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From the Dome to Your Home

The House of Representatives and the Senate met in regular session this week. The Senate debated the gas tax all week, while the House spent time on the floor working through the calendar. The pension reform bill, H3726, has been ratified and is waiting on the governor's signature or veto.

There are only three weeks left in the session until adjournment on May 11.

Senate version of the budget on the House calendar for debate
Both the House and Senate have passed their versions of the budget. Now, the Senate version is back on the House calendar for debate. Representatives can either vote to accept the Senate changes or amend the bill back to the House version passed on March 15.
 
In most cases, the House version of the budget includes more money than the Senate version for cities and towns that participate in SCRS and PORS. Get the FY2018 Senate and House LGF distribution by city.

Included in the House version of the budget is:

  • $212.million in the Local Government Fund for FY2018. This is a decrease of $10.6 million from FY2017. This is a decrease of $1.7 million in the LGF for cities and towns.
  • One percent of the 2 percent increase in the SCRS and PORS employer contribution rates funded with recurring revenue. The funding reduces the employer contribution rate for SCRS from 13.56 percent to 12.56 percent and PORS from 16.24 percent to 15.24 percent.
  • Hurricane Matthew FEMA match fully funded.
  • Pinnacle Mountain fire FEMA match fully funded.
  • Beach renourishment funded at $5 million of $15 million requested.
  • $700,000 appropriation to the Town of Nichols for Hurricane Matthew recovery.

Included in the Senate version of the budget is:

  • $246.3 million in the Local Government Fund for FY2018. This is an increase of $23.1 million from FY2017. This is an increase of $3.9 million in the LGF for cities and towns. The additional funding is to assist cities, towns and counties with paying the increased state pension contributions.
  • Hurricane Matthew FEMA match 90 percent funded. (less than the House version)
  • Pinnacle Mountain fire FEMA match fully funded. (same as House version)
  • Beach renourishment funded at $7.5 million. (more than the House version)
  • First responder PTSD treatment funded at $500,000. (addition from the House version)
  • 2014 winter storm local match funded at $7.3 million. (addition from the House version)
  • $700,000 loan to the Town of Nichols for disaster recovery. (the House version was a grant instead of a loan)

Contact Melissa Carter (mcarter@masc.sc) at 803.933.1251 for specific information on the budget.

Senators begin debate on gas tax bill
Senators began debate on H3516 on Tuesday afternoon continuing the debate through the week until they adjourned on Thursday afternoon. The bill increases the gas tax to raise revenue for road maintenance and repairs.

H3516, as it was voted out of the House, raises the motor vehicle user fee by 2 cents per year over the next five years. It also generates new revenue from increases in driver's license fees and sales taxes on cars. The new revenue generated, estimated at $600 million per year, will be placed in a trust fund for road maintenance and repair only. The bill also makes governance changes to the S.C. Department of Transportation Commission by allowing the governor to appoint commissioners with the consent of the General Assembly.

On March 8, a special Senate Finance Transportation subcommittee amended H3516 to increase the gas tax 2 cents every year for six years to raise $800 million for roads. The amendment caps the gas tax below Georgia and North Carolina's current tax rates, and strikes the S.C. DOT governance changes included in the House bill. The amendment also raises car sales taxes and other fees.

For questions about the gas tax, contact Scott Slatton (sslatton@masc.sc) at 803.933.1203.

Business license bills remain in committee past crossover deadline
Rep. Bill Sandifer (R – Seneca) and 13 other sponsors introduced two bills, H3650 and H3651, on February 2 that drastically cut city revenues and create tax inequities for small businesses due to special tax exemptions. These bills were recommitted to the committee on March 1 for further work, and the Municipal Association staff continues to work with business interests and legislative staff to return the bills to the initial intent of standardizing the business license process. These bills remain in the committee and have not received any action since they were recommitted, missing the crossover deadline for this legislative session.

For questions on these bills, contact Miriam Hair (mhair@masc.sc) at 803.933.1204 or Melissa Carter (mcarter@masc.sc) at 803.933.1251.

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.

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Weekly legislative action