Friday Report - March 3, 2023
This week in the General Assembly, the House spent time on the floor debating and passing the Bond Reform bill (H. 3532) and a joint resolution to amend the South Carolina Constitution to repeal the prohibition against the state or its political subdivisions providing direct aid to the religious or other private educational institutions (H. 3591). The Senate continued working through its calendar and passed several bills relevant to county government. Bills of interest are discussed below:
Revenue, Finance and Economic Development
- Establish, within DEW, the Office of Statewide Workforce Development Coordination (OSWD) and the Coordinating Council for Workforce Development (previously under the Department of Commerce);
- Require the OSWD to establish 10-year goals to reduce unemployment and increase the number of South Carolinians with high-quality or post-secondary degrees;
- Require all state and local government agencies, non-profit groups, and quasi-governmental groups that receive state funds or are authorized to expend federal funds, to provide information requested by the OSWD prior to the Comptroller General approving the release of such funds;
- Ensure proper reporting of any activities that may be workforce development related and require these groups to prepare an annual report detailing anticipated workforce development related projects by August 1; and
- Require the submission of a comprehensive report by the OSWD annually by October 1 to the General Assembly detailing the findings and listing all state and local governmental entities that failed to comply with the reporting requisites.
Public Safety, Corrections and Judicial
Bond Reform – H. 3532. H. 3532, as originally drafted, would provide for a five-year sentencing enhancement for people who commit certain additional crimes while they are out on bond, and 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 still requires 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 House adopted several amendments before giving the bill second and third readings. H.3532 was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Cost of Care for Seized Animals – H. 3682. H. 3682 would remove provisions regarding a lien on the seized animals and would outline hearing procedures for ordering the cost of care of the seized animals. Additionally, the bill provides that failure of the owner to make the payment for the cost of care ordered would result in forfeiture of the animal to the entity providing the care.
The House Judiciary Committee amended H. 3682 to clarify that the care costs go to the entity providing care for the animal (law enforcement, county animal shelter, or non-profit agency) and gave the bill a favorable report, as amended. H. 3682 is pending second reading on the House calendar.
Structured Settlements – S. 259. This bill would regulate settlement companies and require them to be registered in order to protect payees from high interest rate settlements. It would also add some criteria to be considered for court approval of a structured settlement transferred to a settlement company. The Senate amended the bill with language intended to strengthen the contractual agreement for the payee and gave the bill a favorable report. S. 259 received a second and third reading in the Senate and the bill was referred to the House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee.
Destruction of Arrest Records – H. 3019. This bill would provide that not later than 180 days after an investigation by a law enforcement or prosecution agency reveals that a person was arrested as a result of mistaken identity and no charges have been filed against the person nor will be filed due to the mistaken identity, the law enforcement or prosecution agency with appropriate jurisdiction shall destroy, at no cost to the person charged, the arrest records of that person made as a result of mistaken identity. The House Judiciary Committee gave the bill a favorable report and the bill is pending second reading on the House calendar.
Hate Crimes – H. 3014. This bill would enact the “Clementa C. Pinckney Hate Crimes Act” and would provide additional penalties for people who commit certain delineated crimes when the victim was intentionally selected based on certain factors. The bill would also allow victims of the crimes to bring a civil action for damages sustained. The House Judiciary Committee gave the bill a favorable report and the bill is pending second reading on the House calendar.
Left Lane Violations – S. 304. This bill would increase the fine for driving in the far left lane of the highway from $25 to $100. Seventy-five dollars from each fine collected would be credited to the South Carolina Highway Patrol. The Senate gave the bill a third reading and the bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
Lethal Injection Shield – S. 120. This bill would protect from disclosure the identity of the manufacturer or drug compounder of the drugs used to administer death by lethal injection for a person on death row. This protection would be extended to any persons or entities involved in the planning and execution of a death sentence. A House Judiciary subcommittee gave the bill a favorable report, as amended, and the bill will be on the agenda at the next full committee meeting.
County Government and Intergovernmental Relations
Certificate of Need: Crisis Facilities – S. 343. This bill includes all short-term residential stabilization and intensive crisis services in the definition of crisis stabilization unit facilities and changes the age of the individuals served from 18 and older to five and older. The Senate Medical Affairs Committee gave S. 343 a favorable report and the bill is pending a second reading on the Senate calendar.
