|The following summaries represent highlights from some of the
major bills considered
by the General Assembly during the 1998 legislative session. A more comprehensive document
will be issued from the Office of House Research at a later date.
CONSIDERED DURING 1998
House of Representatives
David H. Wilkins, Speaker of the House
OFFICE OF HOUSE RESEARCH
JUNE 17, 1998
OVERVIEW OF THE 1998 LEGISLATIVE SESSION
Office of House Research
During the 1998 legislative year, the General Assembly again placed substantial emphasis on
education - both kindergarten through grade twelve and post-secondary education. This
emphasis is seen in both the 1998-99 General Appropriation Bill, where a great portion of the
new funds appropriated is dedicated to education, as well as in comprehensive bills passed in
1998 which specifically address both public and higher education.
Substantial funding is included in the 1998-99 budget bill for implementation of the provisions
of S.850, the South Carolina Education Accountability
Act of 1998. This comprehensive
legislation, which impacts grades kindergarten through twelve, requires establishment of
detailed, grade level academic standards in specified subjects, and requires assessment of
students' and schools' success in meeting these standards. Schools' performance on both
meeting standards and on improvement from past performance ratings will be graded annually,
and report cards on these ratings will be mailed to parents and advertised in the newspaper.
Building on the improved public school performance that the Education Accountability Act is
expected to bring, the General Assembly passed H.4535,
which creates two new tuition
assistance programs. These programs - one providing scholarships and one providing tuition tax
credits - will dramatically improve the availability of a college education for South Carolina's
children. The Legislative Incentives for Future Excellence (LIFE) scholarship program offers
direct academic scholarships to qualified students. Tuition tax credits are offered for students
who do not meet the academic requirements for the LIFE and the current Palmetto Fellows
Scholarship programs. Funding for both the LIFE scholarship and tuition tax credits is included
in the 1998-99 General Appropriation Bill.
The General Assembly again prioritized tax relief by including an additional $30 million in the
1998-99 budget to annualize and maintain the homeowner property tax relief program. Also,
the Senate agreed to the House's proposal to establish, by permanent proviso in the budget, the
Trust Fund for Tax Relief. This fund, which totals $354 million for 1998-99, guarantees the
residential property tax exemption, the homestead exemption for persons over age 65 or
disabled, the business inventory tax exemption, and the manufacturers' additional depreciation
The 1998-99 budget bill includes a 2.5% state employee pay raise, effective July 1, 1998. Also
in the budget bill, senior citizens will benefit from $11 million in additional funding to be used
for nursing home beds and for additional community long-term care slots.
The General Assembly enacted important legislation in the area of criminal justice with passage
of the Sexually Violent Predator Act. This legislation establishes an involuntary commitment
procedure to prevent sexually violent predators from engaging in repeated acts of sexual
violence. If a court determines that it is not safe for a sexually violent offender who is about to
be released from prison to re-enter society, the offender may be committed in a secure
environment until he is no longer a threat to the general public.
Another important law passed by the General Assembly concerns access to the information in
the Sex Offender Registry. Sex offenders must register annually for life with the sheriff in the
county where they reside. This legislation provides greater public access to the information
contained in the sex offender registry by allowing a person to obtain from SLED (S.C. Law
Enforcement Division) a list of registered sex offenders residing in a city, a county, a zip code
zone, or a list of all registered sex offenders within the State.
This year the General Assembly took a "zero tolerance" approach to drivers under
the age of 21
who use alcohol. Under the provisions of the bill passed this year, an underage driver who has a
blood alcohol level of .02 or higher will have his driving privileges suspended automatically for
three months (or for six months if the driver refuses to take the chemical tests). This legislation
also includes a proposal to reexamine whether the state should continue to require bars and
restaurants to serve their liquor from minibottles. If voters decide to amend the S.C. Constitution
and end the use of minibottles in a referendum that would be held in the year 2000, the inference
that someone was driving under the influence would drop to a .08 blood-alcohol level (the
current law infers that a person is driving under the influence if he or she has a .10 blood-alcohol
reading). The bill also bans the sale of malt liquor in a container of more than one liter. This
ban would take effect July 1, 2000, unless the General Assembly enacts legislation based on a
study committee's examination of how malt liquor is marketed and sold.
The General Assembly passed a number of bills to enhance the quality of care which South
Carolinians receive under health insurance plans. The General Assembly passed H.3889, the
Access to Emergency Medical Care Act, which requires medical personnel to initiate appropriate
intervention to stabilize any emergency medical condition before requesting authorization for the
treatment from a managed care organization. The General Assembly also approved H.3985, the
Omnibus Health Benefits and Education Act of 1998, which requires a health benefit plan to
allow its adult female enrollees a minimum of two visits each year, without prior approval, to an
obstetrician-gynecologist ( OB/GYN ) in the health benefit plan. The act also requires that all
health insurers which provide coverage for mastectomies, must provide coverage for
hospitalization for at least forty-eight hours following the mastectomy and cover prosthetic
devices and restorative surgery so as to produce a symmetrical appearance. Additionally, the bill
requires all health insurers to provide coverage for mammograms, annual pap smears, and
prostate cancer examinations. Lawmakers also passed S.535 which provides for privacy of
genetic information with regard to insurance coverage. The legislation aims to encourage
individuals to obtain potentially life-saving information from genetic tests without fear of an
adverse impact on their insurance rates.
The 1998 legislative session ended without resolving the issue of personal property tax relief.
The House of Representatives passed legislation which proposed to eliminate taxes which South
Carolinians pay on automobiles and other personal property, but this legislation did not pass the
Senate. The Senate passed legislation which proposed a constitutional amendment allowing a
county governing body to lower the tax assessment of the value of personal property including
cars, boats, motors, and aircrafts. The Senate's joint resolution was not reported out of House
committee before the legislative session ended.
