Author: Kambrell Garvin

The State Capitol Report – 3/13/2020

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.5201, the General Appropriation Bill, and H.5202, the joint resolution making appropriations from the Capital Reserve Fund, which together comprise the FISCAL YEAR 2020-2021 STATE GOVERNMENT BUDGET.  The budget includes $9.6 billion in recurring state general fund revenue, after $629 million is transferred to the Tax Relief Trust Fund that provides for the residential property tax caps.  The budget’s nonrecurring funds include $568 million in surplus funds estimated for Fiscal Year 2019-2020, $350 million in the Fiscal Year 2018-2019 Contingency Reserve Fund, and $162 million in Capital Reserve Funds.

$128 million in nonrecurring funds is used for providing one-time income tax credits that amount to $100 for each filer, and $120 million in recurring funds is devoted income tax relief by reducing the top income tax bracket by 0.2%.

The budget provides for an accelerated statewide farm-to-market road paving program to allow for paving on an estimated statewide total of 240 miles of these farm-to-market secondary roads within the state highway system, with projects in every county of the state.  The paving program includes $77 million in nonrecurring funds allocated through the Department of Transportation and $23 million in nonrecurring funds distributed among the County Transportation Committees.   

$50 million in nonrecurring funds is appropriated to begin a Disaster Relief and Resilience Reserve Fund that is to be used for disaster relief assistance, hazard mitigation and infrastructure improvements, and statewide resilience planning.

$10 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for the state FEMA match for Hurricane Dorian.

To allow South Carolina to take advantage of measures approved by the U.S. Congress to combat the coronavirus, the budget includes authorization for state agencies to receive funds from the federal government to be expended for COVID-19 preparedness and response.

$42 million in recurring funds is provided for a state employee recruitment and retention initiative that affords agencies flexibility in providing merit-based pay raises and bonuses.  Funding for the initiative is equivalent to a 2% salary increase.

$38.9 million in recurring funds is included to cover the increased costs of operating the state’s health and dental insurance plans and to provide coverage for adult well visits with no additional monthly premium costs.

A provision is included to revise retirement benefits after returning to covered employment under the South Carolina Retirement System and the Police Officers Retirement System to establish a protocol that allows retirees to return to covered employment without being subject to the ten thousand dollar earnings limitation.

A total of $32 million from the General Fund and $4 million in Education Improvement Act funds is devoted to the 1% increase in the employer contribution rates for the South Carolina Retirement System and the Police Officers Retirement System that is in keeping with the schedule for addressing the unfunded liability facing the state’s pensions established in Act 13 of 2017.

$213 million in recurring funds is used to provide a teacher salary increase of $3,000 per teacher.  The increase allows the state’s teacher pay to exceed the Southeastern average by $2,456 and places South Carolina in the top half of states in the nation for average teacher salary.

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$26 million in recurring funds is appropriated to increase the base student cost to $2,500 per pupil.  

In order to receive the increased funding for the base student cost, a school district must implement a policy that prohibits the use of cellphones and other personal electronic communication devices by students during direct classroom instructional time.

$76 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for instructional materials.

The budget provides for a statewide expansion of full day 4K early childhood education which includes $37.6 million in Education Improvement Act funds through the State Department of Education, $15 million in EIA funds through the First Steps program, and $2 million in EIA funds for early childhood assessments. 

$3 million in Education Improvement Act funds is allocated to First Steps for the enhancement or expansion or evidence-based programs that serve at-risk children and their families from birth to age three. 

$60 million in nonrecurring funds is allocated for capital improvements in the most economically challenged school districts.

Eligibility is expanded for the Rural School District and Economic Development Closing Fund established within the Department of Commerce to facilitate economic development and infrastructure improvements.

$10 million in recurring funds is allocated for school resource officers.

$5.5 million in Education Improvement Act funds is included to address S.C. Public Charter School District growth.

$2.6 million in recurring funds is devoted to the SC Virtual Schools Program.

$3 million in recurring funds, $22.5 million in nonrecurring funds, and $500,000 in lottery funds is provided for school buses. $7.9 million in funds from the Volkswagen Environmental Trust is allocated for purchasing school buses. 

The budget includes a higher education tuition mitigation initiative in which a total of $47.6 million in additional recurring funds is distributed among the state’s institutions of higher learning.  In order to retain these appropriations, the institutions must comply with provisions for freezing in-state tuition and mandatory fees during the 2020-2021 academic year.

The Capital Reserve Fund is devoted to capital needs at the state’s colleges and universities, with a total of $160 million in these nonrecurring funds allocated among the institutions for repairs, renovations, and maintenance of various facilities. 

A provision is included to require all public institutions of higher learning to prepare a report listing any fee increases assessed in the current fiscal year and the reason for the increase.  The report must be submitted by November 30 to the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee.

The Commission on Higher Education is charged with determining which of the state’s public institutions of higher learning are in compliance with the statutory provisions for required instruction on the United States Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Federalist Papers.  A report on compliance with this instruction on American founding documents must be submitted to the Chairman of the House Education and Public Works Committee and the Chairman of Senate Education Committee by November 1. 

Full funding is provided for the LIFE, HOPE, and Palmetto Fellows higher education scholarship programs through $326 million in Education Lottery funds.

The Commission on Higher Education is afforded $28.4 million in lottery funds for need-based grants, representing an approximate 40% increase from last year.

$51 million in lottery funds is provided for tuition assistance through the Commission on Higher Education and the Board of Technical and Comprehensive Education

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The Board of Technical and Comprehensive Education is afforded $17 million in lottery funds for SC Workforce Industry Needs scholarships that help provide full tuition at technical colleges for SC WINS recipients seeking degrees in industry sectors with critical workforce needs.

The Board of Technical and Comprehensive Education is provided $11 million in lottery funds for workforce scholarships and grants, $12.5 million in unclaimed prize money for high demand job skill training equipment.

$8 million in nonrecurring funds and $2.5 million in capital reserve funds is allocated to the Ready SC Program which provides worker training at the state’s technical colleges that is customized to the needs of new and expanding business and industry.

$10 million in recurring funds is provided for instructional programs at the state’s technical colleges.

$10 million in nonrecurring funds is appropriated for career and technology education centers which will assist school districts, two- and four-year colleges, and the business community in creating a new model for delivering career and technical education and dual enrollment opportunities.

