Month: February 2020

The State Capitol Report – 2/28/2020

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4431, a bill to enact the “SOUTH CAROLINA BUSINESS LICENSE TAX STANDARDIZATION ACT” as a means of: reducing the complexity of complying with the business license taxes imposed by counties and municipalities by bringing statewide uniformity to the deadlines, application forms, and various other parts of the process; enhancing convenience for businesses by allowing them to pay taxes owed in multiple jurisdictions using a one-stop-shopping online portal; and, allowing counties and municipalities to receive the full amounts they are owed for business licenses without subtracting the portion that has been charged in fees by third parties collecting the taxes. The legislation imposes statewide standardization upon many aspects of the business license taxes imposed by counties and municipalities, including: a single timeline for issuing and renewing licenses and imposing penalties; standards for computing taxes based upon the gross income of the business; a uniform business license application established and provided by the Director of the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office; a protocol for issuing refunds to businesses; requirements for taxing jurisdictions to make use of the Standardized Business License Class Schedule as recommended by the Municipal Association of South Carolina and adopted by the Director of the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office; requirements for the Municipal Association to determine and revise this Standardized Business License Class Schedule every even year using the latest available nationwide Internal Revenue Service statistics for the calculation of profitability of businesses and using the latest business classification codes of the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS); and, a protocol that allows county and city councils to approve reasonable sub-classifications.  Provisions are made for a centralized online portal hosted and managed by the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office which businesses may use to pay the various license taxes imposed in multiple jurisdictions.  In addition to allowing a payment through the business license tax portal, a taxing jurisdiction shall allow a taxpayer to file and pay its business license tax in person at a location within the taxing jurisdiction, by telephone, or by mail.  The legislation imposes a prohibition on a private third-party assessing or collecting business license taxes or requiring businesses to remit confidential tax data on behalf of a taxing jurisdiction.  Restrictions are imposed on how a taxing jurisdiction may contract with a third party to assist in the collection of business license taxes.  The legislation disallows arrangements where a private sector auditing firm or other third party is paid on a contingency fee or success basis.  Enforcement measures are provided which authorize the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs award to civil penalties to taxpayers for violations.  The legislation provides an exemption from business license taxes for charitable organizations that covers their nonprofit activities.  

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4761, a bill providing for “SOUTH CAROLINA READ TO SUCCEED ACT” ENHANCEMENTS that emphasize early intervention for students who are having difficulty learning to read so that they can receive needed instruction before reaching the time when a low score on a literacy assessment can require a student to repeat the third grade.  Under the legislation, the State Board of Education is charged with approving no more than five reliable and valid early literacy and numeracy screening assessment instruments for selection and use by school districts in kindergarten through third grade.  Assessments must be given at the beginning of the school year.  For students who need additional assistance, the screening will also occur during the middle and end of the school year.  Assessment results must be reported to the State Department of Education which is responsible for monitoring student progress.  Read to Succeed Act provisions are revised to require that districts provide appropriate in-class intervention and at least thirty minutes of supplemental intervention by certified teachers who have a literacy add on endorsement until all students are at grade level.  School districts must offer a summer reading camp as intervention for any student enrolled in the first or second grade who is substantially not demonstrating proficiency in reading, based upon the universal screening process.  The legislation replaces the current “Not Met 1” benchmark for student retention, and provides, instead that a student must be retained in the third grade if the student fails to demonstrate reading proficiency at the end of the third grade as indicated by scoring at the lowest achievement level on the state summative English/language arts assessment which indicates that the student needs substantial academic support to be prepared for the next grade level.  Districts are encouraged to develop policies for intensive support and retention of students in kindergarten through second grade if it is determined 

