By Copper Dome Strategies
Friday, March 12, 2021
We have reached the halfway point in the legislative session with nine weeks completed and nine weeks remaining before May 13 adjournment. Both chambers moved a number of bills this week from committee and in floor debate.
The Senate Finance Sales and Income Tax Subcommittee favorably approved two bills that the SCACPA Advocacy Team is in favor of. One relates to income tax rates for pass-through trade and business income and “S” corporations at the entity level and the other removes the expiration date for tax credits for the purchase of geothermal machinery.
South Carolina began Phase 1b of its COVID-19 vaccination plan on March 8. Phase 1c of Essential Workers includes “Accounting, Tax Preparation, Bookkeeping and Payroll Services,” and the targeted date for Phase 1c vaccinations to begin will be around April 12.
The Senate Finance Sales and Income Tax Subcommittee on Tuesday favorably approved S.627 (Senators Bennett, Adams, Kimbrell, M. Johnson, Davis and others), relating to income tax rates for pass-through trade and business income and “S” corporations at the entity level. The bill creates an election for the business to pay the tax at the entity level, making it a direct tax and circumventing the current $10,000 limit on state and local taxes on the personal return. The subcommittee also approved S.463 (Senators Alexander, Cromer, Grooms, Scott and Loftis) that removes the expiration date for tax credits for the purchase of geothermal machinery and equipment. Both bills now go to the full Senate Finance Committee for consideration.
The House Ways and Means Committee adopted its version of the FY21-22 General Appropriations Act last week. House rules require the budget to be printed and placed on members’ desks for one week prior to debate. Full floor debate is expected to begin on March 22.
The Senate Finance Subcommittees continued hearing agency budget requests this week. Agencies appearing this week included the Department of Public Safety, the Department of Probation, Pardon and Parole, the Department of Corrections, First Steps and the Education Oversight Committee. The Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS) also testified and gave an update on the state’s broadband and mapping initiative. The Senate is expected to take up the bill in full committee on April 13.
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.
COVID-19 – VACCINES
Gov. McMaster issued Executive Order 2021-12 on Friday, March 5, which modifies existing emergency orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic and begins the process of facilitating the return of the remaining state employees back to the workplace on a full-time basis. The new Executive Order rescinds previously mandatory face covering safety measures in state government offices, buildings, and facilities and authorizes the SC Department of Administration to promulgate guidelines, in consultation with the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), regarding the same. Additionally, the executive order recommends previously mandatory face covering safety measures in restaurants.
The state began Phase 1b of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan on Monday, March 8. The state is now receiving approximately 140,000 doses per week, including the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, and has 572 providers activated.
Note: Phase 1c of Essential Workers includes “Accounting, Tax Preparation, Bookkeeping and Payroll Services.” The targeted rollout date for Phase 1c will be around April 12.
DHEC announced on Wednesday that South Carolina has received federal approval to update visitation guidelines for nursing homes and community residential care facilities. These updated guidelines require facilities to use DHEC’s percent positive by county data to help determine their visitation status.
For more information, click here.
For more information from DHEC on the virus, click here.
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday favorably approved S.94 related to workers’ compensation and whether to include certain first responders who have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The bill was amended in subcommittee to narrow the exception and now goes to the Senate for consideration.
The House Judiciary Constitutional Laws Subcommittee on Tuesday took testimony on H.3620 (Reps. Gilliard, W. Newton, Bernstein, Hyde, Simrill, Rutherford, Lucas and others) the “Penalty Enhancements For Certain Crimes” also known as the Hate Crimes bill. The bill provides additional penalties for persons who commit a crime when it is beyond a reasonable doubt the victim was selected due to race, color, creed, religion, sex, gender, age, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, or physical or mental disability.
Many in the business community, including the SC Chamber of Commerce, are supportive of this measure. However, numerous religious organizations, including the Baptist Convention and SC Citizens for Life, while supportive of the underlying bill, expressed concerns about religious liberty and freedom of speech over one section of the proposed language. They cautioned the committee that the bill, as written, could have unintended consequences and stifle religious speech. Additionally, a number of speakers from the transgender community testified the bill does not go far enough and should include the term “transgender.” The subcommittee met again Thursday and adopted an amendment deleting civil causes of action to address the free speech concerns. The bill now goes to the full House Judiciary Committee for consideration. Only three states (Arkansas, South Carolina and Wyoming) do not have such a law on the books.
The Senate on Tuesday voted 30-9 to approve S.82 (Senator Malloy), the Tort Claims Act, which would increase limitations on liability. This legislation is similar to a bill passed by the Senate in 2019. The bill received third reading on Wednesday and now goes to the House for consideration.
A Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Workers Compensation Commission Appointments screened candidates Aisha K. Taylor and Avery B. Wilkerson for reappointment to the South Carolina Workers’ Compensation Commission, At-Large seats on Thursday. The subcommittee also screened the reappointment of Thomas Scott Beck as Commission Chairman. The appointments now go to the full Judiciary Committee for a confirmation vote. The committee questioned Chairman Beck on the problems associated with the commission’s electronic filing and retrieval system. Beck told the subcommittee the commission is working to address the problems with the vendor and will be issuing a new RFP in the coming months to complete the system.
Also meeting Thursday, the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee confirmed the following appointments to the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners: Dr. Elizabeth Fuller, At Large; Dr. LaDon S.Wallis, 1st Congressional District; Dr. Tracie Quick, 2nd Congressional District and Mrs. Deloris Mungo, At Large. The appointments now go to the full Senate for confirmation.
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday favorably approved S.28 (Senators Hutto, K. Johnson, Climer and McLeod) relating to ignition interlock devices. The committee also approved S.472 (Senators Rankin and Hutto), which enacts the “Responsible Alcohol Server Training Act.” It provides for the establishment, implementation and enforcement of a mandatory alcohol training and education program. Both bills now go to the full Senate for consideration.
That same day, a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee again heard testimony on S.619 (Senators Rankin, Leatherman, Hutto, Fanning and Climer) that provides for the sale of wine on winery premises, beer and wine on brewery property and retail sales and tastings of alcoholic liquors at micro-distilleries. Representatives from California-based E&J Gallo Winery told the subcommittee they are planning a $400 million economic development deal expected to bring nearly 500 jobs to Chester County and are seeking this legislation to allow for wine tastings at stand-alone facilities in tourist areas. The committee adjourned without taking action on the bill. Gov. Henry McMaster has urged the legislature to pass this bill.
The House favorably approved two bills related to alcohol on Thursday. H.3575 (Reps. Fry, Collins, Elliott, Kirby and others) would allow qualifying retailers to offer curbside delivery or pickup service of beer and wine. H.3772 (Reps. Bernstein, G. M. Smith, Stavrinakis and others) would allow home delivery from retail dealers licensed to sell beer and wine. A unanimous consent request to give both bills third reading today was adopted. The bills now go to the Senate for consideration.
The Senate Labor, Commerce and Industry Professions and Occupations Subcommittee again debated, but did not take action on, S.551 (Senators Kimbrell, Martin, Corbin, Loftis, Massey and others) relating to social media websites and the criteria used to determine whether to suspend or disable a user’s account. The bill requires the owners or operators to provide notice explaining why the account was suspended or disabled. More work is needed on the bill and it is likely to be debated again at the next meeting.
The Higher Education Subcommittee of the House Education and Public Works Committee favorably approved S.38 (Senators Grooms, Rice, Hembree, Verdin and Kimbrell) that enacts the “Reinforcing College Education on America’s Constitutional Heritage” (REACH) Act. 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 bill, which passed the Senate last week, now goes to the full House Education Committee for consideration.
The Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee on Thursday favorably approved H.3071 (Reps. Ott, Ligon, Taylor and others) that creates the “Equine Industry Support Measures Study Committee” to examine the potential for further growth of the equine industry. The bill includes a stipulation that the committee shall 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. The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.
The committee also debated but did not take action on H.3539 (Reps. Davis and Martin), which requires an official form of identification for the transportation on a public road and the release of live swine. The committee is expected to take up the bill at the next meeting and report it out favorably.
The House Legislative Oversight Committee met Monday to continue a review of the SC Department of Health and Humans Services (DHHS). The goal of the committee is to determine if agency laws and programs are being implemented and carried out in accordance with the intent of the General Assembly and whether they should be continued, curtailed or eliminated. The meeting this week focused on the Medicaid Eligibility criteria and process.
Information about the committee and its work and a link to submit public input can be found here.
The Senate spent time Thursday debating the reform and potential sale of state-owned utility Santee Cooper but did not take any action.
INTRODUCTIONS OF INTEREST
H.4051 (Reps. R. Williams and Jefferson) Prohibits radio or cable service providers from airing a fraudulent advertisement and provides penalties. Referred to Committee on Judiciary.
H.4062 (Reps. Sandifer and West) Allows the Public Service Commission to hire qualified, independent third-party experts and consultants. Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry.
H.4063 (Reps. Erickson, Bradley and Herbkersman) Enacts the “South Carolina Electronic Notary Public Act.” Referred to Committee on Judiciary.
H.4064 (Reps. G. M. Smith and Sandifer) Clarifies that a public utility regulated by the Public Service Commission does not qualify for a 14.2% property tax exemption. Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.
S.665 (Senator Rankin) Requires an application for an alcohol license or permit from the Department of Revenue be made under oath. Referred to the Committee on Judiciary.
The Technical College System will present its annual budget request to the Senate Finance Higher Education Subcommittee on Thursday at 1 p.m.
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.
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