May 27, 1997
Vol. 14, No. 19
South Carolina House of Representatives
David H. Wilkins, Speaker of the House
OFFICE OF RESEARCH
Room 309, Blatt Building, P.O. Box 11867, Columbia, S.C.
29211, (803) 734-3230
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Legislative Update, May 27, 1997
WEEK IN REVIEW
The House of Representatives devoted much of its attention to the issues of automobile
reform and private property rights.
The House amended and returned to the Senate
S.254 which provides comprehensive changes for
the state's automobile insurance market. The bill repeals compulsory auto insurance, allowing an
individual (who has not committed specified violations) to register an uninsured motor vehicle in
lieu of securing automobile insurance. This may be accomplished by paying a five hundred
annual fee into the Uninsured Motorist Fund established under the bill. An individual who owns
or operates an uninsured vehicle without paying the fee is guilty of a misdemeanor. If an
uninsured motorist who has not paid the requisite fee is involved in an accident, he must pay a
three hundred dollar reinstatement fee. Fifty percent of this reinstatement fee as well as the
currently collected on each uninsured motorist coverage policy must be directed to the
Department of Public Safety and deposited in the "Uninsured Enforcement Fund." With regard
the voluntary automobile insurance market, the bill authorizes flex rating. Auto insurance rate
level increases or decreases seven percent above or below current rates may take effect without
prior approval. Auto insurers may utilize rating tiers in the voluntary market. The current
mandate that auto insurers write coverage is repealed, but the bill specifies criteria which
may not use as a basis for refusing to issue or renew a policy. The existing Reinsurance Facility
and recoupment fees are eliminated. The needs of those who wish to be insured, but are unable
find coverage in the voluntary market, are met, instead, by a newly-created Joint Underwriting
Association comprised of all auto insurers conducting business in the state. This JUA must
provide auto insurance coverage which is set at a self-sustaining rate. That is, premiums paid
must be sufficient to cover losses. When the Senate did not concur in House amendments, the
House made its appointments to a conference committee charged with reconciling the
of the bodies.
The House amended and discussed H.3591, The
South Carolina Private Property Rights
Protection Act, which addresses situations where regulations and other governmental actions
restrict the use of private property to such an extent that the value of the real property is
significantly diminished, but the property owner is not compensated for his loss. As amended,
bill establishes a new, separate cause of action for property owners who are "inordinately
burdened" by governmental actions. This cause of action is independent of the Constitutional
doctrine of takings. Under the act, a real property owner is entitled to relief, which may include
compensation for the actual loss to the fair market value of the property, for specific action of a
governmental entity which has inordinately burdened an existing use of real property or a vested
right to a specific use of real property. In order to seek relief under the act, a property owner
must act within one year of the governmental action which he claims is an inordinate burden on
his property. A specified procedure must be followed including a written claim filed by the
property owner, a written settlement offer from the governmental entity. The property owner
may accept the offer and, should the offer contravene the application of a statute as it would
otherwise apply to the subject property, the property owner and the governmental entity would
jointly file an action in circuit court for settlement approval. If the settlement offer is not
by the property owner, the governmental entity must issue a "ripeness decision" identifying the
permissible uses for the property. Should neither the settlement offer nor the ripeness decision
satisfy the property owner, the owner may file a claim in circuit court. The circuit court shall
determine, considering the settlement offer and ripeness decision, whether the governmental
inordinately burdened the property. If the court finds inordinate burden, a jury is impaneled to
determine the amount of compensation. The formula for compensation is the fair market value
the property at the time of the governmental action minus the fair market value of the property,
inordinately burdened. The House amended the bill so as to exempt from its provisions any
of a governmental entity affecting the location of or approval of any extension of any type of
radioactive waste facility.
The House refused to concur in Senate amendments to
H.3694, which authorizes the issuance of
capital improvement bonds. The House amended the bill so as to restore it to its House-passed
version. The House also amended the bill to provide that projects identified by the bill must first
be funded by surplus 1997-98 general fund revenues, and if these funds are insufficient, only
may bonds be issued. A conference committee was appointed to reconcile House and Senate
differences on the matter.
A conference committee was appointed for
H.4151 when the House refused to concur in Senate
amendments. The concurrent resolution sets an election time for filling a seat vacated on the
Legislative Audit Council. The Senate amended the resolution so as to require a candidate to
a majority in each house of the General Assembly in order to be elected.
Conference Committees were also appointed to reconcile differences over
H.3400, the general
appropriation bill; H.3402, the joint resolution
appropriate capital reserve funds; and S.483,
which pertains to assaults on emergency medical service providers.
