Friday Report - March 31, 2023
|From left: SCAC Assistant Government Affairs Director Owen McBride, Executive Director Tim Winslow, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Bruce Bannister and Deputy Executive Director Josh Rhodes met this week to touch base on important issues affecting counties and the state.|
Revenue, Finance and Economic Development
Municipal Audits – S. 31. This bill would allow municipalities with less than $500,000 in total revenues to provide a compilation of financial statements in place of an annual audit report. SCAC worked with the stakeholders and members of the Ways and Means Committee to include a provision giving counties flexibility in providing their annual audit report to the state before their allotment of the Local Government Fund could be withheld. Under the amendment, the annual audit report would have to be provided to the State Treasurer by January 1 of each year. Upon showing proper cause, as determined by the State Treasurer, the county will receive an automatic 90-day extension. To be considered, a request for an extension must be signed by the chair of the council prior to the deadline for filing.
A House Ways and Means subcommittee gave the bill a favorable report, as amended. The full Ways and Means Committee adjourned debate on the bill after adopting the subcommittee amendment.
American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Authorizations – S. 604. This bill would authorize the expenditure of over $586 million in federal funds disbursed to South Carolina in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and would specify the manner in which the funds may be expended. Under the bill, the money would be appropriated to the Rural Infrastructure Authority ARPA Water and Sewer Infrastructure Account, with $100 million made available for projects designated by the Secretary of Commerce as being significant to economic development. Up to $20 million would be available for each project with no local match requirement. Only existing grant applications, as of January 1, 2023, may be considered in determining disbursements. The House Ways and Means Committee amended the bill to allow funds from the ARPA Resilience Account as a part of Act 244 of 2022 to be used for projects that mitigate the impacts from potential releases of contamination associated with natural hazards. The bill was given a favorable report as amended. S. 604 is pending second reading on the House calendar.
Local Sales Tax Workforce Housing – S. 284. This bill would allow local accommodations and hospitality tax proceeds, as well as a special fund for tourism, to be used for workforce housing. It would also allow local governments to issue bonds to finance workforce housing projects. An amendment adopted by the Senate on the floor would require that the proceeds used for workforce housing projects also promote home ownership. Also, if the local government intends to use the funds for workforce housing, the governing body must prepare a housing impact analysis prior to the second reading of the enabling ordinance. The amendment would also require all local governments that have adopted a local comprehensive plan to solicit input for their analysis required in Section 6-29-510(D)(6) of the Code from homebuilders, developers, contractors, and housing finance experts. Finally, the amendment creates a Land Development Study Committee to examine current and future methods to plan for and manage land development in the state. The study committee would be composed of three members of the Senate appointed by the President, three members of the House appointed by the Speaker of the House. The study committee would seek assistance from several governmental agencies and private organizations, including SCAC. The Senate gave S. 284 second and third reading, as amended, and sent the bill to the House.
Online Sports Betting – H. 3749. This bill would establish interactive sports wagering and advance deposit wagering (ADW) on sports. Under the bill, lawful online or mobile sports wagering and ADW in the state would be administered and regulated by the Equine and Sports Wagering Commission with the assistance of other state agencies. The bill establishes guidelines for the implementation of sports wagering and provides for a 10 percent privilege tax on the adjusted gross wagering receipts. Eighty percent of the privilege tax revenue from sports wagering would be transmitted to the Department of Revenue (DOR) for deposit into the General Fund. Fifteen percent of the privilege tax revenue would be transmitted by the commission quarterly to DOR for distribution to each local government in the state on a per capita basis to be used for local infrastructure projects. A House Ways and Means subcommittee amended the bill and gave it a favorable report.
Tax Conformity – H. 4017. This bill would conform the state tax code with any changes to the federal tax code and updates the reference year to 2022. The House Ways and Means Committee gave the bill a favorable report and it is pending second reading on the House calendar.
Allocation and Apportionment – S. 298. This bill would amend Section 12-6-2320 dealing with apportionment of income for income tax purposes and combined reporting. Current law allows the DOR to require companies to employ an alternative method to allocate and apportion income if the department determines that the methods used by the company do not fairly represent the extent of the taxpayer’s business activity in the state. This legislation seeks to codify certain factors that would be used to facilitate an accurate reporting of income tax by corporations. The Senate gave S. 298 second and third readings and sent the bill to the House.
