Friday Report - March 19, 2021
There was a flurry of committee meetings this week as both the Senate and House raced to advance bills. The budget legislation will be debated on the House floor beginning next week. There are several bills of interest this week that will be discussed below.
Revenue, Finance, and Economic Development
Fire District Millage Caps – S. 401. As originally drafted, this bill would allow counties to adopt an ordinance or resolution to suspend the millage rate limitation for the purposes of supporting a fire protection district created pursuant to Chapter 19 of Title 4. SCAC staff, along with David Garner, Abbeville County Director and Vic Carpenter, Kershaw County Administrator, worked with Senator Gustafson, the sponsor of the bill, and testified at a Senate Finance subcommittee asking to amend the bill to also include those fire districts created pursuant to Title 6. The Senate Finance Committee adopted the amendment as well as an amendment limiting the suspension of the cap to two years after the effective date of the legislation. S. 401 is pending second reading on the Senate calendar.
Vehicle Tax Notices – S. 195. This bill would require that tax notices of all vehicles must set forth the fair market value used for the vehicle. The Senate Finance Committee adopted an amendment to also require the fair market value to be set forth on tax notices for boats and gave S. 195 a favorable report as amended. The bill is pending second reading on the Senate calendar.
Legally Separated Assessment Ratio – S. 527. This bill defines “legally separated” for purposes of the certificate contained in the application for the special four percent assessment ratio for owner-occupied residential property, an SCAC policy position. The Senate Finance Committee gave S. 527 a favorable report and the bill is pending second reading on the Senate calendar.
Local Option Sales Tax Flexibility – H. 3948. This bill, an SCAC policy position, would allow the counties that impose a Transportation Penny Tax pursuant to Chapter 37, Title 4 to also conduct a referendum to impose a one percent Capital Project Sales Tax. The bill deletes the restriction that the area of the county can only be subject to one of those authorizations. SCAC testified in support of this bill. The House Ways and Means Committee adopted a technical amendment and gave the bill a favorable report as amended.
SCAC staff expects there to be an amendment on the floor to further allow counties with the Capital Project Sales Tax to conduct a referendum to impose the Transportation Penny as well. This would provide this flexibility to all counties. Please ask your House member to support this bill and amendment when the House begins debate on this bill on April 6.
Property Tax Installment Payment Flexibility – H. 3482.This bill, an SCAC policy position, provides the treasurer, tax collector, or other official charged with the collection of ad valorem property taxes in a county with the discretion in the scheduling and collection of installment payments from taxpayers. SCAC testified in support of this bill and the House Ways and Means Committee gave it a favorable Report.
Manufacturing Property Tax Exemption Exclusion – H. 4064. At least one major utility is paying its property taxes under protest claiming they are eligible for the manufacturing property tax exemption, which the state fully funds. H. 4064 clarifies that the manufacturing property tax exemption does not apply to utilities, which was the original intent of the exemption. SCAC testified in support of this bill and the House Ways & Means Committee gave the bill a favorable report.
Tax Conformity – H. 4017. This bill conforms the state tax code with any changes to the federal tax code and updates the reference year to 2020. A Ways and Means subcommittee gave this bill a favorable report.
Property Tax Exemption for Renewable Energy – H. 3354. H. 3354 would provide a property tax exemption for solar panels placed on the rooftops of residential homes. In order to qualify for the exemption, the solar panels system must be installed and running and cannot exceed 20 kilowatts. Based on SCAC’s discussion with various county taxing authorities, there are no plans to tax these solar panel systems, and this bill simply codifies that. The House Ways and Means Committee gave the bill a favorable report.
South Carolina Workforce Industry Needs Scholarship – H. 3144. This legislation would establish the South Carolina Workforce Industry Needs Scholarship (SC WINS), to provide that certain students attending a two-year technical college are eligible for the scholarship. The House Ways and Means Committee gave H. 3144 a favorable report.
Land Use, Natural Resources and Transportation
Anchored Watercraft – H. 3865. This legislation would authorize local governments to adopt an ordinance requiring a permit for a watercraft or floating structure to remain at anchorage on public waters within its local jurisdiction for more than 14 consecutive days. The cost of the permit issued by a local government may not exceed $15. The House gave the bill third reading and it has been sent to the Senate.