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to be in the student’s best interest.  The reading portfolio exemption from retention is strengthened.  When exemptions from retention are granted because of appeals by students’ parents or guardians, school districts are required to report on the number of appeals made, the number granted, and the outcome of the students whose appeals are successful.  More specific job duties and position requirements are established for reading coaches.  The State Department of Education must screen and approve reading coaches for districts where more than one-third of third grade students score at the lowest achievement level on the state English/language arts assessment.  Early childhood, elementary, and special education teacher candidates must pass a test on reading instruction and intervention before they can be certified.  The Commission on Higher Education and the Learning Disorders Taskforce are charged with examining the effectiveness of teacher education programs with regard to diagnosing and assisting students with reading difficulties.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3328, a bill revising SCHOOL LUNCH provisions.  The legislation provides that students eligible for free and reduced meal benefits must be offered the same federally reimbursable meal as students not eligible for these federal free and reduced meal provisions.  Federally reimbursable meals must be offered even if the student owes money for previous meals.  Schools that offer food and beverages separate from federally reimbursable meals may not allow students to accrue a balance when purchasing items, and only may accept cash payment or allow funds to be electronically drawn from a prepaid balance.  A school or school district may not invoke penalties for failing to pay for a school lunch, such as prohibiting students from attending field trips, participating in graduation or other recognition ceremonies, or attending other academic-related activities.  The State Department of Education is charged with developing and providing a model policy and template to each school district regarding the collection of school meal debt.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4765, a bill imposing LIMITATIONS ON COLLECTING SCHOOL MEAL PROGRAM DEBTS.  The legislation prohibits a public school or school district from using a debt collection service to collect debts owed on a school lunch or breakfast account of a student.  A public school or school district may not assess or collect any interest, fees, or other such monetary penalties for outstanding debts on student school lunch or breakfast accounts.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4758, a bill providing authority for ALTERNATIVE PROGRAMS FOR EDUCATOR PREPARATION AND CERTIFICATION as a means of addressing current teacher shortages.  Under the legislation, educator preparation programs housed within an institution of higher education may submit a separate and distinct educator preparation program for alternative preparation to the State Board of Education for approval.  The board shall promulgate regulations concerning the granting of approval, cyclical review, and revocation of approval for alternative educator preparation programs.  The State Department of Education is charged with providing each college of education and state-approved educator preparation program with information evaluating the performance its graduates on a yearly basis so that this information may be used to improve education services.

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 Capitol Report – 2/21/2020

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3197, the “STUDENT LOAN BILL OF RIGHTS ACT”, which establishes consumer protection measures for those who obtain loans to finance postsecondary education or other school-related expenses.   The legislation provides for the licensure and regulation of student loan servicers by the Department of Consumer Affairs.  A list of prohibited activities is established for student loan servicers to address such misconduct as: defrauding or misleading student loan borrowers; knowingly or recklessly providing inaccurate information to a credit bureau; charging unauthorized fees; and, placing student loan borrowers in forbearance or default without determining whether they are eligible for income-based repayment programs.  The legislation authorizes the Department of Consumer Affairs to conduct investigations and examinations and empowers the department to address fraud and other violations through such means as: suspending, revoking, or refusing to renew licenses; imposing fines, cease and desist orders, and other equitable and injunctive relief; and bringing civil actions.  A student loan ombudsman position is created within the Department of Consumer Affairs to provide timely assistance to borrowers by performing such duties as: receiving, reviewing, and attempting to resolve complaints from student loan borrowers; compiling and analyzing data on these complaints; answering questions about student education loans; disseminating information and conducting educational programs; and, advising on policy and law changes.  The department is required to submit an annual report on these student education loan consumer protection initiatives to the Senate Education Committee and the House Education and Public Works Committee. 

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3455, a bill that provides for the licensure and regulation of SWIMMING POOL INSTALLERS by classifying them as residential specialty contractors.  The legislation adds swimming pool installers to the list of those classified as residential specialty contractors, who are independent contractors who contract with licensed residential builders, general contractors, or individual property owners to do certain construction work, repairs, improvement, or re-improvement which requires special skills and involves the use of specialized construction trades or craft.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4974, a bill providing for ADDITIONAL CIRCUIT COURT AND FAMILY COURT JUDGES.  The legislation provides for the election of two additional resident circuit court judges: one for the Fourteenth Circuit and one for the Fifteenth Circuit.  The legislation provides for the election of two additional resident family court judges: one for the First Circuit and one for the Sixteenth Circuit.