Craft Beer Economic Development Act – S. 566. This bill would allow a craft brewery to sell beer wholesale and retail to licensed retailers in the state. It would also allow the brewery to transfer beer brewed at its brewery to other facilities owned, leased, or rented by the brewery without being subject to state or local taxes. The Senate Judiciary Committee amended the bill this week to include several changes that represented a compromise between craft brewers and beer wholesalers such as raising the amount of beer a brewery could sell for off-premises consumption to 864 ounces per day. The Committee also removed the provision that would allow the brewery to transfer beer created at its brewery to other facilities owned, leased, or rented by the brewery without being subject to state or local taxes. The Senate also took up the bill this week and gave S. 566 second and third readings, as amended, and sent the bill to the House.
Streaming Service Franchise Fees – H. 3782. This bill would amend the definition of “Video Service” in Section 58-12-300 of the Code by adding “any video programming provided by direct-to-home satellite services” and “streaming content.” The purpose of the bill is to codify that streaming content revenue is not subject to franchise agreements between a governmental entity and a video service provider. H. 3782 received second and third readings in the House and was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
South Carolina Conservation Enhancement Act – H. 3786. This bill would reinstate a dedicated funding stream for the South Carolina Conservation Bank by requiring that $0.25 of each $1.30 collected from deed recording fees must be credited and devoted to the South Carolina Conservation Bank Trust Fund and would decrease the amount credited to the State General Fund from $1.00 to $0.75. The bill would also increase the number of board members serving on the South Carolina Conservation Bank by adding three additional members. The House Ways and Means Committee made a technical amendment and gave the bill a favorable report, as amended. H. 3786 is pending second reading on the House calendar.
Public Safety, Corrections and Judicial
Bond Reform – H. 3532. As originally drafted, this bill 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 would still require 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 Senate recalled H. 3532 from the Judiciary Committee, placed it on the calendar and made it a special order bill.
Law Enforcement Personal Privacy Protection Act – S. 252. This bill would create the “Law Enforcement Personal Privacy Protection Act” and provide that any personal identifying information of an active law enforcement officer held or maintained by any state or local governing entity would be confidential and must not be disclosed to the public if the officer has filed a formal request with the entity. Information relating to the personal identifying information of the officer or revealing whether the individual has family members would be deemed confidential. Any government entity that redacts or withholds information under this article would be required to provide the request or a description of the redacted or withheld information. The Senate amended the bill this week to include the “Judicial Personal Privacy Protection Act” that would provide similar requirements for the withholding of personal information for judges. The Senate gave S. 252 second and third readings and the bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
Law Enforcement Death Benefits – S. 108. This bill would provide for a $150,000 death benefit for a law enforcement officer or volunteer officers killed while in the line of duty. The Senate amended the bill this week to expand this benefit to first responders including emergency medical services providers (including volunteers), a fire department worker (including volunteers), and a coroner or deputy coroner who is directly engaged in examining, treating, or directing people during an emergency. Adding the coroner as a first responder is an SCAC policy position. The Senate gave the bill second and third readings and S. 108 was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.
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 Senate Judiciary Committee gave H. 3014 a favorable report and the bill is pending second reading on the Senate calendar.
Sexually Violent Predators Act – S. 146. This bill would amend the “Sexually Violent Predators Act,” relating to the parole, release, and commitment procedures for people convicted of sexually violent offenses. Further, it would clarify whether or not a person meets the definition of a sexually violent predator and establish procedures for those individuals. The bill would also provide for supervised re-entry under certain circumstances. The Senate gave the bill second and third readings and sent S. 146 to the House.
Coroner Qualifications – H. 3865. This bill would extend the qualifications for a coroner to include a licensed paramedic who has at least three years of experience. The House Judiciary Committee gave the bill a favorable report and H. 3865 is pending second reading on the House calendar.
Coroners as First Responders – H. 3691. This legislation would allow a coroner or his designee to possess and administer an opioid antidote pursuant to the requirements of the South Carolina Overdose Prevention Act. The Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) may promulgate regulations related to coroners possessing and administering opioid antidotes, and DHEC’s Bureau of Drug Control must maintain data on the administering of opioid antidotes by coroners and their designees.
