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 124th Legislative Session, prepared in cooperation with our lobbying partner, Copper Dome Strategies.
Friday, May 7, 2021
Both chambers spent considerable time in floor debate working through bills on the calendar. Just three legislative days remain in the first year of the two-year session, although the General Assembly will return following adjournment May 13 for unfinished business, including finalizing the state budget and redistricting.
Tax Conformity bill H.4017 remains on the Senate calendar awaiting second reading.
Gov. Henry McMaster signed a bill into law 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 governor also directed the SC Department of Employment and Workforce to terminate the state’s participation in all federal, pandemic-related unemployment benefit programs, effective June 30.
COVID Vaccination Reminder: All South Carolinians aged 16 and older are eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccinations. Online appointments can now be made at scdhec.gov/vaxlocator. For more information from DHEC on the virus, click here. Stay safe!
The Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday favorably approved H.4017 (Reps. Simrill and Pope), tax Conformity relating to the application of the Internal Revenue Code to state income tax laws. The bill was amended to decouple with 10 federal provisions and also to exempt the first $10,000 of federal unemployment payments from income tax. The bill remains on the Senate calendar awaiting second reading.
We would like to thank SCACPA Board Chair Ken Newhouse, CPA, for his testimony in front of the Senate Finance Sales & Income Tax Subcommittee on Tuesday morning.
There is confidence that American Rescue Plan funds can be used to cover the cost of not taxing unemployment benefits ($60 million is the latest estimate).
Stay tuned to SCACPA Connect and SCACPA social media as we will provide more information as developments become available as we watch Conformity on its track to be signed into law.
The House Ways and Means Committee met Tuesday morning and approved the following:
S.677 (Senator Davis) provides for the allocation of a tax credit or unused credit amount carried forward that is earned by a partnership or limited liability company taxed as a partnership.
S.436 (Senator Cromer) deletes an aggregate credit provision and sets an annual limit for community development tax credits. The bill sunsets in 2023.
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 (SALT Limitations). 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 bill was amended by the subcommittee to clean up some language, including changing electing entity to “qualified” entity.
S.527 (Senator Alexander) that defines “legally separated” for the purposes of imposition of the property tax so that each spouse can claim the 4% assessment ratio.
S.609 (Senator Alexander) would authorize state agencies and political subdivisions to conduct criminal background checks on their employees and contractors who have access to federal tax information. All of these bills are now on the House calendar awaiting floor debate.
Two other bills approved by the Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday received second and third reading approval this week. S.689 (Senators Leatherman, Massey, Malloy and others), a Joint Resolution to extend the income tax filing due date for individuals to the same date as federal returns are due and 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 are now enrolled for ratification
Gov. Henry McMaster on Thursday signed into law 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 was amended to add there is appropriated $67,055,000 from the Fiscal Year 2019-20 Contingency Reserve Fund to the Trust Fund for Tax Relief. The Board of Economic Advisors is directed to make any necessary adjustments among its forecasts for recurring and non-recurring revenue resulting from the appropriation contained herein.
TAX INTRODUCTIONS OF INTEREST
S.786 (Senator Alexander) Provides for a property tax credit or refund to the transferor of a boat or boat motor. Referred to the Committee on Finance.
S.793 (Senator Matthews) Provides employers may not inquire about criminal records of applicants until the applicant is selected for an interview and provides a tax credit to employers who hire a qualified ex-felon. Referred to the Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry.
COVID RELIEF AND THE STATE WORKFORCE
To address ongoing workforce shortages throughout South Carolina, Gov. Henry McMaster on Thursday directed the SC Department of Employment and Workforce to terminate South Carolina’s participation in all federal, pandemic-related unemployment benefit programs, effective June 30.
“South Carolina’s businesses have borne the brunt of the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Those businesses that have survived – both large and small, and including those in the hospitality, tourism, manufacturing, and healthcare sectors – now face an unprecedented labor shortage,” McMaster wrote.
There were 81,684 open positions in the state of South Carolina at the time of the announcement.
“The hotel and food service industries have employee shortages that threaten their sustainability. However, no area of the economy has been spared from the pain of a labor shortage,” said SC DEW Director Dan Ellzey. “While the federal funds supported our unemployed workers during the peak of COVID-19, we fully agree that reemployment is the best recovery plan for South Carolinians and the economic health of the state. Last week’s initial claims numbers were the lowest since the pandemic began, and employers around the state are eager to hire and anxious to get South Carolina back to business.”
For more details, click here.
In the News: “SC Gov. McMaster Orders DEW to Pull Out of Federal COVID-19 Unemployment Program” (The State, May 7, 2021)
After receiving the Senate-amended version of the FY21-22 General Appropriations Act, H.4100 (Ways and Means Committee), the House committed the bill back to the Ways and Means Committee.
