The Senate and House of Representatives met in regular session this week. The House of Representatives will begin debating the state budget on Monday at 11 a.m. Local elected leaders have this weekend to contact representatives and urge full funding of the Local Government Fund. See the update below for specific action items.
Local Government Fund Update The House of Representatives gave third reading by a vote of 59 to 45 to H4710, the bill that allows the General Assembly to cut the Local Government Fund for FY 13 below the level required by law. The House Ways and Means committee’s version of the budget includes funding the Local Government Fund at 71 percent of the full funding level. This is a cut from FY 12 budget which funds the Local Government Fund at 76 percent of the full funding level. The Ways and Means committee also removed two provisos that would have been harmful to local governments, but added a proviso, introduced by Representative Jim Merrill (R- Berkley and Charleston). This proviso prevents all local government entities and associations from using taxpayer funds for lobbying activities. This would curtail local governments’ ability to analyze and track proposed legislation and provide information to the General Assembly about how legislation could affect residents and businesses in their cities and towns. The proviso is 89.plg (amendment #16).
Action for Local Government Fund The full House of Representatives will debate the budget starting on Monday, March 12, at 11 a.m. It is critical that ALL local officials talk to every House member in your legislative delegation while they are home this weekend. Encourage full funding of the Local Government Fund and the removal of proviso 89.plg (or amendment #16). After you talk to your representatives, contact Casey Fields (email@example.com) at 803.933.1256 and let her know what they are telling you. For talking points and background on the Local Government Fund and H4710, contact Melissa Carter (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 803.933.1251 or visit the Association’s website for more information.
Retirement bill introduced in the House H4967, the bill that restructures the state retirement system, was introduced in the House of Representatives on Thursday and was immediately placed on the calendar without being referred to a committee. Language from H4898, the original bill that was introduced to reform the retirement system, was incorporated into H4967.
- Retirees receive a guaranteed COLA as long as certain triggers are met for SCRS and PORS.
- No annual or sick leave can be used in the average final compensation calculation for SCRS and PORS.
- Average final compensation calculation will be computed using five highest years rather the current three years for SCRS and PORS.
- The cost to purchase service time will be the actuarial cost for SCRS and PORS.
- Employee contribution rate will increase 1 percent for SCRS and PORS over two years.
- New employees under SCRS must have 30 years of service to retire and will not have the TERI.
Tort Claims bill carried over by a Senate subcommittee A Senate Judiciary subcommittee carried over S772, a tort claims bill introduced by Senator Harvey Peeler (R- Cherokee) that would remove the cap on economic damages imposed by the Tort Claims Act. Two attorneys who represent the South Carolina Municipal Insurance and Risk Financing Fund testified against the bill. If passed, this bill could expose municipalities to potential unlimited liability, increase insurance costs for cities and towns and have a major negative financial impact. For more information on the bill and its impact on cities and towns, contact Ed Schafer (email@example.com) at 803.933.1203 or Heather Ricard (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 803.933.1258.
Relocation of water and sewer lines bill H4487, a bill that requires the SC Department of Transportation to pay for relocation of public water and sewer lines, was introduced in the House. A House Education and Public works subcommittee adjourned debate on this bill on February 22. At the direction of the subcommittee, interested parties have been meeting to work out a compromise on the bill. Municipal Association legislative staff has been participating in these meetings with another scheduled for Monday. For more information on the bill and its impact on cities and towns, contact Ed Schafer (email@example.com) at 803.933.1203.
House floor action this week Representatives did not take action on H3235, the bill that changes the amount governments can charge and the time period to produce records requested under FOIA and voted to recommit to the committee the DOT restructuring bill, H4625. The House gave third reading to H4451, the texting while driving bill; and H4721, (flow control bill) a bill that prevents a county from passing an ordinance that restricts the disposal of waste to facilities other than those designated by the county.
Weekly Bill Introductions Access bills that were introduced this week and bills that received action from a subcommittee or committee through our legislative tracking system complete with short summaries. Visit the legislative tracking system to see and comment on all bills pending in the House and Senate.
Committee Action This Week The Association’s legislative team covered these bills in committee or subcommittee and provided testimony where needed. Click on the bill's link for a full chronology of amendments and committee progress.
House Judiciary committee
H4672 – Amends the constitution to prohibit pardoned criminals from holding elected office – favorable report
Summary of the bill as introduced: Amends the constitution to eliminate the exception that allows a person to hold elective office if a person's conviction was pardoned under state or federal law or if it has been 15 or more years after the completion of a sentence.
H3130 – Creates the offense of sexting - favorable report as amended by the subcommittee
Summary of the bill as introduced: Creates the offense of sexting and provides for the use of the uniform traffic ticket for the offense and for jurisdiction over the offense in the municipal or magistrates court.
H4726 – Changes regulations on the costs of sewer lateral collection lines – favorable report
Summary of the bill as introduced: Allows an assessment to be levied if a residential subdivision received conceptual approval from SC DHEC for septic tank use and subsequently five or more lots in the subdivision were denied permits by the Department. The assessment may be levied on the abutting parcels in the subdivision for the actual costs of the sewer lateral collection lines, transmission lines and association infrastructure.
