Friday Report - June 16, 2023

The House and Senate met on Wednesday and finally approved the budget bill (H. 4300). Both chambers also took up several conference reports. The Senate and House also indicated that unless there are budget vetoes by the Governor they consider to be significant, they will not reconvene until January 2024.

The budget and other bills of interest are discussed below:

Revenue, Finance and Economic Development

Budget – H. 4300. Both chambers took up and adopted the conference committee report on the budget bill on Wednesday. As adopted by the General Assembly, the state budget increases funding to the Local Government Fund (LGF) by $13,212,234 statewide. This represents full funding to the LGF under the statutory formula. (See the updated LGF County Allocation Estimates Chart.) The budget also provides for $20 million in new money to County Transportation Committees. The budget also includes $12 million for the Rural Stabilization Fund, the same as in FY 22-23. (See the updated RSF County Estimates Chart.)

Other funding of note in the budget includes:

  • $155 million to cover a $2,500 base pay increase for state employees making under $50,000 and a 5 percent base pay increase for state employees making over $50,000;
  • $121.5 million for the state’s share of the 3.7 percent increase in premiums under the State Health Plan, including expanded well visits, prescribed contraceptives for dependents, and annual gynecological visits for women;
  • $40.1 million to cover the state’s share of the 1 percent retirement contribution increase;
  • $12 million to the Rural County Stabilization Fund;
  • $1.5 million to the Councils of Governments (COGs); 
  • $200 million to the Office of Resiliency for disaster relief and resiliency reserve fund;
  • $311,925 to registers of deeds (This represents increased funding for FY23-24);
  • $690,000 to coroners (This represents increased funding for FY23-24);
  • $690,000 to clerks of court (This represents the same funding as FY 22-23);
  • $690,000 to sheriffs (This represents the same funding as FY 22-23);
  • $690,000 to probate judges (This represents the same funding as FY 22-23);
  • $1,063,214 to county auditors (This represents the same funding as FY 22-23);
  • $1,063,213 to county treasurers (This represents the same funding as FY 22-23);
  • $3 million in salary supplements to magistrates (This represents increased funding for FY 23-24);
  • $1.6 million to coroners to fund the local Child Fatality Review Team program;
  • $750,000 for post-traumatic stress disorder treatment for first responders;
  • $3 million to Labor, Licensing and Regulation for the V-SAFE Fund;
  • $3.894 million in recurring funds for Aid to Fire Districts – Statutory Funding Requirement for insurance premiums under Section 23-9-410;
  • $13.5 million in additional money for destination specific tourism grants;
  • $2.5 million in additional money for regional tourism promotions;
  • $25 million in additional money to the Conservation Bank for grant funding;
  • $3.784 million for the Firefighter Cancer Benefit Plan;
  • $400,000 to the Department of Public Safety for a mental health for incarcerated individuals pilot program; and
  • $4 million to the Department of Mental Health for an alternative transportation program.

Last week, the budget conference committee removed proviso 113.11, which would prohibit political subdivisions from enacting or enforcing an ordinance that prohibits short-term rentals unless the political subdivision also provides financial incentives for the purchase and rental of affordable housing and zoning allowances in exchange for an affordable covenant of at least 20 years. If a political subdivision violates this provision or enacts any such ordinance, the State Treasurer shall withhold their portion of the LGF. The proviso defines “short-term rental” as an individually or collectively owned residential house or dwelling unit or group of units that is rented wholly or partially for residential use for any period of time greater than three consecutive days.

This year’s budget includes the following new or amended provisos of note:

  • 1.100. Incentive Prohibition. Prohibits school districts, or any of their schools, from using state funds to offer students any monetary incentive or inducement to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

  • 34.64. DHEC: Grant Authority. Authorizes the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) to make grants to nonprofit organizations and governmental entities for public health and environmental programs. Directs the department to develop policies and procedures and promulgate regulations.

  • 34.65. Dam Safety Emergency Fund.Of the funds appropriated for dam safety beginning with the General Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2023-24, there is established within DHEC the Dam Safety Emergency Fund. The fund shall be utilized for emergency actions to protect life or property under Section 49-11-190(D). The department shall deposit up to $250,000 of appropriated funds into the fund at the beginning of each fiscal year. Fund balances shall be carried forward from each prior fiscal year into the current fiscal year and used for the same purpose. Expenses recovered from dam owners under Section 49-11-190(D) shall be deposited into the fund.

  • 43.6. Firefighting Equipment and Response Carry Forward. Authorizes the Forestry Commission to carry forward any unspent funds appropriated for firefighting equipment into the current fiscal year and to spend these funds for the same purpose.

  • 49.16. Destination Specific Tourism. Amended to state that non-recurring funds appropriated to the Destination Specific Tourism Marketing grant program shall not be subject to a match requirement during the current fiscal year.

