Friday Report - March 11, 2022
This was another busy week at the State House as the Senate spent most of its time on the floor debating a resolution calling for a Convention of the States, and the House spent most of its time in committees trying to move bills to the floor before next week’s budget debate. The House budget debate will begin on Monday, March 14th at 1:00 pm. The User Fee Authorization bill, S. 984, has still not been set for a committee hearing. However, after some conversations this week, we are optimistic a hearing will be scheduled soon. Please continue to talk with your Senators and stress to them the importance of getting this bill passed for counties to avoid dire economic consequences from the user fee lawsuits already filed against some of the counties, as well as those that are likely to be filed in the future. Time is of the essence for this bill to pass by the end of the session.
Several bills of note will be discussed below in this week’s Friday Report.
Revenue, Finance and Economic Development
Retirement Earnings Cap – H. 4918. H. 4918 would raise the return to work earnings cap for those in the Police Officers Retirement System (PORS) from $10,000 to $50,000 for critical needs law enforcement positions as determined by the Law Enforcement Training Council. It would also allow retired workers to immediately return to work without any separation period. A House Ways and Means subcommittee amended the bill to include retired workers in the State Retirement System (SRS). However, the amendment would require workers in both systems to be separated from work for a period of at least 12 months. The bill as amended was given a favorable report.
Retirement Employer Requirement – H. 4921. H.4921 would require a participating employer in PORS to report an active, inactive, former, or retired worker that is currently working for the employer as an employee and pay the employer contribution to the system as if the employee was an active employee, even if the employee is employed as an independent contractor or other classification of worker. PEBA would be authorized to audit the participating employers to ensure compliance. Any employer that misclassifies an employee’s work status would be required to pay all contributions that should have been paid to the retirement system for the employee as well as any applicable health premiums or delinquent health insurance contributions. The bill would also lift the $10,000 earnings cap for workers returning to work. A House Ways and Means subcommittee amended the bill with a strike and insert that includes the employers participating in the SRS and reinstates the $10,000 earnings cap for both PORS and SRS. The amended version also allows PEBA to perform audits on the participating employers. The bill received a favorable report as amended.
Tax Exemptions – S. 1087. This bill, titled the “Comprehensive Tax Cut Act of 2022,” would reduce the top marginal income tax rate in South Carolina to 5.7 percent, exempt all military retirement income, and exempt 42.8571 percent of manufacturing property from property tax. The revenue loss resulting from the property tax exemption would be reimbursed to political subdivisions from the Trust Fund for Tax Relief. The Senate gave S. 1087 second and third readings and sent the bill to the House.
Land Use and Transportation
Abandoned Buildings Cleanup – H. 5036. This legislation would help counties across South Carolina that continue to assume the cost of repairing or cleaning up certain properties when a landowner fails to upkeep structures on the property. The House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee adopted an amendment, striking the language of the original bill, and inserting new language that would allow counties to recover costs associated with repairs, improvements, or demolition and clean-up of structures on commercial or industrial properties falling under Sections 108, 109, and 110 of the International Property Maintenance Code, collected in the same manner as property taxes. The bill provides for a five-year installment for the payment of the lien, after which the property could be sold by the county at a tax sale if the debt is unpaid. H. 5036 received a favorable report as amended and is pending second reading on the House calendar.
Public Safety, Corrections and Judicial
Uniform Transfer to Minors Act – H. 3821. Currently, the State follows the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act. This bill repeals and replaces the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act with the Uniform Transfers to Minors Act. This bill expands the types of properties that may be transferred for the benefit of a minor to include real estate, paintings, royalties, and patents, among other items. The property becomes available to the minor at the age of majority as established in the state. H. 3821 has been enrolled for ratification.
Property Titles Transfer on Death – H. 3950. H. 3950 would allow the owner of a vehicle, mobile home, watercraft, outboard motor, or any similarly titled property, to designate a beneficiary on the title. Upon their death, the titled property would pass to the beneficiary without going through probate. If no beneficiary was designated on the title or the beneficiary died before the owner, the property would have to be probated. H. 3950 passed the House and has been sent to the Senate.