Ways and Means Chairman Murrell Smith (R-Sumter) noted that since the budget estimate was significantly increased after the House passed its original version of the bill, he wanted the budget subcommittees to meet again and craft a revised House version. Those subcommittees will meet over the next few weeks and the full Ways and Means Committee will meet the first week of June to adopt a revised budget. The full House is expected to return on June 8 for budget debate on the floor. The $31 billion budget includes $9.9 billion in general fund revenues and one-time surplus revenue of $1.3 billion.
The Senate did not amend the House-passed version of the Capital Reserve Fund H.4101 (Ways and Means Committee), and it is now enrolled for ratification.
In addition to the annual state budget, the General Assembly must still 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 in the fall.
The governor’s executive budget can be found here.
Individual state agency budget requests can be found here.
The Senate Finance Committee budget spreadsheet can be found here.
The Senate Labor, Commerce and Industry Labor & Employment Subcommittee on Thursday favorably approved H.3243 (Reps. Collins, Bernstein, Kimmons, Forrest and others) that allows for people to be eligible for an occupational or professional license if they are lawfully present in the state and are not precluded from establishing residency under federal immigration laws. By unanimous consent, the bill was recalled from committee and is now on the Senate calendar.
After receiving back from the Senate an amended version of H.3194 (Reps. Lucas, G. M. Smith, Simrill, Rutherford and others), relating to reforms of state-owned utility Santee Cooper, the House amended the bill back to its original version thereby setting up a Conference Committee to work through the differing versions. While both versions make reforms to the quasi-state agency that would make it operate more like an investor-owned utility and provide greater state oversight, the House version includes a process for the eventual sale of the utility.
The House conferees are Representatives Jay Lucas, Murrell Smith and Todd Rutherford.
Senate conferees are Senators Luke Rankin, Shane Massey and Brad Hutto.
After many hours of debate Wednesday and Thursday, the Senate voted Thursday night to approve H.3094 (Reps. B. Cox, White, Lucas, Burns and others) that enacts the “Open Carry With Training Act” as amended. The bill allows holders of concealed weapons permits to carry openly and eliminates the necessity to conceal the weapon. Business owners and private employers may post signs prohibiting or allowing weapons on their premises. It remains unlawful to carry a weapon into numerous places including correctional facilities, courthouses, daycare facilities, etc.
Forty other states allow some form of open carry for permit holders. The bill will now be returned to the House for concurrence in the Senate amendments. Gov. McMaster has said he will sign the bill into law.
By a vote of 13-10, the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday favorably approved 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 people 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.
The Judiciary Committee previously amended the bill by adding back protections for gay or transgender people and removing stalking and harassment from the crimes that could add an extra hate crime penalty, leaving the proposal to only deal with violent offenses. The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration. Only three states (Arkansas, South Carolina and Wyoming) do not have such a law on the books.
The Senate Judiciary Committee also favorably approved H.3696 (Reps. Lucas, G. M. Smith, Murphy, Simrill, Rutherford and others) that would increase the number of circuit and family court judges in certain judicial circuits. The bill adds three circuit court seats along the coast where most of the state’s population growth has occurred. The bill was amended in subcommittee to add an additional circuit court seat in the second circuit, which has one judge. The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.
The House Constitutional Laws Subcommittee on Wednesday favorably approved H.4283 (Reps. Murphy, G. M. Smith, Lucas, Stavrinakis and others) that enacts the “Judicial Emergencies Act” and provides circumstances in which judicial emergencies may be declared and the manner and scope of such declarations. Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Beatty spoke in support of the legislation modeled after a similar law in Georgia. The bill now goes to the full House Judiciary Committee for consideration in January.
The House General Laws Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday favorably approved S.631 (Senator Talley) that enacts the “South Carolina Electronic Notary Public Act.” The bill establishes procedures for electronic notaries public and establishes fees and training requirements. Electronic notaries would be optional and could not be used for wills and trusts. The bill will go to the full House Judiciary Committee in January.
The House voted 112-0 and approved S.503 (Senator Hutto) on Wednesday that would allow Physician’s Assistants and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses to issue orders for certain home health services. The House also approved S.455 (Senator Davis) to create an additional category for temporary licensure for graduate nurses. Both bills received routine third reading Thursday and are now enrolled for ratification.
A Select Subcommittee of the Senate Medical Affairs Committee met again on Wednesday and took testimony on S.2 (Senators Peeler, Malloy, McElveen and Hembree), which would restructure the Department of Health and Environmental Control and create the Department of Behavioral and Public Health. The new agency would include the current DHEC Division of Public Health, the Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services and the Department of Mental Health. A new state agency, the Department of Environmental Services, would incorporate all environmental functions currently at DHEC, the Office of Coastal Resource Management and the Division of Water currently housed at the Department of Natural Resources. Lastly, all food establishment inspections would be transferred to the Department of Agriculture. The subcommittee heard once again from those agencies that would be affected by the change and plans to continue meeting and take public testimony moving forward.