Further, the bill would specify that a coroner is considered a public safety officer (first responder) if killed in the line of duty, an SCAC policy position. The House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee gave the bill a favorable report and H. 3691 is pending second reading on the House calendar.
Cost of Care for Seized Animals – H. 3682. This bill 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. The care costs would go to the entity providing care for the animal (law enforcement, county animal shelter, or non-profit agency). Additionally, the bill would provide 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 amended the bill this week to provide that in the event that an owner is adjudicated not guilty of all charges, the owner must receive a refund of all costs incurred from the agency that filed the petition. H. 3682 received second and third readings in the House this week, and the bill was referred to the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
Deed and Mortgage Derivation Clauses – H. 3500. This bill would require that any deed or mortgage of real estate executed after December 31, 2023, must identify either the contact information of the preparer of the instrument or the attorney licensed to practice in this state who assisted with the closing of the instrument. Additionally, the bill prohibits a clerk of court or register of deeds from recording any such deed or mortgage executed after December 31, 2023, unless the instrument contains information identifying the preparer or closing attorney as mentioned above. The House Judiciary Committee gave H. 3500 a favorable report, as amended, and the bill is pending second reading on the House calendar.
Destruction of Utility Systems – S. 330. This bill would modify the penalty structure for crimes involving malicious injury to telegraph, telephone, cable, or electrical utility systems and natural gas infrastructure. Under current law, destruction of such systems or infrastructure is considered a felony offense that is punishable by a fine set at the discretion of the court or imprisonment for not more than 10 years. The Senate amended the bill this week to provide that certain violations could result in a felony conviction and to further outline a tiered penalty structure based on the cost of damage to the utility systems, the danger to the public, and whether the damage involves death or bodily injury. S. 330 received a third reading, as amended, and the bill was referred to the House Judiciary Committee.
Illegal Immigration and Enforcement Unit – H. 4120. This bill would transfer the Illegal Immigration Enforcement Unit from the Department of Public Safety to the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED). This unit would be tasked with enforcing immigration laws as authorized pursuant to federal and state laws. The bill would also require SLED to develop an illegal immigration enforcement training program and to make the program available to all local law enforcement agencies. The House gave H. 4120 second and third readings and the bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
County Government and Intergovernmental Relations
Veterans Returning from Deployment – S. 437. This is a concurrent resolution to recognize and honor veterans for their service to the United States and to call for the creation of a new military base to assist veterans in their transition to civilian life. The House adopted the resolution and S. 437 is enrolled for ratification.
County and State Political Conventions and Primaries – H. 4066. This bill would modify the number of delegates that may be elected by the county convention for the state convention of a political party. This bill would also modify the process for protesting and contesting the election of county officers, less than county officers, and municipal officers. Additionally, the legislation allows the state executive committee to require a bond of surety of no more than $5,000 as payment for reasonable costs of hearing a protest in the event the election challenge is denied. Appeals from decisions by the state executive committee must be taken directly to the Supreme Court. The House amended the bill this week to reduce the surety bond amount from $5,000 to $750. The House gave H. 4066 second and third reading and the bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Vital Statistics - Changes to Birth Certificates – S.623. This bill provides that gender changes to a person's birth certificate may only be to change from male to female or from female to male and provides for affidavits that must accompany a petition to make a gender change to a person's birth certificate. A Senate Medical Affairs Committee gave the bill a favorable report.
Gender Reassignment Procedures – S.627. This bill prohibits the provision of gender transition procedures to a person under 18; prohibits the use of public funds for gender transition procedures; provides penalties; and prohibits school staff and officials from withholding knowledge of a minor's perception of their gender from the minor's parents. A Senate Medical Affairs Committee gave the bill a favorable report.
E-Cigarette Preemption – H. 3681. This bill would prohibit political subdivisions from enacting any laws, ordinances, or rules pertaining to the ingredients, flavors, or licensing of cigarettes, electronic smoking devices, e-liquid, vapor products, tobacco products, or alternative nicotine products. A House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee gave H. 3681 a favorable report and the bill is pending second reading on the House calendar.
