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The State Capitol Report – 3/15/2019 Featured

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate 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.  The $29.95 billion total budget includes $497 million in recurring state general fund revenue estimated for Fiscal Year 2019-2020, $159 million in nonrecurring surplus funds estimated for Fiscal Year 2018-2019, $177 million in the Fiscal Year 2017-2018 Contingency Reserve Fund, and $152 million in Capital Reserve Funds. 

The budget provides for $96 million in nonrecurring funds to be returned to the state’s taxpayers as rebates.  The Rebate Fund includes the $61 million in taxes collected on the winning Mega Millions lottery ticket sold in South Carolina last year.  The total allows for a $50 one-time rebate for each South Carolina income tax payer.

$614 million in recurring funds is transferred into the Tax Relief Trust Fund that provides for the residential property tax caps.

$41.4 million in recurring funds is used to provide a 2% state employee pay increase.  Employees of institutions of higher education and technical colleges that earn a base salary of at least $100,000 are not eligible to receive the increase in compensation.

$49.7 million in recurring funds is included to cover the increased costs of operating the state’s health and dental insurance plans so that employees will have no additional monthly premium costs.

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.

$2.8 billion in recurring funds is utilized to set State Aid to Classrooms at $3,846 per pupil.  Several funding lines are consolidated to form State Aid to Classrooms as a replacement for the Base Student Cost.

$159 million in recurring funds is devoted to raising the minimum teacher salary from $32,000 to $35,000 and providing across-the-board teacher pay increases of at least 4%.  To further recruitment and retention efforts, those who have been teaching for no more than four years are to receive raises ranging from 6% to 10%.  The budget’s teacher pay increase, the largest since 1984, places South Carolina above the Southeastern average teacher salary of $52,830.

Provisions are made for a Rural Teacher Recruitment pilot program at the University of South Carolina’s College of Education for the development of innovative and cost-effective teacher recruitment strategies, customized training for new teachers, and dedicated, ongoing mentoring support.

A Rural School District and Economic Development Closing Fund is established within the Department of Commerce to facilitate economic development and infrastructure improvements for projects that create a minimum of fifty jobs located within the twenty-eight school districts with the lowest Index of Taxpaying Ability (ITA) in the State of South Carolina. 

Provisions are made for the transfer of excess debt service funds in the amounts of $85 million to the Department of Commerce for the Rural School District and Economic Development Closing Fund and $50 million to the Department of Education for school district capital improvements.

$20 million in lottery funds is included for instructional materials.

$10 million in Education Improvement Act funds is allocated for school resource officers.  School districts with the lowest taxpaying ability are to receive priority consideration in the distribution of these funds.  The budget also includes provisions that waive South Carolina Police Officers Retirement System earnings limitations for retirees who return to work as school resource officers.

$14.8 million in Education Improvement Act funds is included to address S.C. Public Charter School District growth.

$19 million in lottery funds is provided for school buses.

From the funds appropriated to the Department of Education to fulfill black history instruction requirements, the instruction in grades 3 through 12 must include a cultural sensitivity component educating students about how they should interact with and be respectful of the beliefs and practices of people of a different race or creed.

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

The budget includes a higher education tuition mitigation initiative in which a total of $44 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 2019-2020 academic year.  

The bulk of the Capital Reserve Fund is devoted to capital needs at the state’s colleges and universities, with a total of $100 million in these nonrecurring funds allocated among the institutions for repairs, renovations, and maintenance of various facilities. 

The University of South Carolina is directed to use a portion of the funds appropriated to or authorized for the university to recruit undergraduate African American students, to recruit African American students at the Medical School, and to recruit African American students at the School of Law.

The Commission on Higher Education is afforded $20 million in lottery funds for need-based grants, $10 million in lottery funds for tuition grants, $2.6 million in lottery funds for National Guard Tuition Repayment, and $6 million in in unclaimed prize money for the Higher Education Excellence Enhancement Program. 

$8 million in lottery funds is dedicated to technology for the state’s four-year and two-year colleges and universities and technical colleges.

The Board of Technical and Comprehensive Education is afforded $17 million in lottery funds and $11 million in in unclaimed prize money 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.

$26.8 million 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.

$6 million in recurring funds is divided among the state’s technical colleges.

A study committee is established to develop a plan to determine the feasibility of transforming Denmark Technical College from a technical college to its original mission of an area trade school.

$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 recurring funds for innovation grants to accelerate growth in high tech applied research and emerging industries, $625 thousand in recurring funds and $750 thousand in nonrecurring funds for the Military Base Task Force, and $400 thousand for the state’s small and existing businesses.

$4 million is appropriated from the Capital Reserve Fund for Clemson University’s Center for Advanced Manufacturing.

$4 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for the Jasper Ocean Terminal Port Facility Infrastructure Fund.

The Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism receives $1 million in nonrecurring funds for coastal tourism advertising, $8.5 million from the Capital Reserve Fund for deferred maintenance at state parks, $2.5 million in nonrecurring funds for parks revitalization, $1 million in recurring funds for its sports marketing grants program, $1.5 million in nonrecurring funds for the Saluda River Greenway, and $1.5 million in nonrecurring funds for the SC Aquarium.

$1.5 million in recurring funds is appropriated to the Rural Infrastructure Authority for Water Quality Revolving Loan Fund match to update rural water and sewer systems.

The Department of Agriculture is afforded $1 million in recurring funds for agribusiness infrastructure grants and $500 thousand for food inspection and consumer safety.

Clemson PSA receives $1 million in recurring funds for its statewide extension programs, $2 million from the Capital Reserve Fund for water research facility renovation, and $750 thousand in recurring funds for livestock poultry health and regulatory programs.

SC State PSA is afforded $300 thousand for 1890 Program match for community outreach programs.

The Department of Health and Human Services is afforded $49.5 million in recurring funds for Medicaid maintenance of effort to address program cost growth, $7.4 million in nonrecurring funds for the Medicaid Management Information System, and $2.8 million recurring and $2.8 million nonrecurring for medical contracts.

The budget provides for the continuation of Medicaid accountability and quality improvement programs of the Healthy Outcomes Initiative for meeting the needs of chronically ill uninsured patients in settings outside the comparatively expensive emergency room through a Primary Care Safety Net utilizing such resources as Federally Qualified Health Centers and free clinics.

$5.5 million is appropriated to DHHS for the Children’s Health Insurance Program to allow more children to be eligible for CHIP coverage.  The new eligibility limits place South Carolina at the Southeastern average for this program that serves children whose parents’ income is too high to qualify for Medicaid, but low enough to make private health insurance largely unaffordable.

