Month: April 2019

The State Capital Report – 4/15/2019

The House of Representatives will be on furlough during the week preceding Easter to lower operating costs and save taxpayer dollars. The House will reconvene on April 23.

The House of Representatives approved and sent the Senate H.4380, the “SAMANTHA L. JOSEPHSON RIDESHARING SAFETY ACT”. The legislation revises South Carolina’s Transportation Network Company Act, which governs the operations of digital ride hailing companies, to provide new requirements that allow Transportation Network Company vehicles to be more readily distinguished from other vehicles. Under the new requirements, a Transportation Network Company vehicle must make use of an illuminated sign displaying the company’s proprietary trademark or logo that allows the vehicle to be recognized in darkness. The legislation establishes requirements for this sign and other identifying emblems to be returned to the Transportation Network Company when a driver ceases to be employed by the company.

The House amended Senate amendments to H.3420, legislation PREVENTING YOUTH ACCESS TO VAPING, CIGARETTES, AND OTHER TOBACCO AND NICOTINE PRODUCTS. The Senate subsequently concurred in those amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation updates the “Youth Access to Tobacco Prevention Act of 2006” to prohibit minors under the age of eighteen from entering retail establishments that primarily sell tobacco products, alternative nicotine products, or both, unless the minor is actively supervised and accompanied by an adult. The legislation provides for a more expansive definition of “alternative nicotine product” that specifically includes vaping. The legislation revises the restrictions governing Internet commerce and other remote sales to provide for the use of a method of mailing, shipping, or delivery that requires the signature of a person at least eighteen years of age before a tobacco product or alternative nicotine product will be released to the purchaser, unless the remote seller employs certain alternative protections to ensure age verification. The legislation requires every local school district in the state to adopt, implement, and enforce a written policy prohibiting at all times the use of any tobacco product or alternative nicotine product by any person in school buildings, in school facilities, on school campuses, and in or on any other school property owned or operated by the local school administrative unit. The policy also must prohibit the use of any tobacco product or alternative nicotine product by anyone attending an off-site school‑sponsored event when in the presence of students or school personnel.

The House approved S.205 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation provides an additional duty for the Department of Aging’s ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE AND RELATED DISORDERS RESOURCE COORDINATION CENTER by charging the center with facilitating the coordination and integration of educational initiatives for health care providers on the importance and value of early detection and timely diagnosis of cognitive impairment, validated cognitive assessment tools, and increasing understanding and awareness of early warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia and how to reduce the risk of cognitive decline.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3929, a joint resolution making provisions for TEMPORARY ENHANCED AUTHORITY TO FORGIVE MISSED SCHOOLS DAYS in light of the flooding experienced by areas of the state in recent months, and enrolled the legislation for ratification. The legislation provides that, during the 2018‑2019 School Year, a local school district may waive the requirements of making up days beyond the three days forgiven by the local school district for any days missed during the 2018‑2019 School Year because of snow, extreme weather conditions, or other disruptions requiring schools to close.

The House approved S.514 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation provides for the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue ‘CLEMSON UNIVERSITY 2018 FOOTBALL NATIONAL CHAMPIONS’ SPECIAL LICENSE PLATES. License number ‘1’ is reserved for the Clemson University Head Football Coach.

The House amended, approved and sent the Senate H.3403, a bill authorizing public school districts to create COMPETENCY‑BASED SCHOOLS that are designed to improve progress towards attaining state education goals through a curriculum that allows students to pursue their own inquiries, take ownership of learning, and master competencies along a personalized and flexible pathway. The legislation establishes a protocol that allows a school district to establish a competency-based school by obtaining a waiver from the State Department of Education that allows the program to be exempt from certain requirements for the purposes of accountability and accreditation. The Department of Education is charged with developing separate evaluation criteria and guidelines for schools implementing competency-based education, conducting a biennial review of such schools, and reporting findings. If the biennial review shows that the goals or objectives of the competency-based school are not being met, the exemptions granted for that school may be revoked. The department is also directed to develop a process to ensure that schools and districts are not penalized for the purposes of

accreditation and to ensure that students are not penalized when transferring between schools with and without competency-based systems. The Commission on Higher Education and State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education must establish policies to provide fair and equitable access to institutions of higher education and technical colleges for students with competency‑based credits or diplomas, scholarships, and financial aid for graduates of schools implementing innovative school models and using nontraditional diplomas and transcripts.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3577, a bill providing authority for ALTERNATIVE PROGRAMS FOR EDUCATOR PREPARATION AND CERTIFICATION as a means of addressing current teacher shortages. The legislation establishes a protocol allowing for the approval of alternative route providers and programs for educator preparation and certification. The legislation establishes criteria that apply to alternative programs housed within an institution of higher education. The State Department of Education is required to provide an annual report on the total number of individuals employed in this state, by district, with certificates issued by institution of higher education alternative programs to the State Board of Education and the General Assembly. The State Board of Education, through the State Department of Education, is charged with developing and implementing a seven-year cyclical evaluation process for all alternative route educator preparation providers and programs.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4413, a STATE GOVERNMENT BUDGET CONTINUING RESOLUTION. This joint resolution makes provisions for the continuing authority to pay the expenses of state government if the 2019‑2020 Fiscal Year begins without a general appropriations act for that year in effect.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3596, a bill addressing ROLLBACK PROPERTY TAXES ON RECLASSIFIED AGRICULTURAL LAND. The legislation revises provisions relating to classification of property and assessment ratios for purposes of ad valorem taxation, so as to limit rollback taxes to three years, rather than the current five years, when land classified as agricultural real property is applied to another use.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3210, a bill providing for the HIGH GROWTH SMALL BUSINESS JOB CREATION ACT REAUTHORIZATION. The legislation reauthorizes the High Growth Small Business Job Creation Act for an additional six years, so that the act is set to be repealed at the end of 2025.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3998. This bill enacts the “WORKFORCE AND SENIOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING ACT” to allow a taxpayer eligible for a federal low‑income housing tax credit to claim a state tax credit for developing housing for those with lower incomes. Once an affordable housing project becomes eligible for this state tax credit, for that year and for the next ten calendar years, all property that makes up the qualified project is exempt from all fees and taxes imposed by the municipality in which it is located. This exemption includes such taxes and fees as property taxes, impact fees, development fees, sewer fees, wastewater fees, sanitation fees, infrastructure fees, administrative fees, permit fees, and planning fees.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3730, a bill establishing the felony criminal offense of TRAFFICKING IN FENTANYL to address situations involving amounts at least four grams of fentanyl, fentanyl‑related substances, or mixtures. Violators are subject to a term of imprisonment of not more than ten years and a fine of up to fifty thousand dollars for a first offense, and a term of imprisonment of not more than twenty years and a fine of up to one hundred thousand dollars, for a second or subsequent offense.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3728, legislation that expands the PRESCRIPTION MONITORING PROGRAM, requiring the Department of Health and Environmental Control to include and maintain information in the prescription monitoring program on the administering of opioid antidotes in a hospital emergency department or by a first responder.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3036, “DYLAN’S LAW”. This bill requires the Department of Environmental Control to add tests for certain neonatal genetic disorders and diseases to the existing newborn screening program. The legislation establishes the Newborn Screening Advisory Committee to review the feasibility and advisability of including additional metabolic, genetic, and congenital disorders in the neonatal testing.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4004, the “PHYSICIAN ORDERS FOR SCOPE OF TREATMENT (POST) ACT”. The legislation establishes a protocol that allows a patient with an advanced illness to execute a POST form that consists of a set of medical orders, signed by a patient’s physician, addressing key medical decisions consistent with patient goals of care concerning treatment at the end of life that is portable and valid across health care settings. This set of medical orders concerning what life sustaining care is to be administered applies only to situations where the patient has been diagnosed with a serious illness or, based upon medical diagnosis, may be expected to lose capacity within twelve months. A Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment (POST) Advisory Council is established to advise the Department of Health and Environmental Control in the areas of POST program design, standards, data collection and evaluation, quality improvement, funding, and program evaluation.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3231, a bill addressing GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE. The legislation revises the ground for divorce of physical cruelty to provide that this ground shall be construed to include willful or other abhorrent conduct or treatment which destroys or tends to destroy the mental and physical wellbeing, happiness, and welfare of the other and renders continued cohabitation unsafe or intolerable.

