Legislative Update #1 - January 2019
Dear Friends and Neighbors, As I enter my fourth term, I am excited to have some additional responsibilities in the General Assembly. I have been appointed by Judiciary Committee Chairman, Representative Peter McCoy, as Subcommittee Chairwoman of The General and Family Laws Subcommittee. I am extremely honored and humbled to serve in this role especially since I am the only Democrat and only female subcommittee chair. I also was elected Secretary of the House Ethics Committee and was reappointed by Speaker Lucas to the Joint Citizens Legislative Committee on Children. On Tuesday, January 8, 2019, the House of Representatives gathered in Columbia to commence its 123rd South Carolina General Assembly. On Wednesday, the General Assembly took part in ceremonies for the inauguration of the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, and the state’s other constitutional officers. During the beginning of the month, committees began working on legislation and we have been debating bills in our respective subcommittees. In my first subcommittee hearing as chair, we passed two bills which I am particularly proud of since I am the primary sponsor. The first is legislation aimed at curbing adolescents’ use of vaping products and the second is legislation eliminating child marriages. The latter unanimously passed the House last week and is summarized below The vaping bills will be debated on the floor this week and I anticipate that they will easily pass. In light of the most recent criminal events in the Decker/Percival areas, I am sponsoring a town hall meeting to discuss crime and safety in the area. Sheriff Leon Lott and Solicitor Byron Gipson will be the featured guests along with other elected officials as hosts: Senator Mia McLeod, Representative Leon Howard, Councilman Jim Manning and Councilwoman Dahli Meyers. The event will be held in the Community Hall at the Decker Center on Monday, February 18 from 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm. I will be sending out a reminder closer to the event. If interested, please plan on attending. As always, I will continue to provide you with monthly legislative updates on the bills that have passed in the House and other important happenings. Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns on these issues. Thank you for the honor and privilege of serving you and our community at the State House. Best,
WEEK BEGINNING JANUARY 22 The House of Representatives approved S.2, relating to the PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE in the South Carolina General Assembly, and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation brings state statutes into conformity with the amendments to the South Carolina Constitution approved by voters and ratified in Act 214 of 2014 to allow for the joint election of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor. These changes, which allow a gubernatorial candidate to select a running mate, have also eliminated the legislative duties of the Lieutenant Governor. With the Lieutenant Governor no longer serving as the presiding officer of the Senate, the Senate elects a President from its membership. This legislation amends numerous statutes to reflect the revised roles of these officers.
The House approved and sent the Senate H.3630, a joint resolution that provides a three-month EXTENSION IN REAL PROPERTY TAX PENALTIES FOR WORKERS LEFT UNPAID DURING THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN. For property taxes due on January 15, 2019, this legislation provides a three-month delay in the penalty schedule for unpaid property taxes and assessments that applies to real property owners who are federal government employees who have not been paid their salaries since the shutdown began on December 21, 2018. The extension also applies to federal government contractors who have lost a substantial portion of their income because of the shutdown. The House of Representatives approved and sent the Senate H.3697, a joint resolution authorizing ALTERNATE PROGRAM COMPLETION OPTIONS FOR STUDENTS IMPACTED BY THE CLOSURE OF SIX EDUCATION CORPORATION OF AMERICA, INC., HIGHER EDUCATION PROVIDERS in South Carolina in 2018. This legislation responds to the December 2018 announcement from the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) that it was withdrawing accreditation from the Education Corporation of America, Inc. (ECA). The House adopted and sent the Senate H.3012, a concurrent resolution to express the belief of the General Assembly that South Carolina’s schools and school districts should utilize the EDUCATION RATE PROGRAM OF THE FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION (E‑RATE) established by the Telecommunications Act of 1996 which provides discounts on Internet access and telecommunications services for schools and school districts with higher poverty levels in their student population that would be of great benefit to these students. WEEK BEGINNING JANUARY 29 The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3137, a bill making REVISIONS TO THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT FUND. The