Friday Report - March 26, 2021

The House passed the budget bill and the capital reserve fund bill and sent them over to the Senate. The House will be on furlough next week. The following week, both the House and Senate will be racing to move bills to meet the crossover date of April 9th. The Senate will meet in-person Tuesday and Wednesday of next week and then meet in perfunctory session on Thursday in observance of Easter. The budget bills along with several other bills of interest will be discussed below.

Revenue, Finance, and Economic Development

  1. State Budget and the Local Government Fund (LGF) – H. 4100
    State Budget and the Local Government Fund (LGF) – H. 4100. The House debated and passed the budget bill this week. Included in its version of the budget that will now head to the Senate is an increase in funding to the Local Government Fund (LGF) by $17,624,049 statewide. This represents full funding to the LGF including all back-funding that was imperiled because of the state operating under a Continuing Resolution in light of the ongoing pandemic. The House-passed budget also raised library per capita funding from $2 to $2.25, an SCAC policy position. Other provisos of note included in H. 4100.
  2. Vehicle Tax Notices – S. 195. This bill would require that tax notices of all vehicles and boats must set forth the fair market value used for the vehicle or boat. The Senate passed S. 195 this week and sent the bill to the House.
  3. Legally Separated Assessment Ratio – S. 527. This bill defines “legally separated” for purposes of the certificate contained in the application for the special 4 percent assessment ratio for owner-occupied residential property, an SCAC policy position. The Senate gave S. 527 second reading but carried the bill over prior to third reading.
  4. 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 requested, and the bill was amended, to include those fire districts created pursuant to Title 6. The bill was also amended to limit the suspension of the cap to two years after the effective date of the legislation. S. 401 is pending second reading on the Senate contested calendar.
  5. Community Development Credits – S. 436. This bill would raise the cap on the community development tax credits. The tax credits are issued on a first-come first-served basis. A Senate Finance Subcommittee amended S. 436 with a strike insert to change the cap to $9 million, allowing for $1 million in total tax credits for tax year 2021, and $2 million for 2022. The bill was given a favorable report as amended.
  6. Rental Assistance – H. 3770. This bill would provide procedures for disbursing the federal funds under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program by creating the South Carolina Emergency Rental Assistance Program. This program would be administered by the South Carolina State Housing Financing and Development Authority. Funds would be disbursed in accordance with the procedures in Section 2(A) of Act 135 of 2020. The bill was given third reading on the Senate floor, but after a successful motion to reconsider third reading, the bill is back on the third reading calendar.
  7. Family Leave – S. 11. S. 11 would provide for 12 weeks of paid family leave for state employees due to birth, adoption, or foster care of a son or daughter. This leave expires at the end of 12 months beginning from the date of the birth or placement. A Senate Finance Committee amended the bill to reduce the leave to eight weeks and gave it a favorable report.

Land Use, Natural Resources and Transportation

Billboard Relocations Involving Highway Projects – S. 667. This bill would provide options and parameters to adjust or relocate outdoor advertising signs due to highway projects in order to restore visibility and would provide for the costs of adjustment or relocation. An owner of a conforming outdoor advertising sign, whose property interests in the sign are acquired by a state or local highway project along an interstate or federal-aid primary routes, would have the option to relocate the sign within 500 feet of the original site under certain circumstances. Alteration or relocation costs would be capped at $5 million and would be paid by the SC Department of Transportation or the political subdivision that is responsible for the highway project. S. 667 received a favorable report from a Senate Transportation subcommittee. Members of the full Senate Transportation Committee polled the bill to the floor on Wednesday and placed S. 667 on the Senate calendar.

Golf Cart Permits – S. 354. 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 30 miles per hour or less. S. 354 received a second reading this week in the Senate, but amendments may be offered to the bill on third reading by unanimous consent.

Public Safety, Corrections and Judicial

Inmate Transport – S. 653. Under current law, inmates under SC Department of Corrections (SCDC) jurisdiction may be transported to certain funeral services or to visit hospitalized family members. This bill would extend the law to detention facilities. The bill would provide that if the detention facility determines that a detainee is not a security risk, the detention facility must provide transportation and security for the detainee to attend the relevant setting. The cost would be collected from a third party in advance. The detention facility would be responsible for verifying the person being visited is in fact a family member, and they would be responsible for notifying a victim. SCAC staff along with Scotty Bodiford, Jail Administrator for Greenville County Detention Center, and Nick Gallam, Director of Aiken County Detention Center, testified about concerns with the bill. After hearing the concerns raised, a Senate Corrections and Penology subcommittee carried over the bill.

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. The Senate Judiciary Committee gave the bill a favorable report as amended.

Candidate Filing Fees – H. 3262. This legislation would require all candidates in the state to pay a filing fee, regardless of whether or not their respective party holds a primary election. A certification fee of up to $ 100 could also be collected from the candidates, in addition to the filing fee. Currently, filing fees may be collected but are not required. The Senate Judiciary Committee amended the bill to clarify that a candidate must make the payment of any applicable filing fee in the form of a certified check, cashier’s check, or money order at the time of filing a statement of intention of candidacy. H. 3262 received a favorable report as amended and is pending on the Senate calendar.

Newly-Introduced Legislation

View/Download Full Text for Newly-Introduced Legislation

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Senate Bills

S. 687 — Authorizes a business that is patronized by the general public to notify its patrons of the percentage of its employees fully vaccinated for the COVID-19 virus.

S. 689 — Extends the income tax filing due date for individuals until the same date as federal returns and payments for individuals are due.

S. 697 — Clarifies that a coroner must cooperate expeditiously with a procurement organization to maximize the opportunity to recover anatomical gifts for the purpose of transplantation, therapy, research, or education, even when performing an investigation.

S. 703 — Provides that a county tax assessor may not require copies of a homeowner’s federal or state income tax return to claim the property tax 4 percent assessment ratio.

S. 704 — Provides for a return to five-day in-person classroom instruction for the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school year, and suspends the earning limitations cap under certain conditions and for certain members of the South Carolina Retirement System.

Legislative Session: