problem of not having a procedure to process a challenge to an in-person absentee ballot as a result of the new paper-based voting system. The Senate Judiciary Committee carried over the amendment for further discussion on the Senate floor and S. 867 is now pending second reading on the Senate calendar.
SCAC's Mid-Year Conference and Institute of Government Classes
The SCAC Mid-Year Conference will be held at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Columbia on Wednesday, February 19. Copies of the registration material and conference agenda are available on the SCAC website where you can also register online. The program will include a legislative panel and other timely topics. Following lunch, buses will provide transportation to the State House for visits with legislators. The legislative reception will be Wednesday evening from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at The Palmetto Club in downtown Columbia. Now is the time to start lining up appointments to see your Senators and Representatives or arranging a joint meal, function, or meeting.
The Institute of Government classes are being offered on Thursday, February 20 and include: Employment Law: What Counties Need to Know, Measuring and Reporting County Performance, The Property Taxation Process, and Understanding and Seeking Differences. The Council Chairperson's Workshop will be offered free-of-charge on Thursday, February 20, from 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. This workshop is open to all council chairmen and vice chairmen and registration is required. You may register for the Institute classes and the Council Chairperson's Workshop on the SCAC website.
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. 1052 — Provides that a county may adopt alternate dates for the application of penalties on delinquent taxes, the issuance of the county treasurer's execution to the officer authorized to collect delinquent taxes, assessments, penalties, and costs, and the mailing of the notice of delinquent taxes.
S. 1066 — Provides that, upon request of a law enforcement agency, a wireless telecommunications carrier shall provide call location information concerning the telecommunications device of the user to the law enforcement agency in order to respond to a call for emergency services or in an emergency situation that involves the risk of death or serious physical harm.
S. 1067 — Removes the age limit of 72 for judges, solicitors, and public defenders who are eligible to become members of the retirement system and repeals Section 22-1-25 relating to the mandatory retirement age for magistrates.
H. 5028 — Alters the county lines of Horry and Georgetown counties by annexing a certain portion of Georgetown to Horry County.
H. 5029 — Requires a nonprofit corporation that has an annual gross revenue exceeding $1 billion and imposes a reduction in force of more than 100 employees to prepare and present a report to the Senate Finance Committee, the House Ways and Means Committee, and to the local governing body of each county in which the nonprofit corporation is located, detailing all economic and procedural benefits made available to it and why it was necessary to impose the reduction in force.
H. 5030 — Provides for the appointment of additional members of the Dorchester County Transportation Committee and the manner of their selection.
H. 5061 — Provides that if an inmate who participates in the Prison Industries Program is paid less than the federally established minimum wage and does not have child support obligations shall not have a portion of his wages used to cover the cost for room and board.
H. 5064 — Provides that an owner occupant must provide a South Carolina driver's license and a social security card or passport to qualify for the special 4 percent assessment ratio.
H. 5068 — Exempts items from state sales tax that are sold to school districts, schools, and institutions of higher learning for the purpose of improving school safety.
H. 5070 — Prohibits preexisting condition exclusions in individual, group, and small employer health benefit plans, including the State Health Plan and health maintenance organizations in this state.