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​From the Dome to Your Home

The Senate and House of Representatives met in regular session this week and adjourned sine die on Thursday at 5 p.m. House and Senate members worked long hours on the floor trading legislation with the opposite chamber, and either approving amendments or sending bills to conference committee. Legislators plan to return in June to finalize the budget and conference committee reports. 

Sine die resolution brings lawmakers back in June 
The House and Senate passed S1325, the sine die or adjournment resolution, that governs when the General Assembly returns to Columbia to finish any business left from the regular session. The resolution also governs what bills that legislators can debate during the extended session.  

Lawmakers are expected to reconvene in session on Wednesday, June 15, and Tuesday, June 28, to debate the budget, conference committee reports, gubernatorial vetoes and other specified legislation. 

For questions about the sine die resolution, contact Casey Fields (cfields@masc.sc) at 803.933.1256. 

Several bills in conference committee for further action 
H4775, the e-waste bill, was sent to a conference committee for Senate and House members to debate the differences in the two bills. Sens. Talley, Kimbrell and Stephens and Reps. Hixon, Forrest and Atkinson are the conference committee members. 

S233, a bill that exempts certain homeowners from property taxes, was amended to include language from S984, the bill that requires any service or user fee to be used to the nonexclusive benefit of the payers. This bill was sent to a conference committee to iron out the differences in the two versions. Sens. Verdin, Davis and Williams and Reps. Crawford, Hewitt and Weeks were appointed to the conference committee.  

H5182, the opioid settlement recovery bill, was approved by the House and Senate and enrolled for ratification. 

H3055, a bill that deals with topographic mapping, was amended to include language from H4775, the e-waste bill and H4999, the hazardous waste cleanup bill. This bill was referred to a conference committee with Reps. Forrest, Hixon and Atkinson. The Senate never appointed their conferees which means the bill is dead under the sine die resolution guidelines.   

Service fees bill left on the calendar 
S984, the bill that requires any service or user fee to be used to the nonexclusive benefit of the payers, was not taken up by House members before time ran out in the session on Thursday, which means the bill is dead. 

This bill was introduced in response to the Burns vs. Greenville County Council court ruling that prohibited local governments from charging road maintenance fees and telecommunications fees to make improvements to roads and public safety communications. For questions about this bill, contact Scott Slatton at (sslatton@masc.sc) at 803.933.1203.  

State budget bill in conference committee 
H5150, the state budget bill, was ordered to a conference committee when Senate and House members could not agree on a version of the spending bill. The Senate appointed Sens. Peeler, Setzler and Alexander and the House appointed Reps. Simrill, Murrell Smith and Rutherford to the conference committee to iron out difference between the House and Senate versions of the bill. 

For questions about the budget, contact Joannie Nickel (jnickel@masc.sc) at 803.354.4794.  

Law enforcement "betterment" bill enrolled for ratification 
The House of Representatives concurred on the Senate amendments to H3050, the law enforcement "betterment" bill. The House agreed on the amendments by the Senate Judiciary Committee to require law enforcement officers to report abuse promptly if they are unable to intervene when observing an officer physically or psychologically abusing a member of the public. The amendment also adds corrective actions for the director of the Law Enforcement Training Council to take before holding the certification of officers employed at noncompliant agencies in abeyance.   

The bill is now enrolled for ratification and will be sent to the governor for his signature or veto. For information about H3050, contact Erica Wright (ewright@masc.sc) at 803.354.4793.   

American Rescue Plan bill enrolled for ratification 
On Wednesday, the Senate concurred on the House amendments to H4408, the bill that authorizes the state allocation of American Rescue Plan dollars. The bill was enrolled for ratification and then will be sent to Gov. McMaster for his signature or veto. The compromise amendment that the House adopted and the Senate approved allocates $100 million to the SC Office of Resilience and makes $100 million available to the SC Department of Commerce through the Rural Infrastructure Authority.  

The final funding allocation includes these items: 

  • $453,499,758 to create a Transportation Infrastructure Acceleration Account within the SC Department of Transportation. This account will be used to accelerate the completion of projects included in the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program.  
  • $400 million to the SC Office of Regulatory Staff to expand broadband infrastructure to unserved and underserved households, businesses and communities.  
  • $100 million to the SC Office of Resilience for stormwater infrastructure projects and acquisitions of coastal barrier property located in floodplains.  
  • $8 million to the SC Department of Administration for professional grant management services. 
  • $104,400,000 to the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control for the construction of a public health laboratory.  
  • $900 million to create the American Rescue Plan Act Water and Sewer Infrastructure Account to be used by the Rural Infrastructure Authority to administer three competitive grant programs designed to provide for improvements in water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure throughout the state. 

        • $100 million of these funds are available for projects designated by the Secretary of Commerce as being significant to economic development and may be funded up to $50 million per projects with no local match requirement. 
        • $500,000 will be transferred to each of the 10 SC Councils of Government for planning assistance, development of grant application proposals, and compliance assistance related to improvements in water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure for smaller systems. 

Infrastructure Grants – $795 million  

RIA may retain up to $6 million for administrative costs and SC DHEC may retain up to $6 million for permitting costs.  

  • The maximum grant amount is $10 million per project.  
  • Large utilities are eligible for 60% of the funds and will be required to provide a 25% match.   
  • Small and medium utilities are eligible for 40% of the funds and will be required to provide a 15% match.     

Regional Solutions Grants – $80 million  

  • These grants are designed for regional partnerships among large and small systems, including consolidation. A 15% match from the utility is required.    
  • The maximum grant amount is $10 million per project or application. This amount may be waived if the proposed project provides a regional solution that will result in consolidation of or for projects located in Tier III or Tier IV counties.    

Planning Grants – $20 million  

  • The maximum grant amount is $1 million per system.    
  • Grants may be used for capital improvement planning, rate studies, asset management, mapping and other necessary analyses.  
  • This grant is designed for very small systems that serve populations of 3,300 or less. No match is required.   

For questions about H4408, contact Erica Wright (ewright@masc.sc) at 803.354.4793. 

Stay in Touch  
The Municipal Association legislative team is on Twitter. Follow Scott Slatton (@ScottMuniSC), Joannie Nickel (@JoannieMuniSC) and Erica Wright (@EricaMuniSC) for updates from the State House. Also follow the Association at @MuniAssnSC. Listen to the City Quick Connect podcast every Friday for details on the week's legislative activities, in-depth discussion on bills and action by the General Assembly.