Tobacco Preemption and Nicotine Sales – S. 514. As originally drafted, S. 514 would add the definitions for "tobacco retail establishment" and "tobacco retailer" and prohibit minors from entering a tobacco retail establishment. Further, the bill would change certain penalties for tobacco retailer violations, require tobacco retailers to secure and display a tobacco retail sales license from the DOR, and establish an associated fee and a penalty for a violation. A Senate Judiciary Committee amended the bill to include the contents of S. 414, a bill similar to the preemption bill above (H. 3681) and gave S. 514 a favorable report, as amended. S. 514 is pending second reading on the contested Senate calendar.
Permit Extensions – H. 3209. This joint resolution would provide for the extension of certain permits, certificates and other governmental approvals affecting economic development within the state. For development approvals that are current and valid at any point between January 1, 2020, and ending on December 31, 2023, the running of the clock regarding the period of validity and any associated vested rights are suspended. The bill was previously amended in the House to delete references to several state and federal permits that cannot be extended beyond a period of five years. Examples of permits that were removed from the bill include approvals of stormwater management plans that are granted by a local government or DHEC and 401 Water Quality Certification Permits that are issued by DHEC. The legislation also no longer impacts existing county development plans and building permits. The Senate Judiciary Committee gave H. 3209 a favorable report and the bill is pending second reading on the Senate calendar.
Land Use, Natural Resources and Transportation
Septic Tank Permits – H. 3769. This bill would prohibit DHEC from denying a property owner of rural land of no more than five acres the right to repair and replace any well or septic tank existing on the property because of any other available water or sewer services. The bill would also prohibit DHEC from denying the property owner of family farmland of no more than five acres the right to construct new wells or septic tanks on the property because of other available water or sewer services. Additionally, DHEC would be required to accept soil work from a professional engineer as part of an onsite wastewater permit application that has met certain certification criteria. A House Labor, Commerce and Industry subcommittee gave H. 3769 a favorable report.
Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTVs) – H. 3359. This bill would, among other things, define the term “utility terrain vehicle” and provide for the registration and operation of such vehicles on the highways of South Carolina. The bill would require an owner of a UTV to obtain a license plate and registration from the Department of Motor Vehicles upon presenting proof of ownership and liability insurance for the UTV if the vehicle will be operated on a road with a speed limit of 55 miles per hour or less. Further, UTVs that are powered by electric, hydrogen, and fuels other than motor fuel would remain subject to the road use fee pursuant to Section 56-3-645 of the South Carolina Code of Laws. The House gave H. 3359 second and third reading and the bill was sent to the Senate.
DHEC Restructuring – H. 4124. This bill Amends Chapter 1 of Title 44 to create the “Department of Public Health” and adds Chapter 5 to Title 38 to create the “Department of Environmental Services.” The House Ways and Means Committee gave the bill a favorable report, as amended, and H. 4124 is pending second reading on the House calendar.
Working Agriculture Lands Preservation – H. 3951. This bill would establish the “Working Agriculture Lands Preservation Program” that outlines program criteria and creates a committee to administer the program through a new “Working Farmland Protection Program Fund.” The committee would identify and provide permanent protection through the new fund that would be used for conservation easements on significant working farmland properties whose continued availability to commercial agricultural business is deemed to be essential to the long-term future of this economic sector. Administration of the program would be contingent upon funding through the state’s General Fund. The House gave H. 3951 second and third readings this week and the bill was referred to the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
Disposal of Abandoned and Derelict Aircraft – H. 3138. This bill would allow for the disposal of abandoned or derelict aircraft by an airport manager and would outline the process for the sale or disposal proceeds of such aircraft. If the owner of the aircraft or any such person having a legal or equitable interest in the aircraft cannot be found, any net proceeds from the sale or disposal of the aircraft would be paid to the state’s General Fund. The House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee gave H. 3138 a favorable report and the bill is pending second reading on the House calendar.
Waterways Protection Act – S. 484. This bill would establish the "South Carolina Waterways Protection Fund" to be used for purposes such as the establishment of a grant program under the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to provide funds to public and private applicants for purposes such as removing abandoned or unattended watercraft. The Senate adopted an amendment to provide that the fund must receive a $3 "waterways protection fee" that is attached to each county's tax notice for watercraft as provided in Section 12-37-3215. The fee must be remitted to the county and deposited by the county treasurer into the "South Carolina Waterways Protection Fund." The Senate gave S. 484 second and third reading and the bill was sent to the House.
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