Sexually Violent Predators Act – S. 659. This bill amends the Sexually Violent Predators Act in regards to the parole, release, and commitment procedures for persons convicted of sexually violent offenses. Further, it clarifies whether or not a person meets the definition of a sexually violent predator and establishes procedures for those persons. Additionally, it defines new terms and provides for supervised re-entry. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee adopted a technical amendment and gave the bill a favorable report, as amended. S. 659 will be on the next full committee agenda.
Law Enforcement Certification, Reporting, and Training – H. 3050. As originally drafted, the bill would provide that, beginning on July 1, 2021, a non-certified law enforcement officer shall only perform his duties while accompanied by a certified law enforcement officer. As amended by the House, H. 3050 would also add that failure by an officer to intervene when observing another officer physically or psychologically abusing members of the public or prisoners falls under the definition of “misconduct.” Also, the bill defines “chokehold” and provides that such a method of restraint would be limited to justifiable uses only. Further, the Law Enforcement Training Council would establish required minimum standards for all law enforcement agencies, including policies relating to “no-knock” warrants, implementation of body-worn cameras, vehicle pursuit standards, and more. A Compliance Division would be created that would inspect, at least once every three years, the policies and procedures for every law enforcement agency. The bill would also provide for civil fines if an agency is non-compliant and would allow for certification suspension of every officer within an agency until the agency becomes compliant with the relevant policies and procedures. Finally, H. 3050 would require candidates for law enforcement certification to submit evidence that the candidate has signed an attestation form committing to ethical policing. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee made some technical amendments to H. 3050 and gave it a favorable report. There will likely be additional amendments to the bill at full committee.
Immigration Enforcement – S. 1032. . This bill would repeal the Illegal Immigration Enforcement Unit within the SC Department of Public Safety and move the unit to SLED to enforce state and federal immigration laws. SLED would be required to enter into a Memorandum of Agreement with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The bill would also allow counties and local law enforcement agencies to enforce state and federal immigration laws. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee gave the bill a favorable report.
Corrections Officer Age – S. 1092. S. 1092 would require a detention or correctional officer to be at least 18 years of age at the time of employment. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee amended the bill to exempt correctional officers employed by the Department of Juvenile Justice from this requirement. The bill was given a favorable report as amended.
Coroners as First Responders – H. 3958. This bill would deem a coroner or his designee as a first responder when administering an opioid antidote to a person experiencing an opioid overdose. The coroner must comply with all the requirements of Section 44-130-60 to be entitled to immunity from civil and criminal liability or professional disciplinary action when administering an opioid antidote to a person he believes in good faith is experiencing an opioid overdose. According to the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office, the bill would have no impact on county expenditures because coroners typically respond to emergency calls after a death. The House amended the bill to provide that a coroner shall be considered a public safety officer under federal law if killed in the line of duty. This amendment would allow for the availability of federal death benefits for coroners killed in the line of duty. The House adopted the amendment and adjourned debate on H. 3958.
County Government and Intergovernmental
County Ambulance Service – H. 4601. This bill would designate ambulance service as an essential service in South Carolina, thereby requiring each county to ensure that at least one licensed ambulance service is operating within the county. The House gave the bill second and third readings and the bill has been sent to the Senate.
Alarm System Ordinances – H. 4889. This bill would provide that if a local government enacts an ordinance requiring a fine for a false alarm, the alarm business must not be fined or assessed a civil penalty for such false alarms which are not attributed to improper installation, defective equipment, or operational error by the alarm business contractor. Such a fine may be imposed on the homeowner if user error is determined to be the reason for the false alarm. The House Labor, Commerce, and Industry committee gave the bill a favorable report and it is pending second reading on the House calendar.
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. 1127 — Enacts the "Equal Protection for Unborn Babies Act."
