This past week was “Crossover Week”. This is historically the week that signifies the last week to pass a bill out of one chamber and send it to the next for it to have a chance at passing before the official final day of this year’s session ends. Bills are brought to the floor in droves. The past two weeks on the House floor was no exception as the floodgates opened and many bills were placed on the calendar, debated and sent to the Senate.
I voted in the affirmative for the following bills with one notable exception. Remember, these bills are not laws yet. They must pass through the Senate and, if passed by both chambers, receive the Governor’s signature to do that.
H. 4060 passed and was sent to the Senate. The bill addresses improvements in the delivery of workforce education in K-12 and higher education.
H. 3295 was amended, passed, and sent to the Senate. The bill allows the State Board of Education to waive applicable laws and regulations if a district is successful in its application to start a competency-based school.
H. 3843 was passed and sent to the Senate. The bill amends statutes regarding students attending public schools outside their attendance zone and school district. The bill also directs school boards to adopt an open enrollment policy by the 2023-24 school year that is based on the requirements set forth in the legislation, and the State Department of Education (SDE) must develop a template to assist.
H. 4023 passed and was sent to the Senate. This bill deals with changing the First Steps to School Readiness Act, making it permanent and stating that future reauthorizations are not required. Future Executive Directors of the Office of First Steps to School Readiness must be appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. Directors serve at the pleasure of the First Steps Board of Trustees. The bill revises the composition, appointment process, and terms of membership for local First Steps Partnership Boards (as well as provides for the termination of certain current board members and the transition of certain tasks by local partnerships).
H. 3682 passed and sent to the Senate. This bill facilitates Levying on Seized Animals for Care Costs in the ill-treatment of animal cases. As amended, animal owners found innocent of any ill-treatment of animal charges made against them would receive full reimbursement of all related care costs they fronted during the pendency of these charges.
H. 4066, State Executive Committee Election Protests, passed the House and headed to the Senate. This bill would limit state conventions to a maximum of 943 delegates. The state executive committee would hear all election protests and could require protest bonds to be posted by anyone contesting an election. Before doing so, however, they would have to pass an appropriate resolution prior to that election being held. Bonds are proposed to be capped at $750. Successful protests would mean any bond posted would be returned to its poster.
H. 3359 passed and was sent to the Senate. House amendments made minimal changes regarding highway crossing and helmet requirements. H. 3359 extensively addresses the subject of utility terrain vehicles (UTV). This bill defines the term utility terrain vehicle and provides for the registration and operation on highways and streets (to include side-by-side, four-wheel drive, off-road vehicle, transporting individuals and cargo or both, tires, width, steering, and seating). The bill also addresses speed and engine power parameters to ensure they are over the size of UTVs designed for young people. UTVs must be registered like passenger vehicles. They would be exempt from county property tax and subject to registration renewal biennially among many other requirements.
H. 3952, a bill revising the administrative authority of the Department of Consumer Affairs relating to motor vehicle dealers under the state’s Consumer Protection Code was passed and sent to the Senate.
Amended, approved, and sent the Senate H. 3782, a bill revising statutes governing telephone, cable television services, and other telecommunications public utilities to specify that video streaming services are not subject to the franchise fees that local governments charge for the use of public rights of way.
Approved and sent the Senate H. 3977, a bill facilitating property and casualty insurance policies that are posted on a website.
The House concurred with Senate amendments and enrolled for ratification H. 3312, legislation that creates the Child Food and Nutrition Services Study Committee. The committee shall make a report of its findings and recommendations to the General Assembly by January 1, 2024, at which time the study committee terminates.
Amended, approved, and sent to the Senate H. 3951. This legislation gives landowners another option for protection by creating the Working Agricultural Lands Preservation Program.
H. 4120 passed and was sent to the Senate. This bill would create an “Illegal Immigration Enforcement Unit” within the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED).
H. 3414 passed and sent to the Senate. This bill is referred to as the “Anti Carolina Squat” bill. It prohibits motor vehicle modifications that result in the motor vehicle’s front fenders being raised four or more inches above or below the height of the rear fenders.