The House approved and sent the Senate was H.3967, relating to RESTRAINING INMATES WHO ARE PREGNANT OR IN POSTPARTUM RECUPERATION. The legislation details the safety methods and restrictions that are to be followed in correctional facilities and other settings for using wrist restraints or other types of restraints on inmates who are pregnant or have been determined to be in postpartum recuperation.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4318, a bill establishing revised WILD TURKEY HUNTING provisions. Recently, the General Assembly has provided for temporary wild turkey hunting season and bag limit revisions that extend until July 1, 2019, while the Department of Natural Resources was conducting its study of the state’s wild turkey population. Drawing upon DNR’s study as well as testimony from hunters and other stakeholders, this legislation replaces temporary wild turkey hunting measures with long term provisions. The legislation provides for a 42-day-long hunting season the would run from March 20 until April 30 in Game Zones 3 and 4 and from April 1 until May 12 in Game Zones 1 and 2. The legislation establishes bag limits of one per day with three per season for residents and two per season for non-residents. For resident hunters, there is established a five dollar fee with three tags and for nonresidents a one hundred dollar fee with two tags. There continues to be no cost for a set of wild turkey tags for those under the age of sixteen, lifetime licensees, and gratis licensees. It is unlawful to take a female wild turkey unless authorized by DNR. Provisions are made for a ‘Youth Turkey Weekend’ for turkey hunters under eighteen years of age. During this weekend preceding the start of a game zone turkey season, license or tag requirements are waived for a youth turkey hunter and the bag limit is one male wild turkey, which shall count towards the season bag limit. The legislation also provides for the implementation of an electronic harvest reporting system that involves scanning in information using smartphone cameras or calling in reports.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3174. This bill establishes technical specifications for ELECTRIC‑ASSIST BICYCLES and bicycles with helper motors and provides that those who operate these low-speed electrically assisted bicycles are subject to all statutory provisions that apply to bicyclists. The legislation includes labelling requirements for these bicycles. The legislation specifies that electric-assist bicycles and bicycles with helper motors are not mopeds.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4439, a bill designating the sixteenth day of July of each year as ‘ATOMIC VETERANS DAY’ in South Carolina to recognize those who participated in aboveground nuclear tests between 1945 and 1962, served with the United States military occupation forces in or around Hiroshima and Nagasaki before 1946, or were held as prisoners of war in or near Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4211. In accordance with recent changes in federal law, this bill revises provisions relating to the ISSUANCE OF BONDS FOR INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS, so as to provide for certain public notice requirements.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3703, a bill dealing with the LICENSURE EXAMINATION REQUIREMENTS FOR PHYSICAL THERAPY. The bill applies to physical therapists and physical therapist assistants. Currently, an applicant may attempt the licensure examination a total of three times. This bill will increase the attempts to six. However, if an applicant fails the examination a fifth time, the applicant must take courses and furnish evidence of completing these courses before taking the examination a sixth time.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4412, a bill to authorizing the imposition of the EDUCATION CAPITAL IMPROVEMENTS SALES AND USE TAX in certain situations.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3205, a bill that makes revisions to the Catawba Indian Claims Settlement Act to eliminate an obsolete CATAWBA INDIAN TRIBE FEE EXEMPTION.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3080, a bill addressing ALCOHOL SALES AT FESTIVALS. The legislation revises provisions for the issuance of beer and wine permits and alcoholic liquor licenses that allow sales at multiple locations on multiple days at a festival on one application.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4075, a bill providing for the DISCONTINUATION OF COUNTY OFFICER OFFICE INSPECTIONS. The legislation repeals the legal requirement for the Attorney General, and circuit solicitors, to inspect county officer offices. The legislation makes revisions recommended by the House Legislative Oversight Committee’s study of the Prosecution Coordination Commission.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4008. This bill revises Heritage Trust Program provisions by REPEALING PROVISIONS FOR HERITAGE TRUST REVENUE BONDS since this bond debt has been retired. The legislation makes revisions recommended by the House Legislative Oversight Committee’s study of the Department of Natural Resources.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4010. This bill revises provisions for land acquired under the HERITAGE TRUST PROGRAM, so as to remove the maximum acreage limitation. The legislation makes revisions recommended by the House Legislative Oversight Committee’s study of the Department of Natural Resources.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3351. This bill makes provisions for the DISPOSITION OF CERTAIN DUPLICATIVE MATERIAL IN THE POSSESSION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ARCHIVES AND HISTORY to another public or nonprofit institution by gift or sale, and provides for the use of resulting proceeds. The legislation makes provisions for annual reporting requirements and the retention and use by the department of certain proceeds generated by its operations. The legislation implements recommendations arising from the House Legislative Oversight Committee’s review of the Department of Archives and History.

The House approved and sent the Senate on H.3485, legislation addressing DEPARTMENT OF ARCHIVES AND HISTORY FUNDING. This bill implements recommendations arising from the House Legislative Oversight Committee’s review of the Department of Archives and History. The legislation revises provisions for the income tax credit for making qualified rehabilitation expenditures for a certified historic structure, so as to remove a provision allowing the Department of Archives and History to establish fees. The legislation provides that a taxpayer claiming the credit must pay a fee to the Department of Archives and History for the State Historic Preservation Grant Fund. The legislation charges the department with developing an application process. The legislation adds the Department of Archives and History to the list of check off options on the income tax return which taxpayers use to make voluntary contributions. Such voluntary contributions must be used by the department to purchase or preserve collections with significant historical value to the state.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4017. This bill revises Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism provisions to establish updated objectives for the SOUTH CAROLINA FILM COMMISSION. This bill makes revisions recommended by the House Legislative Oversight Committee’s study of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4019. This bill makes revisions recommended by the House Legislative Oversight Committee’s study of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. The legislation revises Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism provisions to remove references to residential areas on HUNTING ISLAND.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4020, legislation addressing PRT COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT DUTIES. This bill makes revisions recommended by the House Legislative Oversight Committee’s study of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. The legislation adds duties relating to community development to the general powers and duties of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism and repeals provisions relating to the agency’s division of community development.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4021, relating to the USE OF CABINS AT STATE PARKS. This bill makes revisions recommended by the House Legislative Oversight Committee’s study of the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. The legislation removes the prohibition on swimming and rental or use of cabins at state parks.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3737, a bill revising the membership of the RICHLAND‑LEXINGTON AIRPORT COMMISSION.

The House approved and sent the Senate to H.3307, a bill making provisions for a searchable online DATABASE ON PROPERTY SEIZED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT AND FORFEITED.