Senate Finance committee
S1002 – Tax increment financing for redevelopment projects – favorable report as amended by the subcommittee. The amendment was requested by the Municipal Association.
Summary of the bill as introduced: Requires surplus funds in a tax increment financing redevelopment project to be sent back to the taxing entity.
S1101 – Instructs the Department of Revenue to develop charts to show state revenue - favorable report with an amendment. The amendment only makes technical changes.
Summary of the bill as introduced: Requires the SC Department of Revenue to develop a chart to reflect the proportion of appropriations for certain appropriation categories to total state appropriations.
Senate Judiciary committee
S10 – Creates the Commission on Streamlining Government and Reduction of Waste – carried over
Summary of the bill as introduced: Creates the Commission on Streamlining Government and Reduction of Waste and provides for its procedures to submit recommendations.
S148 – Home Invasion Protection Act – carried over
Summary of the bill as introduced: Establishes the offense of home invasion in violent offenses.
S235 – Requires property owners to keep property free of rubbish - recommitted
Summary of the bill as introduced: Authorizes the county government to adopt an ordinance that requires property owners to keep a lot or other property clean and free of rubbish.
H4033 – Canal dredging included in the Municipal Improvement Act - favorable report with an amendment. The amendment includes dredging of waterways on the list of capital projects.
Summary of the bill as introduced: Allows the widening and dredging of certain waterways to be included within a municipal improvement district when the owner gives the governing body written permission to include the property at the time when the improvement district is created.
S1065 – Clarifies the ban on video gaming machines – carried over
Summary of the bill as introduced: Clarifies that existing regulations on bingo and raffles do not allow any devices prohibited under the state's current video gambling ban.
S1066 – Allows local governing bodies to regulate fireworks - committee met but did not take action on this bill.
Summary of the bill as introduced: Permits a local governing body to regulate the discharge of fireworks.
House Judiciary Election and Ethics Laws subcommittee
H3110 – Partisan election or partisan advisory referendum voting - favorable report with an amendment. House legislative staff is working on the amendment. As soon as it is available, it will be posted in the tracking system.
Summary of the bill as introduced: Prohibits a person from voting in a partisan primary election or partisan advisory referendum unless the person has registered as being a member of that party.
House Judiciary Criminal Laws subcommittee
H4572 – Deletes language that provides a procedure for surety bonds - favorable report with an amendment. The amendment restores original language and adds language that allows the circuit court to use its discretion to decide whether or not a surety may be relieved of liability unless otherwise ordered by the circuit court.
Summary of the bill as introduced: Deletes language that outlines a procedure through which a surety bond may be relieved of liability for a bail bond upon filing of an affidavit when the defendant is incarcerated by the surety or a law enforcement agency as a result of a bench warrant.
Senate Labor, Commerce and Industry subcommittee
H4652 – Restricts labor unions in the state – carried over
Summary of the bill as introduced: Requires employers to conspicuously post certain notice concerning the rights of an employee concerning joining a union and provides certain restrictions on government contracts.
Senate Medical Affairs subcommittee
S1235 – Issuance of a permit to drill a water line – carried over
Summary of the bill as introduced: Requires the issuance of a permit to have a well drilled on a parcel of land that has unencumbered access to a water line. Also requires the issuance of a septic tank permit for a parcel of land that has unencumbered access to a sewer line.
S514 – Preemption of county solid waste disposal ordinances – favorable report
Summary of the bill as introduced: Outlines that an ordinance that restricts solid waste disposal at permitted facilities located outside a county's boundaries or impedes a recycling program is inconsistent with the law.
Senate Judiciary subcommittee
H3508 – Makes changes to the law relating to government-owned telecommunications service providers – favorable report
Summary of the bill as introduced: Requires governments providing Internet access to comply with the 2002 Telecommunications Act.
Senate Transportation subcommittee
S1162 – Removes the definition of commission from the Department of Transportation – carried over
Summary of the bill as introduced: Removes the definition for "commission" and allows the secretary of transportation to establish other departmental divisions rather than the commission.
House Education and Public Works Higher Education subcommittee
H4092 – Smoking bans on campuses of public institutions of higher learning - favorable report with an amendment. The amendment includes grounds adjacent to buildings.
Summary of the bill as introduced: Prevents smoking in buildings on campuses of public institutions of higher learning when it is prohibited by the governing body of the institution.
House Judiciary General Laws subcommittee
H4609 – Prevents local ordinances that interfere with the regulation of certain weapons – adjourned debate
Summary of the bill as introduced: Prohibits a local government body from enforcing any regulation or ordinance that regulates or attempts to regulate certain weapons or ammunition, including knives.
House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Social Services, Mental Health and Children’s Affairs subcommittee
H4739 – Requires a specific number of lifeguards in a public swimming pool - favorable report with amendments. The amendments include Type A pools only and changes the effective date to upon signature of the governor. Summary of the bill as introduced: Specifies the number of lifeguards, based on the square footage and number of patrons a public swimming pool, operated by the state or a political subdivision must have as a condition of obtaining and maintaining an operating permit.