The General Assembly also considered, but did not pass, measures pertaining to gambling. The
House passed and sent to the Senate legislation which would have banned video poker in South
Carolina, effective June 1, 1999. The Senate adjourned debate on the House-passed bill. The
Senate also adjourned debate on S.947, another bill which
would have banned video poker
effective June 1, 1999. Both bills remained on the Senate calendar when the legislative session
ended. A video poker ban also was included in the House-passed 1998-99 General
Appropriation Bill, but the Senate conferees voted against including it in the final bill and the
ban therefore was not included in the final budget.
The House Ways and Means Committee gave a report of favorable with amendment to a Joint
Resolution which proposed amending the South Carolina Constitution so as to establish a
state-run lottery. The proceeds of the lottery would have been used to fund scholarships for
residents to attend South Carolina's postsecondary institutions. The joint resolution was
recommitted from the House floor to the Ways and Means Committee and was not reported out
of that committee before the legislative session ended.
The House passed significant legislation which was not approved by the Senate. The House
passed two bills that would have shortened the legislative session. The House also passed a bill
raising the speed limit on the interstate to seventy miles per hour, but that bill did not pass the
Senate. The magistrates court reform bill, designed to toughen the standards and educational
requirements for magistrates, passed the House but was not given final consideration by the
Senate. The House-passed bill that would have abolished the use of affirmative action programs
and quotas by the state and its political subdivisions was not taken up by the Senate. The House
also passed a bill extending the provisions of Truth in Sentencing to all crimes and establishing
advisory sentencing guidelines for judges to use. This legislation did not receive final
consideration by the Senate. Given the interest which these initiatives have generated among
lawmakers, many of these issues are likely to be revisited when the 113th General Assembly
convenes in January of 1999.
STATUS OF MAJOR LEGISLATION
CONSIDERED DURING 1998
Access to Emergency Medical Care Act (H.3889)
Check Cashing and Presentment Services (S.994)
Child Labor Violations (S.534)
Commercial Mobile Radio Services
911 Emergency Telephone Service (S.778)
Electronic Commerce (S.1167)
Freedom of Information Act Revision (S.22)
Genetic Information (S.535)
Investment of State Employee's Pension Funds (S.958)
Marriage Ban Removal (H.4303)
Omnibus Health Benefits and Education Act (H.3985)
Psychologists, Counselors, Therapists
and Psycho-Educational Specialists (S.718)
South Carolina Education Accountability Act (S.850)
South Carolina Patients' Insurance and Benefits Protection Act
Sex Offender Registry Information (H.4805)
Sexually Violent Predator Act (H.4360)
Special Purpose Districts (S.757)
Driver's License Qualifications (H.3300)
School Safety Act (H.4804)
Tuition Assistance (H.4535)
Zero-Tolerance & DUI Legislation (S.174)
PASSED THE HOUSE, BUT NOT THE SENATE
Advisory Sentencing Guidelines (H.3842)
Affirmative Action Prohibition (H.4115)
Magistrates Court Reform Act (H.4378)
Personal Property Tax Relief (H.4846, H.4847)
Video Poker Ban (H.4577)
Shortening the Legislative Session (H.3041, H.3042)
Speed Limits (H.3150)
PASSED THE SENATE, BUT NOT THE HOUSE
Personal Property Tax Relief (S.1055)
MAJOR LEGISLATION CONSIDERED
DURING THE 1998 LEGISLATIVE YEAR
These summaries highlight some of the major bills considered by the General Assembly
this year. This document is not intended to be an exhaustive list of the matters debated by
the legislature in 1998. Major legislation is summarized here in a format which is intended
to be more accessible than a simple reading of the bills, joint resolutions, and acts. This
report, which covers legislative activity through June 17, 1998, is a guide to, not a
substitute for, the full text of the legislation summarized.
NOTE: Legislation which did not pass in the 1998 session is not carried over into the
legislative year. Such legislation will be considered in the future only if it is
BUSINESS & INDUSTRY
The General Assembly passed S.534 which revises fines
for violations of regulations prohibiting
oppressive child labor. Prior to this legislation, an employer who violated child labor regulations
was issued a written warning for a first offense and fined not less than ten dollars nor more than
fifty dollars for each subsequent offense. The bill eliminates these punishments, and instead
authorizes the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation to impose a fine of no more than
one thousand dollars for a first offense in lieu of a written warning. For a second or subsequent
offense, an employer may be fined not more than five thousand dollars per offense. The Director
of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation shall determine the amount of the penalty
according to regulations promulgated by the department which base penalties on the size of the
business of the violator, the gravity of the violation, the good faith of the employer, and any
history of previous violations.
STATUS: Signed into law by the Governor on 6/9/98.
COMMERCIAL MOBILE RADIO SERVICES
911 EMERGENCY TELEPHONE SERVICE
The General Assembly passed S.778 which creates a
monthly surcharge for commercial mobile
radio service with funds to be used to enhance 911 emergency telephone services. Under the
legislation, users of commercial mobile radio services (including cellular phone and personal
communications service, PCS) pay a monthly charge the amount of which may not exceed the
average monthly telephone 911 charge paid in South Carolina. This user fee is collected by the
CMRS provider and deposited in a separate interest-bearing account within the State Treasurer's
Office. The account is managed by the Budget and Control Board through the Office of
Information Resources in conjunction with a Commercial Mobile Radio Service Emergency
Telephone Advisory Committee, created under the legislation. The membership of the CMRS
Emergency Telephone Services Advisory Committee is appointed by the Governor and
composed of: the State Auditor, ex officio; the Director of the Office of Information
the Budget and Control Board, ex officio; two licensed CMRS providers; two 911 system
employees; and one local exchange access facility telephone service supplier. Committee
members receive no reimbursement for expenses or per diem payments. Funds in the
are to be primarily expended to upgrade emergency services hardware and software, and
distributed to Public Safety Answering Points to defray costs incurred in handling 911 calls.
STATUS: The bill became law without the signature of the Governor on 6/11/98.
