By Copper Dome Strategies
Friday, Feb. 5, 2021
The General Assembly met in Joint Session on Wednesday for judicial elections.
Gov. Henry McMaster announced that beginning Monday, Feb. 8, any South Carolina resident over age 65 could begin scheduling an appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Senate Medical Affairs Committee approved the appointment of a director for the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC).
The Senate Finance Committee favorably approved on Tuesday S.271 (Senators Talley, Turner, Rice and Adams), which would extend the tax credit provisions of the Abandoned Buildings Revitalization Act through Dec. 31, 2025. The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.
A Senate Education Subcommittee favorably approved on Thursday S.16 (Senators Rankin, Hembree, Malloy and Fanning), which would require completion of certain basic personal finance coursework for high school graduation instead of existing economics coursework requirements. The State Department of Education would develop related measuring and reporting requirements and make provisions applicable to students entering ninth grade beginning with the 2022-23 school year. The bill now goes to the full Senate Education Committee.
House Ways and Means budget subcommittees are wrapping up state agency budget request meetings for FY 21-22. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) appeared before the Healthcare Subcommittee on Tuesday. The agency is seeking $94 million for the Medicaid Maintenance of Effort. The agency is also requesting $37 million for initiatives, including provider rate increases and $36 million for state contracts. The House Ways and Means Committee is expected to take up the budget in full committee the third week of February. Full floor debate is expected in the House the second week of March and then the budget goes to the Senate for their consideration.
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.
GENERAL OBLIGATION BONDS
The Senate Finance Committee favorably approved S.491 (Senator Leatherman) on Tuesday, a Joint Resolution that would authorize the issuance of up to $550 million of General Obligation Economic Development bonds. The sole purpose is limited to defraying the costs of the Intermodal Container Transfer Infrastructure operated by the State Ports Authority. Charleston is the only major East Coast port without near dock rail service. The goal of the new facility is to move approximately 500,000 trucks annually off South Carolina roads and finalize the port’s major infrastructure initiative. There is additional legislation that will be needed to address the “structural component” of the project. The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.
Gov. McMaster and DHEC announced Wednesday that beginning Monday, Feb. 8, any South Carolina resident aged 65 or older, could begin scheduling their appointment to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of health status or preexisting conditions. DHEC’s online tool shows locations accepting vaccine appointments and provides contact information for scheduling appointments. For details, click here.
The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday adopted H.3707 (Ways and Means Committee), a Joint Resolution that would provide over $200 million from the Contingency Reserve Fund to address vaccine distribution. The Joint Resolution appropriates $63 million to DHEC and $45 million to the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) for continuing efforts. $100 million is appropriated to the COVID-19 Vaccine Reserve account to provide allocations of $75 million to hospitals to pay for the costs of administering the COVID-19 vaccine and $25 million to other COVID-19 vaccination providers that are enrolled and activated by DHEC. The Joint Resolution was amended to ensure the four regional health regions receive the vaccine for distribution in a per-capita manner and establishes regional panels to make recommendations for distribution. The Committee amended the bill to include the language of H.3602 (Reps. W. Cox, Elliott, B. Cox and others), a Joint Resolution that expands the list of who can administer COVID-19 vaccines under supervision, including retired health care workers. The Senate gave the bill second reading on Thursday afternoon and agreed to carry over all amendments to third reading next week.
For more information from SC DHEC on the virus, click here.
The Senate Medical Affairs Committee approved the appointment of Edward D. Simmer, MD, MPH, DFAPA as Director of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) on Tuesday. Simmer, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, recently retired after a 35-year career in the U.S.Navy, much of it in public health. During his confirmation hearing, Simmer pledged to ensure an easier vaccine application process and to work to improve the health and quality of life of all South Carolinians. The full Senate confirmed the appointment Thursday by a vote of 40-1.
The Senate also reconfirmed the appointment of Adjutant General Van McCarty. He was first appointed to the position on January 17, 2019, by Gov. Henry McMaster.
A Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Tuesday favorably approved S.147 (Senators Massey, Rice, Hembree, Adams and Peeler), the COVID-19 Liability Safe Harbor Act, which provides health care providers and businesses liability protection from Coronavirus claims. The committee agreed not to move forward with S.183 (Senators Hembree and Rice) providing liability protection for community pools as S.147 includes language that would provide the necessary protection. Twenty-two states have enacted COVID-19 liability protection and 21 states are considering it. Gov. McMaster strongly supports the legislation.
The subcommittee also favorably approved 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. Both bills now go to the full Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration.
The General Assembly met in Joint Session Wednesday at noon for judicial elections. To review the results of the elections, click here.
A Senate Judiciary Subcommittee took testimony on S.464 (Rankin) on Tuesday that would provide reforms to the State Public Service Authority, also known as state-owned utility Santee Cooper. The subcommittee did not take action on the legislation. Last week, the House favorably approved H.3194 (Reps. Lucas, G. M. Smith, Simrill, Rutherford and others), which establishes a committee to negotiate selling any or all assets of the state-owned utility and reforms the governance of Santee Cooper.
The House Judiciary Constitutional Laws Subcommittee worked into the evening on Wednesday and approved S.1 (Senators Grooms, Verdin, Kimbrell, Garrett and others) enacting the “South Carolina Fetal Heartbeat and Protection from Abortion Act.” The bill, which passed the Senate last week, prohibits the performance of an abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected. The legislation is a priority for the GOP majority. Opponents say the bill will ban virtually all abortions and is unconstitutional. The bill now goes to the full Judiciary Committee for consideration.
A Senate Transportation Subcommittee favorably approved S.510 (Senators Grooms, Verdin, Davis, Adams and others) on Wednesday relating to motor vehicle manufacturers, distributors and dealers and contractual agreements. Later that afternoon, the full Senate Transportation Committee adopted the bill. The bill, which was introduced the day before the meeting, affects numerous clauses in the current contracts between automobile dealers and manufacturers. Automobile manufacturers testified that they had not seen the bill until just hours before the scheduled meeting and needed time to work through many of the issues raised by the automobile dealers through this legislation. The committee adopted the bill and urged the two parties to get together to try to resolve their differences. The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.
The House Higher Education Subcommittee of the House Education Committee favorably approved H.3017 (Reps. Davis, Atkinson, B. Newton and others) on Wednesday, which would allow eligibility for Palmetto Fellows Scholarships for students attending two-year institutions of higher learning and technical colleges. The subcommittee also approved H.3029 (Reps. Huggins, Garvin, Allison, Ballentine and Wooten) relating to the disposal of surplus property by the Midlands Technical College Enterprise Campus Authority. Both bills now go to the full House Education Committee.
The General Laws Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday favorably approved H.3575 (Reps. Fry, Collins, Elliott, Kirby and others) that would allow qualifying retailers to offer curbside delivery or pickup service of beer and wine. The subcommittee also approved H.3772 (Reps. Bernstein, G. M. Smith, Stavrinakis and others) that would allow home delivery from retail dealers licensed to sell beer and wine. Both bills now go before the full Judiciary Committee.
On Tuesday, the House favorably approved H.3071 (Reps. Ott, Ligon, Taylor and others) by a vote of 106-5 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. The bill received third reading on Wednesday and now goes to the Senate for consideration.
INTRODUCTIONS OF INTEREST
H.3786 (Reps. G. M. Smith and Murphy) Requires the salaries of state constitutional officers be based on recommendations of the Agency Head Salary Commission. Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.
H.3787 (Reps. G. M. Smith and Murphy) Includes the Attorney General fall under the definition of “solicitor” for inclusion in the state retirement system. Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.
H.3788 (Reps. G. M. Smith and Murphy) Adds the Attorney General to membership on the prosecution Coordination Commission. Referred to Committee on Judiciary.
H.3790 (Reps. W. Newton, Erickson, Bradley and Herbkersman) Provides that an additional 4% of the distributions of admissions tax be used exclusively by the South Carolina Film Commission. Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.
H.3791 (Reps. Wooten, Erickson, Thigpen, Dillard and others) Enacts the “Police and Communities Together ‘PACT’ Act” relating to law enforcement training and conduct. Referred to Committee on Judiciary.
H.3817 (Rep. Daning) Requires a wireless telecommunications carrier to provide call location to law enforcement in order to respond to an emergency. Referred to Committee on Judiciary.
S.507 (Senator Goldfinch) Provides trustees of public higher education institutions who resign or are removed from office may not be elected to serve again for a period of four years. Referred to the Committee on Education.
S.508 (Senator Shealy) Allows a parent or guardian of a medically eligible child to revoke a Do Not Resuscitate order. Referred to the Committee on Medical Affairs.
S.510 (Senators Grooms, Verdin, Davis, Adams and others) Relating to motor vehicle manufacturers, distributors and dealers and contractual agreements. Referred to the Committee on Transportation.
S.519 (Senators Scott, Jackson, Sabb, Malloy and others) Establishes the “Office of Broadband Development” within the Office of Regulatory Staff and provides duties of the office. Referred to the Committee on Judiciary.
S.524 (Senators Turner, Bennett, McElveen and Davis) Allows for home delivery of beer and wine by licensed retail dealers. Referred to the Committee on Judiciary.
S.527 (Senator Alexander) Defines “legally separated” for purposes of applicable assessment ratios for owner-occupied residential property. Referred to the Committee on Finance.
The Senate Finance Committee Santee Cooper Review and Policy Subcommittee will meet on Monday afternoon
REAR VIEWS 2021
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