House and Senate members met in regular session this week. The House of Representatives debated and passed the permitless, constitutional carrying of a firearm, while the Senate worked through bills on the calendar and unanimously passed two fentanyl-related bills.
House Ways and Means Committee adopts its version of the budget
The House Ways and Means Committee adopted its version of the budget on Thursday afternoon. Included in the budget are the following items:
$13.2 million added to the Local Government Fund base amount. Committee members fully funded the LGF at 5% for FY 2023-2024 according to Act 84, which passed into law in 2019;
$250 million in additional one-time funds to county transportation committees, also known as CTCs, for secondary and low-volume primary roads;
$40.1 million to cover 1% of the increase in public employers’ retirement system contributions;
$750,000 for post-traumatic stress disorder treatment services for first responders, which includes the additional $250,000 from FY 2022-2023;
$121.5 million for the state’s share of the state health plan, including expanded well visits, prescribed contraceptives for dependents, and annual gynecological visits for women;
$3 million in recurring dollars to fund the VSAFE program;
$2 million additional money in one-time dollars for tourism promotions;
$12 million in one-time dollars for destination-specific tourism grants;
$20 million to the Office of Resilience for disaster relief;
$1.5 million in recurring funds to supplement the state’s 10 Councils of Governments, or COGs;
$3.784 million in recurring dollars for the Firefighter Cancer Fund;
$1.6 million to coroners to fund the local child fatality review team program;
$12 million to the Rural County Stabilization Fund;
$18 million in one-time dollars to the Conservation Bank for grant funding;
$4 million to the Department of Mental Health for an alternative transportation program; and
$400,000 to the Department of Public Safety for a mental health for incarcerated individuals pilot program.
The House Ways and Means Committee adopted the following new provisos or amended existing provisos of interest:
98.9 – SC State Treasurer. This proviso requiring the State Treasurer to withhold all or a portion of state payments from municipalities not meeting the audit and reporting requirements was suspended for the last two years. The Ways and Means Committee asked that the original language be restored.
108.6. PEBA: State Health Plan. This proviso provides for an employer health insurance premium increase of 3.7% and a subscriber premium increase of 0% for the standard State Health Plan for Plan Year 2024.
113.sr. Short-term Rentals. This proviso prohibits political subdivisions from enacting or enforcing an ordinance that prohibits short-term rentals unless the political subdivision also provides financial incentives for the purchase and rental of affordable housing and zoning allowances in exchange for an affordable covenant of at least 20 years. If a political subdivision violates this provision or enacts any such ordinance, the State Treasurer shall withhold their portion of the Local Government Fund. The proviso defines “short-term rental” as an individually or collectively owned residential house or dwelling unit or group of units that is rented wholly or partially for residential use for any period of time greater than three consecutive days.
The Ways and Means Committee kept the following provisos from last year that are of interest to cities and towns:
108.18 (PEBA: PORS and SCRS Return to Work). For compensation earnings during the current fiscal year, the earnings limitation does not apply if a member of the Police Officer Retirement System or SC Retirement System has not been engaged to perform services for a participating employer in the system or any other system provided in this title for compensation in any capacity, whether as an employee, independent contractor, leased employee, joint employee, or other classification of worker, for a period of at least 12 consecutive months subsequent to retirement.
108.19 (PEBA: PORS Return to Work). If a member of the Police Officer Retirement System chooses to engage in the Return to Work program, their 12-month period spent not engaging in officer duties shall not cause a member to lose their license or be unable to perform the duties of a police officer. Officers participating in the Return to Work program shall be required to meet continuous training and education requirements of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Academy.
The House of Representatives plans to debate the budget beginning on Monday, March 13. For information on the budget, contact Joannie Nickel (email@example.com) at 803.354.4794.
Municipal financial compilation legislation on the Senate floor
The Senate Finance Committee gave S31 a unanimous favorable report on Tuesday. S31 is the bill that gives cities and towns with less than $500,000 in total revenues the option of providing a compilation of financial statements instead of a full audit. The bill was read across the Senate desk and placed on the calendar for debate.
The Municipal Association included the permitting of financial statements for smaller cities in its 2023 – 2024 Advocacy Initiatives.
For information about this bill, contact Erica Wright (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 803.354.4793.
Fentanyl bills pass the Senate
Senators gave S153, the bill that adds the offense of trafficking fentanyl, a unanimous third and final reading on Wednesday. Senators also gave unanimous approval to S1, the bill that creates the offense of drug-induced homicide by fentanyl. Next, the bills go to the House of Representatives for debate.
The Municipal Association included fentanyl trafficking penalties in its 2023 – 2024 Advocacy Initiatives.
For information about these bills, contact Erica Wright (email@example.com) at 803.354.4793.
Hate crimes bill passes subcommittee
The House Judiciary Constitutional Laws subcommittee gave H3014 a unanimous favorable report after overwhelmingly supportive testimony. The bill creates additional penalties for people who commit certain crimes when the victim was intentionally selected based on certain factors. Mayor Stephen Murray of Beaufort and vice president of the Association of SC Mayors testified in support of the bill along with Scott Slatton, director of advocacy and communications of the Municipal Association of SC. Other businesses and community groups also testified in support of the bill. Next, the bill goes to the full House Judiciary Committee for debate.
The Municipal Association included hate crimes legislation in its 2023 – 2024 Advocacy Initiatives.
For information about this bill, contact Scott Slatton (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 803.933.1203.
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.
From the Dome to your Home podcast
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House Judiciary Committee
H3532 – Creates sentencing enhancements for persons who commit certain additional crimes while on pretrial release on bond – favorable report as amended. The amendments create a criminal offense for bond violation if charged with a violent crime while out on bond with another charge. The amendments also include cash bond and electronic monitoring requirements after a subsequent offense and a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years if convicted on a bond violation charge.
Summary of the bill as introduced: Creates sentencing enhancements for persons who commit certain additional crimes while on pretrial release on bond. This bill also prohibits pretrial release on bond for a person charged with certain crimes.
Senate Judiciary Committee
S330 – Adds tiered penalties for damage to an electric utility system – favorable report as amended by the subcommittee to add cable systems to the bill and language from S331 that creates the offense of malicious injury of a utility.
Summary of the bill as introduced: Adds tiered penalties for damage to an electric utility system
S367 – Requires an appearance bond to convert to a personal recognizance bond after 18 months for a municipal court offense – favorable report as amended by the subcommittee. The subcommittee amendment specifies two tiers of electronic monitoring, tasks the SC Law Enforcement Division to oversee electronic monitoring and changes the effective date to 180 days after the Governor’s signature to give SLED time to promulgate regulations.
Summary of the bill as introduced: Requires an appearance bond to automatically convert to a personal recognizance bond after 18 months for a municipal court offense.
Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources subcommittee
S456 – Outlines the hearing procedures for ordering the cost of care of seized animals after an owner arrest – favorable report
Summary of the bill as introduced: Outlines the hearing procedures for ordering the cost of care of seized animals after an owner arrest.
Senate Banking and Insurance Committee
S500 – Establishes grant criteria and matching grant funds available to local governments from the SC Hurricane Damage Mitigation Program – favorable report
Summary of the bill as introduced: Establishes grant criteria and matching grant funds available to local governments from the SC Hurricane Damage Mitigation Program.
House Judiciary Criminal Laws subcommittee
H3682 – Outlines hearing procedures for ordering the cost of care of seized animals after the arrest of the owner – favorable report as amended. The amendment only makes technical changes.
Summary of the bill as introduced: Outlines hearing procedures for ordering the cost of care of seized animals after the arrest of the owner.