CHECK-CASHING AND DEFERRED PRESENTMENT SERVICES
The General Assembly passed S.994 which provides for
the regulation of Check-Cashing
Services and Deferred Presentment Services. This legislation provides for the licensure and
regulation of check-cashing services by the State Board of Financial Institutions. The legislation
allows for two levels of licensure. Under Level I licensure, the license holder may also be
licensed to engage in deferred presentment services. Under Level II licensure, deferred
presentment services are not allowed. Under neither level of licensure may a licensee operate
video poker. The legislation requires the licensee to keep written records for all transactions. A
licensee must maintain liquid assets of at least fifty thousand dollars. A licensee must deposit a
check no later than five days from the date the check is cashed. The legislation sets fees for
check-cashing as follows: 2% of the face value or $3, whichever is greater, for State or Federal
Government checks; 2% of face value or $3, whichever is greater, for printed payroll checks;
and 7% of face value or $5, whichever is greater, for all other checks or money orders. The
legislation regulates and requires the licensure of mobile check-cashing vehicles. The legislation
imposes a two hundred fifty dollar application fee and a five hundred dollar investigation fee. Licenses expire annually and may be renewed upon payment of a two hundred fifty dollar fee
plus a fifty dollar fee for each branch location.
This legislation establishes annual licensing under the State Board of Financial Institutions for
those who offer deferred presentment services, and provides for the regulation of such services. Deferred presentment services involve accepting a fee in exchange for the service of accepting a
dated check and holding that check for a period of time prior to presentment for payment or
deposit. Among other restrictions, the legislation: sets a three hundred dollar limit on the
amount of the check taken for deferred presentment (exclusive of fees); caps fees for
presentment at fifteen percent of the face value of the check accepted; limits to thirty one days
the amount of time a check may be held for deferred presentment; disallows the acceptance of
post-dated, unprinted, or counter checks; forbids video poker on premises; and, requires
conspicuous posting of fees for deferred presentment services. Under the bill, applicants for a
license must disclose all other businesses in which they are involved. The Board of Financial
Institutions is authorized to generate regulations to ensure that adequate records are maintained
by those who engage in deferred presentment services.
STATUS: Became law without the Governor's signature on 6/11/98.
The General Assembly passed S.1167, the South
Carolina Electronic Commerce Act. This
legislation is designed to facilitate and promote public confidence in electronic commerce and
online government by clarifying the legal status of electronic records and electronic signatures. The legislation provides that secure electronic records and signatures are as legally valid and
admissible as other records and signatures written and recorded by more traditional means. Criteria is established by which electronic records and signatures may be considered
"secure." The Budget and Control Board is authorized to make regulations to implement the use of
electronic records, electronic signatures, and appropriate security procedures by the state's
political subdivisions. The Secretary of State is authorized to implement the use of model
procedures for all other purposes, including private commercial transactions and contracts.
STATUS: Signed into law by the Governor on 5/26/98.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE & THE COURTS
ADVISORY SENTENCING GUIDELINES
The House passed H.3842, the bill extending the
provisions of Truth in Sentencing to all crimes
and establishing advisory sentencing guidelines for crimes with maximum penalties of one year
or more. The bill provides that the court should consider the guidelines when determining the
appropriate sentence for applicable criminal offenses. The advisory sentencing guidelines use a
two-dimensional grid to determine the appropriate sentence for offenders. The intersection of
the horizontal and vertical score (based on several factors concerning the crime and the
offender) meet at the appropriate sentencing grid cell. Within each grid cell, there are three
sentencing ranges - the presumptive range (for cases with no extraordinary circumstances), the
aggravating range (for cases warranting a longer sentence because of aggravating sentences), and
the mitigating range (for cases warranting a lesser sentence because of mitigating factors). The
bill also gives the court discretionary authority to determine if a departure from the guidelines'
recommendation is warranted. The court may consider such factors as whether the defendant
assisted in the investigation or prosecution of another person, or whether the defendant caused
the victim to suffer protracted physical or mental harm.
The bill also extends the provisions of Truth in Sentencing to all crimes. A prisoner convicted of
a crime and sentenced to the Department of Corrections would not be eligible for early release,
discharge, or community supervision until the prisoner has served 85% of the actual term of
imprisonment imposed (the provisions of Truth in Sentencing currently apply only to "no
offenses"). This percentage must be calculated without the application of earned work
education credits, and good time credits. All or part of these credits may be forfeited at the
discretion of the Director of the Department of Corrections if the offender commits an offense or
violates one of the rules of the institution.
STATUS - The House passed H.3842. The bill was
passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee
but did not receive full Senate approval before the 1998 legislative session ended.
MAGISTRATES COURT REFORM
The House passed H.4378, the Magistrates Court
Reform Act of 1998. This bill requires a
magistrate appointed to office after July 1, 1999 to have a four-year baccalaureate degree (although a grandfathering provision exempts any magistrate serving on 7/1/99 from this
provision). The South Carolina Court Administration, in cooperation with the technical college
system, must administer an eligibility exam to test the basic skills of persons seeking an initial
appointment as a magistrate after July 1, 1999. The senatorial delegation must use the results of
the eligibility exams to assist in its selection of nominees (the Governor appoints magistrates
with the advice and consent of the Senate). Persons may be exempted from taking the
examination if certain prescribed educational equivalency requirements have been met. The bill
also requires magistrates to observe 10 trials before presiding over a trial. Magistrates would be
paid by the state through the SC Court Administration, and counties would be prohibited from
supplementing the salaries of magistrates.
STATUS - H.4378 passed the House and was
referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, but
was not reported out of that committee before the 1998 legislative session ended. The Senate's
plan for magistrates court reform (S.885) was also
reported out of the Senate Judiciary
Committee but did not receive full Senate approval before the 1998 legislative session
MARRIAGE BAN REMOVAL
The General Assembly passed H. 4303, a joint resolution
proposing an amendment to the State
Constitution that would delete the language in the constitution which prohibits marriage between
Caucasian and African-American persons. Such prohibitions were declared unconstitutional by
the US Supreme Court in the 1967 case Loving v. Virginia.