A family planning funds provision is included in furtherance of statutory provisions that have been enacted to prohibit state funds, directly or indirectly, from being utilized by Planned Parenthood for abortions, abortion services or procedures, or administrative functions related to abortions.  Having prevented Planned Parenthood from performing abortions with state funds, once the federal injunction is lifted, the Department of Health and Human Services may not direct any federal funds to Planned Parenthood.  An otherwise qualified organization may not be disqualified from receipt of these funds because of its affiliation with an organization that provides abortion services, provided that the affiliated organization that provides abortion services is independent of the qualified organization.  An independent affiliate that provides abortion services must be separately incorporated from any organization that receives these funds.  An organization that provides abortion services in compliance with the budget provision addressing the performance of medically necessary services under the Medicaid program is excepted from this restriction on state family planning funds and may receive state family planning funds.

The Medical University of South Carolina is afforded $2.2 million in recurring funds for the state’s telemedicine network and $1.5 million in recurring funds for statewide health improvements.

$15 million from the Capital Reserve Fund and $2 million in recurring funds is provided for the Rural Health Initiative partnership between DHHS and the USC School of Medicine to improve access to life-saving emergency room care in the wake of rural hospital closures.

$1 million in recurring funds is appropriated for the SC Children’s Advocacy Medical Response System at MUSC.

$2 million is appropriated from the Capital Reserve Fund for Clemson University’s health innovation extension programming.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control receives $1 million in recurring funds for its prescription drug monitoring program that is used by physicians and pharmacists to track the prescription and use of opioids.  DHEC is also afforded $500 thousand in recurring funds for communicable disease abatement, $202 thousand in recurring funds for mosquito borne disease abatement, $250 thousand in recurring funds for the orphan petroleum spills and releases contingency fund, $2 million in recurring funds for ocean outfalls, and $2 million in nonrecurring funds for Murrell’s Inlet channel clearing.

The Department of Mental Health is afforded $1.3 million in recurring funds for inpatient services contractual adjustments, $2.2 million in recurring funds for school mental health services, $1.6 million in recurring funds for information technology, $482 thousand in recurring funds for the sexually violent predator treatment program, and $37 million in nonrecurring funds for VA nursing homes certification state match.

The Department of Disabilities and Special Needs receives $11.3 million in recurring funds to increase direct care staff starting salaries from $12 to $13 an hour.  $2 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for autism research at the Greenwood Genetic Center.

The Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services is afforded $6 million in nonrecurring funds for infrastructure improvements in its substance abuse provider system.

The Department of Social Services is appropriated $29 million in nonrecurring funds for the development of the child support enforcement system, $3.9 million in recurring funds for child welfare information systems, and $800 thousand in nonrecurring funds for criminal domestic violence programs.

A Department of Social Services reform committee is established to examine how the mission and responsibilities of DSS might be better fulfilled.

The State Law Enforcement Divisions is afforded $814 thousand in recurring funds for officer rank change.

The Department of Public Safety is appropriated $711 thousand in recurring funds for master trooper and officer rank change, $1.8 million recurring and $500 thousand nonrecurring for vehicle replacement, and $600 thousand in recurring funds for local law enforcement grants.

The Department of Corrections receives $10 million in nonrecurring funds for detention services and prison safety equipment upgrades, $10 million in recurring funds for the Hepatitis C treatment program, and $2.3 million in recurring funds for electronic health records and support for mobile data collection.

The Department of Juvenile Justice is afforded $1 million in recurring funds for salary increases for juvenile corrections officers and community specialists, $1 million for electrical grid conversion, and $170 thousand in nonrecurring funds for child advocacy centers.

The Department of Probation, Pardon and Parole Services is provided $1.9 million in recurring funds to address declining revenue collection from the Omnibus Crime Bill and $1.5 million in nonrecurring funds for information data technology connectivity services.

The Law Enforcement Training Council receives $2 million in recurring funds to increase the number of officers that can complete its basic training program each year by allowing four weeks of the training to be conducted in regional settings outside of the centralized Criminal Justice Academy.  $1.2 million recurring and $271 thousand nonrecurring is provided for a mobile training team that travels to provide officer training and recertification.

The Attorney General’s Office is appropriated $1.5 million in recurring funds for stability funding and $522 thousand in recurring funds for the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

$11 million in recurring funds is provided for judicial salary increases.

$4 million in recurring funds is provided for Judges and Solicitors Retirement System pension stabilization.

The Judicial Department is afforded $11.2 million in recurring funds for safety enhancements and $13 million in nonrecurring funds for case management modernization. 

$40 million in nonrecurring funds is provided to the Department of Administration for a new statewide voting system with the goal of having the new voting machines in place for the 2020 election cycle.

The State Election Commission receives $2.2 million in nonrecurring funds for the 2020 Presidential Primary.

$37 million is used to provide full funding for the constitutional reserve accounts that the state uses to cope with revenue shortfalls.

$254 million in recurring funds is provided for the Local Government Fund.  This includes an $11.1 million increase in recurring funds that is consistent with the revised approach to sending revenue to political subdivisions provided in H.3137, which was approved by the House earlier this year and sent to the Senate.  

$22 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for the state FEMA match for Hurricane Florence.

The Adjutant General receives appropriations of $250 thousand in nonrecurring funds for improvements at the state’s emergency operations center, $120 thousand in recurring funds for Emergency Management Division personnel, $2.2 million in nonrecurring funds for land management at the McEntire Joint National Guard Base, and $5.6 million in nonrecurring funds for armory construction and revitalizations.

The Forestry Commission is provided $1.5 million in recurring funds for recruitment and retention and $1 million in recurring funds and $1 million in nonrecurring funds for firefighting equipment.

The Department of Natural Resources $383 thousand in recurring funds for officer step increases and $714 thousand in recurring funds for statewide water monitoring and evaluation.

$5 million is appropriated from the Capital Reserve Fund for Francis Marion University’s Freshwater Ecology Center.

The Conservation Bank is afforded $1.5 million in recurring and $4 million in nonrecurring for conservation grants.

The Human Affairs Commission is appropriated $71 thousand recurring and $70 thousand nonrecurring for SC Pregnancy Accommodations Act training.

The Workers’ Compensation Commission receives $1.8 million in nonrecurring funds for information technology modernization.

The Department of Consumer Affairs is appropriated $118 thousand in recurring funds for an Assistant Consumer Advocate.

The Department of Motor Vehicles is afforded $4 million in nonrecurring funds for the final phase of REAL ID implementation costs.

The Department of Transportation receives $4 million in nonrecurring funds for upgrades to the state’s rest areas.

The Department of Administration is afforded $5 million in recurring funds, $27 million in nonrecurring funds, and $29 million from the Capital Reserve Fund for state-owned building deferred maintenance needs.

The Office of Revenue and Fiscal Affairs is provided $2 million in nonrecurring funds for a statewide aerial imagery project to update mapping used in disaster response and recovery efforts.

$114 thousand in recurring funds is provided for a Deputy Inspector General staff attorney position.

The Department of Archives and History receives $100 thousand in nonrecurring funds for the African American Heritage Commission’s Greenbook of SC.