legislation discontinues the retrospective approach for funding political subdivisions that is tied to the previous year’s revenues and, beginning with Fiscal Year 2019‑2020, implements prospective budgeting that draws upon state revenue forecasts. The funding requirement for the Local Government Fund, set at 4.5% of the previous year’s state general fund revenues, is replaced with new funding requirements structured to deliver a revenue stream to counties and municipalities that is adjusted according to whether the state is projected to experience revenue growth. Under the revisions, when state general fund revenue is projected to increase, Local Government Fund appropriations must be increased by the same percentage as the growth estimate, up to a cap of 5%. When the state experiences revenue shortfalls, the Local Government Fund must share in the necessary mid-year budget cuts ordered for agencies and other state government functions to avoid a deficit. The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3136, a bill EXPANDING THE EXCEPTIONAL SC PROGRAM which allows income tax credits for donations to a fund that is used to grant scholarships to independent schools for exceptional needs children with disabilities or acute or chronic conditions that significantly impede the ability to learn and succeed in school without specialized instruction, support, and services tailored to the child’s unique needs. The cumulative maximum annual amount of the tax credit is increased from $12 million to $20 million for contributions to the Educational Credit for Exceptional Needs Children’s Fund and provisions are included to guarantee scholarships for exceptional needs children of South Carolina’s military families. The cumulative maximum for the annual credit is increased by an amount necessary to award a scholarship to any desirous exceptional needs child of a member of the armed forces of the United States who is either on active duty or who was killed in the line of duty. The House approved and sent the Senate H.3135, the “WORKFORCE ENHANCEMENT AND MILITARY RECOGNITION ACT”. The legislation removes the maximum amounts that currently determine what portion of an individual’s military retirement benefits may be deducted each year in South Carolina income taxes, allowing for the deduction of all military retirement income for those who are at least sixty-five years old beginning in 2021. The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3576, a bill creating the SOUTH CAROLINA WORKFORCE INDUSTRY NEEDS SCHOLARSHIP (SC WINS) to cover the full cost of a technical college education that equips a student for a career in sector experiencing a high demand for qualified employees. The legislation makes provisions allowing a student who is attending a two‑year public technical college and is majoring in an identified critical workforce area program and who is receiving a Lottery Tuition Assistance Program Scholarship (LTAP) for the current school year, to receive an additional South Carolina Workforce Industry Needs Scholarship (SC WINS). The SC WINS scholarship is equal to the cost of attendance, after applying all other scholarships or grants, not to exceed two thousand five hundred dollars each school year for no more than three school years of instruction, including the student’s freshman year. A three‑hundred‑dollar yearly book allowance is included for a SC WINS recipient. The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3369, a bill REPEALING THE PREGNANCY EXCEPTION THAT ALLOWS THE ISSUANCE OF MARRIAGE LICENSES TO MINORS. The legislation eliminates a provision that allows the issuance of marriage licenses to those who are under eighteen years of age when the female is pregnant or has borne a child. While the legislation eliminates this provision, which has allowed some young minors who were several years from attaining the age of eighteen to marry the putative fathers of their children, South Carolina law continues to allow comparatively older minors, aged sixteen and seventeen, to obtain marriage licenses with parental consent. The House approved and sent the Senate H.3472, a bill AUTHORIZING ATTORNEYS GENERAL TO CARRY CONCEALABLE WEAPONS THROUGHOUT SOUTH CAROLINA. The legislation adds the Attorney General and assistant attorneys general to the list of officials who are authorized to carry a concealable weapon anywhere within this state, when carrying out the duties of their office. The House approved and sent the Senate H.3411, a bill authorizing the Department of Revenue to implement INTERNET FILING AND INDEXING OF TAX LIENS for public inspection online. Replacing the existing system of filing tax liens with county clerks of court, the legislation allows the Department of Revenue to implement a centralized system of filing and indexing liens which is accessible to the public over the Internet or through other means. The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3446, a bill providing AUTHORIZATION FOR HOUSE AND SENATE ETHICS COMMITTEES TO ISSUE SUBPOENAS and subpoenas duces tecum to financial institutions and state and local government in order to further their investigations of campaign accounts.