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 Capitol Report – 2/14/2020

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4940, a joint resolution creating a temporary ELECTRICITY MARKET REFORM MEASURES STUDY COMMITTEE to examine whether the legislature should adopt market reform measures affecting the provision of electric service in South Carolina and study the public benefits associated with such measures.  The legislation provides for the study committee’s membership of six legislators, three members of the House of Representatives, all serving ex officio, appointed by the Chairman of the House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee and three members of the Senate, all serving ex officio, appointed by the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.  The committee includes a non-voting advisory board made up of representatives from the electrical power industry, alternative energy and renewable power developers, consumer groups, pertinent government agencies, economic sectors, and conservation advocates.  Provisions are made for the study committee to engage third party, independent, expert consultants.  The legislation sets a deadline of January 12, 2021, for issuing a report to the General Assembly and provides for the study committee to dissolve after making its final report.

The House returned S.601, a bill SUBJECTING EMPLOYEES OF RESIDENTIAL CHILD CARE FACILITIES TO CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECK REQUIREMENTS, to the Senate with amendments.  The legislation enacts recommendations of the Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children to bring South Carolina into compliance with federal requirements by extending the criminal background checks that are required before the Department of Social Services may place a child in a foster home or adoptive home so that these background checks are also required for employees working in residential facilities, such as child caring institutions, emergency shelters, group homes, and wilderness therapeutic camps.  The legislation also expands this foster home, adoptive home, and residential facility background screening by requiring a check of the registry of child abuse and neglect in every state where an individual has previously resided, rather than those states where an individual has lived within the past five years.  

The House amended and gave second reading approval to H.4974, a bill providing for ADDITIONAL CIRCUIT COURT AND FAMILY COURT JUDGES.  The legislation provides for the election of two additional resident circuit court judges: one for the Fourteenth Circuit and one for the Fifteenth Circuit.  The legislation provides for the election of two additional resident family court judges: one for the First Circuit and one for the Sixteenth Circuit.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3066, a bill making provisions for the DESTRUCTION OF ARREST RECORDS IN CASES OF MISTAKEN IDENTITY.  This legislation establishes requirements for the destruction of records of those arrested because of mistaken identity, establishing a 180-day deadline following the completion of investigations that prove arrests were due to mistaken identity.  No investigating authority can charge or collect fees for these arrest record destructions.  Provisions are included that authorize law enforcement and prosecution agencies to retain arrest and booking records, associated bench warrants, mug shots, and fingerprints under seal so that this information is exempt from disclosure, except by court order.  The legislation also establishes a protocol for DISMISSING CHARGES FOR CERTAIN OFFENSES LEFT UNRESOLVED for more than five years and destroying records relating to arrests.  Under the legislation, someone charged with certain listed offenses may petition the county solicitor for dismissal of the alleged offense that has not been adjudicated by trial or guilty plea, or otherwise disposed of or dismissed, after five years.  If the petitioner has no other pending charges unrelated to the subject charge and no criminal convictions subsequent to the alleged offense, the solicitor must approve the dismissal of the offense charged and must do so within thirty days of receipt of the petition.  The listed offenses include third degree simple assault and battery, public intoxication, disorderly conduct, breach of trust with fraudulent intent, open containers of alcohol in motor vehicles, trespassing, misdemeanor fraudulent check offenses, misdemeanor shoplifting, driving under suspension, simple possession of controlled substances, and similar local and state offenses that are similar to these listed crimes, in the opinion of the prosecutor.  Upon dismissal of the offense, the solicitor is required to notify the State Law Enforcement Division and SLED 

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is required to remove the pending charge from the petitioner’s criminal record within ten days.  Additionally, any arrest and booking records, associated bench warrants, mug shots, and fingerprints of the person must be destroyed and no evidence of the record pertaining to the charge or associated bench warrants may be retained by any municipal, county, or state agency.  An employee who intentionally violates these requirements is guilty of contempt of court.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate to H.5062, a bill that allows the option of obtaining HARD CARD HUNTING AND FISHING LICENSES and other wildlife permits and tags from the Department of Natural Resources that are made of plastic or similar materials so that they will be more durable than paper versions.  Those who select this option are subject to a six-dollar fee of which the issuing vendor may retain one dollar.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.5015, a bill ADDING SCHEDULE IV DRUGS TO THE LIST OF SUBSTANCES THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES MAY USE FOR THE CAPTURE AND IMMOBILIZATION OF WILDLIFE.  The legislation expands this list of tranquilizing agents and other approved substances so that DNR will be able to use a new drug, classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance, that is particularly effective for deer and bear immobilization. 

