Friday Report - May 14, 2021
The General Assembly concluded its regular session yesterday. Under their Sine Die Resolution (H. 4285), they will come back several times during the month of June to complete the budget, take up conference committee reports, Governor vetoes, and a few other specified matters. They will also come back in the fall to deal with redistricting. Several bills of interest passed the General Assembly. Those bills that did not pass still have a chance next year, as this is the first year of a two-year session. Several bills of interest will be discussed below.
As a reminder, the U.S. Department of Treasury (Treasury) launched its Treasury Submission Portal through which counties will request and receive their first allocation of funding from the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (Recovery Fund). Treasury also released its guidance on the use of the funds. Here are links to the Quick Reference Guide, a Fact Sheet summarizing the guidance, and the full guidance published in the Interim Final Rule. Treasury’s Recovery Fund webpage has also been updated with new resources and information, including a link to subscribe via email for updates from Treasury. Please look through these resources to begin the process of receiving your county’s allocation of federal funds. Please call John Wienges with SCAC at (803) 664-0774, or email at email@example.com with any questions.
Revenue, Finance, and Economic Development
Property Tax Installment Payment Flexibility — H. 3482. This bill, an SCAC policy position, would provide 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. The Senate gave H. 3482 a third reading this week and the bill has been enrolled for ratification.
Legally Separated Assessment Ratio — S. 527. This bill would define “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. S. 527 received a second and a third reading in the House this week, and the bill has been enrolled for ratification.
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. 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. This week, the House concurred in the Senate amendments, and the bill has been enrolled for ratification.
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. The Senate adopted an amendment to the bill to include a provision from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) regarding the exclusion from taxable income, for tax year 2020, of $10,200 of unemployment compensation for a taxpayer with less than $150,000 in federal adjusted gross income and would authorize the Executive Budget Office to allocate $61,300,000 from ARPA funds received to the general fund for this provision. The bill received a third reading in the Senate and the House concurred with the Senate amendment. H. 4017 will be enrolled for ratification.
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. The Senate 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 House concurred with the Senate amendments, and the bill has been enrolled for ratification.
County Green Space Sales Tax — S. 152. This legislation would allow counties to impose by ordinance, subject to referendum approval in the county, a green space sales and use tax for land preservation. The bill was further amended this week in the Senate to require a county that passes a referendum to assemble an advisory committee that would assist the Department of Revenue with directing the distribution of the taxes collected in order to ensure a transparent and equal distribution within the county. The Department of Revenue would also be required to publicly disclose all information regarding the amount of the tax that is collected, expenditures, and any remaining funds that are available at the time that an inquiry is made. The Senate also adopted an amendment that would prohibit a county from imposing this tax when two or more existing sales and use taxes are in effect. S. 152 received a third reading and was sent to the House where it may be taken up next session.
Retirement Beneficiary — S. 658. This bill would specify that a member of the state retirement system who is not retired may nominate a contingent beneficiary for receipt of payment on death of the member within all state retirement systems. Currently, only active contributing members may nominate a contingent beneficiary. This bill would allow members who are not active contributing members, but are not yet retired, to make this nomination. This bill would also make technical clean-ups and provides conforming language for the Public Employee Benefits Authority (PEBA) and the retirement and insurance programs. S. 658 received a third reading this week in the House and has been enrolled for ratification.
Criminal Background Checks — S. 609. This bill would authorize state agencies and political subdivisions to obtain state and national criminal history background checks and investigations performed by the State Law Enforcement Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation on all employees and contractors with access to federal tax information to comply with Internal Revenue Service Publication 1075. S. 609 received a second and a third reading in the House this week, and the bill has been enrolled for ratification.
Public Safety, Corrections and Judicial
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. Earlier this session, 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 Senate amended the bill further to provide that clerks of court and other judges shall report criminal indictments, permanent restraining orders, orders of state firearms prohibition, other restraining orders, orders of protection, or other orders that prohibit a person from legally purchasing or possessing a firearm to SLED within five days. For any orders that must be reported to SLED within five days by clerks of court, Court Administration must provide the form. The House concurred in the Senate amendments, and the bill was ratified.
