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HLAD to Address Local Authority and Engagement on February 4

Hometown Legislative Action Day is a time for municipal officials to come together in Columbia to discuss how best to get involved in legislative issues and meet with members of the General Assembly. This year, the gathering will delve into the issues of local authority and preemption.

Several elected officials will speak at HLAD, beginning with Sen. Harvey Peeler as the keynote speaker.

State Senate President Harvey Peeler   Sen. Marlon Kimpson
(Left) State Senate President Harvey Peeler will be the keynote speaker at Hometown
Legislative Action Day. (Right) Sen. Marlon Kimpson will speak during the lunch session.

Peeler was elected president of the Senate in 2019, a position which until that time was fulfilled by the lieutenant governor. He serves District 14, which covers Cherokee County as well as parts of Spartanburg, Union and York counties. A native and resident of Gaffney, Peeler has served in the Senate since 1981. He chairs the Interstate Cooperation and Legislative Oversight committees, and also serves on the Education, Ethics, Finance, Medical Affairs and Transportation committees.

Sen. Marlon Kimpson will be the lunch speaker later in the day. First elected to the Senate in a 2013 race to fill an unexpired term, Kimpson represents District 42, which includes parts of Charleston and Dorchester counties. He serves on the Corrections and Penology, Judiciary, Medical Affairs, Rules and Transportation committees.

At a legislative panel in the morning, some members of the General Assembly will discuss current issues involving local authority for cities and towns. The powers exercised by city and town councils in South Carolina are governed by the state constitution and the SC Code of Laws. A number of bills from the 2019 session impact the scope of powers granted to municipalities.

Another session will take a look at the role of branding in attracting economic development opportunities and the ways in which branding efforts can draw in people who want to live, work, visit or do business in a city or town. This session will feature representatives of the Charleston Area Convention & Visitors Bureau as well as Visit Lake City SC and the City of Travelers Rest. The afternoon will feature a session on municipal election administration.

Sessions of the Municipal Elected Officials Institute of Government will take place at the Columbia Marriott on February 5, the day after HLAD. Those attending MEO may attend either Session A, which includes sessions on conducting public meetings, planning and zoning, among others; or Session B, with sessions including business license tax administration, ethics and public accountability, and intergovernmental relations. Officials must attend Session A before they may attend Session B.

The Advanced Municipal Elected Officials Institute of Government, open to MEO graduates, will also host two sessions on February 5: "Advanced Budgeting and Finance" and "Advanced Leadership and Governance." The Advanced Continuing Education track, open to Advanced MEO graduates, will offer a morning session of "Harassment Prevention: What Everyone Needs to Know" and an afternoon session of "Municipal Elections 101."

The preregistration deadline for both HLAD and the Municipal Elected Officials Institute is January 23. Download the Hometown Legislative Action Day app to connect with speakers and other attendees, receive meeting updates and post comments about the sessions. Find the app at l.masc.sc/2020HLADapp, or download it either from the App Store or on Google Play by searching for MuniAssnSC.

2019 ­– 2020 Municipal Association Advocacy Initiatives

Two of the Municipal Association's Advocacy Initiatives for the two-year cycle have already been achieved in 2019:

  • The General Assembly passed Act 84, providing improved funding reliability for municipalities from the Local Government Fund.
  • The state budget included $3.2 million in recurring funding for the SC Criminal Justice Academy, which can help decrease wait times for admitting new officers.

One initiative remains: flexibility with hospitality and accommodations tax. In 2019, the Senate passed S217, which gives municipalities the ability to use revenues from these taxes to control and repair flooding and drainage in tourist-related areas. S217 is now in the House Ways and Means Committee for consideration, and advocacy efforts from cities and towns in the coming year can help it cross the finish line.