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4702, a bill restoring AUTHORIZATION FOR THE RICHLAND-LEXINGTON AIRPORT COMMISSION TO OPERATE A FOREIGN TRADE ZONE that was inadvertently removed from statutory language.

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 Capitol Report – 2/7/2020

The House of Representatives and the Senate adopted the conference committee report on H.3357 and the bill was enrolled for ratification.  The legislation allows for a HEARING IMPAIRMENT NOTATION ON A MOTOR VEHICLE REGISTRATION as a means of providing law enforcement officers with information that could prevent misunderstandings during traffic stops and other interactions.  The legislation establishes a procedure that allows drivers who are deaf or hard of hearing to apply to the Department of Motor Vehicles to have a notation added to their private passenger‑carrying motor vehicle registration.  This special motor vehicle registration notation would only appear when a law enforcement check is run on the vehicle’s license plate through the department’s online interface with law enforcement to alert the officer that the driver may be deaf or hard of hearing.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to S.996 and the legislation was ratified and signed by the Governor.  This joint resolution authorizes an EXTENSION OF SOUTH CAROLINA PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION CANDIDATE SCREENING to provide an opportunity to find additional qualified candidates to present to the General Assembly for election to the commission that oversees public utilities.  The legislation authorizes an extension in screening for candidates for PSC Seats 1, 3, 5, and 7 that allows the Public Utilities Review Committee to accept applications for a time period beginning Monday, February 3, 2020, through noon on Friday, February 28, 2020.  Provisions are made for advertising these positions.  In screening candidates for the PSC and making its findings, the Review Committee is directed to find the best qualified people by considering candidates’ ability, dedication, compassion, common sense, and integrity as well as their race, gender, and other demographic factors to assure nondiscrimination, inclusion, and representation to the greatest extent possible of all segments of the population of this state.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4209, a bill that creates the SOUTH CAROLINA FARM AID FUND to receive appropriations from the General Assembly along with private donations and establishes a protocol for using this fund to operate a grant program for providing financial assistance to farmers should the state again experience disastrous flooding or another type of catastrophic weather event.  Under the grant program, financial assistance is limited to farmers who experience a verifiable loss of agricultural commodities of at least forty percent due to a catastrophic weather event.  A grant may not exceed twenty percent of the farmer’s verifiable loss with a total cap of one hundred thousand dollars.  Grant awards must be used for agricultural production expenses and losses due to the catastrophic weather event which demonstrate an intent to continue the agricultural operation, such as the purchase of seeds and fertilizer.  The financial assistance may not be used to purchase new equipment.  A Farm Aid Advisory Board is established to make recommendations and assist the Department of Agriculture in the administration of the grant program.

The House approved S.525 and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation eliminates the sunset date for an environmental impact fee so that it will no longer expire on December 31, 2026, and will instead continue to fund the SUPERB ACCOUNT, which is used to address environmental clean up costs should an underground petroleum tank leak.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4831, a bill STRENGTHENING LEGAL PROTECTIONS FOR NATIVE REPTILE AND AMPHIBIAN POPULATIONS to counter illicit trade operations that collect these animals, notably South Carolina’s box turtles, and export them for sale.  With certain exceptions, the legislation makes it unlawful for someone to sell, purchase, trade, exchange, barter, export, ship, transfer the possession of, rehome, remove, or attempt to remove from this state any native reptile or amphibian species, including parts, products, eggs, offspring, and derivatives.  The Department of Natural Resources is authorized to establish possession limits for reptile and amphibian species by regulation in order to protect designated species from commercial exploitation and other pressures on these populations.  The legislation also includes provisions making it unlawful for someone to release from captivity wildlife that is not native to this state.  The Department of Natural Resources is authorized to promulgate regulations to prohibit or otherwise restrict

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certain species of nonnative wildlife in this State, including species that have the potential to become established in this state in sufficient numbers so as to become a nuisance and those that pose a demonstrable deleterious and widespread threat to wildlife, agriculture, or human health and safety.  The legislation enhances penalties for violations.     

The House approved S.474 and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation revises catch limits and size limits for estuarine and saltwater finfish, to provide that it is unlawful for someone to take or have in possession more than ten SPADEFISH (Chaetodipterus faber) in any one day, not to exceed thirty spadefish in any one day on any boat.  The legislation provides that it is unlawful to take, possess, land, sell, purchase, or attempt to sell or purchase spadefish of less than fourteen inches in total length.