H. 3514, the “South Carolina Equine Advancement Act” passed and was sent to the Senate. Among many things, this bill would set up a South Carolina Equine Commission. It would be chaired by our Department of Revenue Director. They will select and oversee up to three entities in South Carolina that would operate pari-mutuel betting entities for equestrian activities. I did not support this bill as it creates another Government agency (as well as more gambling) and very little of the proceeds benefit the State General Fund.
H. 3865 was passed with no opposition. It sets out Additional Optional Coroner Candidate Qualifications. This bill would add anyone with three years’ experience as a licensed paramedic as an additional qualification to become a coroner.
H. 3553 a bill to remove Adoption Waiting Periods was passed without opposition. This bill would eliminate the existing statutory 90-day waiting period. Adoptions of special needs children would be allowed up to twelve months for completion.
H. 3138, a bill dealing with the disposal of abandoned aircraft by an airport manager was passed without opposition. The bill provides requirements for the notification and sale process for an airport manager of a publicly owned or public-use airport when it is determined an abandoned aircraft, or a derelict aircraft is located on the premises of the airport.
H. 3691, legislation stating that a coroner, deputy coroner, or coroner’s designee may administer an opioid antidote in accordance with the requirements of the “South Carolina Overdose Prevention Act” passed without opposition.
H. 3681, a bill that prohibits municipalities from enacting laws, ordinances or rules pertaining to ingredients and flavors of tobacco products such as cigarettes or electronic smoking devices, and vapor products passed 98-4 and sent to the Senate.
H. 3690, the “ESG Pension Protection Act.” “ESG” refers to “Environmental, Social, and Governance.” The bill revises provisions governing the state’s retirement system funds to require decisions about investing and managing assets to be based on pecuniary factors.
H. 4116 passed and was sent to the Senate. This bill makes revisions relating to the licensure and regulation of funeral directors and other licensed funeral service providers.
S. 604, a joint resolution authorizing American Rescue Plan Act appropriations was amended and sent back to the Senate. The legislation appropriates $586 million to the Rural Infrastructure Authority ARPA Water and Sewer Infrastructure Account to be used towards fulfilling existing grant applications.
H. 4087 was passed and sent to the Senate. The legislation expands the corporate income tax credit provisions for establishing a corporate headquarters in South Carolina. Batteries, solar panels, turbines, and related structures are included in the definition of “postconsumer waste material” for recycling facilities.
H. 4124, a bill restructuring the Department of Health and Environmental Control. The legislation makes comprehensive reform provisions to replace the Department of Health and Environmental Control with a newly created Department of Public Health to assume DHEC’s health‑related functions and a newly created Department of Environmental Services to assume DHEC’s environmental‑related functions.
H. 4020, a bill enhancing motion picture production company tax rebates. The legislation revises the tax rebate provisions for certain motion picture production companies by increasing the total annual limit from ten million to thirty million dollars and by allowing the use of rebates for certain additional expenditures and expenses.
H. 3737, the “Short Line Railroad Modernization Act” (which I cosponsored) was passed and sent to the Senate. This bill makes provisions for an income tax credit equal to fifty percent of an eligible taxpayer’s qualified railroad reconstruction or replacement expenditures as a means of encouraging the rehabilitation of certain comparatively small rail lines.
H. 3563 passed unanimously and was sent to the Senate. The bill establishes a sales tax exemption for feminine hygiene products including tampons, sanitary napkins, and other similar personal care items for use in connection with the menstrual cycle.
H. 3908 passed without opposition and was sent to the Senate. This bill addresses paid parental leave for school district employees. The legislation establishes provisions under which school district employees are eligible to receive paid parental leave upon the birth of a child or initial legal placement of a foster child or a child by adoption.
This week, the General Assembly was hosted by our firefighters with a luncheon on the State House grounds. I met with members of the Abbeville County Fire Commission. Among them were Chief Tim Williams and Paul Parnell.