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From the Dome to Your Home


Both the House and Senate met in session this week to take up items remaining from the 2020 legislative session. The Senate adjourned on Wednesday and the House came in on Thursday to finish pending bills from the Senate. Both chambers are now adjourned. The sine die resolution, or adjournment resolution, allows legislators to return to Columbia before November 8 to take up specific matters. The President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives can call legislators back into session if needed. 


Business License Bill Passed and Enrolled for Ratification

H4431, the business license bill that was amended to include standardization language which is fair to both cities and businesses, was passed by both the House and Senate on Wednesday evening after a conference committee met and worked out the differences. The bill’s effective date is January 1, 2022. 

The Municipal Association is developing guidance to assist cities and towns with implementing the provisions of the bill. The guidance will include instructions on adjustments to local business license ordinances, rate schedules and more. 

For questions about H4431, contact Scott Slatton (sslatton@masc.sc) at 803.933.1203. For questions about implementing H4431 in your city, contact Melissa Harrill (mharrill@masc.sc) at 803.933.1251.


Flexibility Bill Enrolled for Ratification

S217 was passed by the House and Senate this week and enrolled for ratification. This bill, introduced in 2019, allows cities and towns to use hospitality tax revenue for flooding and drainage mitigation in tourist related areas. An amendment was added to the bill this week which extends the due date for local governments to submit comprehensive plans to December 31, 2021, because of the interruptions related to COVID-19. For questions about implementing S217 in your city, contact Melissa Harrill (mharrill@masc.sc) at 803.933.1251.


Firefighter Health Care Benefit Plan Bill Enrolled for Ratification

S1071 was passed by the House and Senate and enrolled for ratification. This bill creates the Firefighter Cancer Health Care Benefit Plan. The plan provides a supplemental insurance policy for paid and unpaid firefighters who are South Carolina residents if they are diagnosed with cancer. The firefighter is entitled to a one-time benefit of $20,000, an annual out-of-pocket expenses reimbursement of up to $12,000, and a $75,000 death benefit. There was no funding attached to the bill. Legislators plan to include money for this benefit in the fiscal year 2021-2022. For questions about S1071, contact Melissa Harrill (mharrill@masc.sc) at 803.933.1251.


Bill Expanding Opportunities for Broadband Enrolled for Ratification

H3780, the Broadband Accessibility Act, passed the Senate on Wednesday and the House on Thursday. The bill allows the state’s electric cooperatives to provide broadband internet service within their territories and up to two miles outside of their territories. They may provide broadband service in partnership with their own broadband affiliates or with existing communications service providers. For questions about the broadband bill, contact Scott Slatton (sslatton@masc.sc) at 803.933.1203.

Small Cell Deployment Bill Enrolled for Ratification

H4262, the SC Small Wireless Facilities Deployment Act, was passed by the House in 2019, amended and passed by the Senate on Wednesday. The next day, the House passed the bill as amended by the Senate. H4262 provides rules under which small cells may be deployed within public rights-of-way across the state. It specifically allows cities and towns to regulate the appearance of small cell facilities and it provides municipalities the authority to designate design districts where more stringent appearance standards may be required. The bill allows municipalities to charge fees for the deployment of small cells, but those fees are capped. For more information on H4262, contact Scott Slatton (sslatton@masc.sc) at 803.933.1203.


CARES Act Funding Distribution Finalized

A conference committee met several times to debate the differences in the two versions of the bill that distributes the remaining funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or CARES Act. Sens. Alexander, Sheheen and Davis and Reps. Murrell Smith, Clyburn and Finlay were appointed to the conference committee. 

The final version of the bill includes
  • $73 Million to the SC Department of Administration;
  • $20 million to the Medical University of South Carolina;
  • $420 million to the SC Department of Employment and Workforce;
  • $25 million to the SC Department of Administration for nonprofit relief grants;
  • $40 million to the SC Department of Administration for minority and small business grants; and
  • $115 million to the SC Department of Administration for cities, towns, counties and private colleges and universities.
The bill also extends the provision that allows a SC Retirement System or SC Police Officers Retirement System retiree to return to work without the earnings cap if the retiree’s position participates in the state’s public health preparedness and response to the COVID-19 virus.
For questions about the CARES Act funding, contact Melissa Harrill (mharrill@masc.sc) at 803.933.1251.


State Budget

The Senate adopted the Senate Finance Committee version of the budget last week, sending it to the House for consideration. When the House received the Senate amendments, members sent the budget bill back to the House Ways and Means Committee. This action stops any forward motion on a budget being adopted for fiscal year beginning July 1, 2020. Because no budget has been adopted, the continuing budget bill adopted in May still governs state spending for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021. 
 
The continuing budget resolution passed in May includes the following related to cities and towns:
  • No increase in employer contributions for the SC Retirement System or the SC Police Officers Retirement System.
  • No change in health insurance costs.
  • No increase in the Local Government Fund. Cities and towns will receive the same payments in fiscal year 2021 as fiscal year 2020.
  • No additional post-traumatic stress disorder funding for first responders.
  • No change to the one percent retirement contribution credit.
For questions about the continuing resolution, contact Melissa Harrill (mharrill@masc.sc) at 803.933.1251.