As part of SCACPA’s dedication to Advocacy on behalf of the CPA Profession, here is your weekly update of actions being taken during the legislative session, prepared in cooperation with our lobbying partner, Copper Dome Strategies
Friday, April 16, 2021
With the April 10 crossover deadline behind them, the Senate Finance Committee began work on a version of the FY21-22 state budget this week.
The House met in subcommittee and committee meetings and debated legislation requiring teaching the nation’s founding documents.
A Senate committee unanimously approved the governor’s appointment of Robbie Kerr, CPA, to lead the SC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). He returns to his role of running the state’s Medicaid agency, which he did from 2003-2007 under Gov. Mark Sanford.
The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday adopted H.4064 (Reps. G. M. Smith and Sandifer) that clarifies that manufacturing property owned or leased by a public utility regulated by the Public Service Commission does not qualify for a 14.2% exemption. The bill also requires any utility that gets a tax exemption via this bill must use the savings to effectuate lower rates for ratepayers. The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.
The House on Wednesday voted 100-0 to approve S.271 (Senators Talley, Turner, Rice and Adams) that would extend the tax credit provisions of the Abandoned Buildings Revitalization Act through Dec. 31, 2025. The bill received third and final reading Thursday and is now enrolled for ratification.
TAX INTRODUCTIONS OF INTEREST
H.4187 (Rep. W. Cox) requires tax levy referendums to be scheduled to be held at the same time as a General Election. Referred to Committee on Judiciary.
H.4196 (Rep. R. Williams) allows for an income tax credit to a taxpayer that operates a school to work program. Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.
H.4197 (Rep. R. Williams) extends the Homestead Exemption to fair market value to the year in which the individual attains the age of 85 years. Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.
The Senate Finance Committee met twice this week crafting their version of the FY21-22 General Appropriations Act H.4100 (Ways and Means Committee) and the Capital Reserve Fund H.4101 (Ways and Means Committee). Most of the work involved adopting provisos which will direct the expenditure of state funding. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Hugh Leatherman (R-Florence) was not in attendance as he was recovering from a recent medical procedure. He is expected to be back chairing the committee when they resume budget discussions Tuesday morning.
The $31 billion budget includes $9.9 billion in general fund revenues. Legislators will have $385 million in new recurring revenue to appropriate for the next fiscal year beginning July 1, 2021, after the state Board of Economic Advisors (BEA) met last week and raised the revenue estimates for FY20-21 and FY21-22. One-time surplus revenue is now estimated to be $1.334 billion.
In addition to the annual state budget, the General Assembly must determine how to appropriate $2.1 billion in federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act. Also up for debate is the $525 million from the Savannah River Site settlement, much of which is likely to be directed to the three-county region primarily impacted by SRS. Those decisions are likely to occur sometime after the May 13 Sine Die adjournment.
The governor’s executive budget can be found here.
Individual state agency budget requests can be found here.
Video archives of the subcommittee meetings can be found here.
The Senate Medical Affairs Committee unanimously approved the governor’s appointment of Robbie Kerr, CPA, to lead the SC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) on Thursday. Kerr previously ran the state’s Medicaid agency from 2003-2007, during Gov. Mark Sanford’s administration.
Kerr told the committee his previous experience at the agency, combined with his private sector experience, will serve him well. He said working at the agency previously was an awesome and humbling experience and one of the greatest privileges of his life. He said he could not think of a better way to close out his career than to serve the state and its citizens.
Before becoming director of DHHS, Kerr worked at the agency for 18 years. A graduate of the University of South Carolina, he is a Certified Public Accountant and a certified management accountant. The appointment now goes to the full Senate for confirmation.
Gov. McMaster announced Wednesday he has awarded $1.5 million through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund to the SC Department of Commerce to establish the South Carolina Workforce Journey’s initiative, which will provide career exploration and job preparation resources for those between the age of 16 and 24 who were impacted by the pandemic. The initiative will employ new technology to highlight current and prospective career opportunities and will target high schools, career and technical education centers, technical colleges, and employers. Funds will pay for 30,000 South Carolinians to take an assessment to measure soft skills and core competencies for entry and mid-skill jobs. Commerce will also conduct a state and regional labor market data analysis to highlight trends within the job market related to artificial intelligence careers.
The original GEER Fund allocation was a one-time grant funded by monies received through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump. South Carolina’s initial GEER Fund allocation was $48 million. For more information, click here.
The House Judiciary Special Laws Subcommittee favorably approved H.3939 (Reps. Pope, Hyde, McCravy, McGarry and Bryant) relating to the definitions of “injury” and “personal injury” in workers’ compensation on Thursday. The bill exempts injuries sustained by law enforcement in the line of duty from certain limitations on claims for injury caused by stress, mental injury or mental illness (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). The SC Association of Counties and the SC Municipal Association expressed concern with the bill as written. The bill now goes to the full House Judiciary Committee for consideration. A similar Senate bill S.94 (Senator Malloy) remains on the Senate calendar with an objection.
COVID-19 – VACCINES
The SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) announced it is pausing use of the Janssen vaccine, also referred to as Johnson & Johnson, due to concerns with blood clotting. Read more here.
All South Carolinians age 16 and older can get their COVID-19 vaccine. For more details from DHEC on the virus, click here.
A Senate Judiciary Subcommittee debated S.536 (Senators Harpootlian, Talley, Scott and others) on Wednesday that adds the definition of “primarily and substantially” in relation to requiring a business to derive not less than 51% of gross revenue from its sales of meals and foods in order to serve liquor. The bill’s sponsor noted the effort is to return to the original intent of the state’s liquor laws that prohibited establishments from selling liquor except in restaurants. The subcommittee carried over the bill and is expected to debate it again.
The House gave third and final reading approval to H.3588 (Reps. Allison, Felder and Carter) relating to the criteria for LIFE scholarships on Tuesday. The bill requires successful completion of certain English and mathematics or computer science courses during their senior year for students seeking the scholarship. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.
The Higher Education Subcommittee of the House Education Committee favorably approved S.241 (Senator Young) relating to tuition rates for military personnel and their dependents on Wednesday. The bill removes the requirement that a veteran or dependent enroll in a public institution of higher learning within three years of the veteran’s discharge in order to receive educational assistance. The bill aims to bring state law into compliance with federal law by removing the three-year limitation. The bill now goes to the full House Education Committee for consideration.
Also Wednesday, the Senate Education Committee favorably approved H.3017 (Reps. Davis, Atkinson, B. Newton and others), which would allow eligibility for Palmetto Fellows Scholarships for students attending in-state two-year institutions of higher learning and technical colleges. The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.
The House gave second reading approval to S.38 (Senators Grooms, Rice, Hembree, Verdin and Kimbrell) that enacts the “Reinforcing College Education on America’s Constitutional Heritage” (REACH) Act on Thursday. The bill requires each high school and institution of higher education that provides a baccalaureate program to provide instruction on the United States Constitution, the Federalist Papers, the Declaration of Independence and the Emancipation Proclamation. The House amended the bill to include a minimum of five essays in their entirety from the Federalist Papers as selected by an instructor and one or more documents that are foundational to the African American Freedom struggle. The bill remains on the House calendar awaiting third and final reading.
Gov. Henry McMaster signed into law H.3071 (Reps. Ott, Ligon, Taylor and others) on Monday that creates the “Equine Industry Support Measures Study Committee” to examine the potential for further growth of the equine industry. The committee will study the potential for fees to be imposed on all commercial feed and custom blends labeled for equine for the purpose of promoting the equine industry. Recommendations from the seven-member committee are due to the General Assembly by Feb. 15, 2022.
DHEC announced the selection of Brannon Traxler, M.D., MPH, to serve as the agency’s Director of Public Health on Thursday. Dr. Traxler will assume her role as director of Public Health effective Monday, April 19. A native of Greenville, she most recently served as interim director of Public Health for the agency, a position she assumed after serving as Chief Medical Officer for the state’s COVID-19 response. Traxler earned her medical degree from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine and her Master of Public Health degree from George Washington University. She received her undergraduate degree in microbiology at Clemson University Honors College. Read more here.
Legislative rules require that for bills to be considered by the opposite chamber this session, all bills must receive third and final reading by April 10. Bills that do not meet this deadline can be debated but must reach a much higher threshold for debate by receiving a two-thirds vote of the body. As this is the first year of a two-year legislative session, any bills that do not become law this year will retain their place when the legislature meets in January for the second year of the session.
OTHER INTRODUCTIONS OF INTEREST
H.4207 (Reps. Govan, Hosey, Clyburn and others) is a resolution congratulating Dr. Willie L. Todd on the occasion of his investiture as the ninth president of Denmark Technical College. Introduced and adopted.
S.751 (Senator Harpootlian) relating to net energy metering and exceptions to the prohibition on cost recovery for lost revenues associated with customer generators. Referred to the Committee on Judiciary.
The Healthcare and Regulatory Subcommittee of the House Oversight Committee will take public testimony on the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Monday afternoon. The Senate Finance Committee resumes work on the state budget Tuesday morning.
REAR VIEWS 2021
Look to SCACPA’s “View from the Dome” updates on the SCACPA website and our social media every week during the legislative session. Sine Die adjournment is scheduled for May 13. You can always stay up-to-date with SCACPA’s respective blog pages for Governmental Topics, Legislative Topics and Regulatory Topics.
April 9: Conformity Moves Through House, with Tax Break for $10,000 in Unemployment Benefits
April 2: Senate Approves Bill Concerning Attorney’s Fees Connected to DOR Actions
March 26: House Receives Senate’s Bill for Pass-Through Trade and Business
March 19: Conformity Begins its Journey with Approval from a House Ways and Means Subcommittee
March 12: Senate Finance Committee to Consider a Pass-Through Trade and Business Bill
March 5: House Ways and Means Committee is Cautious With its Version of State Budget
Feb. 26: Senate Approves “COVID-19 Liability Safe Harbor Act,” Bill Now Heads to House
Feb. 19: Senate Sets Priority on COVID-19 Liability Safe Harbor Act as its Debate Continues
Feb. 12: Senate to Consider Personal Finance Courses Requirement to Replace Economics Classes for High Schoolers
Feb. 5: Senate Nears Approval of $200M from Reserve Fund for Vaccine Distribution
Jan. 29: DOR Tells Economic Development Subcommittee That SC’s Tax Revenues are Strong
Jan. 22: Board of Economic Advisors Places State’s Tax Revenue Collections at $336M Above Forecast
Jan. 15: McMaster Delivers State of the State, Recommends $123M More for Small Business Grants
Jan. 8: 2021 Legislative Session “Pre-View from the Dome”
Dec. 18: A First Look at Pre-Filed Tax Legislation of Interest for the 2021 Legislative Session