The budget includes a provision establishing the Workforce and Education Data Oversight Committee to support the mission of the Coordinating Council for Workforce Development by collecting data from various state government agencies and institutions and analyzing the compiled data to improve the effectiveness of the state’s educational delivery system in providing economic opportunities.

The Department of Social Services, Vocational Rehabilitation Department, Denmark Technical College, and the State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education are charged with exploring the feasibility of developing and implementing a residential workforce development program for foster and disabled youth at least 18 years of age to provide higher educational and transitional employment opportunities.

$3.7 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for the Deal Closing Fund that the Department of Commerce uses to recruit new business to the state.  The Department of Commerce is afforded $4 million in nonrecurring funds for the Locate SC Site Inventory, $1.5 million in nonrecurring funds for the SC Association for Community Economic Development, and $9 million in nonrecurring funds for the SC Technology and Aviation Center.

The Rural Infrastructure Authority is afforded $2 million in recurring funds for the Rural Infrastructure Fund and $4.3 million in nonrecurring funds for the Water and Sewer Regionalization Fund.

The Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism receives $1 million in recurring funds for tourism recovery advertising, $2 million in recurring funds and $1 million in nonrecurring funds for destination specific tourism marketing, $10 million in nonrecurring funds for film incentives, $1.1 million in nonrecurring funds for SC Association of Tourism Regions, $3 million in nonrecurring funds for state parks revitalization, $1.7 million in nonrecurring funds for the SC Aquarium, and $10 million in nonrecurring funds to rebuild the state’s welcome centers.

The Department of Transportation receives $10 million in nonrecurring funds for upgrades to the state’s rest areas.

The State Ports Authority is afforded $1 million in nonrecurring funds for the Jasper Ocean Terminal Port Facility Infrastructure Fund and $200, 00 in nonrecurring funds for a Port of Georgetown engineering study.

The Division of Aeronautics receives $2 million for airport improvement projects.

The Department of Archives and History receives $3.7 million in nonrecurring funds for community development grants, $1.5 million in nonrecurring funds for historic preservation, $1 million in nonrecurring funds for the SC Revolutionary Wary Sestercentennial Commission,   $100,000 in nonrecurring funds for the African American Heritage Commission’s Greenbook of SC.

The State Museum is provided $3.7 million to begin the second phase of its exhibit renovations.

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The Arts Commission is afforded $1 million in recurring funds for community arts development, $1 million in nonrecurring funds for arts organization facilities upgrades, and $500,000 in nonrecurring funds for community arts development and education grants.

The Department of Agriculture is appropriated $1.1 million in recurring funds for federal hemp farming compliance and $630,000 in nonrecurring funds for hemp testing laboratory equipment.

Clemson PSA receives $1.1 million in recurring funds and SC State receives $802,600 in recurring funds for their extension programs.

The Forestry Commission is provided $1 million in nonrecurring funds for firefighting equipment.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control receives $1 million in recurring funds for the additional newborn screenings of Dylan’s Law, $5 million in recurring funds for salary increases for critical position retention, $997,000 in recurring funds for vaccine funding for disease control response, $1 million in recurring funds for hazardous waste emergency response, $1.95 million in recurring funds for the air quality program, $1 million in recurring funds for ocean outfalls, and $2.2 million in nonrecurring funds for its nursing program expansion.

The Department of Health and Human Services is afforded $47.3 million in recurring funds for Medicaid maintenance of effort to address program cost growth, $13.9 million in recurring funds for the community long term care census and assistance to the CLTC program that allows aging and disabled individuals to receive care in their communities instead of nursing homes and other institutional settings, $7.9 million in recurring funds for healthcare provider reimbursement rates, $6.7 million in recurring funds for disproportionate share hospital allotment increase, $492,000 in recurring funds for the SC Office of Rural Health, $150,000 in nonrecurring funds for cervical cancer awareness, $7.4 million in nonrecurring funds for the Medicaid Management Information System, and $1.7 million in nonrecurring for medical contracts.

The budget includes a provision for the Department of Health and Human Services to transfer $1 million to the Medical University of South Carolina Hospital Authority to develop a comprehensive approach to advancing the awareness, detection, treatment, and scientific knowledge of sickle cell disease and trait within South Carolina.  The MUSC Hospital Authority is authorized to partner with independent research entities to advance curative therapies for sickle cell disease and trait and is authorized to endow one or more nationally leading academic research centers with a research chair named the “Rena N. Grant Endowed Chair for Hematology” in furtherance of this goal.  Additionally, to improve the quality of care provided to sickle cell patients, the authority is charged with performing statewide cultural competency training in all hospitals, including urgent care centers, in this state in order to educate and increase the awareness of health care professionals that are most likely to treat sickle cell patients on the symptoms and stigma associated with sickle cell disease and trait, especially pain relief.

Funding is continued for the Rural Health Initiative partnership between the Department of Health and Human Services and the University of South Carolina School of Medicine which includes an emphasis on rural residency placement and infrastructure improvements in underserved areas.  $2 million in recurring funds is provided to enhance Telemedicine operations and $5 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for infrastructure. 

As part of the Rural Health Initiative, the South Carolina Center for Rural and Primary Healthcare is charged with studying how to develop a coordinating system for mobile health clinics operating within the state to ensure that they are serving the entire state, including rural and underserved areas.

The Department of Mental Health is afforded $5 million in recurring funds for inpatient services, $7.98 million in recurring funds for workforce sustainability initiatives, $600,000 in recurring funds for school mental health services, $625,897 in recurring funds for the sexually violent predator treatment program, $46.8 million in nonrecurring funds for VA nursing homes certification state match, and $400,000 in recurring funds for emergency department telepsychiatry.

The budget includes a mental health crisis stabilization initiative which provides for the Department of Mental Health, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Health and Environmental Control, Department of Alcohol and 

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Other Drug Abuse Services, and all other relevant agencies coordinate their efforts to ensure that the statewide system for the delivery of mental health services

The Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services is charged with creating pilot programs with rural community-based nonprofits to provide counseling services to combat the opioid crisis.  DAODAS is authorized to create a trust fund, which may receive donations from public and private sources, that is to be used to award grants to rural community-based nonprofits.

The Department of Social Services receives $14 million for child welfare efforts which includes staff equity increases, case worker staffing, increased Group Home Board Payments, and increased Foster Family Board Payments.  $2.6 million is provided for adult advocacy staff and emergency stabilization beds.

The Department of Disabilities and Special Needs is afforded $10.1 million for various rate increases and $2 million for the Greenwood Genetic Center for Autism Research.