The State Capital Report – 4/9/2019

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate on H.4287, legislation establishing a protocol for EVALUATING PROPOSALS FOR THE SALE OF SANTEE COOPER OR OTHER ARRANGEMENTS in order to protect the individual and corporate ratepayers of Santee Cooper and the electric cooperatives of this state who receive electric power from this state-owned electric utility from rising electric power rates due to grossly excessive debt and costs incurred in the construction of the two abandoned nuclear reactors at Jenkinsville, South Carolina.  This joint resolution establishes a process for the Public Service Authority Evaluation and Recommendation Committee to receive and consider offers of purchase and other arrangements such as entering into a management agreement.  The committee is authorized to retain the services of legal and technical experts.  The legislation provides that any offer of purchase or alternate proposal must be submitted to the General Assembly for approval and specifies the manner in which proposals are to be transmitted to and approved or disapproved by the General Assembly.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4261, a bill providing REFORM FOR SOUTH CAROLINA’S PUBLIC SERVICE AUTHORITY which governs the operations of the state-owned electric utility Santee Cooper.  Terms of service are ended for the current PSA Board of Directors and a schedule is established for the appointment of their successors.  All new board members must meet a set of qualifications to ensure that they possess certain levels of educational attainment and a background that affords expertise in: energy issues; water and wastewater issues; finance, economics, and statistics; accounting; engineering; or law.  The legislation revises appointment procedures to provide for the directors representing each of the state’s congressional districts to be elected by the General Assembly.  Members of the General Assembly and their immediate family may not be appointed to the Public Service Authority while serving as legislators and for four years after their service.  Provisions are included to avoid conflicts of interests by prohibiting members of the board of directors from having certain financial ties with the Public Service Authority.  Transparency provisions are included that require live-streaming of PSA board and committee meetings and online public access to archived recordings of these meetings along with agendas and any documents presented during the open portion of meetings.  The legislation requires that all major utility facilities proposed by the Public Service Authority must be submitted to the Public Service Commission for approval.  A new procedure is established that the Public Service Authority must follow prior to revising any of its board‑approved retail rate schedules for residential, lighting, commercial, or industrial customers in a manner that results in a rate increase.  This retail rates process includes requirements for providing notice to customers, holding public meetings, and receiving commentary from customers impacted by proposed rate increases.  The legislation creates a ten-member South Carolina Public Service Authority Review and Oversight Commission composed of key legislative leaders, or their designees.   The commission’s oversight duties include conducting a biennial review of to assess whether the PSA is improving the quality of life for South Carolinians by providing low cost, reliable power in this state in an efficient, effective manner in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations.  The commission is authorized to undertake other reviews, studies, or evaluations on such matters as: (1) transmission and distribution reliability; (2) generation sources and availability; (3) customer surveys; (4) economic development; (5) lake management; (6) financial reports including operating budgets, outstanding debt, existing and proposed debt issuances, debt defeasance, debt/equity ratios, and bond ratings; (7) executive organizational structure and compensation, to include retirement compensation; and, (8) status of planned and ongoing capital projects.  The South Carolina Public Service Authority board of directors and president/CEO have a duty to disclose material operational issues that impact customer rates to the commission.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3438, a bill making provisions for the DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS within the executive branch of government, and enrolled the legislation for ratification.  In place of the current arrangement where veterans’ affairs are housed as a division of the Department of Administration cabinet agency, the legislation establishes a separate Department of Veterans Affairs within the executive branch that is headed by a Secretary appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate.  The Secretary must be a veteran.   The legislation provides new duties for the Secretary that include coordinating with state and federal agencies to obtain additional resources and support for veterans living in South Carolina in the areas of medical care, mental health and rehabilitative services, housing, homelessness prevention, job creation, and education, and addressing all issues of mutual concern to the state and the armed forces of the Unites States, including quality of life issues unique to South Carolina’s military personnel and their families, quality of educational opportunities for military children, transportation needs, substance abuse, and social service needs.  The Department of Veterans Affairs is required to submit an annual report to the Governor detailing its work on behalf of the state’s veterans.  The department is authorized to apply for and accept funds, grants, gifts, and services from this state, the United States Government or any of its agencies, or any other public or private source, and may use funds derived

from these sources to defray clerical and administrative costs, as may be necessary for carrying out the department’s duties.  The Department of Administration may provide administrative support to the Department of Veterans Affairs in such areas as financial accounting, human resources, information technology, procurement, and logistics.  The SOUTH CAROLINA MILITARY BASE TASK FORCE is established for the purpose of enhancing the value of military installations and facilities and the quality of life for military personnel located in this state and coordinating efforts among the public and the private sectors to maintain a significant United States Department of Defense presence in South Carolina.  The task force is charged with advising the Governor and the General Assembly on any issues and strategies related to military base closures, realignments, and mission changes.  The legislation provides for the composition of the task force and establishes its duties including the coordination of an annual meeting between the Governor, military commanders, and General Assembly members geographically representing military communities to discuss items of interest to all parties and exchange pertinent information on the current climate and challenges facing our state’s military installations and their personnel.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3180, the “SOUTH CAROLINA SERVICEMEMBERS CIVIL RELIEF ACT”, and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation aligns South Carolina with federal law that provides for contracts for telecommunication services, Internet services, cable, direct satellite, and other television services, satellite radio services, and athletic club or gym memberships to be cancelled, without early termination charges, when those in military service are deployed or reassigned.  The legislation sets out duties for notifying service providers and establishes civil penalties for violations.  The Adjutant General is directed to post on the South Carolina National Guard website a list of the rights a servicemember or a servicemember’s dependent has under the South Carolina Servicemembers Civil Relief Act and the federal Servicemembers Civil Relief Act.