The House approved S.475 and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation revises catch limits and size limits for estuarine and saltwater finfish, to provide that it is unlawful for someone to take or have in possession more than three TRIPLETAIL (Lobotes surinamensis) in any one day, not to exceed nine tripletail in any one day on any boat.  The legislation provides that it is unlawful to take, possess, land, sell, purchase, or attempt to sell or purchase tripletail of less than eighteen inches in total length.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4737, a bill revising PERSONAL WATERCRAFT AND BOATING SAFETY provisions by increasing distance limits between a watercraft operating in excess of idle speed upon certain lakes and rivers of this state and a moored or anchored vessel, wharf, dock, bulkhead, pier, or person in the water.  The doubling, or in the case of Lake Wylie tripling, of the current fifty foot minimum distance requirement on these lakes and portions of rivers  is offered to afford greater protection from wakes generated by personal watercraft, notably sport boats used for waterskiing and wakeboarding.  

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.5018, a bill facilitating ELECTRONIC PROCESSING OF WATERCRAFT AND OUTBOARD MOTOR TITLES through the Department of Natural Resources.  The legislation allows for the transmitting and receiving titles and liens and the discharging of liens online using electronic documents.

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 Capitol Report – 1/31/2020

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4760, a bill revising the STUDENT ASSESSMENTS that are administered in the state’s public schools as a means of: ensuring that standardized testing is not unnecessarily burdensome; improving notification about upcoming assessments; and, affording parents, guardians, and teachers with timely access to test results so that this information might be better used to improve student achievement.  The legislation eliminates the summative assessments in social studies and United States History that are not required under the federal Every Student Succeeds Act accountability provisions.  In addition to streamlining summative testing, which is conducted at the end of a school year to determine what a student has learned in a course of study, the legislation also places limits and conditions on formative testing, which is conducted during the course of a school year to determine what progress a student is making towards mastering particular subjects.  With certain exceptions, the legislation provides for students to be administered no more than one state or locally procured formative assessment, and for that one standardized test to be given no more than three times during an academic year.  A protocol is established that requires schools to provide notification to parents and guardians about upcoming formative assessments and their purpose at least one week before testing.  No more than one week after the administration of a formative assessment, schools are required to provide teachers, parents, and guardians with test results.  In addition to test scores, the material that parents and guardians receive must include information on how the formative assessment aligns with state standards and summative assessments, and suggestions for how to support the child’s learning at home.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4753, a bill providing for TEACHER INCENTIVES.  The legislation establishes a “Teacher Bill of Rights” to enumerate those things that all certified public school teachers in South Carolina should be able to expect.  These include: working in an environment conducive to learning; the inclusion of their discretion with regard to disciplinary and instructional decisions; freedom from frivolous lawsuits; unencumbered daily planning time; a competitive salary; no unnecessary paperwork; and, support from school administration to meet performance standards and professional expectations.  These provisions do not create or imply a private cause of action for a violation.  The legislation provides that each classroom teacher and full time librarian is entitled to at least a thirty minute daily planning period free from the instruction and supervision of students.  Each school district may set flexible or rotating schedules for the implementation of this duty free planning period.  Implementation may not, however, result in a lengthened school day.  The legislation offers a tax incentive for attracting teachers to areas where they are most needed in the form of an income tax credit that covers all of the property taxes paid for five years on a residence for a K-12 public school teacher who lives and teaches in a Tier IV economically challenged county.

The House appointed a conference committee to address its differences with the Senate on S.455, the “ARMED SERVICE MEMBERS AND SPOUSES PROFESSIONAL AND OCCUPATIONAL LICENSING ACT”.

The House returned S.996 to the Senate with amendments.  This joint resolution authorizes an EXTENSION OF SOUTH CAROLINA PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION CANDIDATE SCREENING to provide an opportunity to find additional qualified candidates to present to the General Assembly for election to the commission that oversees public utilities. 

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4936, a bill that eliminates the prohibition on possessing GAME FISH DEVICES while possessing or using nongame devices.  The change allows someone to have an authorized game fish device, such as a rod and reel, while using authorized nongame devices, such as set hooks, trotlines, eel pots, jug fishing devices, and traps. 