STATUS - The joint resolution was approved by the General Assembly this year. In
voters will vote to approve the constitutional amendment.
SCHOOL SAFETY ACT OF 1998
The School Safety Act of 1998 provides the governing body of a municipality or county with the
authority to designate school resource officers to work within the local government's school
systems. The school resource officer will have statewide jurisdiction to arrest persons
committing crimes in connection with a school activity or school-sponsored event. The bill also
requires school administrators to contact law enforcement officers immediately upon notice that
a person is engaging or about to engage in school-related crime. The failure of a school
administrator to report the criminal conduct will subject the administrator and the school district
to liability to pay a party's attorney's fees and the costs associated with an action to compel
compliance with the reporting requirements. The bill also adds notification requirements if a
student has been convicted of certain weapons or drug offenses. The appropriate agency (for
example, the Department of Juvenile Justice) or the clerk of court (if the student is not sentenced
to probation or incarceration) is required to provide immediate notice of the student's conviction
or adjudication to the senior administrator of the school where the student is or was enrolled.
The provisions of the School Safety Act were added to a bill which revises the penalty for
threatening the life of a public employee. This legislation prohibits anyone from knowingly and
wilfully conveying to a public official, a teacher, or a principal any communication which
contains a threat to take the life of or to inflict bodily harm upon the public employee or his
immediate family if the threat is directly related to the public employee's professional
responsibilities. Violators will be fined up to five thousand dollars and/or imprisoned up to five
years. The legislation also prohibits a person from knowingly and wilfully conveying to a public
employee (excluding teachers or principals) a writing or verbal or electronic communication
which contains a threat to take the life of or to inflict bodily harm upon the public employee or
members of his immediate family if the threat is directly related to the public employee's official
responsibilities. Violators will be fined up to five hundred dollars and/or imprisoned up to thirty
STATUS - The provisions of H.4631, the School
Safety Act of 1998, were added to H.4804 in the
Senate. H.4804 was ratified on June 17, 1998.
SEX OFFENDER REGISTRY INFORMATION
H.4805 concerns the release of sex offender registry
information to the public. Sex offenders
must register annually for life with the sheriff in the county where they reside. This legislation
provides greater public access to the information contained by the sex offender registry by
allowing a person to obtain from SLED (S.C. Law Enforcement Division) a list of registered sex
offenders residing in a city, a county, a zip code zone, or a list of all registered sex offenders
within the State. A person may request information regarding a specific person who is required
to register under this article from SLED if the person requesting the information provides the
name or address of the person about whom the information is sought. SLED must provide the
person making the request with the full names of the requested registered sex offenders, any
aliases, any other physical identifying characteristics, each offender's date of birth, a current
home address, the offense for which the offender was required to register, and the date, city, and
state of conviction.
A sheriff must release information regarding a specific person required to register to a member
of the public if the request is made in writing. The legislation authorizes the sheriff to
disseminate information from the registry regarding a specific person if the sheriff has reason to
believe the release of the information will deter the criminal activity (deleting the requirement
that the sheriff must be presented with facts giving rise to a reasonable suspicion of criminal
activity before releasing information about a specific person).
The bill also adds an additional requirement for offenders determined to be sexually violent
predators. While sex offenders are required to register annually, this legislation requires a
person adjudicated as a sexually violent predator to verify registration and be photographed
every 90 days by the sheriff's department.
The act states that it is the duty of the offender to contact the sheriff in order to register. An
offender may not knowingly and wilfully give false information when registering. These crimes
are punishable by imprisonment.
STATUS - H.4805 was ratified on June 06, 1998. On June 12, 1998, the bill was signed by the
SEXUALLY VIOLENT PREDATOR ACT
H.4360, the Sexually Violent Predator Act, establishes
procedures for determining if a person is
a sexually violent predator and provides for the civil commitment of persons found to be sexually violent predators. A "sexually violent predator" is defined as a person who
convicted of a sexually violent offense and who suffers from a mental abnormality or personality
disorder which makes the person likely to engage in acts of sexual violence if the person is not
confined in a secure facility.
The legislation requires the Director of the Department of Corrections to appoint a team to
review the records to determine if a person is a sexually violent predator and to forward a report
of the assessment to the prosecutor's review committee appointed by the Attorney General. If
the prosecutor's review committee determines that probable cause exists to support the allegation
that the person is a sexually violent predator, the Attorney General may file a petition with the
court in the jurisdiction where the person committed the offense. The petition, which must be
filed within thirty days of the probable cause determination by the prosecutor's review
committee, will request the court to make a probable cause determination as to whether the
person is a sexually violent predator. If a court determines that it is not safe for a sexually
violent offender who is about to be released from prison to re-enter society, the offender may be
committed in a secure environment until he is no longer a threat to the general public.
STATUS - H.4360 was ratified on June 04, 1998 and
signed into law by the Governor on June 5,
ZERO TOLERANCE & D.U.I. LEGISLATION
S.174 requires the Department of Public Safety to suspend
the driver's license of a person under
the age of 21 who drives a motor vehicle and has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .02 or
more. If a person under age 21 refuses to submit to a chemical test, the Department of Public
Safety must suspend his license for 6 months (or for one year if the person within the five years
preceding the violation of this section, has been convicted of driving under the influence). If a
person under age 21 submits to a chemical test and the test result indicates a BAC of .02 or more,
the department must suspend his license for 3 months (or 6 months if the person, within the 5
years preceding the violation of this section, has been convicted of DUI).
Additionally, the bill provides that a test may not be administered or samples taken unless the
person has been informed in writing that he does not have to take the test or give the samples,
but that his privilege to drive must be suspended or denied for at least 6 months if he refuses to
submit to the tests and that his refusal may be used against him in court. The person must be
informed that his privilege to drive will be suspended for at least 3 months if he takes the test or
gives the samples and has an alcohol concentration of .02 or more; that he has the right to have a
qualified person of his own choosing conduct additional independent tests at his expense; he has
the right to request an administrative hearing within 10 days of the issuance of the notice of
suspension; and that he must enroll in an Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program (ADSAP)
within 10 days of the issuance of the notice of suspension.