$2.7 million is provided to Patriots Point for the USS Clamagore Veteran Memorial Reef.

The Arts Commission is afforded $865 thousand in recurring funds for community arts development and education grants.

$1 million in recurring funds is provided for aid to county libraries.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control is prohibited from using any appropriated funds to process and approve any license, permit, authorization, or certification related to the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam inconsistent with the state’s policy and the General Assembly’s intent of maintaining the existing water quality and navigability conditions of that portion of the Savannah  

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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The State Capitol Report – 3/8/2019 Featured

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3759, the “SOUTH CAROLINA EDUCATION, CAREER OPPORTUNITY, AND ACCESS FOR ALL ACT”.  The legislation makes comprehensive revisions that are offered as a means of ensuring that the state’s public school students receive the training needed to meet 21st century demands.  New emphasis is placed on mathematics and technology that includes a requirement for each public high school in the state to offer at least one rigorous, standards‑based computer science course.  Enhancements are made to the SC Read to Succeed Initiative that focuses on crucial literacy skills.  Provisions are made to afford public school students a smoother transition into higher education and workforce opportunities.  These include expanded dual enrollment programs and improved access to state scholarship funding to cover training costs.  The legislation raises the minimum teacher salary statewide and offers an array of incentives geared towards attracting individuals to teaching and retaining those professionals in the classroom.  Some of the incentives focus on encouraging teachers to pursue their careers in schools that are failing to meet goals for academic performance and in areas of the state that are experiencing the greatest economic distress.  Enhanced accountability provisions are included to direct assistance to schools that are struggling academically and to transform or close chronically underperforming schools.  A school district consolidation protocol is established for merging less populous districts that are failing to meet standards for student performance.  Local school board members are subjected to ethics provisions.  A Special Council on Revitalizing Education is created to advise policy makers on ways to improve collaboration among state agencies and institutions and what steps should be taken to ensure that the state’s public education system is emphasizing skills demanded in the workplace.

Goals and Governance

The State of South Carolina establishes an overall statewide workforce readiness goal of at least sixty percent of all working‑age South Carolinians having a post‑secondary degree or recognized industry credentials before the year 2030. This goal is consistent with all students graduating and having the knowledge, skills, and characteristics contained in the Profile of the South Carolina Graduate.

A “Student Bill of Rights” is established to enumerate basic expectations including: students should expect that the General Assembly, Governor, State Superintendent of Education, State Board of Education, local school boards, local superintendents, principals, teachers, and parents to focus on improving education, and creating a system that puts them first; students should feel safe and secure in school; students should have educational choice; and the ability to challenge unfair treatment.  These provisions do not create or imply a private cause of action for a violation.

A “Teacher Bill of Rights” is established 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, planning time; a competitive salary; no unnecessary paperwork; support from school administration.  These provisions do not create or imply a private cause of action for a violation.

Provisions are made for the South Carolina Teacher of the Year and a public school student appointed by the Governor to serve as non-voting advisory members of the State Board of Education.

Special Council on Revitalizing Education

The legislation establishes within the Office of the Governor the Special Council on Revitalizing Education (SCORE) which is created to: (1) monitor the state education and workforce pipeline to continually determine the education and training levels required by the state’s employers; (2) identify and recommend improvements regarding efficiency and cooperation of agencies and programs throughout the education and workforce pipeline; and (3) report findings and recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly on a continuous basis.

The Governor serves as the chairman of the ten-member council.  The Governor may, however, delegate the position of chairman and SCORE duties to the Lieutenant Governor.  The other council members are appointed to five-year terms, with SCORE being composed of: (a) three members appointed by the Governor; (b) one member appointed by the Speaker of the House; (c) one member appointed

by the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee; (d) one member appointed by the Chairman of the House Education and Public Works Committee; (e) one member appointed by the President of the Senate; (f) one member appointed by the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee; and (g) one member appointed by the Chairman of the Senate Education Committee.  Council members may not concurrently serve as a member of the General Assembly.  Appointed members must have a background in early childhood education, K‑12 education, higher education, business, workforce development, or economic development.  Two council members, one from the appointees allotted the House of Representatives and the other from the appointees allotted the Senate, must be current or retired highly‑effective teachers.  A member of the council may serve no more than two consecutive terms.

The Governor shall hire an executive director who must possess a background in at least one of the following: early childhood education, K‑12 education, higher education, business, workforce development, or economic development.

Before October 1, 2021, the council shall establish a series of benchmarks that must include, but are not limited to the following:

(1) access to quality early learning, as determined by the council, including the number of three and four‑year old children in quality early‑learning settings;

(2) third grade reading proficiency, including the percentage of third grade students who score ‘Meets’ or ‘Exceeds Expectations’ on the SC Ready assessment, or its successor;

(3) eighth grade mathematics, including the percentage of eighth grade students who score ‘Meets’ or ‘Exceeds Expectations’ on the SC Ready assessment, or its successor;

(4) high school graduation rates, including the percentages of students who graduated in four and five years;

(5) youth nonparticipation, including the percentage of South Carolina residents between sixteen and eighteen years of age who are not going to school on the secondary level or in adult education, not in the military, or not otherwise working;

(6) post‑high school enrollment, including the percentage of South Carolina high school graduates who are in postsecondary education the semester after graduation from high school or are gainfully employed; and

(7) post‑high school education attainment, including the percentage of South Carolina residents ages twenty‑two through sixty‑five who have completed a two‑or four‑year degree, or have received a nationally recognized certification as determined by the Department of Commerce.

With assistance and consultation from the Department of Administration, the council is charged with creating and maintaining a publicly accessible website that reports the benchmark information, explains the benchmarks, and provides an annual update to show the state’s progress toward meeting each goal.

Beginning in 2021, the council is required to make an annual comprehensive report to the Governor and General Assembly that specifically identifies areas within the education and workforce pipeline where state agencies and other publically funded entities are failing to meet the benchmarks. The council shall provide recommendations regarding ways that state and local efforts can be improved, ways that collaboration and cooperation among state and local agencies and resources can be increased, and efforts underway or being considered in other states that address the noted areas of concern. The council also shall recommend legislation it considers necessary.

Enhancements to Academic Rigor to Improve Student Preparation

Computer Science and Mathematics Coursework and Incentives

The State Board of Education is charged with conducting, at least every five years, a cyclical review of grade appropriate standards for computer science, computational thinking, and computer coding for grades kindergarten through grade twelve.

No later than the beginning of the 2020‑2021 School Year, each public high school and public charter high school must offer at least one rigorous, standards‑based computer science course.  The course is to be made available in a traditional classroom setting, in a dual‑enrollment course, blended‑learning environment, online‑based, or other technology‑based format tailored to meet the needs of each participating student.