The Department of Corrections receives $100 million in nonrecurring funds for security and prison safety equipment upgrades, $7.5 million for fire alarm replacement, $9 million in recurring funds for recruitment and retention, $9 million in recurring funds for critical need health services positions, $5 million in recurring funds for the Hepatitis C treatment program, $3 million in recurring funds for the expansion of the gang enforcement security team, and $3 million in recurring funds and $1 million in nonrecurring funds for long term programming and reentry needs. 

The Department of Juvenile Justice is afforded $5 million in nonrecurring funds for safety and security upgrades and $9.8 million in nonrecurring funds for security updates and renovations at the Broad River facility.

The Judicial Department is afforded $5 million in nonrecurring funds for case management modernization and $1.4 million in nonrecurring funds for its digital courtroom recorder project.

The Attorney General’s Office is provided $1.6 million for crime victim compensation funding.

$1 million in recurring funds and $2.5 million in nonrecurring funds is appropriated for Circuit Solicitor Prosecution Case Management System and IT infrastructure.

Indigent Defense is afforded $2.8 million for Criminal Justice System Workload Parity.

The budget emphasizes salary increases for law enforcement officers across multiple agencies.

The State Law Enforcement Division is afforded $1.8 million in recurring and $1.5 million in nonrecurring funds for technology equipment.

$2.3 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for local law enforcement grants through the Department of Public Safety.  $1 million in recurring funds is provided for DPS vehicle replacement.

The Department of Motor Vehicles is afforded $5 million to modernize its database and $5 million for salary adjustments and other employee retention initiatives.

The budget includes an $11.6 million increase in recurring funds for the Local Government Fund that is consistent with the revised approach for sending revenue to political subdivisions established in Act 84 of 2019. 

A budget provision precludes counties from obtaining the tax relief offered for solar panels and other renewable energy equipment by excluding this renewable energy resource property from county property tax collection.  

$2 million in recurring and $5 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for Conservation Bank Trust grants. 

The State Library is afforded $1 million in recurring funds for Aid to County Libraries, increasing the per capita distribution from $2.00 to $2.25.

The State Election Commission receives $9.3 million in nonrecurring funds for completion of the new voting system.

The Adjutant General is afforded $2 million for armory revitalization and $7.5 million for the Aiken Readiness Center.

The Department of Administration is appropriated $1.5 million for statewide employee recruiting and retention initiatives, $2.5 million recurring and $8.1 million nonrecurring for the SC Enterprise Information System, and $5 million for state-owned building capital needs.

The budget enhances funding for the constitutional reserve accounts that the state uses to cope with revenue shortfalls.  An additional $13.6 million is used to fully fund the Capital Reserve Fund.  $122 million is provided for the General Reserve Fund, which exceeds the constitutionally-required $34 million contribution.   

The House made appointments to a conference committee to address its differences with the Senate on S.601, a bill SUBJECTING EMPLOYEES OF RESIDENTIAL CHILD CARE FACILITIES TO CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECK REQUIREMENTS.

The House made appointments to a conference committee to address its differences with the Senate on S.76, a bill that makes provisions for EXTENDING THE ENERGY EFFICIENT MANUFACTURED HOMES INCENTIVE PROGRAM for five additional years.

Having completed its work on the state government budget and sent the legislation to Senate, the House of Representatives will not meet during the upcoming week of March 16-20.  This furlough week for House Members is a cost-saving measure for South Carolina’s taxpayers, and it affords legislators additional time to consider pending legislation on the future of Santee Cooper which the House is scheduled to take up after it returns on March 24.

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.  

The State Capitol Report – 3/6/2020

The House of Representatives and the Senate adopted the conference committee report on S.16, legislation that relates to EMERGENCY REFILLS OF PRESCRIPTIONS BY PHARMACISTS, and the bill was enrolled for ratification.  Current law provides authority for pharmacists to dispense an emergency prescription refill of up to a ten-day supply of a medication once within a twelve-month period.  The bill increases the maximum amount of a medication that may be dispensed for an emergency prescription refill to a fourteen-day supply.  If the qualifying medication is packaged in a way that it is not possible to dispense a fourteen-day supply, the pharmacist may dispense up to a thirty-day supply.

The House returned S.635 to the Senate with amendments.  The legislation authorizes the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue “DRIVERS FOR A CURE” SPECIAL LICENSE PLATES to support medical research that combats cancer.  Proceeds from the plates must be distributed evenly between the Medical University of South Carolina Hollings Cancer Center and the Duke Cancer Institute.  The legislation also authorizes the issuance of AIR MEDAL SPECIAL LICENSE PLATES to those who have been awarded the medal in the course of their military service.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4663, legislation AUTHORIZING PHARMACISTS TO ADMINISTER FLU VACCINES TO CHILDREN YOUNGER THAN TWELVE YEARS OLD in accordance with a protocol issued by the Board of Medical Examiners upon recommendation of the Joint Pharmacist Administered Vaccines Committee.  The legislation builds upon current provisions that authorize pharmacists to administer the influenza vaccine, without a physician’s order, to those who are at least twelve years old. 

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4776, a bill addressing RESTRICTIONS ON REPRESENTING PARTIES BEFORE THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION IMPOSED UPON FORMER COMMISSIONERS AND PSC EMPLOYEES.  The legislation prohibits representing a party in a Public Service Commission proceeding for a period of four years, in the case of a former commissioner, and a period of one year, in the case of a former PSC employee.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4724, a joint resolution establishing a temporary COMMITTEE TO STUDY CERTAIN ISSUES AFFECTING VETERANS that is charged with examining the prevalence and root causes of veteran homelessness in South Carolina.  The committee’s study must address such issues as: the approximate number of homeless veterans in the state; how many of South Carolina’s veterans have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); the availability of services for the state’s most economically disadvantaged veterans; and, reasons why traditional Veterans Affairs Services are not alleviating homelessness, particularly with regard to job placement services.  The committee is composed of: three members of the Senate, appointed by the President of the Senate; three members of the House of Representatives, appointed by the Speaker of the House; and, the Secretary of the South Carolina Department of Veterans’ Affairs or his designee.  The legislation requires the committee to submit its report to both houses of the General Assembly and to the Governor by the end of 2021 and provides for the committee to dissolve after this deadline.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4694, a bill EASING SCHOOL BUS TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS.  The legislation revises the blanket prohibition that makes it unlawful for a school bus to pass another school bus by establishing an exception which provides that a school bus may pass another school bus on a multilane highway.  The legislation also eliminates a provision that sets maximum speed limits for school buses.     