The person may obtain a temporary alcohol restricted license, which allows the person to drive
without any restrictive conditions pending the outcome of the administrative hearing, or the final
decision or disposition of the matter (this license must be obtained within 10 days of the issuance
of the notice of suspension). If the person does not ask for the administrative hearing within the
10 days, he waives his right to the hearing and his suspension must not be stayed. At the
hearing, if the suspension is upheld, the person's driver's license must be suspended; if the
suspension is overturned, the person must have his driver's license reinstated and is not required
to complete ADSAP.
This legislation also encompasses a proposal to reexamine whether the state should continue to
require bars and restaurants to serve their liquor from minibottles, which is required by our state
constitution. Minibottles contain more alcohol than what would be poured in a normal mixed
drink. If the voters decide to amend the constitution and end the use of minibottles in a
referendum that would be held in the year 2000, the inference that someone was driving under
the influence would drop to a .08 blood-alcohol level. The current law infers that a person is
driving under the influence if he or she has a .10 blood-alcohol reading.
The legislation includes a proposal to ban the sale of any container of more than one liter of malt
liquor. This ban would take effect July 1, 2000, unless the General Assembly enacts legislation
based on a study committee's recommendations after the committee studies how malt liquor is
marketed and sold.
STATUS: The Senate adopted the conference report on June 6, 1998, and the House
conference report on June 16, 1998. The bill was ratified on June 17, 1998.
THE SC EDUCATION ACCOUNTABILITY ACT OF 1998
Both the House and the Senate passed a plan for education accountability for grades K-12. A
House-Senate conference committee worked out the differences between the two plans, and the
result of their negotiations is the SC Education Accountability Act of 1998 (
comprehensive legislation defines accountability as acceptance of the responsibility for
improving student performance and taking actions to improve classroom performance by: the
Governor, General Assembly, State Department of Education, colleges/universities, local boards
of education, school administrators, teachers, parents, students, and communities.
The legislation requires establishment of detailed, grade level academic standards in specified
subjects, and requires assessment of students' and schools' success in meeting these standards. The legislation provides for an academic plan for students who perform below standards and
provides for retention of poorly performing students under certain conditions. Schools'
performance on both meeting standards and on improvement from past performance ratings are
graded annually as excellent, good, average, below average, and unsatisfactory. Standards and
assessments must be reviewed every four years. Beginning in 2001, report cards on these ratings
will be mailed to parents and advertised in the newspaper.
The legislation provides incentives for a school's high performance and provides for both
technical and grant assistance, intervention, and in certain instances consequences, in schools
that perform poorly, do not improve, and/or do not implement a plan for improvement. Teacher
and principal on-site specialists, who will be paid a supplemental salary, are also provided to
poorly performing schools, with the state paying their salaries plus a supplement for a specified
initial period. The legislation provides for principal mentoring in poorly performing districts and
provides for professional development for teachers employed in such districts and for principal
training and assessment. The legislation provides competitive grants for alternative schools, for
homework centers in poorly performing schools, and for an extended year or day for certain
To provide oversight for overall implementation of the provisions of the legislation, the
Education Oversight Committee is created, with membership representing the Governor, the
House of Representatives, the Senate, the business community, and public education
professionals. This committee will be staffed by employees of the Select Committee of the SC
Education Improvement Act of 1984. Implementation of the legislation will be monitored and
reported by the Division of Accountability, which will operate within the Education Oversight
Committee and which will employ an executive director and other professional and support staff
The legislation also adds instruction in phonics to the current list of subjects which are required
to be taught, "as far as is practicable."
The legislation also includes provisions for reduction in class sizes in grades one through three,
with funding going first to schools currently declared impaired, and later for schools rated as
unsatisfactory. Funding for all other districts choosing to reduce class sizes will be allocated
based on free and reduced lunch eligible students.
STATUS: S.850 has been ratified
(R.412) and signed by the Governor. Funding for various
initiatives in the Act is included in the 1998-99 General Appropriation Bill.
The General Assembly passed H.4535, which establishes
plans for tuition assistance through
both a scholarship program and tuition tax credits. The scholarship plan, called Legislative
Incentives for Future Excellence (LIFE), provides academic scholarships to assist with the cost
of college/university attendance for college freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors who
meet specified academic and residency requirements. The LIFE program offers $2,000 per year
for full-time attendance at South Carolina four-year colleges, with a requirement that freshmen
must have a minimum B average from high school, and a score of at least 1,000 on the Scholastic
Aptitude Test (SAT). For attendance at South Carolina's two year institutions, the scholarship
offers $1,000 per year, with a requirement for a B average (and no minimum SAT score) for
graduating high school seniors. College students qualify for both the two-year and the four-year
scholarships by satisfying residency requirements and by completing at least thirty credit hours
each year and earning and maintaining a B average. The 1998-99 General Appropriation Bill
includes $26.5 million recurring revenue for the LIFE scholarship program.
H.4535 also provides a refundable individual income tax
credit of 25% of college tuition and
fees paid to South Carolina institutions, available to the person bearing the college costs for a
full-time, in-state undergraduate student. The credit is capped at $850 for attendance at
four-year institutions and $350 for attendance at two-year institutions. Students at two-year
institutions must earn 15 credit hours each semester to remain qualified. Persons bearing the
college cost for students who are Palmetto Fellow or LIFE scholarship recipients may not
receive the tax credit. $7 million is included in the 1998-99 state budget to begin phasing in this
credit, with an estimated 35,000 people eligible for Fiscal Year 1998-99. Full phase-in cost for
the tax credit is estimated at $25 million.
STATUS - H.4535 passed both the House and the
Senate and has been ratified (R535).