Electronic Waste (E-Waste) Sunset Extension – H. 4035. This legislation would extend the sunset on the South Carolina Manufacturer Responsibility and Consumer Convenience Information Technology Equipment Collection and Recovery Act and applicable regulations until December 31, 2023. This is an SCAC policy position. The bill would allow a stakeholder working group, including SCAC staff, to continue pursuing efforts to reform the current program and to alleviate the financial burden faced by many counties in storing e-waste. H. 4035 received a third reading in the House and was sent to the Senate.
Operation of Golf Carts After Sunset – S. 296. This legislation is targeted for the municipality of Tega Cay to allow the operation of golf carts for up to 60 minutes after sunset on locally-owned roads for which the posted speed limit is 25 mph or less. The golf cart must also have operational headlights and brake lights. S. 296 received a favorable report from the Senate Transportation Committee.
Golf Cart Permits – S. 354. As drafted, this legislation would allow a municipality to enact an ordinance to allow the operation of golf carts on a U.S. primary road as long as the speed limit is 35 mph or less. The Senate Transportation Committee adopted an amendment to reduce the maximum speed limit to 30 mph or less and gave the bill a favorable report.
Advanced Recycling – S. 525. This legislation pertains to Advanced Recycling and Advanced Recycling Facilities. SCAC previously voiced concerns to members of the Medical Affairs Subcommittee regarding the potential lack of oversight by DHEC and removal of financial assurances in the event a clean up is needed. The Senate adopted an amendment containing the following provisions and gave the bill third reading:
- A provision allowing DHEC to review/consider the environmental compliance history of an applicant or person who operates an Advanced Recycling Facility in making a determination to issue/reissue/deny/revoke/modify/suspend a permit or to prohibit the transfer of a permit.
- A provision requiring an Advanced Recycling Facility to demonstrate adequate financial responsibility by establishing a cash trust fund under DHEC or a security bond must be issued for which DHEC is the sole beneficiary in an amount sufficient to meet all reasonable foreseeable costs of clean-up, environmental remediation, fire-fighting, contamination, etc.
- A provision requiring DHEC to issue a report to the General Assembly two years after the Act’s effective date that includes an analysis of an Advanced Recycling Facility.
- A provision that terminates the above sections of the Act on the third anniversary of the effective date of the Act.
Public Safety, Corrections and Judicial
First Responder Workers’ Compensation for Psychological Injuries – S. 94. As originally introduced, this bill would exempt first responders from having to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that stress, mental injury, or mental illness arising out of or in the course of employment stems from conditions that are extraordinary or unusual relative to the normal conditions of employment for purposes of collecting workers’ compensation. After three subcommittee hearings and full committee discussion, the Senate Judiciary Committee adopted a strike-all amendment to the bill. The committee amendment mirrors similar Florida and Connecticut statutes. The new bill language would do the following:
- Exempt first responders from having to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that stress, mental injury, or mental illness diagnosed as post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) arising from a “significant traumatic experience” in the course of employment stems from conditions that are extraordinary or unusual relative to the normal conditions of employment for purposes of collecting workers’ compensation.
- Define “first responders” as law enforcement officers and firefighters, including volunteers.
- Define “significant traumatic experience” to mean one of 11 defined events. The 11 compensable events in the new language are:
- Witnessing a deceased minor or the death of a minor;
- Witnessing an injury to a minor who subsequently died before or upon arrival at a hospital emergency department;
- Participating in the physical treatment of an injured minor who subsequently died before or upon arrival at a hospital emergency department;
- Manually transporting an injured minor who subsequently died before or upon arrival at a hospital emergency department;
- Seeing for oneself a decedent whose death involved grievous bodily harm;
- Witnessing a death, including suicide, that involved grievous bodily harm;
- Witnessing a homicide regardless of whether the homicide was criminal or excusable, including murder, mass killing (killing 3 or more individuals in a single incident), voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, and self-defense;
- Witnessing an injury, including an attempted suicide, to a person who subsequently died before or upon arrival at a hospital emergency department if the person was injured with grievous bodily harm;
- Participating in the physical treatment of an injury, including an attempted suicide, to a person who subsequently died before or upon arrival at a hospital emergency department if the person was injured with grievous bodily harm;
- Manually transporting a person who was injured, including by attempted suicide, and subsequently died before or upon arrival at a hospital emergency department if the person was injured with grievous bodily harm; or
- Using deadly force or being subjected to deadly force in the course of the employment.
- Define “grievous bodily harm” as seriously bodily injury including fractured or dislocated bones, deep cuts, torn members of the body, serious damages to internal organs, and other severe bodily injuries.”