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4454, a bill that revises the criminal offense that applies to drivers ENDANGERING EMERGENCY SERVICES PERSONNEL at accident scenes so that tow truck operators responding to emergency incidents are included among the emergency services personnel.

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The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4938, a bill addressing EXEMPTIONS FROM ELECTRONIC PRESCRIPTION REQUIREMENTS FOR CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES included in Schedules II, III, IV, and V.  The legislation adds to the electronic prescription requirements exemptions list: a practitioner who writes a prescription for a controlled substance included in Schedules II through V that does not exceed a five-day supply for the patient; and, a practitioner who issues an oral authorization in the case of an emergency situation.  The legislation revises an existing exemption that addresses hospital discharges so that it also applies to state mental health facilities.  Another existing exemption is revised so that it also applies to controlled substances administered in a home infusion pharmacy. 

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4669, a bill that narrows the exemption from ELECTRONICALLY FILING DEATH CERTIFICATES by removing from the exemption physicians who certify fewer that twelve deaths per year and funeral homes that perform fewer than twelve funerals per year.  By subjecting these individuals to requirements for the electronic filing of death certificates, only those who act, without compensation, as a funeral director on behalf of a deceased family member or friend remain covered by the exemption from electronic filing.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4937, a bill revising provisions for CHARITABLE RAFFLES.  The legislation makes revisions to provisions authorizing raffles conducted by nonprofit organizations that include: allowing charitable raffles to continue by eliminating the upcoming sunset date when these provisions are set to expire; increasing prize amounts; consolidating reporting requirements; authorizing a nonprofit organization to compensate members for services rendered in a fundraising event that may include raffle costs related to entertainment, such as the costs of a disc jockey, band, auctioneers, support staff, waiters, bartenders, and wait staff utilized to conduct the fundraising event; and removing a prohibition so that raffle funds may be used for the provision of athletic facilities and equipment. 

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4963, a bill relating to ALCOHOL SAMPLES.  The legislation establishes a protocol that allows a producer or wholesaler to furnish samples of wines, cordials, and distilled spirits to a retailer.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4710, a bill to strengthen provisions enacted last year as updates to the Youth Access to Tobacco Prevention Act and public school tobacco-free campus policies that take VAPING into account.  The legislation also applies Clean Indoor Air Act restrictions to vaping.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4800, a bill REAUTHORIZING THE JOINT CITIZENS AND LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE ON CHILDREN through 2030.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4078, a bill that revises requirements for the ELECTRONIC SUBMISSION OF REPORTS to the General Assembly so that these requirements also apply to reports that are required to be sent to a legislative standing committee or other committee created by the General Assembly.  The legislation implements a recommendation arising from the House Legislative Oversight Committee’s study of the South Carolina Commission on Indigent Defense.

The House gave Special Order status to H.5201, the General Appropriation Bill, and H.5202, the joint resolution making appropriations from the Capital Reserve Fund, so that consideration of the FISCAL YEAR 2020-2021 STATE GOVERNMENT BUDGET is set to begin on Monday, March 9. 

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.

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.

KHG/jhm

The State Capital Report – 5/15/2019


The General Assembly concluded work on the regular legislative session, but lawmakers are scheduled to return later this month under the terms of S.785, a resolution EXTENDING THE SESSION OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY beyond this year’s May 9 deadline for final adjournment.  The resolution allows the House of Representatives and Senate to convene, beginning on Monday, May 20, to take up a limited list of matters including budget legislation, legislation concerning Santee Cooper, the provisions of S.1 which address interim appointments made by the Governor, vetoes issued by the Governor, and the reports of conference committees that have been formed to address the differences between the House and Senate on particular pieces of legislation.

The House amended Senate amendments to H.4000, the General Appropriation Bill, and H.4001, the joint resolution making appropriations from the Capital Reserve Fund, which together comprise the FISCAL YEAR 2019-2020 STATE GOVERNMENT BUDGET.  Compared with the budget legislation House approved by the House in March, the Senate’s version of the budget includes such differences as:  the use of $20.4 million in nonrecurring funds for recurring expenses, creating annualizations issues; $15 million added to the Base Student Cost; a reduction in the Rebate Fund that allows for a $50 one-time rebate for each tax return, rather than each taxpayer, with $25 million used, instead, to provide relief to farmers harmed by last year’s hurricanes; and, alternate expenditure of excess debt service funds in the amounts with $35 million less for the Rural School District and Economic Development Closing Fund, $10 million more for school district capital improvements, and $20 million used for a bonus for state employees who make no more than $70 thousand a year.  The House amended the legislation so that it largely reverts to the budget proposal approved by the body earlier this year with certain differences that include:

The allocation of $9 million recently available for expenditure from the Litigation Recovery Account with $5 million provided to the Department of Administration to hire experts to assess bids and proposals for Santee Cooper, $2 million to the Department of Public Safety for local law enforcement grants, and $2 million to the Department of Archives and History for community development grants.

An additional $150 thousand is provided to the Department of Health and Human Services for cervical cancer prevention.

A provision is included to discontinue the exemption from statewide public school class size standards that has been provided in recent years as a way of affording school districts some flexibility in coping with budget shortfalls that occurred in times of economic recession.  The elimination of the statewide exemption requires school districts to comply with the student-to-teacher ratios set in state law.  A waiver process remains in place, however, that allows individual school districts to obtain exemptions from the State Department of Education by demonstrating that they are unable to comply with the maximum class size requirements due to a lack of funds or a teacher shortfall. 

Local school districts shall not administer more than one formative assessment per grade level.  Assessments must provide students with Lexile and Quantile scores that are shared with students’ parents or guardians.   

A provision is included to establish a protocol for evaluating proposals for the sale of Santee Cooper or other arrangements.

A provision is included to establish the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology (GREAT) program to facilitate the deployment of broadband to unserved areas of the state.

A conference committee has been appointed to address the differences of the House and Senate on H.4000 and H.4001.

A conference committee has been appointed to address the differences of the House and Senate on Senate H.3137, a bill making REVISIONS TO THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT FUND.

A conference committee has been appointed to address the differences of the House and Senate on H.4243 and S.309, legislation addressing PROFESSIONAL SPORTS TEAM INVESTMENTS.