The House nonconcurred in Senate amendments to H.3317 which pertains to training required of
local law enforcement officers.
The House returned several bills to the Senate with amendments:
S.207 provides that regulation of video games
pursuant to the Video Games Machine Act is not
prohibited, including the prohibition on payoffs and location of these machines in counties where
such payouts and machines are prohibited under the local option provisions of that Act. Provides
civil penalties for machines located in counties where payouts are prohibited.
S.456 pertains to the domestication of a foreign
adoption of a foreign child. Under the bill, the
court may, in all cases where documentation is found to be satisfactory, transmit the certificate
adoption to the state registrar along with an order that a hearing will not be necessary. Court
Administration is required, in consultation with the Department of Health and Environmental
Control, to prepare and make available adoption forms and guidelines for obtaining the
domestication of a foreign adoption.
S.452 eliminates requirements that the state's
property and casualty insurers submit to the
Department of Insurance loss and expense experience reports. The information submitted in the
reports is available to the Department of Insurance via the database maintained by the National
Association of Insurance Commissioners. Instead of the routine reporting currently required, the
legislation provides that the Department of Insurance may require reports of loss and expense
experience at the discretion of the director.
S.624 pertains to debt incurred by Joint
Water Systems, providing, among other things,
that a two-thirds vote of the commissioners is required for the systems to borrow money and
The House amended several bills and sent them to the Senate:
H.4082 which provides that it is unlawful for an
entity to change a customer's utility provider
without the customer's authorization. A violator is subject to a fine of not less than one hundred
dollars and not more than one thousand dollars for each violation. A violator is liable to the
customer for all charges incurred by the customer, in excess of those normally incurred through
his designated provider, during the period of the unauthorized change.
H.3908 provides that the sale of property in
instances of delinquent taxes may take place in areas
in the county other than the county courthouse, and provides other specifications for notifying
current owner of record of the impending sale. An amendment allows penalties to be waived for
an owner who obtained possession of taxable property within the tax year, but received
H.3917 provides that public corporations may
include restrictions or conditions that limit the
transfer or receipt of rights, options, or warrants by the owner of a number of, or percentage of,
the outstanding voting shares of the public corporation.
H.3971 overhauls the state's probate code.
The House also sent the following to the Senate:
H.3966 revises the Underground Utility
Prevention Act by, among other things, reducing
from three to two the number full working days required for serving notice of impending
excavation or demolition. The bill also provides that an individual who damages an
utility belonging to a utility who is not a member of an association for mutual receipt of notice is
not liable for civil penalties or personal property damage if the person who damaged the utility
gave proper notice to the association for mutual receipt of notice.
H.3857 which removes from the Ombudsman in
the office of the Governor and assigns to the
Department of Social Services the authority to investigate allegations of abuse and neglect
occurring in health facilities licensed by the Department of Health and Environmental Control or
operated by the Department of Mental Health. DSS is granted powers provided for the
investigation of abuse and exploitation of vulnerable adults.
H.3891 provides when a deed recording fee is
owed by the grantees and clarifies certain
exemptions from the recording fee.
Several bills were enrolled for ratification:
S.634 enacts recommendations from the
Governor's Juvenile Justice Task Force. The bill
authorizes the Department of Juvenile Justice to establish a prison industries system. All funds
collected by DJJ from the sale of articles produced in industry system must be used to defray the
necessary expenses or operating the program and pay the salaries of personnel involved in the
program and the wages of juveniles employed. Out of the wages paid to juveniles, the following
must be deducted (with total deductions not to exceed eighty percent of gross wages): (1) state,
federal and local taxes, (2) child support monies, where applicable, (3) funds for the
of victims, in an amount comprising no more than twenty percent and no less than five percent of
gross wages. Of this victim compensation money, ninety-five percent must be used to
compensate the victim(s) of the juvenile's crime and five percent must be submitted to the SC
Victim's Compensation Fund. The Juvenile Parole Board is authorized to determine the
conditions for parole for juveniles transferred from DJJ to another state agency due to mental
illness or mental retardation requiring specialized care. Before the juvenile may be released
the agency providing appropriate care, that agency must submit a request to the Juvenile Parole
Board and obtain the board's approval. The bill also authorizes the Juvenile Parole Board to
conduct parole hearings via two-way closed circuit television.