The House approved S.214, a bill addressing SALES AND USE TAX LIABILITY in light of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling regarding state tax collections on Internet retail sales, and enrolled the legislation for ratification.  The legislation reaffirms state tax policy regarding market facilitators and other matters and makes explicit provisions that Internet marketplaces where a person sells tangible personal property at retail by listing or advertising, or allowing the listing or advertising of, another person’s products on an online marketplace and collects or processes the payment from the customer are retailers required to remit the sales and use tax on such retail sales under the provisions of South Carolina sales and use tax law.

The House approved and sent the Senate to H.3807, the “TEEN SKIN CANCER PREVENTION ACT”.  The legislation provides that an individual must be at least eighteen years old in order to use tanning beds and other equipment that induces tanning through ultraviolet radiation in a tanning facility.  Tanning facilities are subject to requirements for posting signs to provide notification of this minimum age for using tanning equipment.  A tanning facility that allows a minor to use tanning equipment in violation of these provisions is subject to a five hundred dollar civil penalty assessed by the Department of Health and Environmental Control.  DHEC may deny, suspend, or revoke a tanning facility’s registration for repeated violations.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4262, a bill that enacts the “SOUTH CAROLINA SMALL WIRELESS FACILITIES DEPLOYMENT ACT” to establish certain uniform procedures and standards for small wireless facilities, including small cells and distributed antenna systems, on utility poles in rights of way to encourage the development of strong and robust wireless and broadband communications networks throughout the state.  The legislation prohibits local government authorities from imposing regulations and restrictions on small wireless facilities that are more burdensome than provisions applied to other types of infrastructure deployments in the rights of way or charging these wireless providers discriminatory rates or fees for the use of rights of way.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3780, a bill creating the “GROWING RURAL ECONOMIES WITH ACCESS TO TECHNOLOGY (GREAT) PROGRAM” to facilitate the deployment of broadband data transmission service to unserved areas of the state.  The legislation establishes the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology Fund as a special revenue fund in the South Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority that is to be used for awarding state grants, in conjunction with federal funds, that are to be used to pay for the infrastructure costs associated with deploying high speed, high capacity, broadband Internet access to homes, businesses, and community anchor points in an unserved area of an economically‑distressed county.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3778, a bill addressing PORT CARGO VOLUME INCREASE TAX CREDITS AND PORT TRANSPORTATION CREDITS.  The legislation increases the maximum annual amount of tax credits for port cargo volume increases available to all qualifying taxpayers from eight million to fifteen million dollars.  The legislation establishes a schedule for phasing in a port transportation credit for the costs of transporting freight, goods, and materials to and from port facilities in South Carolina as a means of establishing a customer base for a new Jasper Port facility.  The port transportation credit expires effective at the end of the calendar year in which a port in Jasper County is opened and is accepting shipments.  The legislation provides that a port facility is a distribution facility for purposes of certain sales tax exemptions.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4127.  This bill revises eligibility criteria for the DEPARTMENT ON AGING’S PHYSICIAN STUDENT LOAN REPAYMENT PROGRAM as a means of enhancing the South Carolina’s ability to recruit and retain needed geriatricians.  A sunset date is established for the loan repayment provisions so that these incentives expire at the end of 2024.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3936, a bill revising eligibility requirements of the merit-based Palmetto Fellows Scholarship by ALLOWING A PALMETTO FELLOWS SCHOLARSHIP TO BE USED AT TWO-YEAR INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER LEARNING AND TECHNICAL SCHOOLS in addition to four-year colleges and universities.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4133.  This bill revises provisions relating to COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT TAX CREDITS, so as to: allow a tax credit of fifty percent of any cash donation to a community development corporation or community development financial institutions; eliminate an aggregate credit provision and set an annual limit; establish tax credit reserve accounts for the first three quarters of each tax year so as to avoid the depletion of credits by an individual taxpayer; eliminate the pro‑rata distribution of tax credits; allow financial institutions with tax liabilities in this state to invest in community development corporations for the purpose of receiving a tax credit; and, provide that returns on investments in certified community development corporations and certified community development financial institutions may not exceed the total amount of the initial investment.  The legislation extends the provisions of the South Carolina Community Economic Development Act until June 30, 2023.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3620, legislation addressing RETIREES RETURNING TO COVERED EMPLOYMENT UNDER STATE PENSIONS.  This bill revises provisions governing retirement benefits after returning to covered employment under the South Carolina Retirement System and the Police Officers Retirement System, respectively, so as to establish a protocol that allows retirees to return to covered employment without being subject to the ten thousand dollar earnings limitation.

