The Senate and House of Representatives met in regular session this week. The House debated the budget beginning on Monday and adopted the final version on Thursday. The Senate elected new leadership with the resignation of former Lieutenant Governor Ken Ard. For more on the budget and the Local Government Fund, read below.
Changes in the Senate
The resignation of Lieutenant Governor Ken Ard brought several changes in leadership to the Senate. Former President Pro Tempore Senator Glenn McConnell (R- Charleston) was sworn in as the new Lieutenant Governor, while Senator John Courson (R – Richland, Lexington) was elected as the new President Pro Tempore of the Senate. Senator Larry Martin (R – Pickens) was named chairman of the Senate Judiciary committee, Senator Jake Knotts (R – Lexington) was named chairman of the Senate Rules committee and Senator Billy O’Dell (R – Abbeville, Anderson, Greenwood) was named chairman of the Senate Invitations committee.
Local Government Fund Update
The House of Representatives finalized debate and adopted its version of the state budget on Thursday. The House 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 House approved H4710 last week, the bill that allows the General Assembly to cut the Local Government Fund.
Representative Jim Merrill’s proviso regarding lobbying activities also remains in the House version of the budget. This proviso prevents all local government entities and associations from using taxpayer funds for lobbying activities. This would curtail local governments’ ability to 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).
The Senate Finance committee subcommittees are already working on the House version of the budget. Now is the time for all local elected officials to call your senators and tell them that additional funding is needed in the Local Government Fund. For talking points and background on the Local Government Fund, the House version of the budget and H4710, contact Melissa Carter (email@example.com) at 803.933.1251 or visit the Association’s website for more information.
Tort Claims bill carried over again by a Senate subcommittee
A Senate Judiciary subcommittee carried over S772 again, the tort claims bill introduced by Senator Harvey Peeler (R - Cherokee) that would remove the cap on economic damages imposed by the Tort Claims Act. 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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 803.933.1203 or Heather Ricard (email@example.com) at 803.933.1258.
Broadband bill carried over in committee
H3508 is the bill that would severely limit the ability of governments to provide Internet access to residents and businesses even in those areas where private companies find it not profitable to serve. This bill was carried over by the Senate Judiciary committee on Tuesday. At the request of Hartsville Mayor Mel Pennington, Senator Gerald Malloy (D – Chesterfield, Darlington, Lee Marlboro) introduced an amendment to carve out the City of Hartsville from the requirements of the bill resulting in the bill being carried over. On behalf of all cities and towns, thanks to Senator Malloy for introducing the amendment. For more information on the bill, contact Ed Schafer (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 803.933.1203.
Fireworks bill passes out of Judiciary committee
S1066, the bill that allows local governing bodies to regulate fireworks, was given a favorable report as amended by the subcommittee. The subcommittee amendment strikes "and place" in the bill only allowing cities and towns to govern the time that fireworks can be discharged. Association staff is working to amend the bill back to the original language. For more information on the bill, contact Ed Schafer (email@example.com) at 803.933.1203.
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. This week, several bills were introduced in the House that make changes to property, income and corporate income taxes. Association staff is closely watching these bills as they begin to move through the process. 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.
Senate Finance Property Tax subcommittee
S388 – Property tax exemptions for newly constructed condos, townhouses or cottages – carried over
Summary of the bill as introduced: Exempts from property taxes the value of improvements of a newly constructed condominium, townhouse or cottage through the earlier of the property tax year in which the improvement is occupied or the property tax year ending the third December 31 after the improvement is complete.
Senate Finance Sales and Income Tax subcommittee
S1268 – Fees for the automobile manufacturer standard license plate – favorable report Summary of the bill as introduced: Outlines that for 2013 and 2014, the annual fee for the automobile manufacturer standard license plate for vehicles in the manufacturer's employee benefit program and for the testing, distribution, evaluation and promotion of its vehicles is $702. This bill also credits $20 of each fee to the state's general fund and the balance to local governments
H4664 – Provides a process for appointing certain members to the SC Rural Infrastructure Authority - favorable report with an amendment. As soon as the amendment is available, it will be posted in the tracking system.
Summary of the bill as introduced: Provides a process for the appointment of certain members of the governing board of the SC Rural Infrastructure Authority.
H3346 – State tax credit for installation of solar energy equipment - favorable report with an amendment. As soon as the amendment is available, it will be posted in the tracking system.
Summary of the bill as introduced: Allows a state tax credit for the installation of solar energy equipment equal to 35 percent.
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.
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.
Senate Judiciary subcommittee
S1321 – Changes to the Omnibus Crime Reduction and Sentencing Reform Act of 2010 – favorable report 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.
Senate Transportation subcommittee
S1162 – Removes the definition of commission from the Department of Transportation – favorable report
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.
Senate Labor, Commerce and Industry subcommittee
S319 – Exempts certain fireworks stands from tiedown requirements – carried over Summary of the bill as introduced: Exempts a fireworks stand from any tiedown requirements that is 18 feet or greater in length.