S.303 provides that in situations where a
contractor or subcontractor falsely represents himself as
having worker's compensation insurance when engaging in work for a higher tier subcontractor,
contractor, or project owner or when a contractor or subcontractor fails to notify that employer
within five days of a lapse in his coverage, these actions of the contractor or subcontractor
constitute fraud. In such situations, the higher tier subcontractor, contractor, or project owner is
relieved of liability.
S.451: Under current law an individual or group
health insurance policy or health maintenance
organization (HMO) is prohibited from: (1) preventing or limiting an insured individual from
selecting a pharmacy or pharmacist of his choice when the pharmacist or pharmacy has agreed to
participate in the insurance plan according to the terms offered by the insurer; (2) denying a
pharmacy or pharmacist the ability to participate as a provider of pharmaceutical services under
the plan, if the pharmacy or pharmacist meets the terms and requirements of the policy and
to the terms of reimbursement set forth by the insurer. The bill repeals the "sunset" provision
under which these prohibitions expire May 18, 1997.
S.267 raises the civil penalty (from twenty
to one hundred dollars) which the court must
impose upon an individual who is duly drawn and summoned to attend as a juror, but who,
without sufficient excuse, fails to attend. The civil penalty for unexcused nonattendance for jury
duty in a magistrate's court is raised from ten dollars to one hundred dollars. Additionally, the
enhances a magistrate's ability to punish contempt in his courtroom, authorizing him to impose
fines up to five hundred dollars and imprisonment up to thirty days (currently, a maximum of
twenty dollars/ twelve hours).
S.40 provides that records, reports, applications,
and files kept on clients and potential clients of
the Continuum of Care for Emotionally Disturbed Children are confidential. Such information
may only be disclosed under court order, upon consent of client or guardian, or under other
specified conditions. An individual who improperly discloses such information is guilty of a
misdemeanor and subject to a fine of not more than five hundred dollars and/or imprisonment for
not more than one year.
S.397 provides that the consent of a municipality
must be obtained prior to the creation of a
multi-county industrial park if the proposed park encompasses all or a portion of the
S.133 adds certain prosecutors to the list of
individuals authorized to initiate involuntary
admission of a person with mental retardation or a related disability to the Department of
Disabilities and Special Needs.
S.577 is a joint resolution authorizes the
Department of Social Services to establish, in one region
of the state, a pilot child protective services program which allows less serious cases to be
diverted to an assessment track rather than following normal protocol.
S.622 is a joint resolution authorizing the
Department of Public Safety to retain and expend motor
carrier registration fees for fiscal year 1996-97.
Committees of Conference on the part of the Senate were appointed for
H.3400, the General
Appropriation Bill, and H.3402, the Capital
Reserve bill. The Senate conferees (for both bills) are
Sens. Drummond, Land, and Giese. Senate conferees for
H.3694, the 1997 Bond Bill, are Sens.
Moore, Smith, and Passailaigue.
The Senate gave third reading and sent to the House
S.174. The original version of this bill,
known as the "zero tolerance" bill, required a six months driver's license suspension for a person
under age 21 who, with a blood alcohol content of two-hundredths of one percent or more,
operates a motor vehicle. The Senate revised the bill to include, in addition to the "zero
provisions, numerous amendments creating tougher driving requirements, especially for
The Senate sent a message to the House of nonconcurrence in the House amendments to
ADEPT (Assisting, Developing, and Evaluating
Professional Teaching), which revises evaluation
and qualifications of teachers.
Bills which received third reading in the Senate and were ordered enrolled for ratification
included: H.3961, which provides for the
in which a person who has been disqualified
from driving a commercial vehicle for one year or more may be re-examined to obtain a
commercial driver's license; H.4053, which
relates to recovery from estates of certain individuals
for medical assistance; H.3112, which enacts
Osteoporosis Prevention, Treatment, and
Education Act and the Osteoporosis Education Fund to promote public awareness,
and treatment of osteoporosis; and H.3650,
which includes numerous conforming provisions to
the Family Independence Act of 1995 (most of these provisions concern child support,
employment, and training).
EDUCATION AND PUBLIC WORKS
The Education and Public Works Committee reported favorable with amendment on
bill establishes a procedure for the State Board of Education (SBE) to add textbooks to the list of
textbooks approved for use in SC public schools, upon written request of the boards of trustees
five or more school districts during any 365 day period.
