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​From the Dome to Your Home

The House of Representatives and the Senate met in regular session this week. Both of the bills related to the SC Tort Claims Act remain on the Senate contested calendar. The House of Representatives plans to debate its version of the budget the week of March 11, and local government pre-emption was debated in two separate committees.

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 House Ways and Means Committee allocated over $3 million in funding to the Criminal Justice Academy to increase training for officers. With this additional funding, the Academy can increase capacity and decrease wait times for admitting new officers. The full House of Representatives will debate the proposed Academy funding in the budget beginning the week of March 11. For more information on this advocacy initiative, contact Tiger Wells (twells@masc.sc) at 803.933.1270.

Municipal Tax Relief Act in subcommittee
The Senate Finance Sales and Income Tax subcommittee carried over S171, the Municipal Tax Relief Act, for more study. This bill would allow a municipality to impose a sales tax, through a referendum, not to exceed one percent, for municipal tax relief and for specified capital projects. The bill also:

  • Requires a 20-percent property tax credit;
  • Caps local sales taxes at 9 percent;
  • Allows a city to initiate the sales tax referendum county-wide; and
  • Allows a city to initiate a municipal tax referendum if the county vote fails or if the county decides not to hold a referendum.

Sen. Greg Hembree (R-Horry), the sponsor of the bill, proposed to the subcommittee to carry the bill over to work on some amendments and answer questions from stakeholders. Mayor Steven Wukela, City of Florence, and Councilmember Russell Stall, City of Greenville, testified in favor of S171. For more information on the bill, contact Melissa Carter (mcarter@masc.sc) at 803.933.1251.
 
Plastic bag ban bill in Senate subcommittee
S394, the plastic bag ban bill, was in a subcommittee this week. The Senate Labor, Commerce and Industry Regulatory and Local Government subcommittee heard testimony from supporters and opponents and carried over the bill. Sen. Shane Massey (R-Edgefield), chairman of the subcommittee, intends to have several more subcommittee meetings to debate the bill. Mayor Will Haynie from the Town of Mount Pleasant, Mayor Mark Huguley from the Town of Arcadia Lakes, and Mayor Jimmy Carroll from the City of Isle of Palms attended the hearing.

For more information on the plastic bag ban bill, contact Tiger Wells (twells@masc.sc) at 803.933.1270.
 
Tobacco pre-emption bill passes 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, passed the House of Representatives on Wednesday. This bill would take away the authority of cities and towns to enact licensing or pass other local laws to protect local youth from flavored tobacco and vaping products. The bill was read across the Senate desk and referred to the Senate Medical Affairs Committee.

A companion bill to H3274 was introduced in the Senate, S492, and referred to the Senate Medical Affairs Committee. A Senate Medical Affairs subcommittee heard testimony on S492 on Thursday, but carried the bill over for further debate. Mayor Brenda Bethune and Police Chief Amy Prock from the City of Myrtle Beach were at the meeting and testified against S492. Please call your senator and urge them to vote no on pre-emption and vote no on both H3274 and 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