A conference committee has been appointed to address the differences of the House and Senate on H.4287, legislation establishing a protocol for EVALUATING PROPOSALS FOR THE SALE OF SANTEE COOPER OR OTHER ARRANGEMENTS.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3659 and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The bill is legislation furthering voluntary programs that make use of RENEWABLE ENERGY generation resources, such as solar power, and establishing ELECTRICAL POWER CUSTOMER CONSUMER PROTECTIONS in order to: shield customers from rising utility costs; provide opportunities for customer measures to reduce or manage consumption from electrical utilities in a manner that contributes to reductions in utility peak electrical demand and other drivers of electrical utility costs; and, equip customers with the information and ability to manage their electric bills.  The legislation provides that every customer of an electrical utility has the right to a rate schedule that offers the customer a reasonable opportunity to employ such energy and cost saving measures as energy efficiency, demand response, or onsite distributed energy resources in order to reduce consumption of electricity from the electrical utility’s grid and to reduce electrical utility costs.  The legislation makes revisions to build upon the successful deployment of solar generating capacity through the South Carolina Distributed Resource Act to continue enabling market‑driven, private investment in distributed energy resources across the state by reducing regulatory and administrative burdens to customer installation and utilization of onsite distributed energy resources.  The legislation removes the cap on the development of solar power generation and other distributed energy resources that has been set at 2% of the previous five‑year average of an electrical utility’s South Carolina retail peak demand.  The legislation requires the adoption of new provisions governing the way in which electrical utilities purchase power generated by renewable energy facilities and new requirements for metering customer‑generators.  In making the revisions, the legislation discontinues existing arrangements where solar power programs are subsidized by all of an electrical utility’s customers, regardless of whether an individual customer is participating in a program.  The Public Service Commission is directed to establish a new Community Solar Energy Program for each electrical utility to permit the utility’s customers to participate in a solar energy project that allows for a credit to the customer’s utility bill based upon the electricity generated that is attributed to the customer’s participation in the solar energy project.  Provisions are made for neighborhood solar programs to expand access to solar energy options for all South Carolinians, including those who lack the income to afford the upfront investment in solar panels or those that do not own their homes or have suitable rooftops.  The Public Service Commission, in coordination with the Office of Regulatory Staff, is authorized to initiate an independent study to evaluate the integration of renewable energy and emerging energy technologies into the electric grid for the public good.  The Office of Regulatory Staff, in collaboration with the Department of Consumer Affairs, is directed to develop new consumer protection regulations.  A new consumer protection protocol is established that must be followed before construction commences on a new major utility facility for power generation in the state.

The House returned H.3145, a bill addressing ELECTRIC COOPERATIVES OVERSIGHT AND TRANSPARENCY, to the Senate with amendments.  The Senate subsequently concurred in those amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification.  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.

The House returned H.4380, a bill establishing RIDER SAFETY PROVISIONS FOR TRANSPORTATION NETWORK COMPANIES, to the Senate with amendments.  The Senate subsequently concurred in those amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation revises South Carolina’s Transportation Network Company Act, which governs the operations of digital ride hailing companies, to establish a new provision that allows Transportation Network Company vehicles to be more readily distinguished from other vehicles by requiring a TNC vehicle to display its license plate number on the front of the vehicle when picking up a passenger.  A misdemeanor criminal penalty is established for those who misrepresent themselves as authorized TNC drivers, which is subject to a fine of up to five hundred dollars and/or imprisonment for not more than thirty days.  A misdemeanor criminal penalty is also established to address the use of aTransportation Network Company to further criminal activity, which is subject to a fine of up to one thousand dollars and/or imprisonment for not more than two years.

The House returned S.595, legislation ENHANCING PROHIBITIONS ON THE EMPLOYMENT OF SEX OFFENDERS AT CHILDCARE FACILITIES, to the Senate with amendments.  The Senate subsequently concurred in those amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation expands the category of facilities that are subject to background screening requirements and prohibitions on employing offenders so that it includes a licensed, approved, or registered childcare facility, or any childcare provider that delivers services for which Child Care and Development Fund financial assistance is provided.  The legislation provides for more expansive background screening of employees so that it includes checks of the National Crime Information Center National Sex Offender Registry, the state sex offender registry, and the Central Registry of Child Abuse and Neglect.  Provisions are made for employees to be subject to a state criminal register or repository check, a state sex offender check, and a state child abuse and neglect registry and database check in each state where the person has lived in the previous five years.  Fingerprint‑based background checks and reviews must be repeated every five years and must be repeated for someone who has not been employed at a childcare facility for at least six months.  The legislation establishes background screening requirements that apply to who are at least eighteen years of age living in or moving into a group family childcare home and another screening protocol that applies to group home residents who are fifteen through seventeen years of age.   More expansive background checks are required for those applying for a license as an operator of a childcare facility. The prospective employee or childcare facility is responsible for any fees associated with any and all required background checks.  Fees must not exceed the actual cost of processing and administration.  Provisions are made for the retention and sharing of records to facilitate the screening.

The House returned H.3973, a bill establishing the CRIME OF FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION, to the Senate with amendments.  The Senate subsequently concurred in those amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation establishes felony criminal provisions that apply to the mutilation of the genitalia of females who are under the age of eighteen or older females who are unable to consent to the procedure.  A violation is punishable with a fine of up to twenty thousand dollars and/or imprisonment for not more than twenty years.  In addition to these criminal penalties, professional licenses or certifications are permanently revoked for physicians, nurses, and other medical professionals who engage in criminal female genital mutilation.  The legislation also revises the Children’s Code to add female genital mutilation to provisions addressing child abuse and harm.

The House approved S.196, a bill REPEALING THE PREGNANCY EXCEPTION THAT ALLOWS THE ISSUANCE OF MARRIAGE LICENSES TO MINORS, and enrolled the legislation for ratification.  The legislation eliminates a provision that allows the issuance of marriage licenses to those who are under eighteen years of age when the female is pregnant or has borne a child.  While the legislation eliminates this provision for marrying the putative father of a child, which has allowed marriages for some young minors who were several years from attaining the age of eighteen, South Carolina law continues to allow comparatively older minors, aged sixteen and seventeen, to obtain marriage licenses with parental consent.  The legislation implements a recommendation from the South Carolina Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to S.21, a bill that provides for ADDING PUTATIVE FATHERS TO AMENDED BIRTH CERTIFICATES, and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation establishes a protocol which, after appropriate courts determine that putative fathers are bona fide fathers, makes provisions for children’s birth certificates to be amended accordingly.  The legislation also revises Maternal Morbidity and Mortality Review Committee data collection provisions so that South Carolina can be eligible for federal grant assistance.

