The State Capitol Report – 2/21/2020

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

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

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

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