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From the Dome to Your Home

The SC General Assembly convened on Tuesday, January 8, for the first half of a new two-year legislative session. The Senate held its organizational session on Tuesday. Sen. Harvey Peeler (R – Cherokee, Spartanburg, Union, York) was elected president of the Senate. The Senate will not meet in statewide session next week, and will instead use that time to meet in subcommittee and committee to bring bills to the floor. The House of Representatives will meet in regular session.

Gov. Henry McMaster was sworn in for his first full term as governor on Wednesday along with the new Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette.

Local Government Fund update
The House Ways and Means Constitutional subcommittee met on Tuesday afternoon and heard testimony from the Municipal Association and the SC Association of Counties on the Local Government Fund. The subcommittee members are Bruce Bannister (chairman, R – Greenville), Nathan Ballentine (R – Lexington, Richland) and Mike Sottile (R – Charleston).

Melissa Carter testified on behalf of cities and towns about increasing current funding levels and adopting a new formula to restore reliability to LGF. The House Ways and Means subcommittees will continue to meet and make recommendations to the full committee. For information on the LGF, contact Melissa (mcarter@masc.sc) at 803.933.1251.

2019 Advocacy Initiatives
The Association's board of directors approved the 2019 Advocacy Initiatives last September. Local officials identified challenges facing cities and towns during the Regional Advocacy Meetings in the fall of 2018. The Advocacy Initiatives represent solutions to those challenges that can be addressed through changes to state law. These are the initiatives:

  • Update the Local Government Fund formula to guarantee a reliable funding level that is fair to cities and towns of all sizes.
  • Expand flexibility for using accommodations and hospitality taxes to allow expenditures for infrastructure and law enforcement in tourist-related areas.
  • Reduce the wait time for local law enforcement hires to be admitted to the SC Criminal Justice Academy.

Advocacy Initiative updates
H3137 sponsored by a bipartisan group of House members was introduced to change the LGF formula to a more reliable funding level from year to year. This bill was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee this week and is waiting on a subcommittee hearing.

H3132 and S217 were introduced in the House and Senate to give cities more flexibility with accommodations and hospitality tax revenue. S217 is scheduled for a Senate Finance subcommittee hearing next week.

The House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee both have subcommittee meetings scheduled next week to hear testimony from the SC Criminal Justice Academy on budget requests to reduce wait times for admittance to the Academy.

Hometown Legislative Action Day 2019
Hometown Legislative Action Day is scheduled for Tuesday, February 5, 2019, at the Marriott in Columbia. Registration and hotel information are available now. The preregistration deadline is January 22, and the deadline to reserve a hotel room was January 10.

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.

Stay in touch
The Municipal Association legislative team is on Twitter bringing you updates from the State House when legislators are in Columbia for session. Follow Melissa Carter (@MelissaMuniSC), Scott Slatton (@ScottMuniSC) and Tiger Wells (@TigerMuniSC) on Twitter for updates. Also follow the Association at @MuniAssnSC