FAMILY & HEALTH
ACCESS TO EMERGENCY MEDICAL CARE ACT
The General Assembly passed H.3889, the Access to
Emergency Medical Care Act. This
legislation requires medical personnel to initiate appropriate intervention to stabilize any
emergency medical condition before requesting authorization for the treatment from a managed
care organization. If, following emergency medical treatment, it is later determined that the
insured patient's condition was not an actual emergency situation, the act prohibits a managed
care organization from denying or reducing payments to medical care providers. A managed care
organization would be able to deny or reduce payments in case of fraud or other specified
situations. The act also requires a managed care organization to inform its insureds, enrollees,
patients, and affiliated providers about all policies related to emergency medical care access,
coverage, payment, and grievance procedures. Under the legislation, no managed care
organization may engage in any practice which prohibits or discourages the appropriate use of
the 911 emergency telephone system.
STATUS: Signed into law by the Governor on 6/8/98.
The General Assembly passed S.535 which provides for
privacy of genetic Information with
regard to insurance coverage. Supporters of the legislation contend that many individuals have
been hesitant to undergo genetic testing for fear that the results of the tests will make it more
difficult for them, and their blood relatives, to obtain affordable health insurance coverage. Proponents offer this legislation to encourage individuals to obtain potentially life-saving
information from genetic tests without fear of an adverse impact on their insurance rates. To that
end, this act prohibits insurers from denying or restricting coverage on an individual on the basis
of information obtained in genetic tests. An accident or health insurer may not require a person
to consent to disclosure of genetic information as a condition for obtaining accident and health
insurance. Neither may an insurer charge rates which vary on the basis of information obtained
from genetic tests.
Under the legislation, it is unlawful to perform a genetic test on blood, urine, or any other
biological sample without consent, unless the test is performed: (1) by a law enforcement agency
in a criminal investigation; (2) to identify a dead body; (3) in the course of a scientific study
where the identities of test subjects are not disclosed; (4) to establish paternity; or (5) pursuant to
statute or specific court order. Under the legislation, all genetic information is confidential, and
such information may be released only: (1) if the information is necessary to a criminal
investigation, inquest, or proceeding; to identify a dead body; (2) pursuant to a court order; (3)
when disclosure of the genetic information of a deceased individual would assist medical
diagnosis of blood relatives; (4) to establish paternity; or (5) as required by state or federal
Civil remedies are provided for individuals harmed by unauthorized disclosure or use of genetic
information. The act authorizes the following remedies: equitable relief, which may include a
retroactive order, directing that health insurance be provided under the same terms and
conditions as would have applied had the violation not occurred; actual damages; and, recovery
of costs and reasonable attorney fees.
STATUS: Signed into law by the Governor on 5/26/98.
OMNIBUS HEALTH BENEFITS AND EDUCATION ACT OF 1998
The General Assembly passed H.3985, the Omnibus
Health Benefits and Education Act of 1998. The legislation requires a health benefit plan to allow its female enrollees, who are at least
thirteen years of age, a minimum of two visits each year, without prior approval, to a
obstetrician-gynecologist ( OB/GYN ) in the health benefit plan. Should the OB/GYN find
during these two visits that continued treatment is medically necessary, additional visits must be
authorized by the health benefit plan. The health benefit plan must notify enrollees of these
benefits. The act also requires that all health insurers which provide coverage for mastectomies,
must provide coverage for hospitalization for at least forty-eight hours following the
mastectomy. The act further requires that all health insurers which provide coverage for
mastectomies, must provide coverage for prosthetic devices and restorative surgery following a
mastectomy so as to produce a symmetrical appearance. Additionally, the act requires all health
insurers to provide coverage for mammograms, annual pap smears, and prostate cancer
examinations, screenings, and laboratory work.
STATUS: Signed into law by the Governor on 6/8/98.
PSYCHOLOGISTS, COUNSELORS, THERAPISTS,
AND PSYCHO-EDUCATIONAL SPECIALISTS
The General Assembly passed S.718 which revises
criteria and scope of practice for many
providers of psychological and counseling services. The act prohibits the practice of psychology
without a license from the Board of Psychology and revises the list of acts which are considered
to be the practice of psychology. Under the act, an individual must have a doctoral degree in
psychology in order to be licensed as a psychologist, and such licensure cannot be obtained with
a doctoral degree in an allied field. The legislation revises exemptions to the licensure
requirement and increases penalties for violating the requirement. The act exempts from the
licensure requirement certain groups including: educators, day care providers, law enforcement
officers, and hospital workers providing intervention within the scope of their employment;
human resources professionals; business consultants; matriculated interns and students; local,
state, or federal employees operating within the scope of their employment; SC Department of
Alcohol and Drug Abuse employees; and certified school psychologists. The act requires the
Board of Psychology to report instances of possible violations to the county solicitor.
The act also conforms the licensure of professional counselors, associate counselors, and marital
and family therapists to the uniform statutory framework for professional and occupational
boards under the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. The act provides for the
licensing and regulation of professional counselors and marriage therapists and interns. The act
provides for the licensure and regulation of alcohol and drug abuse counselors.
Additionally, the act establishes a new tier of licensure as a "Licensed Psycho-Educational
Specialist" which may be obtained by an individual who has at least a master's degree in
psychology and thirty additional hours of course work. Under current law, the "school
psychologists" who are certified by the SC Department of Education to work in the public
system may not offer their services in private sector settings such as hospitals, clinics, private
schools, etc. Such individuals may, by obtaining licensure as a Psycho-Educational Specialist as
provided under this legislation, offer his services in a private sector setting. Guidelines for
practice as a Licensed Psycho-Educational Specialist are established under the act. A Licensed
Psycho-Educational Specialist is added to the Board of Examiners for the Licensure of
Professional Counselors, Associate Counselors, Marital and Family Therapists. The act in no
way requires insurance companies to pay for any services of Licensed Psycho-Educational
STATUS: Became law without the signature of the Governor on 6/11/98.