The House amended and gave second reading approval to H.3307, a bill making provisions for a searchable online DATABASE ON PROPERTY SEIZED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT AND FORFEITED.  The legislation charges the Prosecution Coordination Commission with establishing and maintaining a case tracking system and searchable public website that provides information about property seized by a law enforcement agency and forfeited under state law or under any agreement with the federal government.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3951, a bill revising QUALIFICATIONS FOR SHERIFFS and candidates for the office of sheriff.   The legislation provides that law enforcement experience requirements are satisfied exclusively through South Carolina Class I Certification.  Incumbent sheriffs are exempt from these Class I Certification provisions.  The legislation allows someone to be eligible to serve as sheriff who has obtained a law degree and, within six months of being elected, obtains certification as a Class I certified law enforcement officer.   The legislation disqualifies someone from holding the office who has been convicted of, pled guilty to, or been pardoned for a felony or a crime of moral turpitude in this state or another state.  In order to be eligible to serve as a sheriff, an individual must be a legal resident of the state for at least one year immediately preceding the date of the election for sheriff and a legal resident of the county in which he seeks the office of sheriff at the time he files for office.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3079, a bill establishing an ADDITIONAL METHOD OF POSTING NOTICE OF TRESPASSING on a property.  As an alternative to the posting of ‘No Trespassing’ signs, the legislation establishes a procedure that allows trespassing notice to be posted on tracts of land by marking immovable, permanent objects along the boundary lines with purple paint.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4245, a bill addressing the labeling of vat grown CELL‑CULTURED MEAT for sale.  The legislation prohibits someone who advertises, offers for sale, or sells all or part of a carcass from engaging in any misleading or deceptive practices, labeling, or misrepresenting a product as ‘meat’ or ‘clean meat’ that is cell‑cultured meat/protein, or is not derived from harvested production livestock, poultry, fish, or crustaceans.  These provisions do not apply to plant-based meat substitutes.  A violation is a misdemeanor punishable with imprisonment for up to one year and/or a fine of up to one thousand dollars.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4244, a bill making revisions related to VEHICLE SERVICE CONTRACTS and theft protection program warranties that include requirements for disclosures to consumers and provisions for how service contract providers establish their financial security to pay claims.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4246, a bill addressing REAL ESTATE COMMISSION CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECKS.  The legislation revises requirements for criminal background checks by the Real Estate Commission, so as to change the effective date to allow for better coordination with license renewal schedules.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3785, a bill making revisions that relate to the operation of the BOARD OF ACCOUNTANCY including provisions detailing when it is appropriate for meetings of the board to be closed.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3800, a bill that waives the certification of completion requirement for a hunting license if a person purchases an APPRENTICE HUNTING LICENSE.  The legislation is offered as a means of extending the opportunity for a person to try out hunting prior to purchasing a hunting license.  The legislation also provides that a nonresident who meets the qualifications as an apprentice hunter must purchase a three-day temporary statewide apprentice hunting license for fifty dollars.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4239, a bill making provisions for TRAWLING IN AREAS ALONG THE COAST OF HORRY COUNTY.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4009, a bill dealing with statutory changes for the DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES (DNR).  This bill repeals outdated sections, amends incorrect sections, updates sections to current procedure and nomenclature.  It deletes items pertaining to an expired directive or an ended study.  It further gets rid of duplicative statutes.  As a result, the changes include the ability for DNR to send license suspension information through the mail without a return receipt.  As a result, this update leads to a cost savings of nearly $7K.  The legislation implements recommendations from the House Legislative Oversight Committee’s study of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4011, legislation that makes necessary changes and enhances the “WATER RESOURCE AND PLANNING COORDINATION ACT”.  Among many things, the bill adds a “State Water Plan” as an example of a comprehensive water resource policy in which DNR provides assistance to the Governor and General Assembly in formulating.  The bill allows DNR to accept and spend federal money for water resource investigation.  Requires to DNR to assist with coordination of water resource activities, programs, and plans at both local and “regional” level.  The bill also expands DNR’s consideration of adequate supplies of surface and groundwater from specific uses to “all” uses.  The legislation implements recommendations from the House Legislative Oversight Committee’s study of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

The House gave second reading approval to H.4012, legislation that cleans up and updates the LAND, RESOURCES, AND CONSERVATION DISTRICTS DIVISION.  Among many things, the bill updates the division’s name to Land, Water and Conversation Division and it reformats the State Land Resources Conservation Commission into the Land, Water and Conservation Division Advisory Committee.  The bill also removes unnecessary statutory requirements that relates to financial needs for soil and water conservation districts which is now accomplished through the budgeting process.  It removes references to discontinued practices as it relates to County Agricultural Agents.  The legislation implements recommendations from the House Legislative Oversight Committee’s study of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4013, a bill that changes certain requirements for the STATE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY UNIT under the Department of Natural Resources.  The bill requires that the state geologist become familiar with geologic hazards throughout the state.  The legislation implements recommendations from the House Legislative Oversight Committee’s study of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

The House approved and sent the Senate to H.4014, a bill that designates the Department of Health and Environmental Control as the designated agent in selecting land as it related to the LEASE OF DEVELOPMENT RIGHTS TO GEOTHERMAL RESOURCES UNDERLYING SURFACE LANDS OWNED BY STATE.  The legislation implements recommendations from the House Legislative Oversight Committee’s study of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4015, a bill repealing Chapter 11, of Title 13, the NEW HORIZONS DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY as a result of the inactivity over the years.  The legislation implements recommendations from the House Legislative Oversight Committee’s study of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4260, the “SOUTH CAROLINA RATEPAYER PROTECTION ACT OF 2019”.

The House committed H.3917, the “SOUTH CAROLINA ELECTRONIC NOTARY PUBLIC ACT”, to the Ways and Means Committee.