Recovery Housing – S. 445. This bill would require the Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services (DAODAS) to approve a credentialing entity to develop and administer a voluntary certification program for the housing of individuals recovering from alcohol or other substance abuse disorders. The Senate Medical Affairs Committee gave the bill a favorable report and it is pending second reading on the Senate calendar.
Funds Used for Religious or Private Educational Institutions – H. 3591. This joint resolution would repeal Section 4, Article XI of the State Constitution, which currently states that no money shall be paid from public funds nor shall the credit of the state or any of its political subdivisions be used for the direct benefit of any religious or other private educational institution. This proposal would be placed on the ballots of the next general election, which will occur in November 2024. H. 3591 received second and third readings in the House this week and was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Early Voting Ballots Tabulation – S. 406. This bill would provide that ballots cast during the early voting period may begin to be tabulated at the same time as absentee ballots. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee adopted an amendment to provide that the absentee ballots may be tabulated, the tabulated data may be collected from those ballots, and the ballots cast during the early voting period may be loaded in the election management system. Further, the amendment provides that the unofficial results returned by the managers to the county boards of voter registration and elections must be reported continuously and without undue delay in the manner prescribed by the State Election Commission. The Senate gave the bill second and third readings and the bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
Election Protest Deadlines – S. 92. This bill provides that if the deadline for filing an election protest falls on a legal holiday, the deadline is extended to the succeeding day that is not a legal holiday. The Senate Judiciary Committee amended the bill to provide that the deadline extends to the "next regular business day" that is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday. The Senate gave the bill second and third readings before sending it to the House.
Heirs' Property Commission – S. 436. This bill establishes the "Heirs' Property Commission" to address the legal and economic issues associated with heirs' property. The Commission, which is comprised of certain stakeholders, including a member representing county government, appointed by the Governor, will collect data by the Commission to include information regarding the number and total acreage of lots that are designated as heirs' property in each county; the number and total acreage of heirs' property land sold at tax sales and whether the purchaser is an heir; the economic impact of heirs' property, including loss of economic development due to issues with land designated as heirs' property; non-profit groups that provide services to owners of heirs' property throughout South Carolina; and resources available to assist families to clear title of the heirs' property and to prevent further occurrences of heirs' property.
The Senate amended the bill on the floor this week to require that the Commission must report annually to the Governor and General Assembly regarding data collected to help families with heirs’ property clear title, to improve economic development activities in the State, and to prevent new occurrences of heirs’ property. The amendment also requires the Commission to review the report issued by the Heirs’ Property Study Committee to the General Assembly on December 30, 2026, regarding any recommendations for policy and legislative changes. The Senate gave S. 436 a second reading, as amended, and the bill is pending third reading on the Senate calendar.
Hurricane Mitigation Damage – S. 500. This bill would establish grant criteria under the Hurricane Damage Mitigation Program. The legislation would also provide that matching grants would be made available to local governments under the program. The Senate gave the bill second and third readings before sending it to the House. The House referred the bill to the Labor, Commerce, and Industry Committee.
County and State Political Conventions and Primaries – H. 4066. This legislation would reform processes involving county and state political conventions and would provide a new formula for selecting delegates to state political party conventions by capping the number of delegates at 501. The bill would also require that a political party’s state executive committee hear primary protest hearings for all state, county, and other locally elected positions.
Additionally, the state executive committee may require the filing of any protest to be accompanied by a surety bond as payment for the reasonable cost of hearing the protest in the event the challenge is denied. The bond amount may not exceed $5,000 and would be reimbursable if the election challenge is granted. A House Judiciary subcommittee gave H. 4066 a favorable report, as amended, and the bill will be on the agenda at the next full committee meeting.
Land Use, Natural Resources and Transportation
Working Agriculture Lands Protection Act – H. 3951. This bill would establish the “Working Agricultural Lands Preservation Program” and create a committee to administer certain activities under the program. The committee would be charged with identifying and providing permanent protection for significant working farmland properties whose continued availability to commercial agricultural businesses is deemed essential. The bill would also establish the Working Farmland Protection Program Fund to provide grants for agricultural projects funded by the South Carolina Conservation Bank and other cooperating entities. The Fund would be housed within the Conservation Bank and would be appropriated as a separate line item in the budget. H. 3951 was given a favorable report, as amended, by the House Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee.
You can also go to www.scstatehouse.gov and click on "Legislation," then "Introduced Legislation."
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.