Beginning in the 2020‑2021 School Year, the Department of Education shall:

(1) employ one experienced full‑time employee whose sole responsibility is to coordinate and lead the South Carolina Computer Science Education Initiative; 

(2) support K‑12 academic and computer science teachers in designing interdisciplinary, project‑based instruction and assignments that engage students in applying literacy, math, and computational thinking skills to solve problems;

(3) design career pathways that connect students to postsecondary programs, degrees, or postsecondary credentials in such high demand career fields as cybersecurity, information systems, informatics, graphic design, computer engineering, and software development;

(4) offer professional development and teacher endorsements to new teachers who will teach computer science;

(5) provide information and materials which identify emerging career opportunities in computer science and related fields to parents, students, teachers, and guidance counselors; and

(6) assist districts in developing partnerships with business, industry, higher education, and communities to provide afterschool and extracurricular activities that engage students in computer science.

By August 1, 2021, the State Department of Education shall develop a technology plan that addresses wireless Internet access for all public schools and must provide a report to the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President of the Senate.

Statewide Assessment Program Revisions

The legislation removes summative assessments not required by federal accountability law.  This includes eliminating the eighth grade science assessment, all grades 3-8 social studies assessments, and the United States History end-of-course assessment.

Early Childhood

The Office of First Steps and the State Department of Education (SDE) must provide a report to the General Assembly regarding how to increase the number of children attending state-funded four-year-old kindergarten programs.

Read to Succeed Initiative Enhancements

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 are revised to require that districts provide appropriate in-class intervention until all students are at grade level.

Students are to be retained if their SC Ready scores are at the “Does Not Meet” level.  This is more rigorous than the current “Not Met 1” level.

The reading portfolio exemption for 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 the students score at the lowest achievement level.

Early childhood, elementary, and special education teachers must pass a test regarding reading instruction before they can be certified.

Professional development required for compliance with Read to Succeed must be offered at no cost by the school districts.

The Commission on Higher Education and the Learning Disorders Taskforce are charged with examining the effectiveness of teacher education programs in regard to diagnosing and assisting students with reading difficulties.

Transition into Higher Education and Workforce Opportunities

The legislation provides for an expansion of dual enrollment opportunities so that students who want to go to college already have at least one year of college credit by creating a uniform, statewide credit articulation agreement between K-12 and higher education.  The Advisory Committee on Academic Programs is required to develop a statewide dual enrollment articulation agreement that will replace all locally created agreements between K-12 and higher education.

Students desiring an Education Lottery scholarship must, in addition to existing requirements, take a math and English course during their senior year of high school to maintain these skills prior to entering college.

The legislation emphasizes an accountability system that should let parents know if schools are successful in preparing students for eventual success in college or on the job.  To further this effort, the State Department of Education must continuously monitor student

progress in grades K-12, and provide parents and students with lexile and quantile scores derived from assessments.  In addition to using Lexile and Quantile scores, high school equivalency assessment thresholds may also serve as common admission scores to technical colleges.  A test in an English/language arts and mathematics course may be used to satisfy the requirement.  A test for every course is not required.

The legislation revises and updates the Education and Economic Development Act (EEDA).  The State Department of Education, the Technical College System, the Commission on Higher Education, the Department of Commerce, and the Department of Employment and Workforce must collaborate to ensure that workforce needs are aligned with career pathways and K-12 curriculum.

High schools or career centers must have a minimum of three career pathways, with at least one pathway in a high-skill, high-demand area.  Pathways must be reviewed every three years and updated as needed.  School districts must coordinate with each other to ensure student access to multiple pathways.  Upon Department approval of bus routes, districts may provide transportation for students.

The State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education (SBTCE) must establish, and technical colleges must recognize, common admission scores.  (Scores may be differentiated for certain programs of study.)  Students who do not meet the minimum admission score should be encouraged to enter a noncredit program that awards a national recognized business or industry credential.  Education Lottery Tuition Assistance is available for individuals who enroll in a noncredit, credential awarding program provided they enroll within seven years of the first time they entered the ninth grade.

Incentives for Teachers and Educator Development and Satisfaction

The state’s minimum teacher salary is increased to thirty‑five thousand dollars.

The legislation provides that no tuition may be charged for a period of four school years by any state‑supported college or university or any state‑supported vocational or technical school for children of full‑time certified classroom teachers with at least five years of teaching service who are employed in schools that have an absolute rating of unsatisfactory for at least three of the previous four years.  The teacher must serve as a full‑time classroom teacher during the time the child is receiving the tuition free higher education.  The benefit is retained even if the school’s academic performance improves.

An income tax credit is established 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 is a county designated as a Tier IV economically distressed county.

In order to better understand the demands of the 21st century workplace, public school teachers who work in grades 6-12 are encouraged to become interns for up to 80 hours per year.  Employers who hire teachers for these summer internships are eligible for a $2,000 tax credit for each teacher they employee.

The board of trustees of a local school district may authorize the daily mileage reimbursement of a teacher who must travel more than twenty‑five miles each way between home and school.  This reimbursement may not exceed the existing federal rate.

Local school boards of trustees may establish policies allowing teachers to enroll their children in the schools where they teach regardless of the student’s zoned area of attendance, and if space is available at the receiving school.

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 includes provisions for colleges and universities to create alternative teacher preparation programs that are not nationally accredited.  Such programs must, however, provide specifically mandated evidence of effectiveness.

The State Board of Education must review educator preparation programs at least once every five years.

The SDE must provide each teacher preparation program with information regarding the performance of its graduates.  The programs are required to protect the confidentiality of the data, and the information is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act.

To provide for accountability in teacher preparation programs, both traditional and alternative, the legislation creates the South Carolina Teacher Preparation Report Card to examine the number of students completing the program, the performance of teacher candidates on basic skills examinations, and the effectiveness of the programs’ graduates in the classroom setting.

The existing teacher satisfaction survey currently administered is now statutorily required.  Results must be complied, analyzed, and reported for each school and district.  This data should be shared with policy makers on a yearly basis, and the Department will publish those results on its website.

Enhanced Accountability

Assistance for students in underperforming schools

The legislation reinforces accountability act provisions regarding assistance for struggling schools or districts.

Local school boards with below average or unsatisfactory performance records are required to establish renewal plans that must be approved by the State Board of Education.  These plans must include professional growth plans for teachers and principals.  A report on the assistance provided to the schools must be provided to the General Assembly on a yearly basis.  Stakeholder groups that include mental health, social services, and law enforcement must be asked for input into renewal plans.