The Senate version of the bill prohibits the SBE from approving the adoption of a textbook or
other instructional material which contains any clear, substantive, factual, or grammatical error,
and provides that contracts between the SBE and a publisher or vendor of textbooks or other
instructional material require that the material is free of any such errors. The bill provides for
purchase by a school district of SBE-approved school textbooks directly from a publisher under
contract with the state board when needed for instruction by the school district if the textbooks
are not available from the State Department of Education. Also, the bill prohibits a public school
from beginning a course if state-approved textbook(s) or other course material is not available on
the first day of class or if the delivery date is after the first two weeks of classes unless the board
of trustees determines that the class should be offered. The bill establishes membership
requirements for evaluation and rating committees for textbooks and for instructional materials
and delineates certain considerations which must be including in rating and evaluating criteria. The bill also provides that before final adoption, the state board shall make all textbooks and
instructional material available for public inspection for at least thirty days, at display centers
geographically dispersed throughout the state.
The amendments recommended by the committee include: a provision that textbooks may also
added to the approved list by written request of boards of trustees of two or more school districts
with a combined population of 25,000 or more students, and local school districts shall establish
procedures under which principals and teachers of the district may transmit textbook requests; a
provision adding publishers and vendors of instructional materials to the list of people with
the SBE may negotiate and execute contracts pursuant to this section; changing the language
which stated that each evaluating and rating committee charged with assessing textbooks or
instructional materials for the development of higher order thinking skills and problem solving
"must" have at least one layperson on the committee, and a majority of the membership "must
have expertise in the areas under consideration, to read that each committee "may" have "up to
25% lay membership," and that a majority of those appointed to the committee "must be
classroom teachers"; a provision strengthening the requirements in the bill for public review of
materials recommended by the review panels.
The committee also gave a favorable recommendation with amendments to
S.510. This bill
allows the transfer of license plates from one motor vehicle to another motor vehicle of the same
vehicle owner or lessee, only if the applicant has assigned to another the title to or the lease on
motor vehicle from which the plate is to be transferred. The bill also provides for collection of
property taxes from motor carriers who have failed to pay, and provides for fees in lieu of
property taxes for semitrailers and trailers of motor carriers. The bill also provides that certain
motor vehicles which are acquired after March 31, 1997, are subject to fiscal year 1998 property
taxes. The committee's recommended amendments to the bill include: striking language which
disallows a license plate transfer unless the applicant has assigned to another the title to or the
lease on the motor vehicle from which the plate is to be transferred, and striking language which
provides that the department shall require that proof of the assignment it determines appropriate
before it shall process a transfer application; a provision amending a section relating to
of property taxes for motor carriers, by providing that the county must distribute revenue from
the payment-in-lieu-of-taxes received pursuant to this section "within thirty days of its receipt"
every governmental entity levying a property tax in the manner set forth in the section; an
amendment providing that certain motor carrier vehicles which are acquired after March 31,
are not subject to fiscal year 1998 property taxes. The Senate version of the bill
these vehicles are subject to 1998 taxes.
The Judiciary Committee reported out four bills:
S.60 establishes a procedure by which a driver's
license may be reinstated for an individual whose
license has been revoked for five offenses involving driving under the influence (other than a
felony DUI offense). A circuit court may grant an individual's petition that his driving privileges
be reinstated if that individual: (1) has not been convicted of an alcohol or drug violation during
the previous seven years; (2) has completed successfully an alcohol or drug treatment program;
and, (3) evinces an overall driving record, character, and habits which indicates he will operate a
vehicle safely. After reinstatement, a subsequent DUI violation requires cancellation of the
individual's driver's license. The committee proposed amendments to the bill which clarify that
the individual seeking reinstatement must also not have been convicted of an alcohol or drug
violation in another state during the previous seven years. Amendments provide for a two
hundred dollar filing fee to request reinstatement. Amendments also revise driver's license
suspension/revocation periods for DUI convictions as follows: suspension for a second
is raised from one year to two years; suspension for a third conviction is raised from two years to
four years; a fourth conviction incurs permanent revocation (as opposed to current law under
which a driver's license is revoked upon a fifth conviction).
S.315 revises provisions authorizing witnesses to
be present at executions. The bill provides that
the Director of the Department of Corrections may approve the presence of two individuals
representing the family of the victim for whom the death penalty was imposed (If there are two
victims, the Director may allow for one representative per family. If there are more than two
victims, the Director may restrict total representation in accordance with space limitations.) The
bill also provides that the solicitor or assistant solicitor from the county where the offense
occurred to be present. The Director is authorized to exclude any authorized witness for security
purposes. The committee proposed amendments which raises the representation afforded the
victim's family from two to three individuals. Representation for the media is reduced from five
to three individuals. The chief law enforcement officer with original jurisdiction or his designee
authorized as a witness.
