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‚ÄčFrom the Dome to Your Home

The House of Representatives and the Senate met in regular session this week. The House Ways and Means Committee plans to begin debate on the state budget next week.

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 and sent it to the Senate, where it was referred to the Senate Finance Committee. Contact your senators and encourage them to support H3137. 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 Senate Finance Criminal Justice subcommittee and the House Ways and Means Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice subcommittee continue to hear from law enforcement agencies on budget requests. The House Ways and Means Committee plans to debate the budget next week. Please call members of the House Ways and Means Committee and urge them to support recurring funding in the state budget for the Criminal Justice Academy. With this change, the Academy can increase capacity and decrease wait times for admitting new officers. For more information on this advocacy initiative, contact Tiger Wells (twells@masc.sc) at 803.933.1270.

 Senate Tort Claims Act bill moves to full committee
A Senate Judiciary subcommittee amended and passed S386, a bill that makes changes to the SC Tort Claims Act. As amended by the subcommittee, the bill makes a number of changes to the provisions controlling the circumstances under which the state, its political subdivisions and charitable hospitals may be liable for monetary damages as a result of injury caused by the entity or its employees. Specifically, S386 changes the following current law:

  • The bill allows a court to multiply the per-occurrence cap every time the governmental entity was found to have had actual or constructive notice of the defect that lead to the injury. The per-occurrence cap is currently $600,000, but another bill, S7, would increase the cap to $2 million.
  • The bill allows an injured party to bring a bad faith claim and receive a potential one million recovery against an insurer who is deemed not to have handled a claim in good faith.
  • The bill creates a Catastrophic Fund and allows the State Fiscal Accountability Authority to collect assessments from the state, its political subdivisions and charitable hospitals to finance the fund, which would then be used to pay certain judgments that exceed the Tort Claims Act per-occurrence caps.

The full Senate Judiciary Committee will debate the bill beginning on Tuesday. Please contact members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and urge them to vote no on S386. For more information on this bill, contact Tiger Wells (twells@masc.sc) at 803.933.1270.
 
Preemption bill given second reading by the House
H3274, a bill that prohibits municipalities from enacting laws related to the ingredients, flavors or licensing of cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, tobacco products or nicotine products, was given second reading by a vote of 69 to 37 in the House on Wednesday. Rep. Alan Clemmons (R-Horry) proposed three amendments that would have exempted zoning ordinances from the pre-emption, however, all three amendments were defeated. This bill takes away the authority of cities and towns to protect local youth from harmful nicotine products. Thanks to all House members who voted against this bill. Keep contacting your House members to urge them to ask for a roll call vote on third reading and vote no on the bill. The bill is on the House calendar for third reading on Tuesday.  

A companion bill to H3274 was introduced in the Senate, S492, and referred to the Senate Medical Affairs Committee. Please call your senator and urge them to vote no on pre-emption and no on S492. For more information on this bill, contact Tiger Wells (twells@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