The House returned H.3036, “DYLAN’S LAW”, to the Senate with amendments.  The Senate subsequently concurred in those amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification.   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 concurred in Senate amendments to H.3728 and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation 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 legislation includes provisions relating to electronic prescriptions.

The House returned S.359, a bill establishing provisions for the licensure and regulation of PHARMACY BENEFITS MANAGERS by the Department of Insurance, to the Senate with amendments.  The Senate subsequently concurred in those amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation revises provisions for prohibited acts for a pharmacy benefit manager that relate to such matters as charging unreasonable fees, engaging in misleading advertising, preventing pharmacists from making certain disclosures to insureds, and penalizing pharmacists for making such disclosures.

The House returned on S.314, a bill making provisions for MEDICAL CARE TRAINING INCOME TAX CREDITS, to the Senate with amendments.  The Senate subsequently concurred in those amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation affords an income tax credit for clinical rotations served by a physician, advanced practice nurse, or physician assistant as a preceptor for public teaching institutions and independent institutions of higher learning.

The House approved S.132, legislation revising the scope of practice for a PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT (PA), and enrolled the bill for ratification.   The legislation provides revisions to the scope of practice for physician assistants that are comparable to the expansions and greater flexibility that lawmakers recently approved for advanced practice registered nurses.  The legislation increases the total number of PA’s a physician may supervise from three to six.   The legislation authorizes a PA to perform such functions as: providing non-controlled prescription drugs at free medical clinics for indigent patients; certifying that a student is unable to attend school and may benefit from homebound instruction; ordering hospice services for a patient; and executing a Do Not Resuscitate Order.  A PA is authorized to prescribe up to 5-day supply of a Schedule II controlled substance.  The legislation also streamlines the Board of Medical Examiners’ approval process for a PA’s scope of practice guidelines.  The legislation eliminates the prohibition for a PA to practice more than 60 miles from the supervising physician and eliminates other restrictions to allow more flexibility for the practicing PA.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3760 and enrolled the legislation for ratification.  The bill is legislation MERGING THE PATIENTS’ COMPENSATION FUND WITH THE SOUTH CAROLINA MEDICAL MALPRACTICE JOINT UNDERWRITING ASSOCIATION and establishing it as amarket of last resort for ensuring the availability of medical malpractice and other types of liability insurance for health care providers that it is not in competition with the private insurance market.  The legislation addresses governance following the merger, makes provisions to eliminate the accumulated deficit of the JUA and the Patients’ Compensation Fund, and provide for rates for policies issued to be adequate and established at a level that permits the association to operate without accumulating additional deficits over time.

The House approved S.463, a bill allowing PHARMACISTS TO EXERCISE JUDGEMENT IN DISPENSING MAINTENANCE MEDICATION UPON REFILLS, and enrolled the legislation for ratification.  The provisions do not apply to any medications for which a report is required under the prescription monitoring program.

The House returned H.3951, a bill revising QUALIFICATIONS FOR SHERIFFS and candidates for the office of sheriff, to the Senate with amendments.  The Senate subsequently concurred in those amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification.   The legislation provides that law enforcement experience requirements are satisfied exclusively through South Carolina Class 1 Certification.  Sheriffs and candidates for the office must be eligible to be issued a certificate as a Class 1 law enforcement officer by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Training Council upon the commencement of the term of office.  Incumbent sheriffs are exempt from these Class 1 Certification provisions.  The legislation disqualifies someone from holding the office who has been convicted of or pled guilty to a felony or a crime of moral turpitude in this state or another state.    

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3586, a bill revising and updating the COORDINATED STATEWIDE 911 EMERGENCY TELECOMMUNICATIONS SYSTEM, and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation charges the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office with creating, updating, and implementing a comprehensive strategic plan, including operating standards, for a coordinated statewide 911 system to address changing technology, services, and operating efficiency and effectiveness.  The standards must be developed and updated with comments and recommendations from the South Carolina 911 Advisory Committee, local officials, service providers, and the public.  The plan must be approved by the board and may be amended as necessary.  The legislation includes provisions for auditing local governments on the use of the “Emergency Telephone System” Fund, requiring local governments to restore 911 funds that were inappropriately used and allowing the withholding of funds to local governments that fail to comply with audit provisions.

The House approved S.109, a bill making REVISIONS TO THE SOUTH CAROLINA ALARM SYSTEM BUSINESS ACT that include provisions for electric fences, and enrolled the bill for ratification.  These electric fence provisions include height specifications, requirements for protective barriers and signage posted to provide warning, and requirements for these fences to be equipped with an energizer driven by a commercial storage battery that does not exceed an electric charge of twelve volts DC.  Electric fences shall be permitted on any property that is not zoned exclusively for residential use.

The House approved S.439, a bill addressing PORT CARGO VOLUME INCREASE TAX CREDITS AND PORT TRANSPORTATION CREDITS, and enrolled the legislation for ratification.  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.  Codifying a provision included in recent general appropriation acts, the legislation provides that a port facility is a distribution facility for purposes of certain sales tax exemptions.

The House approved S.329 and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation provides an EXTENSION FOR TAX CREDITS FOR THE PURCHASE OF GEOTHERMAL MACHINERY AND EQUIPMENT so that these provisions are set to expire on January 1, 2022.

The House approved S.408 and enrolled the bill for ratification.  In light of recent court rulings, this legislation revises provisions for the TAXATION OF CABLE SYSTEM OPERATORS so that they are afforded parity with satellite service providers.

The House approved S.310 and enrolled the legislation for ratification.  This bill clarifies language pertaining to UNSTAMPED OR UNTAXED CIGARETTES, to provide that they are contraband goods which may be seized by the Department of Revenue or any law enforcement agency of the state without a warrant.  The bill further clarifies that seized cigarettes must be delivered to the Department of Revenue.

The House returned H.4133 to the Senate with amendments.  The Senate subsequently concurred in those amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification.  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 legislation makes provisions for an INCOME TAX CREDIT FOR DEVELOPING SOLAR ENERGY COLLECTION FACILITIES ON POLLUTED PROPERTIES that are found on the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Priority List, subject to a Voluntary Cleanup Contract with the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control, or designated as compromised under certain other federal and state initiatives.  The credit is equal to twenty‑five percent of construction and installation costs.  A credit for each installation of solar energy property placed in service may not exceed two million five hundred thousand dollars.  The tax credit applies to land that is owned by the Pinewood Site Custodial Trust.