  • 60.5. PCC: Solicitor’s Office – County Funding Level. This proviso was amended by the Senate Finance Committee to provide that if the county reduces the amount of support provided to solicitor’s offices below the level provided in the prior fiscal year, the State Treasurer shall withhold the county’s State Aid to Subdivision funding by a corresponding amount. The conference committee removed the penalty provision from this proviso.

  • 60.11. PCC: Caseload Equalization Funding.Increases the amount appropriated and authorized for Caseload Equalization. The proviso will have the first $10,350,000 distributed at an amount of $225,000 per county. The remaining $12,006,872 shall be distributed based upon the average incoming caseload for each county as reported by the Judicial Department for the prior three fiscal years.

  • 61.1. INDEF: Defense of Indigents Formula.This proviso was amended by the Senate Finance Committee to provide that if the county reduces the amount of support provided to a public defender’s office below the level provided in the prior fiscal year, the State Treasurer shall withhold the county’s State Aid to Subdivision funding by a corresponding amountThe conference committee removed the penalty provision from this proviso.

  • 65.19. Corr: Quota Elimination. This proviso provides that counties shall be required to provide to the Department of Corrections all availablemedical history and screening records, booking reports, and other documents required to assist the department in its intake processing at least one day prior to the date for transfer of an inmate. Counties are not required to perform additional medical screening at the time of transfer. However, counties shall not be allowed to have an inmate admitted to the department until after the above-mentioned records are transferred to the department.

  • 108.6. PEBA: State Health Plan.Provides for an employer premium increase of 3.7 percent and a subscriber premium increase of 0 percent for the standard State Health Plan for Plan Year 2024.

  • 113.3. AS-TREAS: Salary Supplements. Directs that salary supplements for county clerks of courts, probate judges, coroners, sheriffs, and registers of deeds be distributed to each county treasurer quarterly and directs that the amounts for county auditors and county treasurers be equally distributed to each county auditor and treasurer as a salary supplement in addition to the salary and other benefits presently provided by the county. The proviso also:

    • States the intent of the General Assembly that county appropriations for these salaries not be reduced as a result of the appropriation;
    • Exempts these funds from any across the board cut; and
    • Authorizes a county governing body to reduce expenditures in the operation of these offices without any required corresponding reduction in the county’s State Aid to Subdivision distribution and directs that any reduction in the officials’ budgets must be made in consultation with the affected official.
    • Provides for salary increases for magistrates. Full-time magistrates will receive a $10,000 increase in their base salary. Part-time magistrates will receive a $2,500 increase in their base salary. These salaries will remain decoupled from the circuit court judge salaries. The salary supplement shall not disqualify each magistrate for salary increases that they might otherwise receive from county funds in the future.

  • 117.47. Mental Health Transport. Allows the Department of Mental Health to amend the contract to add additional counties to the program.

H. 4300 has now been enrolled for ratification.

Public Safety, Corrections and Judicial

Bond Reform – H. 3532. As originally drafted, this bill would provide for a five-year sentencing enhancement for people who commit certain additional crimes while they are out on bond, and it would prohibit bond for certain crimes. It would also require a full cash bond for certain crimes. The bill would allow some discretion in setting bond along with electronic monitoring on a subsequent offense committed while out on bond but would still require a full cash bond for certain crimes. SCAC testified about concerns of the financial impact this would have on county detention centers due to the jail population increase that the bill would create.

The House adopted a strike and insert amendment that makes the five-year sentence a separate offense that can only be adjudicated if the person is first convicted of the subsequent violent crime while out on bond from other charges. Bond would be denied for any violent crime, as defined by § 16-1-60, that is committed while a person is out on bond for another charge. 

The Senate amended the bill further by removing the five-year sentence provision. The bill as amended also requires that the Judicial Department must establish and maintain an Accessible Case Tracking System (ACTS) that contains information regarding the status of each case pending before the SC Supreme Court, the SC Court of Appeals, or any circuit court until the final disposition of the case. In addition, when the clerk of court receives an initial bond form in a criminal case or an initial filing in a civil case, the court must enter the case into ACTS. ACTS must be prominently posted on the Judicial Department’s website and made available to the public on a searchable website.

The conference committee received free conference powers and made some of the following changes to the bill:

  • A person who is out on bond for a violent crime and commits a subsequent violent crime will be charged with a new felony charge for violating the bond or pretrial release order. The new charge carries up to a five-year penalty that can run concurrently with the punishment for the principal offense.
  • As a condition of bond, a judge may order electronic monitoring that must be approved by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED). Electronic monitoring may only be done by a law enforcement agency, a licensed bondsman or bonding company, or a monitoring company that is certified by SLED. SLED is also authorized to promulgate regulations regarding the requirements of electronic monitoring. The provisions dealing with electronic monitoring take effect six months after approval of the legislation by the Governor.
  • The provisions dealing with the case tracking system (ACTS) were removed.
  • The bill creates the South Carolina Pretrial Reform Commission to prepare a comprehensive report of the current pretrial system. The report must be submitted to the chairs of the Senate and House Judiciary Committee respectively, to be used by the General Assembly to determine when the state laws should be amended.
  • In lieu of the monthly submission of a written report to the clerk of court, the bondsman may utilize a data management software system, which contains the above required current information, and is capable of providing the appropriate clerk of court or his designee with real-time access to the data management system through a portal, website, or other data access system through which the clerk of court can confirm he has access to the required information.