When a school receives an overall rating of unsatisfactory for three out of four years, the school is considered to be chronically underperforming’ and one of the following must occur:

(1)        the school will be reconstituted immediately after the end of the school year in which the annual report is published; and:

            (a)         the State Superintendent shall make all personnel decisions for the reconstituted school and shall have the authority to determine whether to terminate the principal, faculty, and staff;

            (b)        the State Superintendent of Education shall hire the new principal and staff for the reconstituted school if necessary; and

            (c)         the department shall contract with a public or nonprofit entity that has a proven record of success in working with underperforming schools and districts.  The entity shall use research‑based strategies to assist schools with their operations and oversee the administration of the school until the overall rating of the school improves; provided, if the overall rating does not improve within three years then the school either must be restarted under the management of a high‑performing charter management organization selected by the State Superintendent of Education or must be governed by the South Carolina Transformation School District, and all state, local and federal funds generated by the students must follow the students to the charter management organization or to the South Carolina Transformation School District; 

(2)        the school must be closed and restarted under the management of an existing charter school authorizer or a nonprofit educational management organization selected by the State Superintendent; provided, if the school is a Title I school, the Department of Education will award competitive grants as authorized under federal law to support these new schools and all state, local and federal funds generated by the students follow the students to the charter school authorizer or to the educational management organization. The authorizer or management organization has the authority to terminate any and all employees of the school and hire employees at its discretion; or 

(3)        the school must be closed and its students must be transferred to higher‑performing schools in the district.

The South Carolina Transformation School District is established as part of State Department of Education to operate and manage unsatisfactory schools. 

The Superintendent of Education is directed to utilize lower child to teacher ratios as a strategy to assist chronically unsatisfactory schools.

The legislation establishes a school district consolidation protocol which provides that, before August 1, 2023, local school districts whose kindergarten through grade twelve student population is less than one thousand, and where greater than fifty percent of the students attend schools whose report card ratings are below average or unsatisfactory, shall be merged with a district in the same county in which it is located.

School Board Ethics Provisions

The State Board of Education must adopt a model code of ethics that shall be adopted by local districts by July 1, 2020.

A person may not serve on a local school board if a family member is employed by the district as a superintendent, principal, assistant principal, or member of the district administrative staff.  This requirement may be waived for districts with a student population under 3,000.

School board members may not their position for personal or family advantage.  Expectations for board members are codified.

The State Ethics Act, including the requirement to file a statement of economic interest, is applied to local board members.

Local school boards must adopt an annual training programs for members that includes instruction on school law, ethics, school finance, nepotism, board relations, and conflicts of interest.  Completion of the training must be reported to, and retained by the State Department of Education.

In addition to other statutory authority relating to the removal of officers, the Governor may remove a member of a school district board of trustees in a case involving fraud, misappropriation of funds, nepotism, violation of election or procurement laws, or a combination of these. 

A protocol is established that allows board members to be removed by the Governor if the district loses accreditation for school governance reasons.

Cost-Benefit Analysis of Federal Programs and Grants

The Legislative Audit Council is directed to study publish a report by August 1, 2020, identifying and detailing federal funding streams for programs and grants in elementary and secondary education in this state in total and breaking out the cost of overhead, compliance, and reporting incurred by the State Department of Education, school districts, and local schools.

The House approved S.326 and ordered the legislation enrolled for ratification.  The joint resolution directs the State Law Enforcement Division to distribute two hundred fifty thousand dollars to the South Carolina State Firefighters Association to provide for POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER INSURANCE AND PROGRAMS FOR FIREFIGHTERS.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3294, a bill increasing the age limit in SAFE HAVENS FOR ABANDONED BABIES provisions that designate locations, such as hospitals, police stations, and fire stations, where someone may leave an infant under certain circumstances without criminal penalty.  The legislation provides that the safe haven provisions apply to infants who are up to one year old rather than the current standard of no more than sixty days old.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3973, a bill establishing the CRIME OF FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATION.  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 amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3263, the “ARMED SERVICE MEMBERS AND SPOUSES PROFESSIONAL AND OCCUPATIONAL LICENSING ACT”.   The legislation establishes a protocol that allows the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation to expedite the issuance of professional and occupational licenses to spouses of military personnel transferred to South Carolina when the spouse holds a professional or occupational license issued by another state that has similar requirements.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3200, the “SOUTH CAROLINA LACTATION SUPPORT ACT”.  As a means of promoting public health and benefitting South Carolina’s economy by keeping nursing employees in the workforce, the legislation requires employers to make reasonable efforts to provide workers with reasonable unpaid break time and space to express milk at work.  The legislation does not require employers to compensate employees for breaks taken to express breast milk unless the employer already provides compensated breaks and does not require employers to create a permanent or dedicated space for use by pumping employees.  The South Carolina Human Affairs Commission is charged with certain responsibilities for educating employers, employees, and employment agencies about their rights and responsibilities under the legislation.   A timeline is established for workplace compliance.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3586, a bill revising and updating the COORDINATED STATEWIDE 911 EMERGENCY TELECOMMUNICATIONS SYSTEM.  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 and sent the Senate 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 amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3029, a billEXPANDING STATE POLITICAL PARTY EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE JURISDICTION TO INCLUDE COUNTY OFFICERS.  The legislation expands political party state executive committee authority so that it includes hearing protests and contests in county officer, and less than county officer, elections.  The legislation repeals provisions for hearings by county executive committees and appeals from decisions of county executive committees.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4157, a joint resolution to extend the deadline to submit offers for a solicitation for a STATEWIDE VOTING SYSTEM solution for the South Carolina Elections Commission and to create a special evaluation panel to evaluate and score each proposal for new voting machines.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4054, a joint resolution to allow for the submission of less than three qualified applicants to the Governor to serve as EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE DEPARTMENT OF EMPLOYMENT AND WORKFORCE.

The House rejected H.3031, a bill revising VOTER REGISTRATION DEADLINES.

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.

KHG/jhm

The State Capital Report – 5/3/2019

The House of Representatives amended and gave second reading approval to 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 legislation provides for WEDOC’s composition of key public officials in the areas of employment and K-12 and higher education.  The Office of First Steps to School Readiness, the Department of Education, the Commission on Higher Education, the Department of Social Services, the Technical College System, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Employment and Workforce, the Education Oversight Committee, and other agencies of the state, as considered necessary by the General Assembly, that collect relevant data related to educational and workforce outcomes are required to submit that data to the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office so that it may be used by WEDOC to compose reports and provide analysis for policy makers.  All information disseminated by these partner agencies to the office, committee, or external stakeholders must conform to state and federal privacy, security, and data breach laws and regulations.  These include requirements for using data in aggregate form and preventing the reporting of data that may potentially be used to identify information relating to a specific individual.  The legislation specifies that the data submitted remains under the ownership and direction of the agency submitting the data and prohibits the unauthorized release of collected data.  A protocol is established for the immediate notification of the Governor’s Office in the event of any actual, probable, or reasonably suspected breach of security or any unauthorized access to or acquisition, use, loss, destruction, compromise, alteration, or disclosure of any information under the oversight of WEDOC.