Law Enforcement Certification, Reporting, and Training — H. 3050. This bill would make a few law enforcement reforms. As originally drafted, the bill would provide that, beginning on July 1, 2021, a non-certified law enforcement officer shall only perform his duties while accompanied by a certified law enforcement officer. The House Judiciary Committee amended the bill by adding several sections. Pursuant to the committee amendment, the bill would add failure to intervene when observing another officer physically or psychologically abusing members of the public or prisoners to the definition of “misconduct.” Second, “chokehold” would be defined and the use of such a method would be limited to justifiable uses only. The Law Enforcement Training Council would establish required minimum standards for all law enforcement agencies, including policies relating to “no knock” warrants, implementation of body-worn cameras, vehicle pursuit standards, and more. A Compliance Division would be created that would inspect, at least once every three years, the policies and procedures for every law enforcement agency. Finally, the bill would provide for civil fines if an agency is non-compliant and would allow for certification suspension of every officer within an agency until the agency becomes compliant with the relevant policies and procedures. H. 3050 was also amended on the House floor. The floor amendment would require candidates for law enforcement certification submit evidence that the candidate has signed an attestation form committing to ethical policing. The bill passed the House, was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and will be up for consideration next session.
Land Use, Natural Resources and Transportation
Waste Tire Regulations — H. 3222. This bill, an SCAC policy position, would increase the criminal penalties for violating waste tire regulations and also authorizes the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) to promulgate additional regulations. These additional regulations would allow DHEC to inspect waste tire processing facilities to ensure compliance and invoke sanctions for noncompliant recyclers. H. 3222 received a third reading this week in the Senate and has been enrolled for ratification.
Advanced Recycling — S. 525. This legislation pertains to Advanced Recycling and Advanced Recycling Facilities. The House amended the bill this week before giving it a third reading to include:
- 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 fifth anniversary of the effective date of the Act or after DHEC completes five consecutive annual compliance reviews for such a facility with a finding that no violations or need for enforcement actions have occurred.
The Senate received the bill and further amended the legislation to revert to the three-year sunset provision as passed by the Senate and added language from a previously adopted budget proviso that would require DHEC to submit regulations within 120 days after the effective day of the Act regarding the management and disposal of solar panels. S. 525 was returned to the House for concurrence, but the House did not take any further action on the bill prior to adjourning sine die.
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 Senate adopted a committee amendment to the bill that adds a five-mile radius to the permit requirement as well as language exempting vessels that are docked at a marina berth or mooring buoy that is permitted by DHEC and is located on public waters prior to June 30, 2021. H. 3865 received a third reading in the Senate and has been enrolled for ratification.
Municipal Parking — S. 40. This bill would prohibit a municipality from altering or establishing parking facilities on any state highway without prior approval of the South Carolina Department of Transportation. The legislation requires beach communities, who are eligible for beach renourishment funds, to offer free public beach parking but allows for paid public beach parking as well. Fees collected for parking may be used for beach access or renourishment, traffic enforcement, first responders, and sanitation. S. 40 received a third reading in the House and was enrolled for ratification.
County Government and Intergovernmental Relations
Firefighter Training Cost Reimbursement — H. 3466. This bill, as originally introduced, would provide that a fire department that assumes the cost of training a firefighter may be reimbursed for these costs by another fire department that subsequently hires the firefighter within a certain period of time. This is an SCAC policy position. The Senate Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee adopted the subcommittee amendment to reflect a collaboration amongst stakeholders. The amendment extends the bill to EMTs, clarifies what training is reimbursable, clarifies reimbursement covers training costs incurred within two years of employment, and defines employer to capture all appropriate departments. LCI also adopted an amendment that would limit the amount a volunteer fire department would reimburse to $1,000. The committee gave the bill a favorable report, as amended, and the bill will be on the Senate’s second reading calendar next year.
State Election Commission — H. 3444. This legislation would require all counties to follow the same practices for elections that are created by the State Election Commission (SEC). H. 3444 would provide the SEC with the authority to supervise and standardize the practices of local county election offices. The bill was amended on the floor of the House to give the commission and the executive director the power to supervise and standardize the performance, conduct, and practices of the county board of elections and voter registration and to promulgate regulations to effectuate this new power. The Senate amended the bill on the floor. The amendment would provide for “standardized processes” for the administration of elections, which must be followed by county boards of voter registration and elections. The Senate sent the bill back to the House with amendments, but the House did not take action before adjourning sine die.