H. 3532 has been enrolled for ratification.

Death Benefits for First Responders – S. 108. This bill would provide for a $150,000 death benefit for a law enforcement officer or volunteer officer killed while in the line of duty. The bill was amended to expand this benefit to first responders including emergency medical services providers (including volunteers), a fire department worker (including volunteers), and a coroner or deputy coroner who is directly engaged in examining, treating, or directing people during an emergency. Adding a coroner as a first responder is an SCAC policy position. The House amended the bill to have benefits paid for through the general fund instead of the Public Employee Benefit Authority. 

The conference committee received free conference powers to change the effective date of S. 108 to May 11, 2023. The bill as adopted by both chambers provides that benefits paid to those first responders under the state retirement system will be paid for through the Public Employee Benefit Authority and benefits paid to those first responders not under the state retirement system, such as volunteers, will be paid out of the General Fund and administered by the State Accident Fund. S. 108 has been enrolled for ratification.

Destruction of Utility Systems – S. 330. This bill would modify the penalty structure for crimes involving malicious injury to telegraph, telephone, cable, or electrical utility systems and natural gas infrastructure. Under current law, destruction of such systems or infrastructure is considered a felony offense that is punishable by a fine set at the discretion of the court or imprisonment for not more than 10 years. The bill further provides that certain violations could result in a felony conviction and outlines a tiered penalty structure based on the cost of damage to the utility systems, the danger to the public, and whether the damage involves death or bodily injury.

A conference committee met this week to debate the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. The conferees agreed to delete provisions in the bill relating to treble damages along with language relating to the fentanyl bill, H. 3503, that had been previously attached to S. 330 by the House. The conferees also reached an agreement to include a provision that would allow actual, consequential, and potentially punitive damages against any person or persons acting as an accessory that commit violations as outlined in the bill. The House and Senate both adopted the conference report on the bill and S. 330 has been enrolled for ratification.

Youth Offenders Expungement – H. 3890This bill amends Section 22-5-920, relating to youthful offender eligibility for expungement of certain offenses, to allow expungement for convictions involving a driving under suspension offense or a disturbing schools offense. The Governor’s veto was overridden by the House and the Senate and H. 3890 has been enrolled for ratification.

County Government and Intergovernmental Relations

First Steps Partnership Board – H. 4023. This bill would revise the composition, manner of appointment, and terms of membership of the Local First Steps Partnership Board. Last month, the Senate adopted an amendment on the floor to require each legislative delegation to determine the number of members to serve on the Board and to appoint the members of the Board. However, under the amendment, the legislative delegation may by resolution delegate its appointments to county council.

This week, the conferees gave H. 4023 a favorable conference committee report. The amended bill now provides that each of the below entities located within a particular First Steps Partnership coverage area shall recommend one member to the legislative delegation for appointment by the delegation to serve as a member of the local First Steps Partnership Board:

  • Department of Social Services;
  • DHEC; and
  • Head Start or early Head Start;
  • The county public library system staff located within a particular First Steps Partnership coverage area shall recommend one employee of the system for appointment by its county council to serve as a member of the partnership, and the council either shall make the appointment or reject the appointment and ask the library staff to make another recommendation;
  • Each public school district board located within a particular First Steps Partnership coverage area shall appoint one of its employees to serve as a member of the local First Steps Partnership; and
  • Each county legislative delegation shall appoint six members to a local partnership board. The legislative delegation may by resolution delegate some or all of its appointments to county council.

H. 4023 has been enrolled for ratification.


In addition to the bills discussed above, the following bill has been sent to the Governor for approval or veto:

R97 H. 3503 (Reps.Gilliam, Pope, Taylor, Chumley, Haddon, McCravy, Oremus, Hiott, Burns, Wooten, Hixon, Bailey, Caskey, Thayer, Trantham, Forrest, Yow, S.Jones, Sessions, Guffey, Lawson, Chapman, Leber, O'Neal, Vaughan, Robbins, B.J.Cox, M.M.Smith, Davis, Brewer, Murphy, Whitmire, Ligon, Felder, Mitchell, Hager, Connell, Carter, West, Calhoon, B. Newton, Neese, Landing, Blackwell, Pedalino, Willis and W. Newton): An Act to amend § 44-53-190 to make trafficking in fentanyl a felony crime.

Legislative Session: