Statehouse Report #17
May 14, 2018
The Boys of Summer
June 21, 2018
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End of Session Update

 

Earlier this month, the legislature concluded its regular session as defined by the state constitution. I have worked diligently to fulfill my promises to streamline state government, balance the budget, and protect utility ratepayers, among many other priorities. However, there is still work to be done. The House and Senate are still negotiating final outcomes for a budget agreement, federal conformity of the state’s tax code, and reforms to protect electric utility ratepayers.

 

In the meantime, I have listed below what we have been able to pass out of the House of Representatives over the legislative session.

 

Government Reorganization And Reform:

 

H.4977 – Governor And Lieutenant Governor Restructuring

Formalizes the 2012 voter-approved constitutional amendment that ends the practice of electing the governor and lieutenant governor separately. 2018 will be the first year in which the party nominees for governor will select a lieutenant governor candidate as a running mate.

STATUS: Passed by the House and Senate and signed by the governor

 

S.27 – Appointment Of State Superintendent Of Education by Governor

Placed a constitutional question on the ballot that asks voters if they approve of granting the governor of South Carolina the authority to appoint the state superintendent of education instead of keeping it as an elected position.

STATUS: Passed by the House and Senate and signed by the governor

 

S.105 – Automatic Stay Reform

Shortens the amount of time radical environmental groups are able to hold up construction of important state infrastructure and business development projects in court.

STATUS: Passed by the House and Senate and signed by the governor

 

Public Safety

 

H.4496 – Enhanced Ban Of Sanctuary City Policies

This legislation will authorize the circuit court to determine if a political subdivision has intentionally violated the provisions of this law that prohibit interfering with enforcement. If a political subdivision is found to be in violation, it will be barred from receiving Local Government Fund appropriations for at least three consecutive years.

STATUS: House bill was not passed in the Senate, but this issue could be included in the final budget.

 

H.3208 – Increased Penalties For Acts Of Terrorism

Mandates prison sentences of 10 years or more for individuals who plan an act of terrorism and a minimum of five years in prison for anyone who supports an act of terrorism, including financial assistance.

STATUS: Blocked by the Senate

 

H.3548 – Ban On Dismemberment Abortions

Bans “dismemberment” abortion procedures in which a physician uses forceps to pull apart the unborn child before removing it in pieces.

STATUS: Filibustered by the Senate

 

 

Opioid Abuse Prevention

 

H.3819 – Prescription Requirements for Minors

Establishes requirements related to prescribing opioid analgesics to minors.

STATUS: Passed by the House and Senate and signed by the governor

 

H.3822 – Controlled Substance Schedules

Adds Code Commissioner for Controlled Substance Scheduling Update

STATUS: Passed by the House and Senate and signed by the governor

 

H.3826 – Tamper Proof Prescription Pads

Requires written prescriptions to be written on tamper-resistant prescription pads that meet the counterfeit-resistant standards required by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for prescriptions.

STATUS: Passed by the House and Senate and signed by the governor

 

H.4117 – Drug Court Access To Prescription Monitoring Program

Revises confidentiality provisions for the Prescription Monitoring Program maintained by the Department of Health and Environmental Control to allow DHEC to provide program data to a presiding judge of a drug court pertaining to a specific case involving a designated person.

STATUS: Passed by the House and Senate and signed by the governor

 

H.4487 – DHEC Reforms

Updates Title 44 based on the recommendations of the House Legislative Oversight Committee’s review and study of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control.

STATUS: Passed by the House and Senate and signed by the governor

 

H.4488 – Confidentiality Exceptions For Coroners And Deputy Coroners

Expands the list of persons to which the Department of Health and Environmental Control’s Bureau of Drug Control may provide prescription monitoring program data so that it also includes a coroner, deputy coroner, medical examiner, or deputy medical examiner who is involved in an official inquiry into the cause and manner of a person’s death.

STATUS: Passed by the House and Senate and signed by the governor

 

H.4600- Community Distribution Of Opioid Overdose Antidotes

Authorizes pharmacists to prescribe opioid antidotes to certain community organizations to distribute to a person at risk of experiencing an opioid-related overdose or to a caregiver of such a person.

STATUS: Passed by the House and Senate and signed by the governor

 

H.4601 – Licensure for Addiction Counselors

This bill will require an addiction counselor to be licensed by the Department of Labor, Licensure, and

Regulation. After October 1, 2018, an addiction counselor applicant must have a master’s degree or higher and meet the other licensure requirements imposed on professional counselors and marriage and family therapists.

STATUS: Passed by the House and Senate and signed by the governor

 

Education

 

H.3427 – Computer Science Curriculum In Public Schools

Requires the state school system to form a computer science and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) curriculum.

STATUS: Blocked by the Senate

 

H.3343 – School Facilities/Capital Infrastructure

Allows economically challenged school districts that do not have the financial ability to secure school maintenance bonds to seek bonding approval with the backing of the state of South Carolina. The bill requires school districts to institute reforms in order to have their bond request backed by the state.

STATUS: Blocked by the Senate

 

Ratepayer Protection Package To Address V.C. Summer Nuclear Project Failure And Resulting Rate Hikes

 

H.4375 – Ratepayer Protection

Drops the over 18% nuclear surcharge on SCE&G customers’ bills to 0% while giving direction to the Public Service Commission to keep rates as low as possible moving forward. The legislation also halts the implementation of the Base Load Review Act and guarantees that no future projects can recover costs under the law abused by SCE&G.

STATUS: The Senate amended the legislation to lower the nuclear surcharge to 5% instead of 0%; now both the House and Senate have selected three members from each body to negotiate a final bill.

 

H.4376 – Santee Cooper Reform

A three-pronged approach which (1) provides a new governance structure to hold the Santee Cooper Board of Directors accountable, (2) increases ratepayer protections by creating the Santee Cooper Rate Reduction and Stabilization Fund, and (3) creates the Santee Cooper Joint Evaluation and Recommendation Committee (SCJERC) that will determine whether a sale is in the best interest of ratepayers and taxpayers and puts a transparent process in place to vet potential buyers. The bill creates the Santee Cooper Rate Reduction and Stabilization Fund and requires it to be explicitly used for rate relief. The legislation also authorizes the governor to remove at-will all current Santee Cooper board members and shortens the terms from seven years to four years.

STATUS: House bill was not passed in the Senate, but this issue could be included in the final budget.

 

The Budget:

The House passed a budget earlier this year that contains Republican priorities. The House budget includes:

  • $600 million in tax relief for citizens of our state
  • Nearly $20 million for technical schools to train students for high-skill and well-paying jobs
  • $60 million for teacher salary increases
  • New school buses
  • Salary increases for prison workers
  • Funding to help our agriculture industry
  • Funding to pay for opioid abuse prevention measures

STATUS: Three House members and three Senators have been appointed to finalize a budget agreement in a conference committee.

 

Tax Conformity

South Carolina bases its state income tax structure on the federal Internal Revenue Code to make filing as streamlined as possible for taxpayers. However, the tax reform package Congress passed last December will result in severe financial consequences for South Carolina taxpayers if the state does not conform our system to the federal code. To address this issue the House passed a bill to reinstate personal income tax exemptions to offset any potential increases.

STATUS: A provision was included in the Sine Die resolution to allow the General Assembly to come back in June to address this issue.

 

It is an honor and a privilege to serve you in Columbia. If you need help navigating state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact me.