The State Capitol Report – 2/15/19

The House of Representatives gave second reading approval to 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 concurred in Senate amendments to H.3630, a joint resolution that provides a three-month EXTENSION IN REAL PROPERTY TAX PENALTIES FOR WORKERS LEFT UNPAID DURING THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN, and enrolled the legislation for ratification.  For property taxes due on January 15, 2019, this legislation provides a three-month delay in the penalty schedule for unpaid property taxes and assessments that applies to real property owners who are federal government employees who did not receive their salaries on the normal schedule during the shutdown that began on December 22, 2018.  This delayed penalty schedule also applies to federal government contractors who were denied at least half of their income during the shutdown.

The House approved S.168 and enrolled the legislation for ratification.  This joint resolution charges the State Department of Education with developing recommendations for REDUCING AND STREAMLINING THE AMOUNT OF PAPERWORK AND REPORTING REQUIRED OF TEACHERS, SCHOOLS, AND SCHOOL DISTRICTS.  The department is to report its recommendations to the Chairman of the Senate Education Committee and the Chairman of the House Education and Public Works Committee by August 1, 2019.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3398, a bill permanently authorizing the “TUCKER HIPPS TRANSPARENCY ACT” by repealing the three-year sunset provision that calls for the legislation to expire on June 29, 2019.  Named in memory of the Clemson University student who died during a fraternity activity in September of 2014, the legislation was enacted in 2016 to require the state’s public institutions of higher education, excluding technical colleges, to maintain reports detailing student misconduct investigations related to fraternity and sorority organizations formally affiliated with the institution that include violations of a Student Code of Conduct for offenses involving alcohol, drugs, sexual assault, physical assault, and hazing.

The House approved and sent the Senate 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.  The legislation provides that, during the 2018‑2019 School Year, the State Board of Education 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. Such a waiver only may be considered and granted upon the request of the local board of trustees through a majority vote of that local school board.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3639, a bill relating to the IN-STATE TUITION AND FEES at the state’s public colleges and universities.  The legislation revises state law to bring it into compliance with recently-changed federal law which now requires that certain veterans with service-connected disabilities be eligible for in-state tuition and fees at public institutions of higher education, regardless of the length of time the individual has resided in this state.  Compliance is needed so that G.I. Bill benefits and similar provisions may continue to be used at South Carolina’s institutions of higher learning.

The House amended, 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 approved and sent the Senate H.3131, a bill allowing an anonymous MEDICAL HISTORY OF AN ADOPTED CHILD’S BIOLOGICAL PARENTS to be submitted, maintained, and disclosed.  The legislation establishes a procedure that allows someone

who is placing a child up for adoption to provide a medical history of the adoptee’s biological parents in a form that does not disclose personally identifiable information.  Should the biological parents choose to provide this material, the medical history is included in the information that the Department of Social Services discloses to prospective adoptive parents.  The medical history must also be deposited with the family court that enters a final decree of adoption and may be disclosed to the adoptee upon reaching the age of majority or before such time, should the court determine that it is in the best interest of the child.

The House gave second reading approval to H.3417, a bill TRANSFERRING THE ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION ENFORCEMENT UNIT from the Department of Public Safety to the State Law Enforcement Division.  The legislation implements a recommendation of the House Legislative Oversight Committee from the committee’s study of the Department of Public Safety.

The House amended and gave second reading approval to H.3031, a bill revising VOTER REGISTRATION DEADLINES and related provisions to bring greater consistency to the statutory timelines, regardless of the method used to register, and to reduce confusion surrounding when one must register in order to vote in an upcoming election.  The legislation implements recommendations of the House Legislative Oversight Committee from the committee’s study of the State Election Commission.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3072, a bill clarifying that those who previously participated in an alcohol education program are not prevented from subsequent PARTICIPATION IN A PRETRIAL INTERVENTION PROGRAM.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3388, a bill designating March as “MOVE OVER AWARENESS MONTH” in South Carolina.  The Department of Transportation and the Department of Public Safety are charged with conducting programs during the month of March every year that emphasize the importance of motor vehicle drivers moving over into an adjacent lane whenever possible when approaching or passing through a highway work zone, an emergency scene, or any other traffic incident.  Under the legislation, the Department of Transportation must allow a driver of a wrecker or towing service vehicle to take traffic incident management training free of charge.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3310, legislation establishing a procedure for an insurance company to obtain a SALVAGE CERTIFICATE OF TITLE for a damaged vehicle when a claimant does not provide documentation.  The legislation provides that, if an insurance company or its agent is unable to obtain the certificate of title from the claimant within thirty days after acceptance by the claimant of an offer in settlement of total loss, the insurance company or its agent, on a form provided by the Department of Motor Vehicles, may submit an application to the department for a salvage certificate of title.  The application shall include evidence that the insurance company or its agent has fulfilled its settlement with and made two or more written attempts to obtain the certificate of title from the claimant.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3359, a bill allowing those who served in the National Guard to receive the VETERAN DESIGNATION ON DRIVER’S LICENSES and identification cards by providing the Department of Motor Vehicles with a National Guard Report of Separation and Record of Service, also known as an NGB Form 22, that documents qualifying service.  The legislation further specifies what documents may be used to obtain the veteran designation.   

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3312, a bill that provides for various statutory updates and revisions relating to DRIVER’S LICENSES AND PLATES recommended by the House Legislative Oversight Committee as a result of its study of the Comptroller General’s Office.  The legislation modernizes numerous code provisions by removing references to the Comptroller General in statutory accounting responsibilities that have been handled internally by the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3051, a bill allowing certain RECREATIONAL TOWING ARRANGEMENTS on the public roads for a pick‑up truck with a fifth wheel assembly.  The legislation provides that, for recreational purposes only, a pick‑up truck with a fifth wheel assembly may not tow more than one separate trailing vehicle.  The combination of vehicles subject to this provision may not exceed a length of seventy‑five feet overall dimension, inclusive of front and rear bumpers and load carried on it.  However, the final trailing vehicle with its load must weigh no more than 3,000 pounds.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3127, a joint resolution establishing a temporary MOLD ABATEMENT AND REMEDIATION STUDY COMMITTEE to examine the health effects of mold in South Carolina’s public buildings, with a focus on children in public schools, and to ascertain the best methods for mold abatement and the prevention of future growth.  The study committee, comprised of three Senators appointed by the President of the Senate and three House Members appointed by the Speaker of the House, is charged with making a report to the General Assembly by December 31, 2019, at which time the study committee shall dissolve.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3700, a bill revising beachfront management restrictions placed on erosion control structures or devices seaward of the setback line to allow for the placement of shoreline perpendicular WINGWALLS that extend landward at a 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.

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.