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​From the Dome to Your Home

The Senate met on Wednesday and Thursday this week to debate its version of the budget. The House of Representatives did not meet this week because of the furlough scheduled until Tuesday, April 23.

The tobacco preemption bill and the plastic bag ban bill remain on the Senate contested calendar, and the bill that prohibits the Municipal Association from collecting business licenses on behalf of cities remains in a House committee. The bill that amends the Tort Claims Act was amended to lower the proposed liability cap increases and passed by the Senate. The bill is now in the House waiting to be taken up by a committee.

Advocacy Initiatives update

  • Flexibility with hospitality and accommodations tax revenue
    H3132 and S217 were introduced in the House and Senate to give cities the ability to use state and local accommodations and hospitality tax revenue to control and repair flooding and drainage in tourist-related areas. The Senate passed S217 and sent it to the House of Representatives, where it was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. Please encourage your House members to support S217. For more information on this advocacy initiative, contact Melissa Carter (mcarter@masc.sc) at 803.933.1251.
  • Local Government Fund predictability
    H3137, sponsored by a bipartisan group of House members, was introduced to change the LGF formula to a more predictable funding level from year to year. The House of Representatives passed H3137. The Senate Finance Committee amended and approved H3137 and sent it to the full Senate for debate. For more information on this advocacy initiative, contact Melissa Carter (mcarter@masc.sc) at 803.933.1251.
  • Reducing wait times for new hires at the Criminal Justice Academy
    The House of Representatives allocated more than $3 million in funding to the Criminal Justice Academy to increase training for officers in its version of the state budget. With this additional funding, the academy can increase capacity and decrease wait times for admitting new officers. The Senate allocated $2 million in recurring funding to the Criminal Justice Academy. For more information on this advocacy initiative, contact Tiger Wells (twells@masc.sc) at 803.933.1270.

Small cell bill approved by a Senate Judiciary subcommittee
H4262, the SC Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act, was given a favorable report by a Senate Judiciary subcommittee. In its original form, the bill completely preempted local control over the deployment of small wireless facilities in the municipal rights of way and allowed telecommunications companies the right to deploy small wireless facilities with only limited aesthetic review in historic and underground districts. The amendment returns much of the aesthetic control back to cities and towns, among other changes.

Several senators expressed their concerns about the bill and planned to address those concerns in full Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday. For information on this bill, contact Tiger Wells (twells@masc.sc) at 803.933.1270.
 
Senate approves its version of the state budget
On Thursday, the Senate gave final approval to its version of the state budget. Included in the Senate version of the budget are the following items:

  • $9.5 million is added to the Local Government Fund base amount of $222.6 million, establishing a new base amount of $232.1 million.
  • The 1% credit for employers' retirement system contributions, which was funded in the FY 2019 budget, is again funded in the FY 2020 budget.
  • $22 million in nonrecurring funds are provided as a match for FEMA funds for Hurricane Florence.
  • Nonrecurring PTSD funding is included in the Senate Finance Committee's version of the budget at $500,000.
  • $2 million in recurring funding is provided to the Criminal Justice Academy to reduce its funding dependence on fees and fines.

The Senate proviso originally introduced by Sen. Ronnie Cromer (R-Newberry) to keep private third parties from assessing, collecting, administering the collection of or processing business license taxes was amended. The new language in the proviso protects existing collections programs, removes the restriction on processing, and specifically permits counties and municipalities to contract with private third parties to assist in the collection of business license taxes so long as business data is submitted to the municipality rather than the private third party. The amendment also limits contact between private, third-party collection entities and businesses to one instance, and creates a study committee to develop reforms related to third-party collection entities.

Sen. Tom Corbin (R-Greenville) introduced an amendment, adopted by the Senate, that requires nonprofit organizations that receive contributions from an entity that receives money in the state budget bill to provide detailed statements about their staff salaries, positions and programming to the state Executive Budget Office and Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office. The proviso further requires a nonprofit organization to agree to an audit by the State Auditor before it can accept contributions from covered entities.

Sen. Shane Massey (R-Edgefield) introduced an amendment that would have prohibited municipalities from passing ordinances that govern the use, purchase, sale or transfer of consumer goods. Sens. Sandy Senn (R-Charleston), Tom Davis (R-Beaufort), Chip Campsen (R-Charleston), Kevin Johnson (D-Clarendon), Dick Harpootlian (D-Richland) and Luke Rankin (R-Horry) spoke against the amendment. Sen. Senn made the motion to table the amendment. The Senate voted to table the amendment by a vote of 27 to 15.

For information on the budget bill, contact Melissa Carter (mcarter@masc.sc) at 803.933.1270.

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

You can also listen to podcast versions of the legislative reports from the Association's City Quick Connect podcast.