The House returned S.455, the “ARMED SERVICE MEMBERS AND SPOUSES PROFESSIONAL AND OCCUPATIONAL LICENSING ACT”, to the Senate with amendments.   The legislation establishes a protocol that allows the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation to expedite the issuance of professional and occupational licenses to spouses of military personnel transferred to South Carolina when the spouse holds a professional or occupational license issued by another state that has similar requirements.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3915, legislation clarifying the ROLE OF DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES LEGAL REPRESENTATIVES.  The legislation revises provisions relating to DSS legal representation to provide that Department of Social Services legal representatives must ensure that the child’s welfare and safety are the predominant basis of all department recommendations and decisions pertaining to abuse and neglect proceedings.

The House approved S.401, a bill addressing TRANSPORTATION IMPROVEMENT PROJECT COSTS, and enrolled the legislation for ratification.  This bill relates to construction in the state highway system and provides that an entity undertaking a transportation improvement project shall bear the costs related to relocating water and sewer lines within the Department of Transportation’s right‑of‑way.  The bill provides the requirements for utilities to be eligible for relocation payments.  Public utilities are grouped into: (1) small utilities which have 10,000 or less water taps or sewer connections and serves a population of 30,000 or less; and (2) large utilities which have more than 10,000 water taps or sewer connections and greater than 30,000 in population.  The

transportation project will pay 100 percent of the relocation costs for the smaller utilities.  For larger utilities, the project will pay the relocation costs but cap the amount paid by the project at no more than 4.0 percent of the

original contract bid.  If a small and large utility are in the same project, the cap goes to 4.5%, but the small utility has all costs covered, which is subtracted from the 4.5%; any remainder goes to cover the large utility.  To be eligible for payment of the relocation costs, the public utility must meet the Transportation Improvement Project’s bid and construction schedule.  This involves public utilities early in the project planning and design and provides an opportunity to minimize and avoid relocation costs through project design.  In addition, DOT must include metrics on utility relocation in its annual accountability report.

The House gave second reading approval to S.109, a bill making REVISIONS TO THE SOUTH CAROLINA ALARM SYSTEM BUSINESS ACT that include provisions for electric fences.  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 amended and gave second reading approval to 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.4152, a bill to accommodate the PLASTIC RECLAMATION OPERATIONS of businesses that can accept discarded plastics unsuitable for various recycling initiatives and use a gasification or pyrolysis process to heat these post‑use polymers and recoverable feedstocks to break them down and convert them into such useful materials as oil, fuel, waxes, and lubricants.  Solid waste policy and management provisions are revised to provide that post‑use polymers and recoverable feedstocks used in pyrolysis and gasification processes are classified as recovered materials, rather than solid waste, for the purposes of regulation by the Department of Health and Environmental Control.  The legislation facilitates operations that use a gasification or pyrolysis process to heat plastics derived from industrial, commercial, agricultural, or domestic activities that may contain incidental contaminants or impurities, such as paper labels or metal rings, in order to convert them to crude oil, diesel, gasoline, home heating oil or other fuels, chemicals, waxes, lubricants, chemical feedstocks, diesel and gasoline blendstocks, or other raw materials or intermediate or final products that are returned to the economic mainstream in the form of raw materials, products, or fuels.  The legislation includes requirements for seventy‑five percent, by weight or volume, of the recovered material stored at a facility to be recycled, sold, used, or reused during a calendar year.  Any material that is accumulated speculatively and not in accordance with these requirements must be handled as solid waste.

House Resolution H.4169 was adopted to memorialize the United States Congress to approve the UNITED STATES‑MEXICO‑CANADA AGREEMENT (USMCA) in order to ensure continuity in trade among the three North American economic partners.

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 – 4/26/2019

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3020, the “SOUTH CAROLINA FETAL HEARTBEAT PROTECTION FROM ABORTION ACT”.  The legislation establishes a prohibition on the performance of an abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected.  Felony criminal penalties are established for performing or inducing an abortion in violation of the legislation which carry a fine of ten thousand dollars and/or imprisonment for up to two years.  The legislation includes a medical emergency exception that allows a physician to perform an abortion in order to save the life of the pregnant woman or prevent her from suffering substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.  Exceptions are also included to address instances where the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.  When any of these exceptions are applied, a physician is required to make written notations in the pregnant woman’s medical records that must be maintained for at least seven years.  The legislation establishes a protocol that requires abortion providers to make certain disclosures to pregnant women, perform obstetric ultrasounds and determine whether embryonic or fetal heartbeats are present, and make these available for pregnant women to see and hear.  A civil cause of action is also established that allows a woman to recover damages, court costs, and reasonable attorney’s fees should an abortion be performed that violates the legislation’s requirements.     

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4332, a bill providing for STATE GENERAL OBLIGATION ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BOND ACT REVISIONS.  The legislation adds freight transportation to the types of infrastructure that may be financed with economic development bonds and makes provisions for up to fifty million dollars in bond financing for a strategic infrastructure project, which is not subject to job creation and capital investment requirements, to assist the Department of Commerce in promoting economic development in the state by providing infrastructure that is needed by industry located in or considering locating in South Carolina.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4256, a bill addressing FUNERAL SERVICES with provisions that include prohibiting the unlicensed conduct of funeral services, enhancing penalties for funeral services violations, and strengthening ethics provisions.  The legislation also eliminates the requirement for a funeral home to have a room containing a displayed stock of at least six adult caskets and instead requires a funeral home to have the means of showing photographs or other representations of available caskets and other necessary funeral supplies.

The House amended and gave second reading approval to H.4152, a bill to accommodate the PLASTIC RECLAMATION OPERATIONS of businesses that can accept discarded plastics unsuitable for various recycling initiatives and use a gasification or pyrolysis process to heat these post‑use polymers and recoverable feedstocks to break them down and convert them into such useful materials as oil, fuel, waxes, and lubricants.  Solid waste policy and management provisions are revised to provide that post‑use polymers and recoverable feedstocks used in pyrolysis and gasification processes are classified as recovered materials, rather than solid waste, for the purposes of regulation by the Department of Health and Environmental Control.  The legislation facilitates operations that use a gasification or pyrolysis process to heat plastics derived from industrial, commercial, agricultural, or domestic activities that may contain incidental contaminants or impurities, such as paper labels or metal rings, in order to convert them to crude oil, diesel, gasoline, home heating oil or other fuels, chemicals, waxes, lubricants, chemical feedstocks, diesel and gasoline blendstocks, or other raw materials or intermediate or final products that are returned to the economic mainstream in the form of raw materials, products, or fuels.  The legislation includes requirements for seventy‑five percent, by weight or volume, of the recovered material stored at a facility to be recycled, sold, used, or reused during a calendar year.  Any material that is accumulated speculatively and not in accordance with these requirements must be handled as solid waste.

