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​From the Dome to Your Home

 The Senate and House of Representatives met in regular session this week, and the week brought good forward motion on several bills important to cities and towns. The Senate Finance Committee will debate its version of the budget next week. The crossover deadline for bills to pass the originating chamber is Wednesday, April 10.

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. Next week, the Senate Finance Committee will debate its version of the budget. For more information on this advocacy initiative, contact Tiger Wells (twells@masc.sc) at 803.933.1270.

 
SC Tort Claims Act bill amended and carried over by Senate
The Senate amended and carried over S7, the bill that increases the $300,000 limit on what a single person may recover from the state or a local government to $1 million. The bill also increases the $600,000 limit for a single occurrence to $2 million. The amendment changes the limit increase on what a single person may recover to $500,000, and changes the total limit on a single occurrence to $1 million. The Senate adopted the amendment, but carried over the bill so senators could study the amendment.

For more information on this bill, contact Tiger Wells (twells@masc.sc) at 803.933.1270.
 
Bill introduced to prohibit Association collections programs adjourned debate by full committee
Rep. Kirkman Finlay (R-Richland) introduced H4257 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. After the House Labor, Commerce and Industry Insurance subcommittee gave the bill a favorable report, the full House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee adjourned debate on the bill. This keeps the bill in committee.

For information on this bill, contact Tiger Wells (twells@masc.sc) at 803.933.1270.

Small cell wireless bill on the House contested calendar
H4262, the SC Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act, was given a favorable report by the full House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee on Tuesday. 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 in historic and underground districts. The bill was placed on the contested House calendar with 13 House members objecting to the bill.
 
For information on this bill, contact Tiger Wells (twells@masc.sc) at 803.933.1270.

Zero millage bill on the House calendar
H3457, the bill that allows municipalities without an operating millage on January 1, 2019 to impose a millage, is on the uncontested House calendar for debate by the full House of Representatives. The bill was amended in committee to restrict the initial amount of millage that a city or town could impose. For more information on this bill, contact Scott Slatton (sslatton@masc.sc) at 803.933.1203.

Utility relocation bill passed by Senate
S401, the bill that requires an entity undertaking a transportation improvement project to bear the cost of relocating water and sewer lines, was approved by the full Senate and sent to the House for debate. The bill was amended in committee to require 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 as well as reporting requirements from a project owner and utilities were included in the amendment.

Next, the bill will be in the House of Representatives for debate. For more information on this bill, contact Scott Slatton (sslatton@masc.sc) at 803.933.1203.

Annexation bill approved by full committee
H3661, a bill that allows certain cities and towns to annex properties that are not contiguous to the municipal boundaries, was approved by the House Judiciary Committee. The full committee approved the subcommittee amendment, which requires maintaining existing billboard regulations in an annexed area.

The bill is currently on the House uncontested calendar for debate by the full House of Representatives. For more information on this bill, contact Scott Slatton (sslatton@masc.sc) at 803.933.1203.

Tobacco pre-emption bills remain on Senate contested calendar
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, is on the Senate contested calendar. Sens. Kimpson, Senn and McElveen have objections to the bill. The bill was amended in the subcommittee to clarify that the bill is not intended to interfere with local ordinances that prohibit smoking or vaping in public spaces.

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

You can also listen to podcast versions of the legislative reports from the Association's City Quick Connect podcast.