None

​From the Dome to Your Home

The Senate and House of Representatives met in regular session this week. There were numerous municipal issues up for debate in subcommittee and committee this week in the General Assembly. 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.

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 of Representatives allocated over $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. For more information on this advocacy initiative, contact Tiger Wells (twells@masc.sc) at 803.933.1270.

Bill introduced to prohibit Association collections programs
Rep. Kirkman Finlay (R-Richland) introduced H4257 on Tuesday, March 19, to eliminate the Municipal Association's ability to collect insurance premium business license taxes and brokers' tax business license on behalf of cities and towns. Almost immediately after the bill was introduced, it was scheduled for a subcommittee hearing in the House Labor, Commerce and Industry Insurance subcommittee for Thursday, March 21, upon adjournment of the House.

The House Labor, Commerce and Industry Insurance subcommittee gave the bill a favorable report. Rep. Bart Blackwell (R-Aiken) tried to adjourn debate on the bill, however, Rep. Craig Gagnon (R-Abbeville) tabled that motion. Rep. Blackwell voted against the bill.

Rep. Russell Ott (D-Calhoun) attempted to introduce an amendment to preserve the Association's ability to collect on behalf of municipalities, but withdrew the amendment with the stated intent to reintroduce at full committee. Reps. Ott, Jay West (R-Anderson), Brandon Newton (R-Lancaster), Craig Gagnon and Kit Spires (R-Lexington) all voted to advance the bill to full committee. Please call members of the House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee and ask them to vote no on H4257. For information on this bill, contact Tiger Wells (twells@masc.sc) at 803.933.1270.

Small cell wireless bill passed by subcommittee
H4262, the SC Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act, was introduced on Tuesday, March 19 and was passed out favorably by the House Labor, Commerce and Industry Public Utilities subcommittee on Thursday, March 21. This bill attempts to restrict local government control over rights of way, and allows telecommunications companies the right to deploy small wireless facilities with only limited aesthetic review. The subcommittee amended the bill with language related to rural telephone companies. A written copy of the amendment was not available. Next, the bill will go to the full House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee for debate. For information on this bill, contact Tiger Wells (twells@masc.sc) at 803.933.1270.

Zero millage bill passes subcommittee
The House Ways and Means Property Tax subcommittee amended and approved the House version of the zero millage bill. H3457 was amended to S227, the Senate version of the bill, to restrict the initial amount of millage that a city or town could impose. The Senate passed S227 in January and it is now in the House Ways and Means Committee. Both bills allow municipalities without an operating millage on January 1, 2019, to impose an operating millage. Next, the bill will join the Senate bill in the full House Ways and Means Committee.For more information on this bill, contact Scott Slatton (sslatton@masc.sc) at 803.933.1203.

Senate utility relocation bill passes out of full committee
S401, the bill that requires an entity undertaking a transportation improvement project to bear the cost of relocating water and sewer lines, was amended by the full Senate Transportation Committee and given a favorable report. The amendment requires utilities to submit certain information to a road project owner at least 180 days prior to the project's letting of a contract. A seven-year sunset and reporting requirements from a project owner and utilities was included in the amendment. Next, the bill will be on the Senate calendar for debate by the full Senate. For more information on this bill, contact Scott Slatton (sslatton@masc.sc) at 803.933.1203.

Plastic bag ban bill carried over by a subcommittee
S394, the plastic bag ban bill, was debated by a subcommittee again this week. The Senate Labor, Commerce and Industry Regulatory and Local Government subcommittee heard testimony from mayors opposing the bill and carried over the bill for further debate.

Mayor Will Haynie and Councilman Jim Owens from the Town of Mount Pleasant, Mayor John Tecklenburg from the City of Charleston, Mayor Mark Huguley from the Town of Arcadia Lakes, Mayor Jimmy Carroll from the City of Isle of Palms and Mayor Tim Goodwin from the City of Folly Beach attended the hearing and testified against S394. For more information on the plastic bag ban bill, contact Tiger Wells (twells@masc.sc) at 803.933.1270.

Annexation bill approved by a subcommittee
H3661, a bill that allows certain cities and towns to annex properties that are not contiguous to the municipal boundaries, was amended and approved by the House Judiciary Special Laws subcommittee. The amendment requires maintaining existing billboard regulations in an annexed area. Next, the bill will go to the full House Judiciary Committee for debate. For more information on this bill, contact Scott Slatton (sslatton@masc.sc) at 803.933.1203.

Tobacco pre-emption bills passed out of full committee
H3274, the House bill that prohibits municipalities from enacting laws related to the ingredients, flavors or licensing of cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, tobacco products or nicotine products, was passed by the Senate Medical Affairs Committee on Thursday, despite strong objections from Sens. Sandy Senn (R-Charleston) and Kevin Johnson (D-Clarendon). The committee adopted the subcommittee amendment that adds language clarifying that the bill is not intended to interfere with local ordinances that prohibit smoking or vaping in public spaces. Committee members voted to carry over S492.

Next, H3274 goes to the full Senate for debate. Please contact your senator and ask them to vote no on 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