The House returned S.440.  This bill revises provisions of THE SOUTH CAROLINA TEXTILES COMMUNITIES REVITALIZATION ACT to provide that a certain cap on rehabilitation expenses only applies to certain rehabilitated buildings on contiguous parcels, to the Senate with amendments.  The Senate subsequently concurred in those amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation includes provisions for extending tax credits for rehabilitating an abandoned building.

The House approved S.323 and enrolled the legislation for ratification.  This bill allows the Department of Revenue to submit certain information to a financial institution regarding a DEBTOR THAT HAS BEEN NAMED ON A WARRANT FOR DISTRAINT, when the debt is at least one hundred eighty days old, and requires the financial institution to provide certain information to the department.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3243, a bill REVISING FILING AND RECORDING FEES CHARGED BY THE REGISTER OF DEEDS AND CLERKS OF COURT to make provisions for charging certain flat fees, rather than fees determined by the number of pages in a document, and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation updates 30‑year-old fee schedules set for filing and registering a list of legal documents, including deeds and mortgages.   Fees for filing a power of attorney are waived for military personnel deployed to combat zones.

The House approved S.621 and enrolled the bill for ratification.  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 approved S.530, a bill providing for CONSOLIDATED PROCUREMENT CODE REVISIONS, and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation provides for updates and revisions to the South Carolina Consolidated Procurement Code provisions for state government purchasing of goods and services.  The revisions include the adoption of simplified procedures for the acquisition of commercially available off‑the‑shelf products, including higher dollar thresholds for agency purchases of those products, as a means of promoting efficiency and economy in contracting and avoiding unnecessary burdens for agencies and contractors by implementing acquisition policies that more closely resemble those of the commercial marketplace, encourage the acquisition of commercial items, and, where possible, allow use of terms and conditions accepted in the marketplace.

The House returned H.4245, a bill addressing the labeling of vat grown CELL‑CULTURED MEAT for sale, to the Senate with amendments.  The Senate subsequently concurred in those amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification.  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 returned S.575, a bill establishing revised WILD TURKEY HUNTING provisions, to the Senate with amendments.  The Senate subsequently concurred in those amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification.  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 hunting season that runs from March 22 until April 30 in Game Zones 3 and 4 and from April 1 until May 10 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 approved S.281, addressing SERVICE ANIMALS, and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation provides that It is unlawful for a person to intentionally misrepresent an animal as a service animal or service animal-in-training for the purpose of obtaining any right or privilege provided to a disabled person.  Fines are established for violations.  Misrepresentation of a service animal is added to the list of offenses that law enforcement officers may address through the uniform traffic ticket.  The legislation establishes a more detailed definition for service animals that do work or perform tasks for an individual with a disability.  The legislation provides that places of public accommodation, such as airports, train stations, and bus stations, may establish rules and regulations related to access to such facilities by non-service animals, including emotional support animals intended to provide companionship and reassurance.  The legislation establishes a list of questions that a landlord may ask a tenant or prospective tenant to determine whether an animal that is not a service animal should be considered a reasonable accommodation.    

The House returned S.105, a bill addressing ANIMAL CRUELTY AND ANIMAL RESCUE provisions, to the Senate with amendments.  The Senate subsequently concurred in those amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation makes provisions for magistrates and municipal court judges to receive at least two hours of instruction on issues concerning animal cruelty every four years.  The legislation revises provisions for unclaimed animals that have been quarantined under the South Carolina Rabies Control Act to establish provisions that allow an animal shelter to turn over a litter of unidentifiable dogs or cats four months of age or younger to any organization established for the purpose of caring for animals immediately, so long as the litter is turned over for life-saving purposes.  The legislation establishes a protocol that allows those awarded custody of an animal in animal cruelty proceedings to apply to be reimbursed for the costs of custodial care.  The legislation revises provisions for spaying and neutering grants.  The legislation makes provisions for an emergency limited license that allows an out-of-state veterinarian to offer assistance during an emergency or natural disaster.  Under the legislation, the General Assembly finds it is the best practice for a shelter, public or private, to prepare and maintain records documenting the number of animals admitted to the facility and the method by which those animals exit the facility, whether by adoption, fostering, natural death, euthanasia, transfer to another state, or other means of discharge.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to 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 returned H.3916, a bill INCREASING THE FINE FOR FAILING TO REGISTER A MOTOR VEHICLE from not more than one hundred dollars to five hundred dollars, to the Senate with amendments.  The Senate subsequently concurred in those amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The increase addresses an issue that has emerged since the fee for registering an out-of-state vehicle was increased as part of the comprehensive road funding measures approved in Act 40 of 2017.  Rather than registering a vehicle properly and paying the two-hundred-fifty-dollar fee, some have been choosing to pay the lower one-hundred-dollar maximum fine.

The House returned H.3035, a bill revising POLL WORKER QUALIFICATIONS to allow for a more expansive pool of eligible workers, to the Senate with amendments.  The Senate subsequently concurred in those amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation allows someone who is registered as a voter in South Carolina to serve as a poll worker anywhere in the state, replacing more restrictive provisions that require poll workers to reside in the area where the primary or election is being held.  Each chairman and clerk appointed from among the managers of election for the various polling places must be a resident and registered elector of the respective county in which he is appointed to work or in an adjoining county.  The legislation implements recommendations from the House Legislative Oversight Committee’s review of the State Election Commission. 

The House returned H.3703, a bill dealing with the LICENSURE EXAMINATION REQUIREMENTS FOR PHYSICAL THERAPY, to the Senate with amendments.  The Senate subsequently concurred in those amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification.   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 to S.277, a bill allowing SPEECH-LANGUAGE PATHOLOGY ASSISTANTS to adhere to the responsibilities set forth by the American Speech Language Hearing Association, and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation also provides an exemption from licensure for an educator who is certified by the State Board of Education, including an educator certified as a speech-language therapist who is not licensed as a speech-language pathologist and does not hold a certificate of clinical competence in speech-language pathology credential from the American Speech Language Hearing Association.  The bill also repeals a temporary provision that exempts applicants for licensure as a speech-language pathologist assistant from having to have a bachelor degree from a regionally accredited college or university if the applicant has a bachelor degree from a nationally accredited college or university.  This temporary provision expires July 1, 2019.

