Legislative Update
January 16, 1996
Vol. 13, No. 1

South Carolina House of Representatives
David H. Wilkins, Speaker of the House

Room 309, Blatt Building, P.O. Box 11867, Columbia, S.C. 29211, (803) 734-3230

========================= L P I T S

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The Committee endorsed a bill which gives statewide police powers to Natural Resources volunteer department enforcement officials, except in cases where territorial jurisdiction is restricted by their directors. The measure also prohibits a person from being appointed as an officer if he holds another public office. This legislation is now up for second reading in the House this week.


The Ad Hoc Subcommittee which met during the interim to study restructuring the Department of Transportation met Wednesday to amend its proposal, H. 4294. Originally formed to consider replacing the Transportation Commission with a Cabinet agency, the Subcommittee opts instead to retain the Commission structure with the following proposed revisions: (1) a new emphasis on private-public partnerships and outsourcing of building projects at the Department of Transportation, (2) the elimination of state employee grievance rights for certain Department of Transportation employees so that more of the work force might serve at the will of the Director, and (3) the creation of an internal grievance procedure to cover those employees exempted from state grievance rights. Further debate will take place on Tuesday when the bill is taken up in a joint meeting of the three subcommittees which handle transportation issues.

The Primary and Secondary Education Subcommittee reported favorably on an amended H. 3388, "The Charter Schools Act," which would allow for the chartering of public schools with specialized missions. Upon the request of Subcommittee Chairman Jaskwhich, the bill was recommitted to subcommittee so that it might be reexamined in light of new proposals for charter schools which the S.C. Chamber of Commerce hopes to have introduced as legislation. The full committee also delayed debate on H. 3467, a bill which would permit home school students to participate in certain public interscholastic activities.


Two bills were approved by the full Judiciary Committee. H. 3532 exempts roller skating rinks from liability for personal injury or death caused by the inherent risk involved in the sport. The bill is now up for second reading in the House.

The other bill which passed was H. 3339. It provides emergency workers control over emergency scenes until fire and/or law enforcement officials arrive. Currently emergency workers do not have this authority. The measure also requires drivers to obey emergency workers and designates emergency scenes as special hazards, triggering penalties for violations. This bill received third reading in the House Friday and will be sent to the Senate.

However, debate was adjourned on a bill pertaining to the tort claims act, and another allowing family courts to suspend or restrict the drivers' licenses of juvenile offenders.


The Property and Casualty Subcommittee met Wednesday to discuss proposals to repeal the mandate in current state law that automobile insurers write physical damage coverage (i.e. collision, comprehensive, fire, theft) for those who qualify for the safe driver discount. Eliminating this mandated coverage, the proposals under consideration send drivers with clean records (who may, for other reasons, be considered too risky for insurance agents to cover) to apply to the Reinsurance Facility to obtain physical damage coverage at a rate higher than is found in the private market. Such a driver would pay these rates held at a self-sustaining level by the Reinsurance Facility or a special physical damages joint underwriters association created within the Facility. Supporters contemplate such proposals as a way of ending a pattern of unfair subsidies in the area of physical damage which allows, for instance, the driver of a Chevrolet to absorb part of the risk-rate of another driver's BMW. Supporters also aim to prevent an increase in the portion of the recoupment fee attributable to physical damage coverage which safe drivers pay. The subcommittee will revisit the issue before making a recommendation.


The Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee gave a favorable report to an amended version of H. 4351, "The Gift of Life Organ and Tissue Procurement Act of 1996," which establishes a trust fund charged with educating the public on the importance of organ and tissue donation. The fund is equipped to receive gifts from any source, but would be funded primarily through a new income tax check-off donation and contributions made by applicants for driver's licenses, vehicle titles, and license tags. The committee's amendment to H. 4351 removes the proposed check-off donation option from corporate income tax forms, leaving it to appear on personal income tax forms, alone. H. 4351 received second reading from the House on January 11 and third reading on January 12.

Two measures, Joint Resolution H. 4329 which calls for a study on consumer financing of long-term care for the aging, and House Bill 4361 which establishes grants to assist communities confronting Alzheimer's Disease, both cleared subcommittees and await full committee action on January 16.


Committee members determined how to divide up over ninety million dollars in surplus general revenue funds from fiscal year 1994-95. The Supplemental Appropriation Bill (H. 4425-see Bills Introduced) includes renovations at the State House and the Department of Juvenile Justice, funding for Redevelopment Authorities for the Charleston Naval and Myrtle Beach Air Force Bases, and various education projects. The measure also includes thirty million dollars to help lure new industry to South Carolina. Several other items that were included in the Supplemental Appropriations Bill had been vetoed by Governor David Beasley in last year's budget. They include subsistence and operating money for the House and the Senate, and funding for the University of South Carolina Law School. The committee bill will be up for consideration in the House this week.

Representatives also endorsed the "Economic Development Industrial Cluster Act of 1996." This proposed legislation is designed to promote expansion in our state by Michelin and Maine-based insurer UNUM Corporation. Under the measure, these companies would be allowed to pay lower state income and property taxes. Also, Michelin is approved for a lower equipment depreciation rate and any industry which takes a jobs tax credit could extend the write-off to fifteen years rather than the current ten years. A separate provision in the bill allows local governments to keep half of their admissions tax profits to improve roads or other infrastructure, which would benefit the North Charleston Coliseum and Fantasy Harbour in Myrtle Beach. This bill also is up for second reading in the House this week.

On the subcommittee level, Health and Social Services subcommittee members will hold the first of three public hearings concerning Medicaid on Thursday, January 25th at 1:00 P.M. . Testimony will be heard about federal block grants for Medicaid.

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