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The House approved and sent the Senate H.4945, a bill that revises coastal zone management provisions governing construction seaward of the baseline to allow for certain EROSION CONTROL STRUCTURES to have their damage assessment based on a single distinct continuous seawall or bulkhead rather than on a lot by lot basis.

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 Capitol Report – 1/27/2020

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4404, a bill enacting the “VETERANS NURSING DEGREE OPPORTUNITY ACT” as a means of both addressing the state’s nurse shortage and smoothing the transition for veterans from military life to professional civilian careers.  The legislation establishes programs to enable veteran military clinical personnel, such as medics and corpsmen, to accelerate the process at participating South Carolina public and independent colleges and institutions for obtaining associate’s degrees and bachelor’s degrees in nursing by awarding academic and clinical credit or waivers for relevant education, experience, and skills acquired from their military service.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3199, a bill REQUIRING INSTRUCTION ON STUDENT LOANS IN HIGH SCHOOL FINANCIAL LITERACY PROGRAMS.  The legislation expands high school financial literacy program requirements so that they also include instruction on college and education loans, key loan terms, monthly payment obligations, repayment options, credit, and education loan debt.  The State Board of Education is directed to incorporate these new instructional topics with the adoption of the next revisions scheduled for the social studies academic standards under cyclical review.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3257, a bill that provides for updating public school INSTRUCTION ON MENTAL, EMOTIONAL, AND SOCIAL HEALTH under the Comprehensive Health Education Act.  The legislation provides that, at the next cyclical review of the health standards, the State Board of Education shall continue to revise existing age appropriate standards and concepts that address mental, emotional, and social health.  Before September 1, 2020, in addition to the current standards, the board shall continue to make standards aligned instructional materials available to districts.  Districts shall continue to adopt or develop curriculum locally.  Beginning with the 2020-2021 School Year, each seventh grade student must be offered one unit of instruction in mental health and wellness based on the instructional unit selected or adopted by the board, and each ninth grade student shall receive and successfully complete a one unit course of study in mental health and wellness based on the instructional unit selected or adopted by the board.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4403, a bill revising provisions relating to BULLYING PROHIBITION POLICIES that must be adopted by school districts.  The legislation provides for a more expansive definition of “harassment, intimidation, or bullying”.  Procedures are established for responding to and remediating allegations of bullying.  The legislation requires an appeals procedure.  Local districts are required to adopt policies for the prevention of harassment, intimidation, or bullying that are at least as stringent as the model policies developed by the State Board of Education.  A procedure is established that requires the state board to approve local policies to ensure that they meet the minimum requirements.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4076, a bill REQUIRING BOARD AND COMMISSION MEMBERS TO SIGN STATEMENTS ACKNOWLEDGING THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES AND AUTHORITY.  The legislation establishes a protocol under which an agency or instrumentality in the executive branch of state government or a public institution of higher learning with a governing board or commission is required to have its board or commission members sign a written document outlining statutory duties and powers.  Board or commission members are not eligible to receive mileage, subsistence, or per diem unless these documents are signed in a timely manner.  Repeated refusal to sign the required documents constitutes grounds for removal from office by the Governor for persistent neglect of duty.  The bill implements recommendations arising from the House Legislative Oversight Committee’s study of the South Carolina Commission on Indigent Defense.

The House amended and gave second reading approval to S.996, a joint resolution authorizing an EXTENSION OF SOUTH CAROLINA PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION CANDIDATE SCREENING to provide an opportunity to find additional qualified candidates to present to the General Assembly for election to the commission that oversees public utilities.  The legislation authorizes an extension in screening for candidates for PSC Seats 1, 3,

