Friday Report - May 26, 2023

On Tuesday, the Senate took up the House amendments to the six-week abortion ban bill (S. 474). Several more amendments were debated but ultimately the Senate concurred with the House amendments, and the bill will be enrolled for ratification. The Senate also gave third reading to H. 4299, the continuing resolution to pay the expenses of state government in case the FY 23-24 begins without a new budget. There is still a chance that the Budget Conference Committee will meet before July 1 to deliberate the differences between the House and Senate versions of H. 4300, the FY 23-24 Appropriations Act, but there are also talks that the two chambers may have reached an impasse.

These and other bills of interest are discussed below:

Revenue, Finance and Economic Development

Budget – H. 4300. Both chambers increased funding to the Local Government Fund (LGF) by $13,212,234 statewide. This represents full funding to the LGF under the statutory formula. The House amended the budget to reinsert its original provisos and line items and also to spend surplus money that was realized by the Board of Economic Advisors last week. H. 4300 remains in conference committee where deliberations will need to conclude by July 1, 2023, in order to fund the obligations of the state. The conferees are Reps. Bannister, Herbkersman, and Weeks and Sens. Peeler, Setzler, and Alexander. SCAC will report on the final version of the budget bill if and when negotiations are completed.

Continuing Resolution – H. 4299This bill would provide authority for state government operations and expense payments at the current funding levels approved in Act 239 of 2022 in the event that the 2023-24 state fiscal year were to begin without passage of the general appropriations act. The Senate gave H. 4299 third reading, it was ratified as R 89 and signed by the Governor.

Municipal Audits – S. 31This 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 LGF 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. The Governor vetoed S. 31 this week. The Senate overwhelmingly voted to override the veto and the House will vote on whether to override the veto when it returns next week.

Public Safety, Corrections and Judicial

Trafficking in Fentanyl – H. 3503As introduced, H. 3503 would create the criminal offense of trafficking in fentanyl and would provide substantial penalties for such offenses. The Senate amended the bill to the version of the bill (S. 153) it passed earlier this year. As a result, H. 3503 would add fentanyl-related substances to the list of Schedule I controlled substances and would create the felony offense of trafficking in fentanyl. The bill would also increase penalties for trafficking in fentanyl compared to other drugs and would establish a mandatory minimum sentence. The amendment adopted by the Senate would also prohibit a person convicted of trafficking fentanyl from possessing a firearm.

The bill contains the following guidelines:

  • For a first offense, a term of imprisonment of not less than seven years nor more than 25 years, no part of which may be suspended or probation granted, and a fine of $50,000;
  • More than two grains of fentanyl or fentanyl-related substance is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction must be imprisoned not more than five years or fined not more than $5,000 or both;
  • For a second offense, the offender is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned not more than 10 years or fined not more than $7,500, or both; 
  • For a third or subsequent offense, the offender is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be imprisoned not more than 15 years or fined not more than $10,000, or both; and
  • Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a person convicted and sentenced pursuant to this item for a first or second offense may have the sentence suspended, and probation granted and is eligible for parole, supervised furlough, community supervision, work release, work credits, education credits, and good conduct credit.

The Senate gave the bill a third reading, as amended, and returned the bill to the House. The House will take up the Senate amendments to H. 3503 when it returns next week.

Youth Offenders Expungement – H. 3890. This bill amends Section 22-5-920, relating to youthful offender eligibility for expungement of certain offenses, to allow expungement for convictions involving a driving under suspension offense or a disturbing schools offense. The Governor vetoed H. 3890 this week. Both chambers of the General Assembly will vote on whether or not to override the veto when they return.

Newly-Introduced Legislation

View/Download Full Text for Newly-Introduced Legislation

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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.

Senate Bills

S. 818 (Senator Massey) - Amends Section 12-37-220(B), relating to classes of property that are exempt from ad valorem taxation, to provide that current volunteer firefighters are eligible for the tax exemption on property they own.

S. 819 (Senator Kimbrell) - Amends Section 55-1-11, relating to the Division of Aeronautics established within the South Carolina Budget and Control Board, to provide among other things that the Executive Director shall assist and oversee the operation of the Division and to remove the Aeronautics Commission.

Legislative Session: