View from the Dome

February 21, 2017

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The House Ways and Means Committee passed their version of the state budget this week. Both bodies spent considerable time in committee and on floor debate.

BUDGET

The House Ways and Means Committee completed their work on the FY 2017-18 state budget yesterday. Legislators previously warned state agencies that the new revenue has already been earmarked and receiving additional funding would be a challenge. That warning became reality for most state agencies as the majority of the new and one-time revenue went to Medicaid, K-12, the pension fund and matching funding from Hurricane Matthew. The budget did not include a pay increase for state employees, but the committee did fully fund the increase in their healthcare costs. Among higher education institutions, neither the four-year or two-year institutions received any new or one-time funding in the plan. Items funded include:

  • $100 million for 39 plaintiff districts in the Abbeville lawsuit for building needs;
  • $150 million for increased pension contributions to cover half of the 2% increase for state and local governmental entities;
  • $82 million for state and local match from Hurricane Matthew recovery;
  • $46 million for Medicaid maintenance of effort;
  • $38.1 million to increase the K-12 base student cost;
  • $22 million for the Department of Commerce deal closing fund; and
  • $2 million each for Telemedicine and the Rural Health Initiative.

For the technical college system:

    • $10 million for Workforce Pathways; and
    • $9.6 million for ReadySC.

While there was no added funding for the colleges, House leaders have indicated that a bond bill for maintenance and renovations may be on the table in the coming weeks.

The bill will now be printed and, pursuant to the rules of the House, will sit on House members' desks for one week prior to full floor debate. That debate is expected to begin on March 13.

Individual state agency budget requests can be found here.

ANIMAL WELFARE

The House of Representatives favorably approved <ahref="http://www.scstatehouse.gov/billsearch.php?billnumbers=3619&session=122&summary=B">H. 3619(Rep. Atwater) on Tuesday by a vote of 98-12. The bill prohibits the tattooing and piercing of companion animals except for medical benefit, and then only by a licensed veterinarian or someone under the supervision of a veterinarian. The bill received third and final reading on Wednesday, and now goes to the Senate for consideration.

APPOINTMENT

On Wednesday, a subcommittee of the Senate Finance Committee approved Governor Henry McMaster's nomination of Mr. W. Hartley Powell to be the director of the Department of Revenue. The appointment will now go before the full Senate Finance Committee.

On Thursday, the Senate Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee unanimously approved Governor McMaster's appointment of Ms. Emily Farr to be the director of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. The appointment will now go before the full Senate.

CHILD CARE

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives gave favorable approval to H. 3591 (Reps. Govan, J. E. Smith, Allison, Erickson, G. R. Smith and Felder) relating to benchmarks and objectives required as part of the First Steps to School Readiness comprehensive long-range initiative. The bill, which received a favorable vote of 101-5, would also make the Office of First Steps to School Readiness permanent. The bill received third and final reading on Wednesday and now goes to Senate for consideration.

HEALTHCARE

On Tuesday, the House of Representatives gave favorable approval to H.3438 (Henderson, G.M. Smith, Sandifer and Hiott) dealing with interchangeable biological products by a vote of 104-0. The bill updates the Pharmacy Practice Act and requires pharmacists to notify the prescriber in the event of an interchangeable biological product substitution. The bill received third and final reading on Wednesday, and now goes to Senate for consideration.

Also on Tuesday, the Health and Environmental Affairs subcommittee of the House Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee approved H. 3521 (Reps. McCoy, Bedingfield, Herbkersman, Hill, Long and others) relating to the medical use of marijuana. The bill, known as the "South Carolina Compassionate Care act" would allow individuals with debilitating or chronic diseases to buy up to two ounces of marijuana from a licensed dispensary if their physician certifies in writing that their patients could benefit from the use of marijuana. State Law Enforcement Division Chief Mark Keels testified in opposition to the bill noting marijuana is not medicine and describing the difficulties associated with monitoring an illegal drug once it is in the hands of those who receive it.

On Wednesday, a Senate Medical Affairs subcommittee heard testimony on S.345 (Davis), a bill aimed at expanding the scope of practice for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs). After hearing a few hours of testimony from both nurses and physicians, the subcommittee carried the bill over with the intention of having another meeting in the near future to allow those who were unable to speak on Wednesday an opportunity to address the subcommittee.

HIGHER EDUCATION

On Wednesday, the presidents of the state's three research institutions appeared before the Senate Education Committee to give an update on areas in which they are collaborating. USC President Dr. Harris Pastides told the committee the universities are a vital part of South Carolina's infrastructure, particularly in the areas of innovation, creativity and research. He noted the colleges have collaborated on Telehealth, robotics, cyber security and more. While they appreciate the role of the Commission on Higher Education, they remain concerned about redundant oversight. Specifically, the presidents asked for continued financial support, a commitment to address aging infrastructure through a bond bill, and comprehensive regulatory relief legislation to allow them to be nimble, particularly in the areas of state procurement and human resources.

JUDICIAL / LEGAL

On Thursday, the Senate gave favorable third reading approval to S. 118 (Senators Campsen and Malloy), known as the magistrates civil jurisdiction bill. The bill would increase the jurisdiction from $7,500 to $10,000. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.

INTRODUCTIONS OF INTEREST

HOUSE

H. 3798 Reps. Clemmons and House: Resolution to honor H. Neyle Wilson, President of Horry-Georgetown Technical College, upon his retirement April 1, 2017. The Resolution was adopted.

H. 3816 Rep. Ballentine: Relating to mortgage lending licenses. Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry.

H. 3817 Reps. Bedingfield, Fry, Henderson, Huggins, Johnson, Hewitt, Crawford and Duckworth: Relating to controlled substances and pharmacies. Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

H. 3818 Reps. Bedingfield, Clemmons, Fry, Henderson, Huggins, Johnson, Hewitt, Crawford and Duckworth: Provides limited immunity from prosecution for persons seeking medical assistance for another person experiencing an overdose. Referred to Committee on Judiciary

H. 3819 Reps. Bedingfield, Fry, Henderson, Huggins, Johnson, Hewitt, Crawford and Duckworth: Establishes requirements to prescribe opioids to minors. Referred to Committee on Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs

H. 3820 Reps. Fry, Bedingfield, Henderson, Huggins, Johnson, Hewitt, Crawford and Duckworth: Requires opioid abuse prevention instruction in public schools. Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works.

H. 3821 Reps. Fry, Bedingfield, Henderson, Huggins, Johnson, Hewitt, Crawford and Duckworth: Requires certain higher education institutions to offer mandatory courses on prescribing certain controlled substances. Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works

H. 3822 Reps. Fry, Bedingfield, Henderson, Huggins, Johnson, Hewitt, Crawford and Duckworth: Requires DHEC to notify the code commissioner regarding changes to the rescheduling of substances. Referred to Committee on Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs.

H. 3823 Reps. Henderson, Bedingfield, Fry, Huggins, Johnson, Hewitt, Crawford and Duckworth: Mandatory reporting of an infant or fetus exposed to alcohol or controlled substances. Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

H. 3824 Reps. Henderson, Bedingfield, Fry, Huggins, Johnson, Hewitt, Crawford and Duckworth: Requires health care practitioners to review a patient's controlled substance history. Referred to Committee on Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs.

H. 3825 Reps. Huggins, Bedingfield, Fry, Henderson, Johnson, Hewitt, Crawford and Duckworth: Requires SHEC to provide prescription report cards to practitioners. Referred to Committee on Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs

H. 3826 Reps. Huggins, Bedingfield, Fry, Henderson, Johnson, Hewitt, Crawford and Duckworth: Requires DHEC to develop a counterfeit-resistant prescription blank. Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works.

H. 3842 Rep. Simrill: Relating to community development tax credits. Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.

H. 3845 Reps. Hill, Gagnon, Willis, G. R. Smith, Burns and others: Regulation of birthing centers. Referred to Committee on Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs.

SENATE

S. 442 Senator Corbin: Allows certain special education students to obtain occupational credential certificates. Referred to the Committee on Education.

S. 444 Senator Grooms: Relating to automotive three wheel vehicles aka "autocycles." Read the first time and referred to the Committee on Transportation.

S. 445Senator Hembree: Relating to charter schools. Referred to the Committee on Education.

S. 446 Senators Leatherman, Setzler, Williams and Campbell: Industry partnership tax fund credits. Referred to the Committee on Finance.

S. 447 Senators Young, Sabb, Shealy, M. B. Matthews, Johnson, Climer, Talley and McElveen: Mandatory reporting of an infant or fetus exposed to alcohol or controlled substances. Referred to the General Committee.

S. 452 Senators Campbell, Grooms, Gregory, Massey, Hembree and Bennett: Asbestos bankruptcy trust claims transparency act. Referred to the Committee on Judiciary.

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