The 1998-99 State Budget (Part II, Section 47) establishes the County Grants Fund for
Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Initiatives. This fund must be administered by The South
Carolina Department of Social Services and county governments as provided in this new chapter. The stated purpose of the fund is to support local efforts to prevent early sexual activity and to
measurably reduce the rate of adolescent pregnancy in each county and in the State and to ensure
that these efforts reflect local community values. A local public or private agency or
organization or combination of these agencies and organizations may apply to the county
government for an allocation of funds to operate an adolescent pregnancy prevention initiative. All initiatives funded by the county government must emphasize premarital sexual abstinence
and male responsibility. Money appropriated to the fund must not be used to pay for inpatient
care, purchase or fund land improvements, purchase major equipment, fund abortions, provide
transportation to or from abortion services, or provide anything of monetary value to a local
participant or initiative.
Section 13.22 of the 1998-99 State Budget provides funding for the County Grants Fund for
Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Initiatives. DSS must allocate 10,500,000 of the 1997-98
surplus federal Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) program funds to the County Grant
Fund, to be equally distributed as provided in Part II, Section 47 (of the budget) over a three year
period. In any one year in which the total number of active welfare cases in June of the year
exceeds by ten percent or more the average number of active welfare cases in June of the
previous year, no TANF funds will be distributed to the County Grant Fund. Distribution of
Funds will begin in the FY 1998-99.
Part II, Section 47 also includes the formula for distributing funds under the County Grants Fund
for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Initiatives. Ten percent of the money must be used to
evaluate the effectiveness of each initiative and the fund under guidelines provided by the bill;
15% must be allocated evenly among the counties; 15% must be allocated to the counties based
on the size of their adolescent population; 20% must be allocated to counties based on their rate
of adolescent pregnancy; 40% must be allocated to counties based on their number of adolescent
pregnancies; and the county may retain up to 5% to cover the costs of administering the fund.
All grant funds received by the county must be allocated within two years of receipt. If the
county does not designate an agency or organization to assume these responsibilities, DSS may
designate another agency or organization within the county.
STATUS: H.4700 has been ratified.
SOUTH CAROLINA PATIENTS' INSURANCE AND BENEFITS PROTECTION
The General Assembly passed S.310, the South Carolina
Patients' Insurance and Benefits
Protection Act. The legislation requires an employer who offers to at least fifty eligible
employees only a closed panel health plan (for major medical, hospitalization, and
health insurance coverage) to also offer to eligible employees a
"point-of-service" option. A
closed panel health plan is a network plan which requires insured members to seek covered
health care services or supplies exclusively from network providers (except in emergency cases). In contrast, a "point-of-service" option provides coverage under which insured
obtain covered health care services/supplies from either network providers or from providers
outside of the network. Under the legislation, the employer may require an employee who
chooses the point-of-service option to pay for any difference in premiums or other payments in
excess of the benefits provided under the closed panel plan. The bill provides that differences
between the coinsurance percentages for in-network and out-of-network covered benefits in a
point-of-service option plan may not exceed twenty percent, or, five percent in the case of
services provided by dentists.
STATUS: Ratified on 6/17/98 ( R.529 ).
In April of 1998, The House Ways and Means Committee gave a report of favorable with
amendment to H.4682, a joint resolution which proposed
amending the South Carolina
Constitution so as to establish a state lottery, the proceeds of which would be used to fund
scholarships for in-state residents to attend South Carolina's postsecondary institutions. The joint
resolution was subsequently recommitted to Ways and Means, where it remained when the
legislative session ended.
STATUS: H.4682 was recommitted to the House
Ways and Means Committee on 4/29/98 and
was not reported out from that committee before the legislative session ended.
VIDEO POKER BAN
The House passed H.4577, which would have banned
video poker in South Carolina, effective
June 1, 1999. The Senate Finance Committee gave a majority favorable (minority unfavorable)
report to H.4577, and the full Senate later adjourned debate on the bill.
The Senate Finance Committee gave a majority favorable (minority unfavorable) report to
which also would have banned video poker effective June 1, 1999. The full Senate also
adjourned debate on this bill. Both bills remained on the Senate calendar when the legislative
The video poker ban also was included in the House-passed 1998-99 General Appropriation Bill
(H.4700), but the Senate conferees voted against
including it in the final bill and the ban
therefore was not included in the budget.
STATUS: Neither H.4577 nor S.947 passed the Senate before the General Assembly
sine die. The video poker ban that the House included in its version of the budget (H.4700) was
struck from the bill in conference committee and thus did not pass before the General Assembly
adjourned sine die.
AFFIRMATIVE ACTION PROHIBITION
The House passed H.4115, which prohibits the state of
South Carolina and its political
subdivisions from using race, sex, color, ethnicity, national origin religion, age, or disability as
criteria for either discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to any individual or
group in the state's system of public employment, education, or contracting. The legislation
applies to actions taken following the enactment of the bill. The employment of quotas to
achieve equality is prohibited. The bill also provides that no preferential treatment may be
granted to the families of members of the General Assembly in public employment by the state
or its political subdivisions.
STATUS - H.4115 was passed by the House and
referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee, and
was not reported out from that committee before the legislative session ended.
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT
The General Assembly passed S.22, which revises the State
Freedom of Information (FOI) Act. The act specifies when a public body may hold a meeting closed to the public and that no action
may be taken in executive session except to adjourn or to return to public session. Furthermore,
the members of a public body may not commit the public body to a course of action by polling
the members in executive session. The bill also exempts from disclosure by a public body the
receipt of legal advice relating to a pending, threatened, or potential claim or other matters
covered by the attorney-client privilege.