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 – 4/15/2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The State Capital Report – 4/9/2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The State Capital Report – 3/29/2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

KHG/jhm

The State Capitol Report – 3/22/2019

The House of Representatives concurred in Senate amendments to H.3449 and enrolled the legislation for ratification.  The bill enacts the “SOUTH CAROLINA HEMP FARMING ACT” to promote the cultivation and processing of hemp, expand the state’s hemp industry, open new commercial markets for farmers and businesses through the sale of hemp products, and encourage research into hemp growth and hemp products at state institutions of higher education and in the private sector.  The legislation addresses the use of the Cannabis sativa L. plant, with federally defined THC level for hemp, for such uses as cloth, cordage, fiber, fuel, paint, paper, particleboard, plastics, cosmetics, personal care products, food, and any product containing one or more hemp‑derived cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol.  In light of the enactment of the 2018 Federal Farm Bill, which classifies hemp as an agricultural commodity, this legislation replaces the state’s provisions for cultivating industrial hemp that were previously enacted and provides for the South Carolina Department of Agriculture to submit a state plan to the USDA for approval.  The legislation eliminates various restrictions that were imposed on the cultivation of hemp, such as the limitations on the number of permits issued and the maximum acreage that could be cultivated.  While these maximum limits are no longer imposed, individuals may only cultivate, handle, or process hemp by obtaining a license issued by the Department of Agriculture under the state plan in a process that includes: providing a legal description and location of fields or greenhouses; providing written consent allowing representatives of the department, South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), and local law enforcement, to enter onto all premises where hemp is cultivated, processed, or stored for the purposes of conducting physical inspections, obtaining samples of hemp or hemp products, or otherwise ensuring compliance with the requirements of applicable laws and regulations; and submitting to a criminal records check.  No one who has been convicted of a felony, a drug‑related misdemeanor, or drug related violation in the ten years prior to the submission of the application is eligible to obtain a license.  The state plan must include laboratory testing for delta‑9 tetrahydrocannabinol to ensure that hemp crops do not contain the high THC levels found in controlled substances.  Criminal penalties continue to be provided to address the cultivation of industrial hemp as a means of disguising marijuana production or distribution operations.  A violation is a misdemeanor that carries a term of imprisonment for up to three years and/or a fine of up to three thousand dollars.  The South Carolina Department of Agriculture is authorized to issue licenses to all those who applied in 2019 and met the licensing criteria but were denied solely because the department had already issued the legally permitted number of licenses for the year.

The House approved S.160, a bill authorizing the Department of Revenue to implement INTERNET FILING AND INDEXING OF TAX LIENS for public inspection online, and enrolled the legislation for ratification.  Replacing the existing system of filing tax liens with county clerks of court, the legislation allows the Department of Revenue to implement a centralized system of filing and indexing liens which is accessible to the public over the Internet or through other means.  The legislation implements a recommendation from the House Legislative Oversight Committee’s study of the Department of Revenue.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3595 and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation revises the INDUSTRY PARTNERSHIP FUND TAX CREDIT to provide that the maximum annual amount is two hundred fifty thousand dollars for a single taxpayer, not to exceed an aggregate credit of nine million dollars for all taxpayers.  The increased maximum credit amount is phased in under a three-year schedule beginning after 2018.  Any member of the South Carolina Research Authority board of trustees or the SC Launch!, Inc. board of directors is not eligible to claim the tax credit.    The South Carolina Research Authority is required to issue an annual report to the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, the Chairman of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, and the Governor detailing the amount contributed to the Industry Partnership Fund in the previous tax year that entitled the taxpayer to the credit, the taxpayers that received the credit, and the manner in which such contributions were expended or are expected to be expended.  The report also must be posted in a conspicuous place on the South Carolina Research Authority’s website.

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

The House amended and gave second reading approval to H.3145, a bill addressing ELECTRIC COOPERATIVES OVERSIGHT AND TRANSPARENCY.  The legislation vests the Office of Regulatory Staff with authority and jurisdiction to make inspections, audits and examinations of electric cooperatives.  The legislation provides that no distribution electric cooperative shall, as to rates or services, make or grant any unreasonable preference or advantage to any person, corporation, municipality or consolidated political subdivision to its unreasonable prejudice or disadvantage.  No distribution electric cooperative shall establish or maintain any unreasonable difference as to rates or service as between localities or as between classes of service.  The legislation revises provisions relating to annual meetings of members of an electric cooperative, so as to revise the notice requirements for certain meetings.  The legislation revises provisions relating to a quorum at meetings of electric cooperatives, so as to allow persons casting early voting ballots for the election of trustees to be counted for purposes of determining a quorum at the meeting for the election, and to prohibit voting by proxy.  For meetings that include the election of cooperative trustees, polling locations must be open for a minimum of four hours.  Requirements are included for making early voting accommodations when trustee races are contested.  Unless otherwise provided in the bylaws, each trustee’s principal residence, as determined by South Carolina voter registration law, must be served by the cooperative.  A vacancy in the office of trustee occurring for any reason other than expiration of a term may be filled only for the remainder of the unexpired term by a vote of the membership at the next annual meeting.  The legislation requires annual public disclosure of compensation and benefits paid to or provided for members of the board of trustees.  The legislation includes notice requirements for all non‑emergency meetings of the board of trustees or the membership of the cooperative.  The legislation makes transparency provisions for meetings that include requirements for certain votes of trustees to be taken in open session, requirements for votes taken in executive session to be ratified in open session, require for providing minutes of all meetings to cooperative members.  Provisions are included to prohibit certain conflicts of interest and the misuse of a position on a board of trustees for financial gain or to secure certain other advantages.  The legislation establishes provisions governing the conduct of elections by a cooperative, that prohibit advocacy or campaigning within a certain distance of the polling place.  Incumbent trustees seeking reelection shall not directly or indirectly influence the nomination or credentials process.  The legislation includes financial disclosure requirements and ethics provisions for electric cooperative trade associations.  The Office of Regulatory Staff is authorized to make inspections, audits, and examinations of these trade associations and the Public Service Commission is vested with the authority and jurisdiction to resolve any disputed issues arising from the inspections, audits or examinations.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate 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 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 amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3592, a bill addressing LOCAL GOVERNMENT REGULATION OF RENTED AND LEASED GOLF CARTS AND MOPEDS.  The legislation provides authorization for counties and municipalities to adopt ordinances that regulate those offering golf carts and mopeds for rental or lease for a period of less than nine months that operate upon the public streets and highways within their jurisdictions.  These ordinances are limited to the use of safety devices and the geographic area, distance, identification of the vehicles, and specified public roadways on which these rented or leased vehicles may operate.  The ordinances may not conflict with or exceed existing limitations of state law.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3755, a bill that establishes new provisions and notification requirements that allow insurers to issue a RENEWAL OF AN AUTOMOBILE INSURANCE POLICY WITH A REDUCTION IN COVERAGE.  Current provisions do not allow for a reduction in coverage through the renewal of an existing policy.  A reduction in coverage requires a notice of nonrenewal to be issued, which has proven to be a source of confusion for insurance customers.

