Friday Report - March 6, 2020
Things finally began to move in the General Assembly this week as the Senate ended debate on the education reform bill (S. 419) and sent it to the House. In the ongoing debate in both the Senate Finance Committee and the House Ways and Means Ad Hoc Committee regarding Santee Cooper, the House Ways and Means Ad Hoc Committee voted unanimously to reject the three options presented (sale, management, or restructuring). The House then introduced a bill (H. 5335) that would appoint a special committee that would further negotiate the three options and make a recommendation to the House and Senate. The Senate Finance Committee followed suit by appointing a subcommittee to look at further negotiating the options and making a recommendation to the full committee.
Revenue, Finance, and Economic Development
State Budget and Capital Reserve Fund — H. 5201 and H. 5202. The House will begin debating the budget bill (H. 5201) and Capital Reserve Fund bill (H. 5202) on Monday at 1:00 p.m. Under the proposed budget, the Local Government Fund is funded with an additional $11,687,035 over last year’s amount. The budget bill also earmarks an additional $250,000 for County Veterans’ Affairs Offices, an SCAC policy position, and provides for a 2 percent raise for state employees. Finally, the budget bill includes an increase of over $1500 to the salary supplement for each county coroner, probate judge, clerk of court, and sheriff, as well as a $550,000 increase for the Council of Governments (COGs). Please see the attached LGF chart. Please ask your House members to support the Local Government Fund as approved in H. 5201.
Public Safety, Corrections and Judicial
Separate Confinement Age of Juveniles — S. 46. This joint resolution would approve the referendum to decide whether to change the age of separate confinement for juvenile offenders from under the age of 17 to under the age of 18. This change would allow South Carolina to be compliant with Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), an SCAC policy position. The Senate Judiciary Committee gave the bill a favorable report, and the bill is awaiting second reading on the Senate floor.
Noncertified Law Enforcement Officers — H. 5109. This bill would require that a noncertified law enforcement officer must be accompanied by a certified law enforcement officer while performing his duties as a law enforcement officer. The House Judiciary Committee gave the bill a favorable report, and the bill is awaiting second reading in the House.
Time Served Calculations — H. 5112. This bill provides that a prisoner may be given full credit against a sentence for time served under GPS monitoring. The House Judiciary Committee gave the bill a favorable report, and the bill is awaiting second reading in the House.
Child Abuse Response Protocol — S. 892. This bill, in part, would establish an advisory committee that would review and update annually the South Carolina Child Abuse Response Protocol. SCAC staff asked a Senate Family and Veterans’ Services subcommittee to amend the bill to provide that one member of the committee be representative of county law enforcement. Other members of the advisory committee include representation from a solicitor’s office, the executive director of the S.C. Network of Children’s Advocacy Centers, the executive director of the S.C. Department of Social Services, state law enforcement, the State Guardian Ad Litem Program, a child abuse pediatrician, and other at-large seats. The Senate adopted the committee’s amendment and gave the bill a second reading.
Operation of Vending Facilities within Local Detention Facilities — S. 1017. This bill, as introduced, would prevent the S.C. Commission for the Blind from operating any vending facility at a local detention center. The bill has been amended to prevent blind persons from operating any commissary services provided in local detention facilities but would allow them to operate vending machines outside of the secured areas of a detention facility, or within the secured areas if those operations began prior to the effective date of the Act. The Senate adopted the committee’s amendment and gave the bill a second reading.
Inmate Restraints — H. 3967. This bill provides that pregnant inmates may not be restrained except for when being transported. The bill also provides that during certain situations that are related to pregnancy such as labor, delivery, and postpartum recovery, the inmate may only be restrained if they pose a risk to themselves or others, or if they are a flight risk. The bill provides for the method of restraint when restraint is allowed. The Senate adopted two amendments on the floor and gave the bill a second reading. The first amendment provides that local detention facilities must not conduct invasive body cavity searches of a known pregnant inmate unless reasonable; must provide sufficient food, dietary supplements and feminine hygiene products to known pregnant inmates; must not assign known pregnant inmates to any bed more than three feet from the floor; and must limit bodily inspections of female inmates by male officers when practical. The amendment provides that indigent inmates must be provided hygiene products at no cost. The second adopted amendment limits a detention facility’s liability if the facility is unaware that a female inmate is pregnant.
Feminine Hygiene Products in Jails — H. 5230. This bill would require that every state correctional facility, local detention facility, jail, prison camp, work camp, or overnight lockup facility must provide at no charge feminine hygiene products in each female restroom. A House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs subcommittee adopted a clarifying amendment to ensure the bill only applies to women under the care of such facilities and gave the bill a favorable report as amended. The bill should be on the next full committee agenda.
