Friday Report - March 18, 2022
The House expeditiously debated the budget on the floor Monday. The bill received a second reading Monday evening and a third reading Tuesday morning. Meanwhile, the Senate continued hearing budget requests from state agencies in subcommittees and began debate on several bills on the floor.
The User Fee Authorization bill, S. 984, has still not been set for a hearing. Please talk with your House and Senate members 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 the counties, as well as those that are likely to be filed in the future. Time is of the essence for this bill to be scheduled for a subcommittee hearing in order for it to have a chance to pass by the end of session.
Several bills of note will be discussed below in this week’s Friday Report.
Revenue, Finance and Economic Development
Budget – H. 5150.
The House debated the budget on Monday and sent the bill to the Senate on Tuesday. As passed by the House, H. 5150 increased funding to the Local Government Fund (LGF) by $12,583,080 statewide. This represents full funding to the LGF under the statutory formula. The House also added an additional $2 million into the rural stabilization fund (discussed below), increasing the total amount of the fund to $12 million. The House also allocated $250 million in additional funds to County Transportation Committees for secondary and low volume primary roads. View the county-by-county distribution of these funds.
Other funding of note in the House budget includes:
- $72 million to cover a 3 percent base pay increase for all state employees, including county auditors and county treasurers, as well as over $45 million to cover a one-time $1,500 bonus for state employees;
- $850,000 to the Department of Labor, Licensing, & Regulation (LLR) for EMT training;
- $37 million to cover the state’s share of the 1 percent retirement contribution increase;
- $101 million for the state’s share of the state health plan, including expanded well visits;
- $500,000 for PTSD treatment for first responders;
- $3.5 million for the Firefighter Cancer Benefit Plan;
- $15 million for destination specific tourism grants;
- $4 million in additional funds for tourism advertising;
- $20 million to the Department of Public Safety for grants to fund local law enforcement body cameras and vests;
- $87.5 million to the Office of Resiliency for disaster relief;
- $1.6 million to coroners to fund the local child fatality review team program;
- $617,550 to supplement the clerks of court; and
- $2 million to supplement the Council of Governments (COGs).
Rural Stabilization Fund – The House put $12 million into a Rural County Stabilization Fund. Under this Fund, any county that had a population growth, as determined by the 2020 Census, of less than 5.35 percent since the 2010 Census shall be eligible to receive monies from the fund as follows:
- a baseline of $300,000 to each eligible county;
- an additional $100,000 to eligible counties with a population between 50,000 and 99,999; and
- an additional $200,000 to eligible counties with a population of more than 100,000.
After disbursal of funds, any monies remaining shall be distributed to each eligible county on a pro rata basis. In the event the amount of funds in the Fund is not sufficient to provide monies to counties according to the above formula, the amounts distributed to counties shall be reduced on a pro rata basis.
Please thank the members of the House for keeping their promise to counties and working to return much needed funding to county governments throughout the state!
Retirement System Proviso.
This proviso, adopted on the House floor during the budget debate, would eliminate the return-to-work earnings cap for those in the Police Officers Retirement System (PORS) and the South Carolina Retirement System (SCRS) who were separated from employment for a period of at least 12 months.
108.6. PEBA: State Health Plan.
This proviso raises the employer increase in premiums under the State Health Plan by 18.1 percent for plan year 2023. Patient cost sharing for participants of the State Health Plan this year may be adjusted within the parameters allowed to remain in an ACA-grandfathered status.
Land Use and Transportation
Beach Restoration Trust Fund – S. 106. This bill creates the South Carolina Beach Preservation Fund. The Trust Fund is to be administered by the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism (PRT). The Trust will be funded from annual appropriations from admissions tax revenues. In order to access these funds for beach restoration and erosion maintenance projects, local governments must provide matching funds, and the project must be approved by PRT. A Senate Fish, Game and Forestry subcommittee gave the bill a favorable report.
DHEC Restructuring – S. 2. This bill provides significant reform to the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and creates two new departments, the Department of Behavioral and Public Health (DBPH) and the Department of Environmental Services (DES). DBPH will consist of the health-related divisions of DHEC, all divisions of the Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS), and most divisions of the Department of Mental Health (DMH). DES will consist of the divisions and programs of DHEC that are concerned with the regulation and protection of the environment and the hydrology and aquatic nuisance species program of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). This bill also transfers the authority to establish, manage, and operate veterans’ homes from DMH to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA). Additionally, the Food Safety Program and the milk and dairy lab of DHEC will be transferred to the Department of Agriculture, and the flood mitigation program from DNR will be transferred to the Office of Resilience.
Members of the Senate brought the legislation to the floor for debate this week by setting it for special order. After the adoption of the Senate Medical Affairs Committee amendment, members also adopted several other amendments that would impose the following conditions:
- any decisions requiring a public hearing by DES are automatically stayed for five days and the stay shall remain in effect until the Administrative Law Court (ALC) makes a determination about whether to continue the automatic stay relating to contested cases;
- landowners with property adversely affected by the establishment of a baseline or setback line may file a request with the ALC for a contested case hearing within one year of the establishment of the baseline or setback line; and
- a county or municipality in which the property is situated, acting on behalf of the landowner with his written authorization, may also file a request with the ALC for a contested case hearing within one year of the establishment of the baseline or setback line.