The House amended and gave second reading approval 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.  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 amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3725, a bill that establishes the ADVISORY COUNCIL ON PEDIATRIC ACUTE-ONSET NEUROPSYCHIATRIC SYNDROME (PANS) AND ITS SUBSET, PEDIATRIC AUTOIMMUNE NEUROPSYCHIATRIC DISORDER ASSOCIATED WITH STREPTOCOCCAL INFECTIONS (PANDAS) to advise the Department of Health and Environmental Control on research, diagnosis, treatment, and education relating to the syndrome and disorder.  The legislation provides for the membership of the council and requires it to meet at least four times a year.  Members may not receive compensation, but will be entitled to mileage, subsistence, and per diem.  The council must make an annual report of its recommendations to the General Assembly by July 1.  The advisory council must be dissolved after two years.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3821, a bill revising the medical acts that ADVANCE PRACTICE REGISTERED NURSES are authorized to perform.   The legislation allows an APRN to execute a do not resuscitate order.  An APRN’s authority to prescribe Schedule II narcotic substances is expanded to include patients residing in long‑term care facilities.  The legislation allows an APRN to certify the manner and cause of death and provides that this duty and other authorized duties relating to pronouncing death and signing death certificates are to be conducted according to statutory provisions governing vital statistics obtained by the Department of Health and Environmental Control and the provisions of the “Safe Cremation Act”.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3621, a bill dealing with ATHLETIC TRAINERS.  This legislation makes revisions to the Athletic Trainers’ Act that include revising the definition of athletic trainer by specifying that an athletic trainer is an allied health professional, and specifying additional settings where an athletic trainer may be employed.  The legislation also codifies the authority of the Department of Health and Environmental Control to suspend or revoke an athletic trainer’s certification and impose civil monetary penalties for violations of the “Athletic Trainers’ Act of South Carolina”.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3845.  This joint resolution authorizes the transfer of certain Education Improvement Act carry-forward funds to the South Carolina Public Charter School District to provide FUNDS FOR THREE‑ AND FOUR‑YEAR‑OLD CHILDREN WITH A DISABILITY who are eligible for services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate 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.

The House committed H.3355, a bill addressing DRIVING WHILE USING AN ELECTRONIC DEVICE, to the Judiciary Committee.

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

KHG/jhm

The State Capitol Report – 3/1/2019

The House of Representatives concurred in Senate amendments to H.3849 and enrolled the legislation for ratification.  The joint resolution provides a GRACE PERIOD ON THE ENFORCEMENT OF THE NEW CIGARETTE STAMP TAX REQUIREMENTS, running through October 1, 2019, to afford sellers additional time to deplete their remaining inventories of unstamped packages of cigarettes.  In order to take advantage of this grace period, a report on the amounts of these remaining unstamped packages of cigarettes must be filed with the Department of Revenue by March 31.

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

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3726, a bill requiring CONTINUING EDUCATION ON THE IDENTIFICATION OF OPIATE-RELATED DEATHS FOR CORONERS AND MEDICAL EXAMINERS and their deputies.  The legislation draws upon the work of the special House Opioid Abuse Prevention Study Committee that was appointed by the Speaker of the House to examine the growing misuse of prescription painkillers and recommend legislative actions to counter the epidemic of ruinous addiction and fatal overdoses.

The House approved and sent the Senate to H.3101, a bill authorizing South Carolina to enter into the “INTERSTATE MEDICAL LICENSURE COMPACT”.  The compact allows qualified physicians to practice medicine in all member states by applying for an expedited license through the licensure board of the physician’s principal state.  The compact is administered by the Interstate Commission which consists of two voting representatives appointed from the medical licensing boards of each participating state.  To date, 25 states have joined the Compact.  This bill requires applicants for expedited licensure to undergo a criminal background check to include fingerprint or other biometric data checks.  The Compact requires a participating physician to be under the jurisdiction of the state medical board where the patient is located.   Each participating physician will be charged a non-refundable $700 fee for applying to the Commission of which $300 will be remitted to the SC Board of Medical Examiners for physicians whose state of primary licensure is SC.  The physician will be required to pay licensure fees for each of the states chosen plus a $100 handling fee to the commission for requesting additional state licenses.  The bill further provides that a member state may withdraw from the compact by repealing the statute authorizing membership.  A member state may be terminated from the compact if the state fails to comply with its provisions.

 The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3237, a bill establishing provisions PROHIBITING PRIVATE INVESTIGATORS FROM REPRESENTING MULTIPLE PARTIES WITH CONFLICTING INTERESTS in civil or criminal matters and placing limitations on the information that private investigation businesses may reveal without the client providing informed consent.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3362, a bill which provides that suspension of a person’s driver’s license for failure to pay a traffic ticket shall not constitute a conviction of an offense that would result in the person being considered an HABITUAL OFFENDER.

The House amended and gave second reading approval to 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 approved and sent the Senate 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.  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 approved and sent the Senate H.3985, a bill CONFORMING STATE TAX PROVISIONS WITH THE FEDERAL INTERNAL REVENUE CODE by updating statutory references.

The House returned S.80, a joint resolution addressing the MEMBERSHIP OF THE SOUTH CAROLINA AMERICAN REVOLUTION SESTERCENTENNIAL COMMISSION, to the Senate with amendments.  The legislation increases the membership of the commission from thirteen to fifteen persons.  In addition to the three ex-officio members, four members are to be appointed by the President of the Senate of which at least one of whom must be of African‑American descent; four members are to be appointed by the Speaker of the House of which at least one of whom must be of African‑American descent; and four members are to be appointed by the Governor of which at least one of whom must be of African‑American descent.  The Lieutenant Governor is removed from the commission’s membership.   Any member who was appointed by the Lieutenant Governor shall be deemed to have been appointed by the President of the Senate and may continue to serve on the commission.

The House approved S.327, pertaining to the South Carolina Senate’s redesignation of its General Committee as the SENATE FAMILY AND VETERANS’ SERVICES COMMITTEE, and enrolled the bill for ratification.  The legislation updates a statutory reference to reflect the recent change in the committee’s name.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3274, a bill providing for the PREEMPTION OF LOCAL GOVERNMENT REGULATION OF VAPING, E-CIGARETTES, CIGARETTES, AND OTHER TOBACCO AND NICOTINE PRODUCTS.  The legislation provides that political subdivisions of this state may not enact any laws, ordinances, or rules pertaining to ingredients, flavors, or licensing of cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, tobacco products, or alternative nicotine products.  Local government laws, ordinances, or rules enacted prior to January 1, 2019, are exempt from the preemption imposed by this legislation.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3760, legislation MERGING THE PATIENTS’ COMPENSATION FUND WITH THE SOUTH CAROLINA MEDICAL MALPRACTICE JOINT UNDERWRITING ASSOCIATION and establishing it as a market 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.

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