View from the Dome – Jan. 11, 2019

By Copper Dome Strategies, LLC

The first session of the 123rd General Assembly convened at noon on Tuesday, Jan. 8. This will be the first year of a two-year legislative session. Gov. Henry McMaster, Lieutenant Governor Pamela Evette and all the state’s constitutional officers were sworn into office on Wednesday.

BUDGET

House Ways and Means budget subcommittees have begun hearing state agency budget requests. On Wednesday, the full committee heard a presentation from the South Carolina Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office regarding budget trends, factors and issues for FY 2019-20 and beyond. Director Frank Rainwater told the committee that due to a growing economy over the past two years, the state’s General Fund revenue will include over $1 billion in new revenue from two years of a budget surplus. Budget writers will have an additional $498 million in new recurring revenue and $549 million in one-time revenue. Rainwater cautioned the committee that trends for the coming years indicate these large amounts will not be available in future years. His full presentation can be found here.

The full Ways and Means Committee will debate the budget in mid-February. Floor debate is expected in mid-March before sending the budget to the Senate. Gov. McMaster is expected to release his Executive Budget soon, which will outline his recommendations to the General Assembly for his funding priorities for the next fiscal year. Once posted, the Executive Budget can be found here.

Individual state agency budget requests can be found here.

HEALTHCARE

A Senate Medical Affairs Subcommittee approved S.16 (Senator Rankin), which increases the amount of a prescription that may be refilled from a 10-day to a 30-day supply when authorization from the prescriber is not obtainable. Also approved was S.169 (Senator Hembree), a Concurrent Resolution urging the Federal government to work expeditiously to remove barriers to conducting research on the use of cannabis to treat medical conditions. Both bills will be on the full committee agenda next week. The subcommittee carried over S.136 (Senators Davis and Shealy) that provides exemptions relating to the requirement of electronic prescriptions including practitioners who order a controlled substance to be administered in a hospital, nursing home, hospice facility, outpatient dialysis facility or residential care facility.

INAUGURATION ADDRESS

The inauguration of Gov. Henry McMaster, South Carolina’s 117th governor, was held at noon on Wednesday, Jan. 9. He was handily elected to his first full term as governor in November after succeeding Haley in 2017. He was previously the Lieutenant Governor. McMaster became the first governor to choose his lieutenant governor after voters changed the state constitution in 2012, picking Travelers Rest business owner and accountant Pamela Evette. Evette was sworn in Wednesday as the 93rd Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina.

In his 16-minute inaugural address, McMaster highlighted education and workforce development as the keys to future success. “We must also commit ourselves to providing the highest quality education for South Carolina’s children if we are to continue to compete in the future for jobs and economic prosperity,” McMaster said. He noted in his speech “that economic prosperity does not necessarily require a four-year degree. Economic prosperity can be achieved through two-year associate degrees and a multitude of certificates from our State’s technical colleges. Our technical college system is the best in the country.” The governor’s Inaugural Address can be read here.

SENATE

The gavel of the presiding officer, previously the Lieutenant Governor, was passed on to an elected President of the Senate for the first time in state history. The Senate on Tuesday unanimously voted to create a new “Senate President” position, which will preside over the chamber as the Lieutenant Governor once did. Senators then chose longtime senior State Senator Harvey Peeler (R-Cherokee) to be the first to hold the position. He was the only one to seek the post. The move was necessary when South Carolinians changed the constitution to allow the Governor and Lieutenant Governor to run as ticket.

Under the new rules, Peeler will be barred from chairing any standing committees. He will, however, chair a new Senate Oversight Committee to review government agencies and operations. The move by the Senate was to keep the leadership roles from being too centralized. Previously, State Senator Hugh Leatherman (R-Florence) chaired the Senate’s Finance Committee and played a major role in floor debate as president pro tempore. Leatherman will remain the Senate Finance Committee chairman. Peeler is the Senate’s senior Republican, having first been elected in 1981.

INTRODUCTIONS OF INTEREST

HOUSE

H.3458 (Rep. Robinson) Requires DHEC to coordinate the response to adverse childhood experiences through comprehensive data collection and analysis. Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works.

H.3459 (Rep. Robinson) Intentional misrepresentation of a service animal is a misdemeanor. Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

H.3464 (Rep. Robinson) Creates the “Public School Flexibility and Parity Study Committee.” Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works.

H.3483 (Rep. Hiott) Relating to certain coal combustion residuals in Class 3 landfills. Referred to Committee on Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs.

H.3485 (Rep. Jefferson) Relating to income tax credits for certain historic structures. Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.

SENATE

S.306 (Senator Davis) Relating to veterinarians and inoculation of pets against rabies. Referred to the Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.

S.311 (Senator Alexander) Limits liabilities on certain individuals who provide volunteer transportation to a senior citizen. Referred to the Committee on Judiciary.

S.318 (Senator Alexander) Enacts the “Pay for Success Performance Accountability Act” for state contracts with private-sector organizations. Referred to the Committee on Finance.

S.328 (Senator Sheheen) Relating to annual financial audits for special purpose districts. Referred to the Committee on Finance.

S.330 (Senator Davis) Enacts the “Occupational Licensure Reform Act” and legislative review. Referred to the Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry.

S.332 (Senator Davis) Enacts the “Clean Energy Access Act” relating to rates and charges of electric utilities and renewable energy. Referred to the Committee on Judiciary.

S.334 (Senator Climer) Prohibits legal fees in a public utility rate base. Referred to the Committee on Judiciary.

S.358 (Senator Cromer) Relating to the application of the Property and Casualty Insurance Guarantee Association and insurance requirements for workers’ compensation. Referred to the Committee on Banking and Insurance.

S.359 (Senator Gambrell) Relating to requirements for pharmacy benefits managers. Referred to the Committee on Banking and Insurance.

S.362 (Senator Verdin) Income tax credits for construction, purchasing and leasing solar energy property. Referred to the Committee on Finance.

UP NEXT

Both the House of Representatives and Senate have numerous subcommittee meetings scheduled as the real work of the 2019 legislative begins.