Legislative Update: Week 11
This week the House made historic progress toward protecting South Carolina ratepayers and taxpayers. With two joint resolutions, one from the House, one from the Senate, the consensus is building in both chambers for the sale of state-owned utility Santee Cooper.
Santee Cooper Sale Negotiations Proceed:
The House issued a Joint Resolution this week to authorize the Public Service Authority Evaluation and Recommendation Committee to take the next step towards analyzing bids and making recommendations on offers to purchase state-owned utility Santee Cooper.
The special legislative committee (made up of 4 House members, 4 Senate members, and the Governor) started researching the potential sale of Santee Cooper eight months ago, with a primary focus to protect the two groups of people who matter most – the ratepayers and the taxpayers. After months of hearing public testimony, speaking with numerous experts, performing a market analysis and valuation, the committee developed a process to sell Santee Cooper. The Governor joined House members by voting 5-4 in favor of taking the next steps to review credible bids and negotiate with potential buyers.
The Joint Resolution paves the way for the selling of Santee Cooper by continuing the committee process and evaluating bids before recommending a final offer to the General Assembly. This thorough process brings the House, Senate, and Governor together to decide what is best for the future of the state-owned utility.
Speaker of the House Jay Lucas said:
“The House continues to show leadership on the most significant issues facing the state, and today is no exception. The House and Governor spearheaded the effort to have real, attainable protection of ratepayers through the sale of Santee Cooper. Today, we have introduced a thoughtful, workable roadmap to pursue possible sale or other methods to protect ratepayers. I am pleased that President Peeler has recognized that the time has come to sell Santee Cooper – now we also have the way. We urge the Senate to adopt this Joint Resolution.”
Two States, One Team
The Carolina Panthers are zoning in on a new practice facility and moving their corporate offices to the Rock Hill area which will officially bring the North Carolina NFL team into South Carolina’s economy. In order to attract this economic opportunity into our state, we have proposed H. 4243 to give the Panthers the same incentives as other large corporate companies who choose to bring their business and create jobs in the Palmetto State.
Electric Co-op Transparency
In an effort to make South Carolina’s 20 electric co-ops more transparent to their customers, we passed a bill this week that allows the Office of Regulatory Staff (the state’s utility watchdog) to audit co-ops. This will give oversight a chance to raise red flags if a co-op is breaking state law or misspending money.
Two bills that will aid the opioid epidemic in our state are making their way through Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs subcommittee hearings. H. 3728 establishes a prescription monitoring program that will give data to doctors in an effort to battle opioid addiction. H. 3729 ensures that if a child is born with opioids in their system it has to be reported to DSS.
SCDOT’s “Spring Spruce Up” Litter Collection Results:
Last week SCDOT employees spent an entire day collecting litter along highways across South Carolina. Those efforts resulted in the collection of 22,042 bags of litter! The yearly “Spring Spruce Up” is an effort by SCDOT to clean up our highways and bring attention to the problem of littering.
Fact of the Week:
This week, members if the SC House Opioid Abuse study committee participated in a conference call with Kellyanne Conway and White House staff to receive a federal update on the opioid crisis. The White House shared this fact:
In FY 2018, at the southern border alone, between ports of entry, Customs and Border Protection seized enough fentanyl to kill nearly 90 million Americans.
Quote of the Week:
The House took the lead on selling Santee Cooper using a well-thought out process based on input from experts and testimony from the special legislative committee. Now is the time to apply these facts and move forward to protect ratepayers who deserve a decrease rather than an increase that is guaranteed to happen if we do not sell Santee Cooper.
-Gary Simrill, House Republican Caucus, Majority Leader
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.