S. 2 received second and third reading and was forwarded to the House.
Public Safety, Corrections and Judicial
“Sexually Violent Predators Act” – S. 659. This bill amends the “Sexually Violent Predators Act” relating 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. The bill also defines new terms and provides for supervised re-entry. The Senate Judiciary Committee gave S. 659 a favorable report as amended, and the bill is pending second reading on the Senate calendar.
Sex Offender Registry Removal – S. 1073. This bill establishes a tier system of offenses that require an offender to register as a sex offender, and after a period of time, depending on the tier the offender is in, an offender may petition the circuit court to be removed from the registry if they meet certain criteria. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee made some technical amendments and gave the bill a favorable report.
Fitness for Trial – S. 79 and H. 3773. These companion bills would establish restoration treatment as an option for individuals who are found unfit to stand trial, but who are likely to become fit in the foreseeable future. Currently, if an individual is found to be unfit to stand trial but likely to be fit in the foreseeable future, the individual is hospitalized for up to 60 days. After this 60-day period, if the individual is still found to be unfit to stand trial, the solicitor responsible for prosecution shall initiate judicial admission proceedings to have the individual involuntarily hospitalized. This bill will allow individuals found unfit to stand trial who are likely to become fit in the foreseeable future to undergo restoration treatment provided by the Department of Mental Health for up to 180 days. This bill also gives DMH the discretion to provide restoration treatment at a hospital or detention facility if an individual is detained, or in a hospital or outpatient basis if the individual is on bond. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee amended the bill so that a detention center has the option of whether or not to allow a detained individual to receive the restoration treatment while in the detention facility. They also amended the bill to clarify that a court can still impose all of the normal provisions in a bond for an individual receiving restoration treatment. The subcommittee also amended S. 79 to include these provisions and both bills were given a favorable report as amended.
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 South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (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 applicable state and federal immigration laws. The Senate Judiciary Committee gave S. 1032 a favorable report and it is pending second reading on the Senate calendar.
Corrections Officer Age – S. 1092. This bill would require a detention or correctional officer to be at least 18 years of age at the time of employment. The Senate Judiciary Committee adopted an amendment to exempt correctional officers employed by the Department of Juvenile Justice from this requirement and gave the bill a favorable report as amended. S. 1092 is pending second reading on the Senate calendar.
Raise the Age Juvenile Justice Reform – S. 90. This joint resolution proposes an amendment to Section 3, Article XII of the Constitution, to specify that the General Assembly will provide for separate confinement of juvenile offenders under the age of 18. Currently, the age for separate confinement is under the age of 17. Additionally, this proposed amendment will be printed on the ballots for the next general election. If the Constitution is amended, this will require a shift of incarcerated persons who are 17 and currently housed in an adult facility to a juvenile facility. The Senate Judiciary Committee gave S. 90 a favorable report and it is pending second reading on the Senate calendar.
Register of Deeds Qualifications – S. 1031. This bill would provide that in order to hold the office of register of deeds, a person must be a US citizen, must be a qualified elector of the applicable county, must hold a four-year bachelor’s degree or four years of experience in law, real estate, accounting, or as an employee in a register of deeds office. They must also not have a pattern of failing to record documents in the office in the time and manner prescribed by law. Any register of deeds serving prior to the enactment of S. 1031 would be grandfathered from these requirements. The Senate Judiciary Committee amended S. 1031 to apply to both elected and appointed register of deeds, and allows an action to be brought by the Attorney General to remove a register of deeds who does not meet the qualification requirements or who has a pattern of not recording documents in a timely manner. S. 1031 was given a favorable report as amended and is pending second reading on the Senate calendar.
J. Mitchell Graham/Barrett Lawrimore Memorial Awards Call for Entries
The Association is currently accepting applications for the 2022 J. Mitchell Graham/Barrett Lawrimore Memorial Regional Awards Competition. All applications must be submitted online or received at the SCAC Office by 5 p.m. on Friday, May 6. Applicants who meet the submission deadline and all requirements will be scheduled to present their projects in-person on June 9 at SC ETV in Columbia. The competition will be livestreamed, and award winners will be announced the 2022 Annual Conference.
For more information about the competition and how to apply, please see the 2022 Awards Brochure and the Awards Toolkit on the Association’s website. If you have additional questions, please contact Susan Turkopuls at STurkopuls@scac.sc.
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. 1158 — Provides a method to expunge convictions relating to jurisdiction for offenses involving checks and penalties.
S. 1174 — Establishes the "I-95 Corridor Authority Act."
H. 5135 — Allows municipalities to utilize ranked-choice voting in municipal elections.
H. 5136 — Provides that 911 professional first responders are entitled to certain benefits relating to certain terms and their definitions concerning the creation and implementation of a statewide emergency telecommunications system.
H. 5139 — Eliminates playing a pinball machine as a status offense and repeals Section 63-19-2430 relating to the playing of pinball machines by a minor.