The House of Representatives and Senate met in regular session this week. There are only three legislative days left until the end of the 2011 - 2012 session on June 7. An adjournment resolution was adopted by the House and Senate to bring back legislators on June 19 and June 26 to handle vetoes.
The Senate version of the budget bill is currently on the House calendar for approval. House members adjourned debate on the bill until Tuesday. If the House does not approve the Senate’s changes to the bill, a conference committee will be appointed to work out the differences in the two versions.
Local Government Fund Update
The Senate version of the budget includes an additional $40 million over the House version for the Local Government Fund, funding the FY13 LGF at 88 percent of the calculation by law. This new money became available because the Board of Economic Advisors revised its revenue estimate for FY12 and FY13 with a total additional $274 million. The Senate Finance committee still has not taken any action on H4710, the bill that allows the General Assembly to cut the Local Government Fund. Local leaders with House members on the Ways and Means committee need to contact their committee member and insist on the additional $40 million for the Local Government Fund in the Senate version of the bill. Please continue to urge all House members to support including the additional funding in the budget.
Lobbyist Proviso Amended
The Senate version of the budget includes Representative Jim Merrill’s proviso regarding lobbying activities. The House version of the proviso prevents local governments from using any taxpayer dollars for lobbying, while the Senate version prevents counties, municipalities and associations from using only Local Government Fund dollars to compensate employees for lobbying activities. This version of the proviso could still create accounting issues for cities and towns to track specifics of how LGF dollars are spent. The original proviso is 89.129.
Retirement Reform Bill Goes to Conference Committee
The Senate version of H4967, the retirement reform bill, was amended by the House on Wednesday and sent back to the Senate. On Thursday, the Senate voted 36 to 0 to reject the House amendments. Now a conference committee with three members from the House and three members from the Senate will meet to work out the differences in the two versions of the bill. Conference committee members are Reps. Bingham, Merrill and Cobb- Hunter and Senators Ryberg, Alexander and Setzler. Visit this link for a summary of the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. For more information on the bill, contact Melissa Carter (email@example.com) at 803.933.1251.
Brokers Tax Bill
S1419 makes changes in the state’s surplus lines brokers’ law to bring municipal and state brokers’ premium tax collections into compliance with the federal Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The House of Representatives gave the bill second reading by a vote of 95-0 on Thursday with a final third reading expected next week. The bill will then return to the Senate for concurrence or non-concurrence. The one difference between the two versions of the bill concerns the state’s ability to join a multi-state agreement for collecting and distributing the tax to reciprocal states. For more information on the bill, contact Melissa Carter (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 803.933.1251.
Broadband Bill Update
Senators spent considerable time in session this week debating H3508, the broadband bill. Senator Malloy continued to express his strong belief that all areas of the state must have access to high speed broadband to be economically competitive. Senators Malloy and Hutto introduced amendments favorable to local governments and these amendments were passed by the Senate. The debate will continue next week. For more information on the bill, contact Ed Schafer (email@example.com) at 803.933.1203.
Bills passed from both the 2011 and 2012 legislative sessions are available on the Association’s legislative tracking system.
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
S1321 – Changes to the Omnibus Crime Reduction and Sentencing Reform Act of 2010 -favorable report with amendments. The amendments deal with the youthful offender provision in the bill. It deletes mandatory minimum sentences and gives judges’ discretion in sentencing juveniles.Summary of the bill as introduced: Restructures the degrees of arson and changes penalties for an offender on parole to purchase a weapon. The changes also include code sections on youthful offenders and controlled substance offenses.
S263 – Motor vehicle offenses that result in death - favorable report with an amendment. The amendment makes the field sobriety test mandatory.
Summary of the bill as introduced: Charges a driver with the misdemeanor offense of vehicular homicide if the person driving the motor vehicle does any act already forbidden by law while driving a vehicle that results in death.
Senate Finance committee
H4802 – SC Abandoned Buildings Revitalization Act - favorable report with amendments. The amendment caps the credit at $400,000, includes commercial and business property only and lowers the threshold of expenditures to $250,000.Summary of the bill as introduced: Allows a taxpayer making investments of at least $500,000 in rehabilitation of an abandoned building may, at his option, receive specified income tax credits or credits against the property tax liability.
Senate Judiciary committee
S934 – Annexation and utility services outside of the annexed area – carried over
Summary of the bill as introduced: Requires a municipality utilizing the definition of contiguous to annex property that is adjacent to a special purpose district but not the special purpose district itself to provide municipal services to the special purpose district at the same rate that entities within the municipality are charged.
S1381 – Temporary permits for possession of alcohol - favorable report with an amendment. The amendment makes technical changes.Summary of the bill as introduced: Provides further for the elections for a favorable referendum vote for a temporary permit for the possession, sale and consumption of alcohol by the drink in a county or municipality.
H4821 – Filing court documents electronically – favorable reportSummary of the bill as introduced: Allows the filing of court documents by electronic means from an integrated e-filing system and requires the fees generated from e-filing to be used for court technology
H4798 – Revises the time period of a trial in municipal court - favorable report with an amendment. The amendment cleans up archaic language in the statute.Summary of the bill as introduced: Revises the period of time a person must be tried in municipal court after the date of his or her arrest.
H3274 – Requirements for ejectment of a tenant – carried over
Summary of the bill as introduced: Requires a magistrate to immediately issue an ejectment warrant and law enforcement officers must eject the tenant if grounds for ejectment constitute malicious property damage or threat to human life and the tenant fails to appear and show cause within five days
H5104 – Testimony under oath to the General Assembly - favorable report as amended. The amendment makes the oath voluntary and creates a $100 fine for the first offense.
Summary of the bill as introduced: Requires all testimony given to a committee or subcommittee of the General Assembly to be under oath and creates the offenses of contempt of the General Assembly and criminal contempt.
H3209 – Temporary protection orders for pets and animals in a domestic abuse case – favorable report
Summary of the bill as introduced: Allows the court to prohibit harm or harassment to a pet animal owned, possessed, kept or held by the petitioner in a domestic abuse case by ordering temporary possession of pet animals.
H3130 – Creates the offense of sexting - favorable report with an amendment. The amendment creates a first offense fine of $150, a second offense fine of $500 and a third offense misdemeanor of $1000.
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.
H3235 – Changes the amount and time period to return records requested under FOIA -favorable report with a minority report.
Summary of the bill as introduced: Removes the FOIA exemption for legislators, prohibits public bodies from charging for administrative time in gathering records and caps the charge for copies at the prevailing market rate. It also requires that if the records are more than 24 months old, the public body may take up to 45 days to comply with the request.
Senate Transportation committee
H3918 – Increases authority of the Aeronautics Division to regulate land around public airports -favorable report with amendments. The amendments deal with technical changes and do not have an impact on municipalities.Summary of the bill as introduced: Increases the authority of the Division of Aeronautics to regulate land use in the vicinity of public airports and to remove imminent or foreseeable hazards to aviation safety.
Senate Finance Sales and Income Taxation subcommittee
S954 – Requires legislation containing tax incentives receive a report from Department of Commerce – favorable reportSummary of the bill as introduced: Prevents legislation providing tax incentives or subsidies from receiving second reading in the House or Senate without an economic analysis report by the Department of Commerce.