The House approved S.12 and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation designates the third Wednesday in February of each year as “BARBERS’ DAY” in South Carolina.

The House returned H.3754, a bill addressing VACATION TIME‑SHARING PLANS, to the Senate with amendments.  The Senate subsequently concurred in those amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation revises vacation time sharing plan provisions, so as to define the term “timeshare instrument” and further provides for when a timeshare closing is considered to have occurred.  The legislation enacts the “Vacation Time‑Sharing Plan Extensions and Termination Act”, including provisions to clarify and supplement the procedures and requirements as to how owners of vacation time‑sharing interests may terminate vacation time‑sharing plans or extend the terms of these plans.

The House returned H.3700 to the Senate with amendments.  The Senate subsequently concurred in those amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation revises 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 90 degree angle from the ends of existing erosion control structures or devices that are consistent in height 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 legislation includes provisions for the rehabilitation, reinforcement, or protection of an existing erosion control device.

The House returned H.4239, a bill making provisions for TRAWLING IN AREAS ALONG THE COAST OF HORRY COUNTY, to the Senate with amendments.  The Senate subsequently concurred in those amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification. 

The House returned H.4010 to the Senate with amendments.  The Senate subsequently concurred in those amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification.  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 returned H.4011, legislation that makes necessary changes and enhances the “WATER RESOURCE AND PLANNING COORDINATION ACT”, to the Senate with amendments.  The Senate subsequently concurred in those amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification.  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 returned H.4012, legislation that cleans up and updates the LAND, RESOURCES, AND CONSERVATION DISTRICTS DIVISION, to the Senate with amendments.  The Senate subsequently concurred in those amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification.  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 returned H.4013, a bill that changes certain requirements for the STATE GEOLOGICAL SURVEY UNIT under the Department of Natural Resources, to the Senate with amendments.  The Senate subsequently concurred in those amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification.  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 returned H.4020, legislation addressing PRT COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT DUTIES, to the Senate with amendments.  The Senate subsequently concurred in those amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification.  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 theDepartment of Parks, Recreation and Tourism and repeals provisions relating to the agency’s division of community development.

The House returned 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, to the Senate with amendments.  The Senate subsequently concurred in those amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification.  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 returned H.3662, a bill officially ADOPTING REVISED CODE VOLUMES 3 AND 4 OF THE SOUTH CAROLINA CODE OF LAWS, to the Senate with amendments.  The Senate subsequently concurred in those amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification.

A conference committee has been appointed to address the differences of the House and Senate on H.4004, the “PHYSICIAN ORDERS FOR SCOPE OF TREATMENT (POST) ACT”, legislation establishing 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.

A conference committee has been appointed to address the differences of the House and Senate on H.3602, a bill expanding THOSE WHO ARE AUTHORIZED TO MAKE HEALTH CARE DECISIONS FOR PATIENTS WHO CANNOT PROVIDE CONSENT. 

A conference committee has been appointed to address the differences of the House and Senate on H.3821, a bill revising the medical acts that ADVANCE PRACTICE REGISTERED NURSES are authorized to perform.

A conference committee has been appointed to address the differences of the House and Senate on H.3986, a bill redesignating the South Carolina ABLE Savings Program which was enacted to allow the establishment of savings accounts empowering individuals with a disability and their families to save private funds which can be used to provide for disability related expenses that supplement benefits provided through private insurance.  Since an existing organization is named SC ABLE, the program is renamed the PALMETTO ABLE SAVINGS PROGRAM.

A conference committee has been appointed to address the differences of the House and Senate on H.3789, a bill revising provisions for DRIVER’S LICENSES and identification cards issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

A conference committee has been appointed to address the differences of the House and Senate on H.3601, a bill establishing a procedure that allows a court to grant a CONDITIONAL DISCHARGE FOR A FIRST TIME OFFENDER CHARGED WITH PUBLIC DRUNKENNESS AND DISORDERLY CONDUCT.

The House refused to concur in Senate amendments to S.455, the “ARMED SERVICE MEMBERS AND SPOUSES PROFESSIONAL AND OCCUPATIONAL LICENSING ACT”.

The House refused to concur in Senate amendments to H.3357, a bill allowing 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 House approved and sent the Senate H.3309, legislation requiring the State Law Enforcement Division to create and operate a statewide SEXUAL ASSAULT KIT TRACKING SYSTEM.

The House returned to S.16, legislation that relates to EMERGENCY REFILLS OF PRESCRIPTIONS BY PHARMACISTS, to the Senate with amendments.  Currently, under certain conditions, a pharmacist is authorized to dispense an emergency prescription refill of up to a 10-day supply of a medication once within a 12-month period.  The bill increases the maximum amount of a medication that may be dispensed for an emergency prescription refill to a 14-day supply.  If the qualifying medication is packaged in a way that it is not possible to dispense a 14-day supply, the pharmacist may dispense a 30-day supply.  The bill also requires the pharmacist to label the medication as an emergency refill. 

The House returned S.76 to the Senate with amendments.  This bill makes provisions for EXTENDING THE ENERGY EFFICIENT MANUFACTURED HOMES INCENTIVE PROGRAM for five additional years.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4327, a bill addressing the APPLICATION OF CERTAIN BUILDING CODES ON FARM STRUCTURES.  The legislation provides that structures without a commercial kitchen used in an agritourism activity shall fall under the group A‑3 classification as defined in the 2015 International Building Code.  Such structures may accommodate up to three hundred guests without installing a sprinkler system.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3757, a bill establishing the WORKFORCE AND EDUCATION DATA OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE to support the mission of the Coordinating Council for Workforce Development by collecting data from various state government agencies and institutions and analyzing the compiled data to improve the effectiveness of the state’s educational delivery system in providing economic opportunities.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3984.  This bill revises provisions for employer and EMPLOYEE CONTRIBUTION RATES UNDER THE SOUTH CAROLINA RETIREMENT SYSTEM AND THE POLICE OFFICERS RETIREMENT SYSTEM to provide that an employer, up to certain limits, may elect to pay all or a portion of required employee contributions during a fiscal year.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3661, a bill that addresses the annexation of certain adjoining property by a MUNICIPALITY LOCATED ENTIRELY WITHIN THE AREA OF A SPECIAL PURPOSE DISTRICT.

The House gave second reading approval to S.11, a bill to provide that, if the United States Congress authorizes 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.

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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