In the State House this week, we had some very broad-ranging bills and interesting events take place.
The bipartisan House Utility Ratepayer Protection Committee met again this week to further discuss the future of electric cooperative ratepayers who rely on Santee Cooper for their electricity. The Committee’s main concern, and my main concern, continues to be the protection of all ratepayers. The fact-finding meeting lasted several hours as representatives from the electric cooperative industry discussed their current status and future trajectory.
As with SCE&G ratepayers (including those in Calhoun Falls), Santee Cooper also passed on VC Summer costs to electric cooperative ratepayers. While each power bill might vary depending on the service region, electric cooperative ratepayers, as a whole, pay about 5% of their total electricity costs in VC Summer fees (this does NOT include Little River Cooperative customers) . The Santee Cooper bill is still pending in our ratepayer protection package and I will provide you further updates on protecting ratepayers as information becomes available.
As for the bills considered, the following action occurred:
The House concurred (as did I) in Senate amendments to H.3653. This bill imposes limitations on nuisance suits related to manufacturing and industrial uses of real property, and enrolled the legislation for ratification. Addressing situations where urban growth has prompted residential development to expand into previously outlying areas where established industrial facilities have been operating, the legislation imposes limitations on nuisance suits that nearby residents can bring against pre-existing industrial, manufacturing, transportation, and warehousing facilities that are complying with environmental permits and are otherwise operating lawfully.
The House amended, approved (which I voted against), and sent the Senate H.3529, a bill establishing the General Assembly’s exclusive authority over the regulation of auxiliary containers, such as plastic grocery bags, disposable cups, and takeout food boxes. This legislation provides that any regulation regarding the use, disposition, sale, or any imposition of any prohibition, restriction, fee imposition, or taxation of auxiliary containers must be done only by the General Assembly. I voted against this bill as I feel it is an over-reach of state power, removing local authority to decide what’s best for their community.
The House approved (and I voted for) S.297, a bill relating to performing security office duties pending the issuance of a registration certificate, and enrolled the legislation for ratification. The legislation revises provisions relating to private security officer registration certificates issued by the State Law Enforcement Division, to provide that, pending issuance of a registration certificate, a security officer may perform professional duties for up to thirty days, rather than twenty days, after receipt by SLED of his application for registration.
The House amended and returned to the Senate S.185 (which I also voted to do), a bill providing funeral service consumer protections that address solicitations from remote, out-of-state companies. The legislation establishes provisions that target the practice of allowing or permitting an Internet service provider, unlicensed person, establishment, or entity to engage in the practice of funeral service, embalming, cremation, or conducting business as a funeral home, funeral establishment, crematory, or mortuary. Under the legislation, an advertisement must include the physical address of the funeral home, funeral establishment, mortuary, or crematory where the advertised services will be provided. The State Board of Funeral Service is charged with promulgating regulations establishing additional requirements for advertisements relating to providing funeral services, including Internet advertisements.
The House amended, approved (as did I), and sent the Senate H.4655, the “South Carolina Insurance Data Security Act”. This legislation establishes standards for data security and standards for the investigation of and notification to the Director of the Department of Insurance of a cybersecurity event that impacts insurance licensees.
The House approved (and I voted for) and sent the Senate H.4654, a bill revising fingerprinting requirements for insurance producer licensure including provisions that allow these criminal background screening requirements to be satisfied without submitting a new set of fingerprints when a set of fingerprints is already on file, such as when a license is being renewed.
The House approved (as did I) and sent the Senate H.4656, a bill updating financial solvency requirements for reinsurers to bring South Carolina into compliance with the most recent standards of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners so that the state can retain NAIC accreditation and continue to enjoy legal reciprocity with other states.
The House amended, approved (as did I), and sent the Senate H.4612, legislation authorizing Surety Bonds for general and mechanical licensure applicants. Rather than providing financial statements showing a minimum net worth, this legislation affords applicants for general and mechanical licensure the option of satisfying financial requirements by providing a surety bond in an amount of two times the required net worth for the applicant’s license group. The surety bond option is offered as a means of accommodating those who operate under an employee option stock program arrangement which makes it difficult to satisfy minimum asset requirements.
The House approved (as did I) and sent the Senate H.4827, a joint resolution providing an extension for the Seizure Safety in Schools Committee so that the deadline for the committee to submit its report is January 31, 2019.
The House approved (and I voted for) and sent the Senate H.4868, a bill that establishes a staggered timeline for performing required audits of the SC Public Employee Benefit Authority (PEBA).
Also, Tuesday was Municipal Day at the State House. Members of city and town governments from around the state came to the capital for seminars and discussions on how to govern more effectively and meet with their legislators about local affairs. I met with members from the City of Abbeville and Town of Due West and discussed their needs from state government. I was chosen to speak on a panel about “Giving more local control of state funding”.
As always, it is an honor and privilege to serve you in Columbia. If you need help navigating state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact me at home at (864) 366-4112 or in Columbia at (803) 212-6934 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.