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Advocacy Initiatives Update for 2022

In the fall of 2020, the Municipal Association legislative committee and board of directors approved a list of Advocacy Initiatives for the start of the SC General Assembly’s 2021 – 2022 legislative session covering numerous facets of local governing and decision making. In the 2021 session, several of these initiatives had bills passed and enacted into law. Some issues only saw bills introduced, while others saw positive movement without legislation. With the start of the second half of the 2021 – 2022 legislative session on January 11, the bills introduced last year are still active and could see forward motion this year.  

In 2021, the Municipal Association legislative committee and board of directors approved continuing with the Advocacy Initiatives that were adopted in 2020 and completing the list of proactive issues for cities and towns during the 2022 legislative session. 
Here is the latest on the 2021 – 2022 Advocacy Initiatives:  

Broadband expansion
Amending the newly adopted broadband expansion law to allow cities and towns to not only lay fiber, but also light the fiber or partner with a third party to light it.  

Status: With the distribution of American Rescue Plan dollars from the federal level, opportunities for cities and towns to expand broadband are now more widely available. 

Enclave annexation
Allowing cities and towns to close doughnut holes, or enclaves, in their municipal limits through a local annexation process.  

Status: H3198, introduced by Rep. Marvin Pendarvis, was referred to the House Judiciary Committee. The Local Government Efficiency Act would allow cities and towns to annex parcels by ordinance with certain restrictions.

Law enforcement reform
Supporting reform measures to aspects of law enforcement training and duties. 

Status: In process. H3050 was introduced by Rep. Dennis Moss and amended to include language from H3791. Included in the bill is language related to failure to intervene, chokeholds, minimum standards for local agencies and compliance. The House of Representatives passed the amended bill, which is currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

Code enforcement
Requiring code enforcement liens be billed and collected similar to property taxes.  

Status: Municipal Association staff are continuing to work with local officials and legislators to find solutions for municipalities to remove and rehabilitate abandoned and dilapidated buildings. 

Abandoned buildingtax credits
Extending the current abandoned buildings tax credit until 2026.  

Status: Passed and enacted into law. S271 was introduced by Sen. Scott Talley to extend the current credit until the end of 2025.

Local Government Fund
Supporting the Local Government Fund to be funded in accordance with current law.  

Status: Funded. The Local Government Fund was funded according to state law in the FY2021-2022 state budget. The new funding formula passed during the 2019 legislative session. 

Firefighter Healthcare Benefit Plan
Supporting money to be included in the state budget to fund the Firefighter Healthcare Benefit Plan. 

Status: Funded. $3.7 million was allocated for a supplemental insurance policy for firefighters diagnosed with cancer. 

Initiative: PTSD funding
Supporting money to be included in the state budget to fund the post-traumatic stress disorder programs for first responders. 

Status: Funded. $500,000 in recurring funding was included in the FY2021-2022 state budget to fund PTSD programs for first responders.  

Zero millage
Allowing cities and towns with no property tax millage to impose a millage with certain limitations.  

Status: S710 was introduced by Sen. Mike Gambrell on March 30, 2021, and referred to the Senate Finance Committee. This bill allows cities and towns without an operating millage to impose one.

Municipal Capital Projects Penny
Creating a Municipal Capital Projects penny tax for municipal residents to approve for capital projects within city limits. 

Status: Legislators are unlikely to support the expansion of the capital projects penny to cities and towns because of American Rescue Plan funding cities and towns have received from the federal level. This is an initiative that can be continued and worked on in future years.

Expansion of naloxone
Expanding the availability of naloxone, the medication used to revive individuals suffering from drug overdoses, to fire and emergency medical services first responders.
  
Status: Municipal Association staff assembled a group of stakeholders to discuss a cooperative agreement that fire departments could use to purchase naloxone. Association staff also testified in support of the SC Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services grant programs, the Reducing Opioid Loss of Life program, and Law Enforcement Officer Naloxone program, that provide naloxone to fire and police departments.  

Textiles Communities Revitalization Act
Amending the Textiles Communities Revitalization Act to include as one site those parts of abandoned mill properties that are separated by way of an intervening connector such as a railroad or waterway.

Status: Passed and enacted into law. S271 was introduced by Sen. Scott Talley to extend the current abandoned buildings tax credit until the end of 2025. This bill was amended to include language amending the Textiles Communities Revitalization Act. 

Find more information on the Advocacy Initiatives online.  During the session, subscribe to From the Dome to Your Home and listen to the City Quick Connect podcast for more updates.