Humanitarian Assistance Document — H. 4659. This bill would require every county to publish and distribute a document that identifies locations within the county where a homeless or needy person may go to receive humanitarian assistance. Distribution would be in county offices frequently visited by homeless and needy persons, as determined by the county. Law enforcement would also be required to distribute this document to homeless or needy persons officers encounter while on duty. A House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs subcommittee gave the bill a favorable report, and the bill should be on the next full committee agenda.
Land Use, Natural Resources and Transportation
Beach Preservation — S. 869. This bill establishes the South Carolina Beach Preservation Trust Fund to provide matching funds for qualifying local governments for the restoration of eroded public beaches and improvement and enhancement of public beach access. The Fund is funded by an annual appropriation from the statewide admissions tax revenue. S. 869 received a favorable report from a Senate Fish, Game, and Forestry subcommittee and will be on the full committee’s next agenda.
Billboard Obstruction Liability — S. 1084. This bill provides that if an outdoor advertising sign is obstructed by a sound barrier that is constructed by the Department of Transportation or a political subdivision along an interstate, federal-aid primary road system, or highway, the department or political subdivision must provide compensation to the owner of the sign if certain conditions are met. The compensation must include damage to the landowner’s property as a result of the removal of the sign as well. The Department of Transportation (SCDOT) liability is limited to $5 million. SCAC requested an amendment to also cap the liability of political subdivisions. A Senate Transportation subcommittee amended S. 1084 to cap the liability of political subdivisions at the same $5 million level as for SCDOT. The full committee adopted this amendment and passed the bill out favorably. S. 1084 is now pending second reading on the Senate Calendar.
Ag Use Setbacks — H. 5306. This bill, as amended by the House Agriculture and Natural Resource Committee, provides that there would be no setbacks required from a newly built residence on an adjoining property of an established agricultural operation, which is subject to setbacks, for expansion of that existing agricultural operation. All other setbacks required under § 46-45-80 would still apply. H. 5306 is now pending second reading on the House Calendar.
County Government and Intergovernmental
Small Cells — H. 4262. This legislation would enact the Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act, the intent of which is to accelerate the placement of small cell technology in South Carolina. Small cells “boot strap” off of cellular towers to provide greater capacity to users within a dense community. Therefore, the legislation is aimed at allowing wireless providers to readily place this technology in municipalities. Generally, the more rapid placement of technology in dense communities allows the providers to then move this technology into rural areas. Additionally, small cell technology allows less stress to be placed on existing cellular towers, which should enhance the ability for these towers to serve communities outside municipalities. Any agreement between a local government and a wireless provider after December 31, 2019, has to comply with the provisions of this legislation. A local government would be prohibited from not allowing the placement of small cell technology within their jurisdiction. The bill requires the provider to blend their technology with local aesthetics and sets a fee structure for payment to local governments for placement of small cells. A Senate Judiciary subcommittee adopted a strike and insert amendment that reflected the agreement reached by the stakeholders that among other things makes changes to the fee schedule. It also requires small cell facilities to pay for the relocation costs of poles and structures when the county engages in a road widening or repair project. H. 4262 received a favorable report as amended.
Veteran Transportation Services — H. 4954. This bill would require all county veterans’ affairs offices to provide free transportation services to veterans who require assistance traveling to and from scheduled medical appointments. The bill would require that the county veterans’ affairs office fund the program and would require that the services be performed by paid employees. SCAC staff testified that these mandates are largely impossible for many counties. A House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs subcommittee adjourned debate on this bill to allow stakeholders time to discuss any potential amendments.
Study Committee on Veteran Concerns — H. 4724. This bill would establish a committee to study veteran homelessness, unemployment, job placement, incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder, access to basic human services, and other issues affecting South Carolina veterans. The House gave the bill second and third readings this week, and the bill has been referred to the Senate Family and Veterans’ Services Committee.
Veteran Remains — H. 5110. This bill would require coroners to determine if remains are those of a veteran and require coroners to relinquish veteran remains to a veterans’ service organization. A House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs subcommittee gave the bill a favorable report, and the bill should be on the next full committee agenda.
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. 1139 — Prohibits the operation of unmanned aircraft systems in close proximity to critical infrastructure, including political subdivisions.
H. 5201 — Makes appropriations and provides revenues to meet the ordinary expenses of state government for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2020, regulates the expenditure of such funds, and further provides for the operation of state government during this fiscal year and for other purposes.
H. 5202 — Appropriates monies from the Capital Reserve Fund for Fiscal Year 2019-2020 and allows unexpended funds appropriated to be carried forward to succeeding fiscal years and expended for the same purposes.
H. 5335 — Creates a special committee of the General Assembly to further negotiate the terms and conditions of the preferred sale and preferred management recommendation of the Department of Administration regarding Santee Cooper.