Employment of Persons with Disabilities — H. 3244. This bill would encourage state agencies and political subdivisions to take measures to integrate persons with disabilities into the workforce. The Senate amended the bill to require employees with a disability to be compensated at or above minimum wage, but not less than the customary wage for a particular job. They also adopted an amendment that would create a trust fund to award grants to persons with a disability to start a business. Although the bill received a third reading this week in the Senate, the House amended the bill to strike the Senate amendments and insisted upon its version of the bill. H. 3244 will now go to a conference committee where House and Senate conferees will work toward a compromise regarding the final language of the bill. The conferees will be Rep. Cogswell, Rep. Collins, Rep. Jefferson, Sen. Shealy, Sen. Bennett, and Sen. Sabb.
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. 803 — Provides for a resolution that declares that the Senate declines an extension or renewal of the current state of emergency or the issuance of any new COVID-19-related state of emergency without the express consent of the General Assembly.
S. 821 — Provides for a joint resolution to appropriate settlement funds paid to this state by the federal government for storing plutonium at the Savannah River Site.
S. 822 — Provides for a joint resolution to authorize the expenditure of federal funds disbursed to the state in the American Rescue Plan of 2021, and to specify how the funds are to be spent.
S. 823 — Amends various tax provisions to reduce the sales tax and other related taxes.
H. 4387 — For purposes of the business license tax, prohibits a taxing jurisdiction from levying the business license tax in a manner that would cause an individual to be subject to double taxation.
H. 4391 — Prohibits businesses, governmental entities, and educational institutions from requiring patrons, residents, or students to provide proof of vaccination for COVID-19.
H. 4393 — Authorizes a county to adopt alternative dates for application of penalties for delinquent taxes, assessments, penalties, costs, and the mailing of the notice of delinquent taxes.
H. 4404 — Requires state and local law enforcement agencies to adopt written policies regarding the use of tasers that meet or exceed the model policy to be developed by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Training Council.
H. 4405 — Requires a mental health evaluation before a bond hearing after the arrest of a person from a mental health facility or institution.
H. 4406 — Prohibits law enforcement from engaging in the use of excessive force when a detaining a person or when making an arrest.
H. 4407 — Provides for a joint resolution to appropriate settlement funds paid to this state by the federal government for storing plutonium at the Savannah River Site.
H. 4408 — Provides for a joint resolution to authorize the expenditure of federal funds disbursed to the state in the American Rescue Plan of 2021, and to specify how the funds are to be spent.
The following bills have been passed by both chambers and have been sent to the Governor for approval or veto:
(R. 54) S. 107. For purposes of the state’s beach preservation policy, applies certain exceptions to the establishment of the baseline for coastal erosion zones and removes the study requirement in cases where primary oceanfront and sand dunes do not exist.
(R. 66) S. 463. Extends the tax credits for the purchase and installation of geothermal machinery and equipment until January 1, 2032.
(R. 67) S. 468. Provides for a joint resolution to provide that in a determination of whether the state is in an extended benefit period beginning on November 1, 2020, through December 31, 2021, provisions relating to the stipulation that no extended benefit period may begin before the 14th week following the end of a prior extended benefit period shall not apply.
(R. 70) S. 527. Defines “legally separated” for purposes of the certificate contained in the application for the special 4 percent assessment ratio for owner-occupied residential property.
(R. 73) S. 609. Authorizes state agencies and political subdivisions to obtain state and national criminal history background checks and investigations performed by the State Law Enforcement Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation on all employees and contractors with access to federal tax information to comply with Internal Revenue Service Publication 1075.
(R. 76) S. 658. Provides that a member of the state retirement system who is not retired may nominate a contingent beneficiary for receipt of payment on death of the member within all state retirement systems as well other technical clean-ups to the Public Employee Benefits Authority and the retirement and insurance programs.
(R. 78) S. 689. Extends the state income tax filing due date for individuals until the same date as the federal returns and payments for individuals are due.
(R. 82) H. 3094. Enacts the “Open Carry With Training Act.”
(R. 83) H. 3222. Increases the criminal penalties for violating waste tire regulations and also authorizes the Department of Health and Environmental Control to promulgate additional regulations.
(R. 84) H. 3354. Provides 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.
(R. 85) H. 3482. 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.
(R. 93) H. 3865. Authorizes 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.
(R. 94) H. 3884. Authorizes the Department of Natural Resources to use an electronic lien system to transmit and receive certificate of title for businesses and lenders engaged in the sale of watercraft.