COVID-19 Liability Safe Harbor – S. 147. This bill would enact the South Carolina COVID-19 Liability Safe Harbor Act to provide liability protections for a limited time period for health care providers and businesses that follow public health guidance in response to the coronavirus public health emergency. Counties are listed as “covered entities” under the bill and therefore county employees are “covered individuals.” S. 147 received a favorable report with an amendment from a House Judiciary subcommittee. S. 147 should be on the next full committee’s agenda.
Open Carry with Training Act – H. 3094. This bill would enact the “Open Carry with Training Act.” This Act would allow a permit holder to carry a concealable weapon openly on his person and openly about his person in a vehicle. The House amended the bill to provide that a public or private employer may prohibit a permit holder from openly carrying upon the premises. The House also amended the bill to provide that counties may temporarily restrict otherwise lawful open carrying of a firearm on public property when the county issues a permit to allow a public protest, rally, fair, parade, festival, or other organized event. A county exercising such authority would need to be specific in their restriction and provide notice when feasible. The House passed the bill this week, and the bill is now in the Senate.
Constitutional Carry – H. 3096. This bill would enact the “South Carolina Constitutional Carry Act of 2021.” Constitutional carry would broaden where a person, with or without training, may carry a firearm. This bill provides that it is unlawful for anyone to carry about the person any handgun unless authorized into several county operated locations including detention centers, courthouses, polling places, meeting offices, etc. SCAC submitted to the House Judiciary Committee that we support keeping such language in the bill so that counties may retain control of their building and properties. The House Judiciary Committee gave the bill a favorable report this week. The bill is now on the House calendar.
Coroner Continuing Education – H. 3369. This bill would require that every coroner, medical examiner, and deputy coroners and medical examiners to complete at least one hour of continuing education every three years on the identification of opiate-related deaths. A House Judiciary subcommittee gave the bill a favorable report. The bill is now on the House calendar pending second reading.
Coroner Qualifications – H. 3030. This bill would revise forensics training requirements for coroners by providing that a candidate for county coroner must have completed a recognized forensic science degree or certification program approved by the Coroners Training Advisory Committee before filing to run for county coroner. A House Judiciary subcommittee gave the bill a favorable report, and the bill should be on the next full committee’s agenda.
County Government and Intergovernmental
State Election Commission Restructuring – S. 499. This legislation would allow the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House to intervene on behalf of their respective bodies in a court action challenging the validity of an election law or policy, or the manner in which an election was conducted. It would also restructure the State Election Commission to be composed of five members to be appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Commission would appoint an executive director upon the advice and consent of the Senate. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee gave the bill a favorable report.
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. 666 — Provides for the expedited ejectment of certain tenants by a landlord and provides for a fee for filing an expedited ejectment action.
S. 667 — Provides options and parameters to adjust or relocate outdoor advertising signs to restore visibility, and to provide for the costs of adjustment for relocation by the state or the county.
S. 675 — Provides that a portion of the tax proceeds to the State Aviation Fund must be used to obtain or develop through the South Carolina Aeronautics Commission an airport facility in a county without an airport facility.
S. 681 — Provides for fiscal accountability of certain quasi-state agencies by the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee.
H. 4083 — Revises the age of a person to be considered a youthful offender for purposes of the “Judge William Byars Youthful Offender Act.”
H. 4084 — Increases the penalties for dumping litter on private or public property.
H. 4090 — Requires the Secretary of the Department of Transportation to publish and certify a report regarding any transfer of funds to the South Carolina Transportation Infrastructure Bank.
H. 4091 — Provides that the user fees on gasoline and diesel fuel may not increase after July 1, 2020.
H. 4092 — Repeals Section 12-28-310 relating to the user fees on gasoline and diesel fuel, and repeals Section 56-11-410 relating to the imposition and calculation of the road tax and the effect of other motor carrier taxes.
H. 4097 — Provides options and parameters to adjust or relocate outdoor advertising signs to restore visibility, and to provide for the costs of adjustment for relocation by the state or the county.
H. 4100 — Provides for the state government appropriations for fiscal year beginning July 1, 2021.
H. 4101 — Appropriates funds for the Capital Reserve Fund for fiscal year 2020-2021.
H. 4106 — Provides for a joint resolution to extend the income tax filing due date for individuals from April 15, 2021, until May 17, 2021.