From the Dome to Your Home
The House of Representatives and the Senate met in regular session this week. Rep. Bill Sandifer requested that the House adjourn debate on both business licensing bills until March 1. Both bills remain on the House calendar.
Business license bills remain on the House calendar
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. Both of these bills remain on the House calendar for possible debate next week beginning March 1.
Taken together, the bills adopt the standardization measures discussed by business stakeholders and cities. However, the bills would also
1. grant exemptions to certain business types forcing elected officials to choose between increasing business license rates for all other businesses or reducing city services,
2. strip the authority of cities and towns to manage business licensing, and
3. move the insurance and telecommunications collection programs from the Municipal Association, governed by city officials, to a state agency.
What can you do?
Continue to call your House members and urge them to vote NO on these bills, as they are currently written, that go far beyond the goal of standardizing the business licensing process. Encourage them to support continued work to return the bill to its original purpose of streamlining the business license process without exemptions and control shifted to a state agency. Here are several points to emphasize about these bills:
Removes local authority: Takes authority from locally elected city councils and gives it to a state agency resulting in growing state government and bureaucracy.
Hands out exemptions to special interests: Picks winners and losers by handing out tax exemptions to some businesses which guarantees tax increases for others.
Creates ambiguities and inconsistencies: Generates confusion with ambiguous language that complicates the business licensing process for cities and businesses instead of streamlining it.
Reduces revenue to cities: Contact Melissa Carter (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 803.933.1251 for assistance on estimating the financial impact this bill would have on your city or town.
As you talk to your legislators about this bill, please share any feedback with Casey Fields (email@example.com) at 803.933.1256. For questions on these bills, contact Miriam Hair (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 803.933.1204 or Melissa Carter (email@example.com) at 803.933.1251.
A number of newspapers and television stations have talked with local officials about these bills. Among them are an editorial in The State and articles in the Post and Courier, the Greenwood Index Journal, the Hampton Guardian and the Greenville News.
House Ways and Means Committee adopts its version of the state budget
The House Ways and Means Committee adopted its version of the budget on Thursday. Next the budget will go to the full House of Representatives for debate scheduled during the week of March 13. Included in the budget are the following items:
- No additional one-time money in the Local Government Fund leaving the fund at $212.6 million. The FY 2017 $12.6 million non-recurring money was not included in the FY 2018 budget.
- Hurricane Matthew FEMA match fully funded.
- Pinnacle Mountain fire FEMA match fully funded.
- Beach renourishment funded at $5 million of $15 million requested.
- One percent of the 2 percent employer contribution rate funded with recurring revenue. The funding allows the employer contribution rate for SCRS to be 12.56 percent instead of 13.56 percent and PORS to be 15.24 percent instead of 16.24 percent.
Contact Melissa Carter (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 803.933.1251 for specific information on the budget.
Pension reform bills moving in the House and Senate
H3726, the House version of the bill that reforms the S.C. Retirement System, is on the House contested calendar awaiting debate. The Senate Finance Committee gave S394, the Senate version of the retirement bill, a favorable report on Tuesday and it was placed on the Senate calendar for debate. This bill proposes to pay down the unfunded liability of the state retirement system and reduce the assumed annual rate of return from 7.5 percent to 7.25 percent.
These bills increase the employer contribution rate for the S.C. Retirement System and Police Officers Retirement System by 2 percent effective July 1, 2017. The employer contribution rate increases 1 percent each year from 2018 through 2023 ultimately producing an employer rate of 18.56 for SCRS and 21.24 for PORS. The bill places a cap of 9 percent on the employee contribution rate effective July 1. There is no reduction in cost of living adjustments for retirees. If the House version of the budget bill that includes the pension funding passes, it will decrease the employer contribution rate from 2 percent to 1 percent effective July 1, 2017.
The bills also make a number of administrative changes to the S.C. Public Employment Benefits Authority and the S.C. Retirement System Investment Commission. For questions on these bills, contact Melissa Carter (email@example.com) at 803.933.1251.
Building Officials Association of SC works on architects' bill
Several building officials were in Columbia this week testifying in front of the House Labor, Commerce and Industry Administration and Regulations subcommittee against H3649, an architectural examiners bill. The bill eliminates current building size thresholds for when an architect's seal is required on building construction plans.
The subcommittee gave the bill a favorable report with an amendment. The amendment strikes all of the language in the bill, leaving the current architects' law as it is, and replaces the language with changes to the Engineers' Practice Act. The engineers' law was changed in 2016 to eliminate building size thresholds that determined when an engineer's seal was required on construction plans. The 2016 change has caused confusion among building officials and businesses since it was enacted. The amendment restores the previous engineering law to exempt buildings less than three stories high and less than five thousand square feet from having to have an engineer's seal on construction plans. For questions about the bill or the Building Officials Association, contact Scott Slatton (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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. Visit the legislative tracking system to see and comment on all bills pending in the House and Senate.