S.281 provides that a two-thirds affirmative vote
required from each branch of the General
Assembly for the removal or renaming of a monument or memorial located on state property
honoring the Confederacy or the Civil Rights Movement to take place. If the monument targeted
for removal or renaming is located on the property of a political subdivision, a two-thirds
affirmative vote is required of the local governing body.
S.409 revises local governments' authority to
revenue. The Committee proposes amending
the bill to substitute the provisions which the House passed as
The committee tabled two bills:
H.3790 pertains to the domestication of a
adoption of a foreign child.
H.3973 provides that no person who is acting as
a parent, guardian, or who stands in loco
parentis may serve as a foster parent if the person has a child under the jurisdiction of the
Department of Juvenile Justice.
EDUCATION AND PUBLIC WORKS
S.725 H.L. HUNLEY LICENSE PLATES
This bill provides for the issuance of special license plates on behalf of the H.L. Hunley
submarine. The fee for the plate is $100 every two years, in addition to the regular motor
registration fee that is required under current law. The bill provides that distribution of the fees
collected for the special plate is based on the total number of special plates sold, and specifies
the portion of the fees which are distributed on behalf of the Hunley must be used only
to raise, restore, and preserve the submarine.
H.4187 ENRICHMENT AND REMEDIATION
PROGRAMS Rep. F. Smith
This bill adds a section to the SC Code of Laws providing that "school districts in which
than fifty percent of the district's students score below the standard score on the Basic Skills
Assessment Program shall provide enrichment and remediation programs for these students."
H.4188 AFTER SCHOOL REMEDIATION
PROGRAMS Rep. F. Smith
This bill adds a section to the SC Code of Laws providing that school districts shall
school enrichment and remediation programs for at-risk students.
H.4186 REVERSAL OF COURT ORDER
ESTABLISHING PATERNITY Rep. J. Brown
This bill provides that a court order establishing paternity may be reversed upon presentation of
evidence, not available at the paternity hearing, which shows the order was in error.
S.409 LOCAL GOVERNMENTS' AUTHORITY
TO RAISE REVENUE Sen. Drummond
This bill allows counties to ask voters to approve local sales taxes for certain authorized projects
(most of which are for infrastructure). The bill also includes a provision prohibiting a local
governing body from imposing a new tax unless specifically authorized by the General
and an authorization for a local governing body to impose, by ordinance, a local
tax not to exceed three percent, and a local hospitality tax not to exceed two percent of the
charges for food and beverages. Ordinances imposing these taxes must be adopted by a positive
majority of council (actual majority of a council, rather than a majority of those present). Section
4-9-55 of the SC Code of Laws currently provides that the General Assembly may not
pass a bill
requiring a county or municipality to spend funds without the State funding the expense, unless
approved by 2/3 vote of each house. The bill deletes the current exemptions allowing unfunded
mandates in the general appropriation bill and special appropriations bills. The bill also
local government from imposing real estate transfer fees or taxes unless the General Assembly
expressly authorizes by general law the imposition of the fee or tax.
H.4195 SALE OF FIREARMS Rep. J.
This bill provides that a retailer of firearms must perform ballistics tests on a firearm before
delivering it to the purchaser and provide the test results to the State Law Enforcement Division
along with certain other information which will assist SLED in identifying the purchaser. Penalties are established for failure to comply. An owner of a firearm must report to SLED the
sale, transfer by gift, theft, loss, or destruction of a firearm. Penalties are established for failure
H.4196 REAPPORTIONMENT OF THE
OF REPRESENTATIVES Rep. Bowers
This bill requires, beginning with the reapportionment following the decennial census of 2000,
House of Representatives to reapportion itself so that a House District must be wholly contained
within a county if the county has sufficient population.
S.174 D.U.I. OFFENDERS UNDER THE AGE
OF TWENTY-ONE Sen. Giese
This bill requires a six months driver's license suspension for a person under age 21 who, with a
blood alcohol content of two-hundredths of one percent or more, operates a motor vehicle. In
addition to the "zero tolerance" provisions, tougher driving requirements are provided, especially
for younger, inexperienced drivers.
H.4207 DEFENDANTS FOUND NOT GUILTY
FOR REASON OF INSANITY Rep.
This bill provides that a defendant found not guilty of a violent crime for reason of insanity may
leave hospital premises unless an employee of the hospital is physically present with the
at all times. The bill defines the violent crimes which necessitate this surveillance.
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