From the Dome to Your Home
The SC General Assembly convenes on Tuesday, January 12, 2021, for the first half of a new two-year legislative session. House members met this week to elect officers, pick seats in the chamber and assign committees. The Senate plans to organize the first day of session in January.
The House of Representatives reelected Rep. Jay Lucas (R-Chesterfield, Darlington, Kershaw, Lancaster) as speaker of the House and Rep. Tommy Pope (R-York) as speaker pro tempore of the House.
The House assigned committees and each committee elected its chairperson. Rep. Murrell Smith (R-Sumter) was reelected the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Rep. Bill Sandifer (R-Oconee, Pickens) was reelected chairman of the House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee. Rep. Chris Murphy (R-Charleston) was elected the new chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. All other committee information can be found here.
2021 Advocacy Initiatives
For the 2021 legislative session, Municipal Association of SC staff recommended issues to support — some that cities and towns have advocated for in the past, and some that are new issues heard through the Regional Advocacy Meetings in August and September.
All of these initiatives would create additional tools for cities and towns to govern more effectively and efficiently. Municipal Association legislative committee members considered the recommendations, discussed additional issues and adopted these initiatives to work on for 2021. The Association board of directors adopted the initiatives at the November meeting.
The Municipal Association’s 2021 Advocacy Initiatives include
- Amending the newly adopted broadband expansion law to allow cities and towns to not only lay fiber, but also light the fiber or partner with a third party to light it.
- Allowing cities and towns to close doughnut holes, or enclaves, in their municipal limits through a local annexation process.
- Supporting reform measures to aspects of law enforcement training and duties.
- Requiring code enforcement liens be billed and collected similar to property taxes.
- Extending the current abandoned buildings tax credit until 2022 to allow for additional local economic development incentives.
- Supporting the Local Government Fund to be funded in accordance with current law.
- Supporting money to be included in the state budget to fund the Firefighter Healthcare Benefit Plan.
- Supporting money to be included in the state budget to fund the Post Traumatic Stress Disorder programs for first responders.
- Allowing cities and towns with no property tax millage to impose a millage with certain limitations.
- Creating a Municipal Capital Projects penny tax for municipal residents to approve for capital projects within the city limits.
- Expanding the availability of naloxone, the medication used to revive individuals suffering from drug overdoses, to fire and emergency medical services first responders.
- Amending the Textiles Communities Revitalization Act to include as one site those parts of abandoned mill properties that are separated by way of an intervening connector such as a railroad or waterway.
Check out the December Uptown story on the initiatives. For more information on the Advocacy Initiatives, contact Scott Slatton (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 803.933.1203.
Hometown Legislative Action Week 2021
To continue to stay safe and help stop the spread of coronavirus, the 2021 Hometown Legislative Action Week will be an ongoing virtual event, with content being released beginning February 1. City and town officials can watch the videos from a laptop, smartphone or tablet, all through the Municipal Association’s website. For more information, contact Scott Slatton (email@example.com) at 803.933.1203.
Prefiled bills in the House and Senate
The House of Representatives will prefile bills for the 2021 session on December 9 and 16, and the Senate will prefile bills on December 9. Check the legislative tracking system for summaries on prefiled bills that affect cities and towns. For more information on these bills, contact Casey Fields (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 803.933.1256.
Stay in Touch
The Municipal Association legislative team is on Twitter. Follow Scott Slatton (@ScottMuniSC), Joannie Nickel (@JoannieMuniSC) and Erica Wright (@EricaMuniSC) for updates from the State House. Also follow the Association at @MuniAssnSC.