 5, and 7 that allows the Public Utilities Review Committee to accept applications for a time period beginning Monday, February 3, 2020, through noon on Friday, February 28, 2020.  Provisions are made for advertising these positions.  In screening candidates for the Commission and making its findings, the Review Committee is directed to give due consideration to race, gender, and other demographic factors to assure nondiscrimination, inclusion, and representation to the greatest extent possible of all segments of the population of this state.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4504, a bill to provide the Department of Health and Environmental Control with more effective means of regulating WASTE TIRE FACILITIES, particularly those facilities that amass large quantities of tires without 

recycling them in a timely manner.   The legislation authorizes DHEC to promulgate regulations to protect human health and safety of the environment from the adverse effects of improper, inadequate, or unsound management of waste tires.  DHEC is authorized to conduct inspections and investigations, obtain records of waste tire processing, storage, or hauling activities, obtain samples, and conduct research regarding the operation and maintenance of any waste tire management facility.  A protocol is established for DHEC to place a facility under a suspension when it exceeds its permitted capacity and to sanction a facility that violates a suspension by accepting additional waste tires.  DHEC is charged with maintaining a Waste Tire Rebate Facility List that includes only facilities that are in compliance and fulfill the requirements of a waste tire recycling facility.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4811, a bill revising beachfront management restrictions placed on erosion control structures or devices seaward of the setback line to allow for the placement of shoreline perpendicular WINGWALLS that extend landward at a ninety degree angle from the ends of existing erosion control structures or devices that are consistent in height and composition with the existing erosion control structures to which they are attached subject to any special conditions imposed by the Department of Health and Environmental Control.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4202, a bill requiring the state registrar of vital statistics at the Department of Health and Environmental Control to issue, upon receipt of certain documentation, a CERTIFICATE OF FOREIGN BIRTH for a child with United States citizenship who is born in a foreign country to a parent who is a resident of South Carolina.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4286, a bill revising requirements for PRESCRIPTION DRUG LABELS to provide that the lot number of the prescription must be indicated on the label, patient receipt, or bar code.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3695, a bill establishing provisions that make MOTORCYCLES OR MOTORCYCLE THREE-WHEEL VEHICLES ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE HIGH MILEAGE TAX DEDUCTIONS.

The House appointed a conference committee to address its differences with the Senate on H.3357, a bill allowing for a HEARING IMPAIRMENT NOTATION ON A MOTOR VEHICLE REGISTRATION. 

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 Capitol Report – 1/17/2020

Lawmakers returned to the State House on January 14, 2020, to commence the second regular session of the 123rd South Carolina General Assembly.

The House of Representatives approved S.11 and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation provides that, if the United States Congress amends federal law to authorize states to observe DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME year round, it is the intent of the South Carolina General Assembly that daylight saving time be the year round standard of the entire state and all of its political subdivisions.

The House returned S.194, a bill addressing PROSTITUTION AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING, to the Senate with amendments. The legislation makes revisions to prostitution crimes that include an increase in the fines for second and subsequent misdemeanor offenses relating to soliciting prostitutes or abetting prostitution.  An enhanced felony offense is established for violations involving a prostitute who is severely or profoundly mentally disabled.  The legislation revises offenses of engaging in prostitution to establish an affirmative defense against prosecution for a violation when the defendant is a victim of human trafficking.  The legislation adopts recommendations for eradicating human trafficking from the organization Shared Hope International.  These initiatives include: the establishment of criminal offenses for combatting sex tourism enterprises more effectively; the inclusion of human trafficking among the offenses for which law enforcement may seek a court order authorizing wiretapping or the interception of electronic communications to further their criminal investigations; provisions for appointing special advocates trained in handling human trafficking cases to assist minor victims; and, enhancements to training on trafficking in persons and sex trafficking for law enforcement personnel, prosecutors, and judges.   

The House appointed a conference committee to address its differences with the Senate on S.16, legislation that increases the maximum amount of a medication that may be dispensed through EMERGENCY REFILLS OF PRESCRIPTIONS BY PHARMACISTS. 

The House amended Senate amendments to H.3174 and returned the bill to the Senate.  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 to indicate their wattage and maximum electrically assisted speed.  The legislation specifies that electric-assist bicycles and bicycles with helper motors are not mopeds.

The House amended Senate amendments to H.4244 and returned the bill to the Senate.  The legislation makes 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 returned S.580 to the Senate with amendments.  This bill revises provisions governing the South Carolina Life and Accident and Health Insurance Guaranty Association to adopt national model standards for addressing IMPAIRED OR INSOLVENT INSURERS.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4533, a bill renaming the state’s Commission for Minority Affairs the COMMISSION FOR MINORITY AND MULTICULTURAL AFFAIRS.

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.

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