S. 1129 — Prohibits the sale of flavored vapor products.
S. 1141 — Repeals Chapter 30 of Title 8 of the Code of Laws relating to the recording and reporting of immigration law violations.
S. 1144 — Enacts the "South Carolina Agribusiness, Rural, and Opportunity Zone Jobs Act."
S. 1147 — Provides that the county legislative delegation may, by the adoption of a resolution, appoint the members of a county recreation commission that was established as a special purpose district prior to the adoption of home rule, and provides that the members of a county recreation commission who the county delegation appoints pursuant to the provisions of this act serve at the pleasure of the county legislative delegation and may be removed at any time by the county legislative delegation.
S. 1149 — Provides residents of this state who own or possess firearms shall obtain and carry liability insurance that covers losses or damages resulting from any negligent or accidental use of the firearm, provides proof of insurance must be displayed upon demand by law enforcement officers, and provides penalties for violations.
S. 1150 — Denounces international relations with authoritarian dictatorships through the importation of foreign petroleum and natural gas and encourages the domestic production of petroleum and natural gas in the United States.
H. 5083 — Provides that the county legislative delegation may abolish and dissolve a county recreation commission and devolve its powers, duties, and responsibilities upon the county governing body.
H. 5084 — Expresses the strong belief of the South Carolina General Assembly that the Russian invasion of Ukraine must end and expresses support for the people and government of Ukraine in fighting the Russian invasion and maintaining its independence.
H. 5086 — Clarifies Rule 5.3B of the House of Representatives regarding germaneness and amendments; sets certain voting requirements; and prohibits the addition, amendment, repeal, or alteration of a portion of the general, permanent tax laws of the state, among other things.
H. 5094 — Provides that the right of a person to refuse any medical procedure, treatment, injection, vaccine, or prophylactic must not be questioned or interfered with in any manner, and equality of rights under the law must not be denied or abridged to any person in this state because of the exercise of this right.
H. 5095 — Provides permitted golf carts may be operated and parked on public streets and accesses under certain circumstances and provides golf carts may cross certain highways within four miles of the owner's residential street address or additional operating address under certain circumstances.
H. 5097 — Allows a hospital district that is undergoing dissolution to transfer its assets to an affiliated organization that is exempt from tax under section 501(c)(3) or (4) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.
H. 5099 — Provides that the county legislative delegation may, by the adoption of a resolution, appoint the members of a county recreation commission that was established as a special purpose district prior to the adoption of home rule and provides that the members of a county recreation commission who the county delegation appoints pursuant to the provisions of this act serve at the pleasure of the county legislative delegation and may be removed at any time by the county legislative delegation.
H. 5102 — Memorializes Congress and President Biden to return to the "America First" energy policy of President Trump, reauthorizes the Keystone XL Pipeline Project, and utilizes all options possible to maximize the domestic production of oil.
H. 5103 — Suspends the imposition of the user fee on gasoline and diesel fuel and the imposition of the road tax for one year.
H. 5112 — Suspends the imposition of the user fee on gasoline and diesel fuel and the imposition of the road tax until the imposition, or part thereof, does not cause the average retail price of regular grade gasoline in South Carolina to exceed $3.25 per gallon.
H. 5113 — Requires, among other things, that the claimant also must file a written statement of a claim against a protected person with the probate court in which the conservatorship is under administration.
H. 5115 — Memorializes Congress and the President to immediately reauthorize construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline Project.
H. 5116 — Allows for the income tax deduction of all retirement income.
H. 5118 — Expands availability of the free tuition program by revising eligibility requirements relating to free college tuition for the children of certain wartime veterans.
H. 5150 — Makes appropriations and provides revenues to meet the ordinary expenses of state government for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2022, to regulate the expenditure of such funds, and to further provide for the operation of state government during this fiscal year and for other purposes.
H. 5151 — Appropriates monies from the capital reserve fund for the fiscal year 2021-2022 and allows unexpended funds appropriated to be carried forward to succeeding fiscal years and expended for the same purposes.