If you have a comment or opinion concerning the matters discussed in this report, or if I may be of assistance to you at any time, please feel free to call your legislative office in Columbia (803-212-6875); my Richland Legislative Delegation Office (803-576-1908); or write P.O. Box 292434, Columbia, SC 29229.  Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in the House of Representatives. KHG/jhm

The State Capital Report – 3/29/2019

The House of Representatives approved and sent the Senate H.4243, a bill addressing PROFESSIONAL SPORTS TEAM INVESTMENTS. The legislation revises job tax credit provisions to allow a professional sports team to be eligible for the tax credits for jobs created. The legislation prohibits a county from levying county license fees and taxes on a professional sports team, and prohibits a municipality from levying a business license tax on a professional sports team. The legislation provides that real property owned by a professional sports team may not be annexed by a municipality without prior written consent of the professional sports team.

The House amended and gave second reading approval to H.4260, the “SOUTH CAROLINA RATEPAYER PROTECTION ACT OF 2019”. The legislation draws upon the work of the special House Utility Ratepayer Protection Committee which was appointed by the Speaker of the House following the announcement from Santee Cooper and SCANA’s South Carolina Electric and Gas that construction on the V.C. Summer nuclear reactors in Fairfield County was being abandoned after billions of dollars in fees had been collected from South Carolina’s ratepayers under the Base Load Review Act to support the failed nuclear power project. The legislation includes reforms and enhanced authority for the Public Service Commission, the body that provides oversight and renders decisions in public utility matters. Provisions are included to prevent conflicts interests. The legislation provides that a person may not serve as the state’s Consumer Advocate if the Public Service Commission regulates a business with which that person is associated. The Consumer Advocate may not interview or seek employment with a public utility while serving as the Consumer Advocate and may not represent a public utility or appear on behalf of a public utility in a proceeding before the Public Service Commission in a matter within the commission’s jurisdiction for a period of one year after termination. An employee of the Department of Consumer Affairs is prohibited from soliciting, receiving, or accepting anything of value from those who are regulated by the Public Service Commission. Those regulated by the PSC are prohibited from offering, facilitating, or providing anything of value to a department employee. Violations are misdemeanor criminal offenses punishable with fines of up to five thousand dollars and/or imprisonment for up to one year. The legislation strengthens provisions that preclude commission employees and employees of the PSC’s Office of Regulatory Staff from having financial ties with those regulated by the PSC. The Public Service Commission and the Office of Regulatory Staff are afforded authority to employ third‑party consultants and experts in carrying out their duties if the commission determines it is in the best interests of ratepayers and it is approved by the Public Utilities Review Committee. The legislation provides that, before making a determination, the commissioners shall question the parties thoroughly during hearings of contested cases when appropriate. The commission is empowered with the authority to require mediation or alternative dispute resolution. The PSC is afforded more expansive authority to conduct examinations, including physical inspection of facilities, of all those who are subject to its jurisdiction. Public utilities that fail or refuse to permit the Office of Regulatory Staff or Public Service Commission to examine and inspect its books, records, accounts, and documents, or its plant, property, or facilities, as provided by law, must be punishable by a fine up to ten thousand dollars for each day they are in violation. Public utilities are subject to a fine up to ten thousand dollars for each day they are in violation of any law or refuse to conform to or obey any rule, order, or regulation of the Office of Regulatory Staff or Public Service Commission. An officer, agent or employee of a public utility, who willfully neglects or refuses to make and furnish any report required by the commission or who willfully or unlawfully hinders, delays or obstructs the commission in the discharge of its duties shall forfeit and pay five thousand dollars for each offense. Misdemeanor criminal offenses are established for those who knowingly or willfully provide false information or withhold information in required reports or responses to the Office of Regulatory Staff or the Public Service Commission. Violators are subject to a fine of up to one thousand dollars and/or imprisonment for up to thirty days. The legislation includes new requirements for the principal executive officer and principal financial officer of a public utility to sign and officially certify materials submitted to the Public Service Commission. Felony criminal penalties are established for violating these certification requirements, punishable with fines of up to one hundred thousand dollars and/or imprisonment for up to five years. Employees of public utilities are afforded whistleblower protections when reporting wrongdoing. The legislation requires all the members of the Public Service Commission to meet the qualifications established for educational attainment or technical experience by eliminating an exception that allows the criteria to be waived through a supermajority vote of those screening PSC candidates. Continuing education requirements are expanded to require the commissioners and their employees to attend at least six hours of classes each year with a curriculum, approved by the Public Utilities Review Committee, which directly relates to the subject matter for which the commission is responsible. New restrictions and reporting requirements are imposed on reimbursements for such costs as travel, food, and lodging incurred in fulfilling continuing education requirements in order to avoid the appearance of impropriety and prevent payments that could influence the performance of official duties. The legislation eases restrictions on communications with members or staff of the Public Utilities Review Committee or any other legislative committee charged with review of the commission. The Public Utilities Review Committee is expanded from

ten to twelve members, four of whom must be appointed by the Governor from the general public at large. Provisions are included to disqualify someone from serving on the review committee who has made a political contribution to those making the appointments during the current election cycle or the previous two election cycles. In conducting its screenings, the Public Utilities Review Committee is required to report out all candidates found qualified for each seat on the Public Service Commission to be elected by the General Assembly. The Public Utilities Review Committee is charged with appointing the Executive Director of the Office of Regulatory Staff. The legislation establishes qualifications for the executive director, sets a six-year term for the position, and provides that the executive director serves at the will of the committee and may be removed by a majority vote of the review committee. Provisions are included to prevent conflicts interests by prohibiting members of Public Utilities Review Committee from having financial ties with those regulated by the Public Service Commission.

