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​From the Dome to Your Home

 The Senate met in regular session this week, while the House of Representatives debated the budget bill on Monday and Tuesday. Both of the bills related to the SC Tort Claims Act remain on the Senate contested calendar, and the Municipal Tax Relief Act remains in a Senate subcommittee. The House of Representatives adopted its version of the budget, sending it to the Senate Finance 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 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 adopted the additional funding for the academy in its version of the state budget. For more information on this advocacy initiative, contact Tiger Wells (twells@masc.sc) at 803.933.1270.

 House Ways and Means Committee adopts budget
On Wednesday morning, the House of Representatives gave final approval to its version of the state budget. Included in the budget are the following items: 

  • $11.1 million is added to the Local Government Fund base amount of $222.6 million for a new base amount of $233.7 million.
  • The 1-percent credit for employer's 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 not included in the Ways and Means Committee's version of the budget.
  • $2 million in recurring funding is provided to the Criminal Justice Academy to reduce its funding dependence on fees and fines.
  • An additional $1.47 million is provided to the Criminal Justice Academy for mobile training.
  • Exempts retired state employees from the $10,000 earning cap as long as the retiree has been retired from the state for 12 consecutive months.

 Next, the bill goes to the Senate Finance Committee for debate. For more information on the state budget, contact Melissa Carter (mcarter@masc.sc) at 803.933.1251.
 
Tobacco pre-emption bills passed out of subcommittee  
S492 and H3274, Senate and House bills that prohibit municipalities from enacting laws related to the ingredients, flavors or licensing of cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, tobacco products or nicotine products, were amended and passed by a Senate Medical Affairs subcommittee on Thursday. The amendment adds language clarifying that the bill is not intended to interfere with local ordinances that prohibit smoking or vaping in public spaces. Next, the bill goes to the full Senate Medical Affairs Committee for debate. Please contact members of the Senate Medical Affairs Committee and ask them to vote no on S492 and H3274.

For questions on the bill or the amendment, 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