View from the Dome

February 3, 2017

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The General Assembly met this past week in Joint Session to elect judges for a number of vacant judicial seats, including a seat on the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals. The Senate debated and ultimately passed a bill that would provide for the gubernatorial appointment of the Superintendent of Education, with the advice and consent of the Senate, instead of electing the Superintendent statewide. It will now go to the House for their consideration.

TAX

On Tuesday, the Senate gave third and final approval reading to S.250, the annual tax conformity legislation. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration and was referred to the Ways and Means Committee.

BUDGET

The budget subcommittees of the House Ways and Means Committee are beginning to wrap up their work hearing state agency requests and are shifting to proviso hearings. A proviso is a temporary measure that holds the force of law for one year and is commonly used to direct the expenditure of funds within an agency's budget.

On Tuesday, the Department of Health and Human Services appeared before the Healthcare Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee. The agency is seeking $50 million in recurring funds to cover the growing Medicaid program. They are requesting an additional $3.4 million in state funds to standardize and update durable medical equipment and the Home Health Fee Schedule. The agency is also seeking $8.8 million in one-time funding for the Medicaid Management Information System.

Legislators have warned state agencies that the new revenue has already been earmarked and receiving additional funding will be a challenge.

Individual state agency budget requests can be found here.

HIGHER EDUCATION

The House of Representatives began debate on H. 3035 (Daning) relating to in-state tuition rates for veterans. The bill allows military personnel who have been honorably discharged to receive in-state tuition at public colleges and universities by removing the non-resident 12-month waiting period to receive in-state tuition. The bill was placed on the contested calendar for further consideration next week.

JUDICIAL

The General Assembly met in Joint Session this past Wednesday for the purpose of electing judges. A vacant seat on the Supreme Court was filled by the election of the Honorable George C. James, Jr. The vacant seat on the Court of Appeals was filled by the election of the Honorable David Garrison "Gary" Hill. Two circuit court judges were elected to fill vacancies - Honorable Grace Gilchrist Knie and Honorable George Marion McFaddin, Jr.

To view the list of all judicial seats and to see how legislators voted on contested seats, please click here.

The House of Representatives began debate on H. 3204 (Pope) relating to the Judicial Merit Selection Commission (JMSC). The bill changes the JMSC process from nominating three qualified candidates to releasing a list of all qualified candidates to the General Assembly instead. The bill was moved to the contested calendar for debate on second reading. The debate is likely to resume next week.

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

The House of Representatives moved H. 3427 (Lucas, Allison and others) to the contested calendar for further debate next week. The bill would enact the "South Carolina Computer Science Education Initiative Act," which would require public high schools and public charter high schools to offer certain computer science coursework. The House approved H. 3220 (Allison), which establishes the "South Carolina Education and Economic Development Coordinating Council." H. 3220 went to the Senate for consideration and was referred to the Senate Education Committee.

INTRODUCTIONS OF INTEREST

HOUSE

H. 3644 Rep. Bernstein: Creates a resident vendor preference and forces consideration of such prior to making a final award determination under the Procurement Code. Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry

H. 3650 Reps. Sandifer, Simrill, and others: Creates the South Carolina Business License Tax Standardization Act. Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry

H. 3651 Rep. Sandifer: Prohibits the SC Municipal Association from collecting certain business license and insurance taxes. Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry

H. 3664 Rep. Bernstein: Relating to the cigarette tax. Referred to Committee on Ways and Means

H. 3666 Rep. G. M. Smith: Defines the Crisis Stabilization Unit Facility under the Certificate of Need program. Referred to Committee on Ways and Means

SENATE

S. 349 Senators Gregory, Peeler and Campbell: Modifies exemptions concerning accident and health insurance to include Longshore and Harbor Workers Compensation and the Merchant Marine Act. Referred to the Committee on Banking and Insurance.

S. 350 Senators Leatherman, Rankin, Grooms, and others: Relating to certain doctoral degree programs at institutions of higher learning and the use of appropriated funds for the operations of such programs. Referred to the Committee on Education.

S. 351 Senator Alexander: Creates an income tax credit for a clinical rotation served by certain providers as a preceptor for certain programs. Referred to the Committee on Finance.

S. 354 Senators Alexander and Verdin: Defines Crisis Stabilization Unit Facility under the Certificate of Need program. Referred to the Committee on Medical Affairs.

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