The House returned S.540 to the Senate with amendments. This bill makes temporary provisions to allow for the submission of less than three qualified applicants to the Governor to serve as EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT AND WORKFORCE. The waiver on the requirement extends until the position is filled or July 1, 2019, whichever occurs first.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3602, a bill expanding THOSE WHO ARE AUTHORIZED TO MAKE HEALTH CARE DECISIONS FOR PATIENTS WHO CANNOT PROVIDE CONSENT. The legislation adds a category of individuals who can make healthcare decisions for patients who are unable to consent so that the statutory list includes someone who has established special care and concern for a patient and who is not a paid caregiver or other type of paid healthcare provider. This adult individual, such as a friend or neighbor, who has exhibited special care and concern for the patient and who is generally familiar with the patient’s health care views and desires, must sign a notarized acknowledgement form in order to become involved in the patient’s health care decisions and to act in the patient’s best interest. This acknowledgement form, setting forth the nature and length of their relationship and certifying they meet all criteria to be considered a healthcare decision maker for the patient, is placed in the patient’s records.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3789, a bill revising provisions for DRIVER’S LICENSES and identification cards issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles. These revisions include adjustments to coordinate state procedures with federal Real ID provisions.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3383, a bill that revises provisions governing the STATE FOREST LAND REVENUES that the Forestry Commission shares with counties, so as to exclude the proceeds from land rentals and Wildlife Management Area payments from the proceeds that are shared with the counties. Under the legislation, the Forestry Commission would retain these proceeds, but would continue to share with counties the major source of revenue generated by timber sales.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3046, a bill establishing CRIMINAL OFFENSES OF FURTHERING TERRORISM. The legislation establishes the felony offense of furthering terrorism that applies to someone who makes significant plans or takes actions toward the commission of an act of violence with the intent to commit an act of terrorism. A violator is subject to imprisonment for up to thirty years. The legislation also establishes a felony offense that applies to someone who provides material or financial support of an act of terrorism or who conceals the actions or plans of another to carry out an act of terrorism. A violator is subject to imprisonment for up to twenty years. The legislation authorizes the seizure and forfeiture of real and personal property used in connection with these offenses. The legislation revises the statutory definition of “terrorism” to make clear that it encompasses instances of domestic terror by specifically including criminal acts dangerous to human life that appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce groups within the civilian population based on the group’s race, religion, color, sex, age, national origin, or sexual orientation.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3145, a bill addressing ELECTRIC COOPERATIVES OVERSIGHT AND TRANSPARENCY. The legislation vests the Office of Regulatory Staff with authority and jurisdiction to make inspections, audits and examinations of electric cooperatives. The legislation provides that no distribution electric cooperative shall, as to rates or services, make or grant any unreasonable preference or advantage to any person, corporation, municipality or consolidated political subdivision to its unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage. No distribution electric cooperative shall establish or maintain any unreasonable difference as to rates or service as between localities or as between classes of service. The legislation revises provisions relating to annual meetings of members of an electric cooperative, so as to revise the notice requirements for certain meetings. The legislation revises provisions relating to a quorum at meetings of electric cooperatives, so as to allow persons casting early voting ballots for the election of trustees to be counted for purposes of determining a quorum at the meeting for the election, and to prohibit voting by proxy. For meetings that include the election of cooperative trustees, polling locations must be open for a minimum of four hours. Requirements are included for making early voting accommodations when trustee races are contested. Unless otherwise provided in the bylaws, each trustee’s principal residence, as determined by South Carolina voter registration law, must be served by the cooperative. A vacancy in the office of trustee occurring for any reason other than expiration of a term may be filled only for the remainder of the unexpired term by a vote of the membership at the next annual meeting. The legislation requires annual public disclosure of compensation and benefits paid to or provided for members of the board of trustees. The legislation includes notice requirements for all non‑emergency meetings of the board of trustees or the membership of the cooperative. The legislation makes transparency provisions for meetings that include

requirements for certain votes of trustees to be taken in open session, requirements for votes taken in executive session to be ratified in open session, require for providing minutes of all meetings to cooperative members. Provisions are included to prohibit certain conflicts of interest and the misuse of a position on a board of trustees for financial gain or to secure certain other advantages. The legislation establishes provisions governing the conduct of elections by a cooperative, that prohibit advocacy or campaigning within a certain distance of the polling place. Incumbent trustees seeking reelection shall not directly or indirectly influence the nomination or credentials process. The legislation includes financial disclosure requirements and ethics provisions for electric cooperative trade associations. The Office of Regulatory Staff is authorized to make inspections, audits, and examinations of these trade associations and the Public Service Commission is vested with the authority and jurisdiction to resolve any disputed issues arising from the inspections, audits or examinations.

If you have a comment or opinion concerning the matters discussed in this report, or if I may be of assistance to you at any time, please feel free to call your legislative office in Columbia (803-212-6875); my Richland Legislative Delegation Office (803-576-1908); or write P.O. Box 292434, Columbia, SC 29229. Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in the House of Representatives.

KHG/jhm