The Senate on Tuesday gave second reading approval to S.508 (Senators Shealy and Hutto) relating to Do Not Resuscitate orders. The bill allows a parent or legal guardian to request and revoke a Do Not Resuscitate order for emergency services for a child. The bill, which was one of the recommendations that came from the Palliative Care Study Committee, received third reading yesterday and now goes to the House for consideration.
The House this week recalled from committee S.231 (Senators Shealy, McLeod and Matthews) that enacts the “Student Identification Card Suicide Prevention Act.” The bill requires public schools and public and private institutions of higher learning to add the telephone number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline to student identification cards. The bill received third reading Thursday and is now enrolled for ratification.
Gov. McMaster signed into law S.510 (Senators Grooms, Verdin, Davis, Adams and others) relating to motor vehicle manufacturers, distributors and dealers and contractual agreements on Thursday. The bill affects numerous clauses in the current contracts between automobile dealers and manufacturers.
The House on Tuesday voted 98-11 to favorably approve S.619 (Senators Rankin, Leatherman, Hutto, Fanning and Climer), known as the “Gallo bill.” The bill 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. California-based E&J Gallo Winery is planning a $400 million economic development deal expected to bring nearly 500 jobs to Chester County and is seeking this legislation to allow for wine tastings at stand-alone facilities in tourist areas. The bill received third reading on Wednesday and now goes to Gov. Henry McMaster, who has said he will sign it into law.
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday favorably approved H.4006 (Reps. G. M. Smith and Weeks) that extends an increased limit for certain off-premise alcohol sales by breweries. The provision was enacted into law last year and this bill extends it until May 31, 2022. The bill now goes to the full Senate for consideration.
Also Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee rejected a bill approved earlier that morning by a subcommittee that had combined 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 and H.3772 (Reps. Bernstein, G. M. Smith, Stavrinakis and others) that would allow home delivery from retail dealers licensed to sell beer and wine. The subcommittee not only combined the two bills, but had amended it to allow for the home delivery of spirits. The committee instead voted out H.3575 as it was originally drafted for solely curbside delivery or pickup of beer and wine. That bill is now on the Senate calendar.
The House General Laws Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday favorably approved S.472 (Senators Rankin and Hutto), which enacts the “Responsible Alcohol Server Training Act,” to provide for the establishment, implementation and enforcement of a mandatory alcohol training and education program. The bill was amended to exempt any new civil causes of action. The bill now goes to the full House Judiciary Committee for consideration in January.
The Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee confirmed the appointment of Dr. George Scott Bryant to the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners on Thursday. The appointment now goes to the full Senate for confirmation.
The House on Tuesday concurred in the Senate amendments to 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. On Wednesday, the House voted to reconsider the vote on the bill and amended the bill Thursday to include language that would make it illegal to possess or sell non-native venomous snakes. The amendment was necessary to deal with dangerous situations the Department of Natural Resources was encountering regarding snakes and needed state law to authorize them to act accordingly. The bill now goes back to the Senate for concurrence in the amendment.
Introductions of Interest
H.4318 (Rep. Rutherford) Requires a cable service provider to issue refunds due to an interruption in service. Referred to Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry.
H.4321 (Reps. J. E. Johnson, Murphy, Hardee and others) Makes filing of a notice form against a third party in workers’ compensation claim permissive. Referred to Committee on Judiciary.
H.4323 (Reps. Bennett, Jones, M. M. Smith and others) Adds institutions accredited by the Commission on Career Schools and Colleges to the definition of “Public and Independent Institution” for the purpose of Palmetto Fellows, HOPE and LIFE scholarships. Referred to Committee on Ways and Means.
H.4324 (Reps. Tedder, Finlay, Brawley, Cogswell and others) Constitutional amendment to delete the provisions that prohibit the sale of alcoholic beverages between 7 p.m. and 9 a.m. Referred to Committee on Judiciary.
H.4325 (Reps. Long, Chumley, Burns and others) Provides public schools and public institutions of higher learning may not direct or compel students to personally affirm, adopt or adhere to tenets to “Critical Race Theory” or provide related instruction. Referred to Committee on Education and Public Works.
H.4338 (Reps. Herbkersman and W. Newton) Authorizes licensed manufacturers of hard cider or mead manufactured in this state to provide tastings on its premises and off-site locations. Referred to Committee on Judiciary
The House Ways and Means Transportation and Regulatory Subcommittee will meet Tuesday morning. Next week is the final week of the regular legislative session.
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 30: With Two Weeks Left in Legislative Session, Here are 10 Tax Bills About to be Considered by the Full SC House Ways and Means Committee
April 23: House is Signaling its Approval of Senate’s COVID-19 Liability Safe Harbor Act
April 16: Crossover Deadline Passes, Senate Finance Committee Starts Draft of New $31B State Budget
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