The bill states that a public body may (but is not required to) exempt from disclosure certain
matters that are currently exempt - including trade secrets, law enforcement records, and certain
compensation paid by public bodies. The act further specifies that a public body may exempt
from disclosure documents incidental to a proposed contractual arrangement and documents
incidental to proposed sales or purchases of property; however, these documents are not exempt
from disclosure once a contract is entered into or the property is sold or purchased. A contract
for the sale of real estate will remain exempt from disclosure until the deed is executed. Confidential proprietary information provided to a public body for economic development or
contract negotiations purposes need not be disclosed. The act also exempts from disclosure
certain materials gathered by a public body during a search to fill an employment position and
certain data collected by staff at an education institution.
STATUS - The bill was ratified on June 10, 1998 and signed by the Governor on June 12,
INVESTMENT OF STATE EMPLOYEES' PENSION FUNDS
S.958 (R.356) is the implementing legislation for
the 1996 amendment (ratified in 1997) to
Article X, Section 16 of the SC Constitution, authorizing the investment and
reinvestment of the
funds of various state-operated retirement systems in equity securities.
The bill establishes the State Retirement Systems Investment Panel, consisting of five members -
one each appointed by the Governor, the State Treasurer, the Comptroller General, and the chairs
of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee. The bill provides
for panel members' qualifications, terms of service, duties, and compensation, and provides for
the authorities of the panel. The bill requires that the panel develop an annual investment plan
for the retirement systems for the next fiscal year, which must be adopted and implemented by
the State Budget and Control Board (the board), as trustee of the retirement system and its funds. The board must also provide the panel with a statement of actuarial assumptions and general
investment objectives. The adopted plan must include components and meet requirements that
are specified in the bill, including a requirement that the plan must provide the minimum and
maximum portions of system assets that may be allocated to equity investments on an ongoing
basis not to exceed forty percent and the minimum and maximum portions of system assets not
to exceed ten percent that may be allocated to additional equity investment during the plan fiscal
year. When investments in equities attain the maximum allocation allowed, up to forty percent
of current member and employer contributions to the retirement system may be invested in
equities. If, due to growth in value of equity investments, equity investments exceed forty
percent of the total assets of the retirement system, the bill does not require the sale of equities to
reduce the percentage of equities to forty percent. The plan must be reviewed and assessed by
the panel at least once each fiscal year quarter, and implementation of the plan must be regularly
reviewed by the board. The plan may be amended with the approval of the board. Costs of
administering the panel's duties must be paid from investment earnings of the systems, and the
expenses must be approved by the board. The bill also provides that the State Budget and
Control Board, as trustee, may invest and reinvest the funds of the system in equity securities of
a corporation within the United States that is registered on a national securities exchange as
provided in the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, or a successor act, or quoted through the
National Association of Securities Dealers Automatic Quotations System, or a similar service.
STATUS - S.958 has been ratified (R.356),
and was signed by the Governor on 5/26/98.
SHORTENING THE LEGISLATIVE SESSION
The House passed a joint resolution, H.3041, amending
the State Constitution to allow the
General Assembly to convene the second Tuesday in February during odd numbered years
(currently the General Assembly begins each legislative year on the second Tuesday in January). The change would provide time for legislative committees to meet and begin debating legislation
before the start of the session. This measure also requires the Senate to meet in an organization
session in odd-numbered years to elect officers and prepare for the regular session.
The House also passed H.3042, which shortens the
legislative session by scheduling the sine die
adjournment date of the General Assembly on the second Thursday in May. Currently,
adjournment occurs on the first Thursday in June.
STATUS - The House passed H.3041 and H.3042. In the Senate, the bills were referred to the
Judiciary Committee. Neither bill was reported out of that committee.
SPECIAL PURPOSE DISTRICTS
Last year, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled that a special purpose district could not levy
taxes if its governing board was appointed rather than elected. The Court stated that the power
to tax may not be conferred to a purely appointive body because this amounted to taxation
without representation. Since many of the special purpose districts in the state have governing
boards appointed by legislators, the Supreme Court declared that their ruling would be applied
prospectively beginning December 31, 1999. In response to the Court's decision, the General
Assembly passed S.757, legislation that provides the
mechanism for a referendum to decide
whether a special purpose district board should be elected. The referendum would be held if
fifteen percent of the voters petition for the referendum or if a majority of the governing body
adopts a resolution requesting the referendum. The bill also provides a way to dissolve a special
purpose district if forty percent of the voters petition for a referendum on the dissolution and at
least two-thirds of the voters in the district vote to abolish it and transfer its assets and liabilities
to a specified entity.
STATUS - S.757 was ratified on June 4, 1998
and signed by the Governor on June 10, 1998.
STATE EMPLOYEE PAY RAISE
The 1998-99 General Appropriation bill includes a 2.5% pay increase for state employees,
effective July 1, 1998. Agencies must absorb $11.19 million of the increase. Also important to
state employees, the budget bill includes an appropriation of $13.3 million for employer
contributions to fund a health insurance rate increase for active and retired employees, public
school employees, and new retiree growth.
STATUS: The state employee pay raise was approved by the General Assembly as a portion
the 1998-99 General Appropriation Bill (H.4700), which
has been ratified (R536).
PERSONAL PROPERTY TAX RELIEF
The House passed and sent to the Senate H.4846 and
H.4847. H.4846 proposed freezing
personal property taxes (i.e. taxes on motor vehicles, boats, aircraft and business personal
property) at their current levels. Upon authorization of such a freeze, H.4847 would
out motor vehicle property taxes in each county and then would have phased out the remaining
personal property taxes.
H.4846 is a joint resolution which proposed an
amendment to the South Carolina Constitution
which would have frozen personal property taxes at their current (1998) levels. The freeze
would have affected property taxes imposed on motor vehicles for tax years beginning after
June, 1999, and all other personal property taxes for tax years beginning after 1998. Under the
constitutional amendment, local taxing authorities would annually adjust millage rate, if
necessary, so that the revenue raised by personal property taxes would not exceed the amount
collected in 1998.
Had the above constitutional amendment been approved, H.4847 would have established a
mechanism whereby expected growth in state revenue would be used to eliminate personal
property taxes, reimbursing local taxing authorities for the revenue loss. The bill established as a
separate fund in the State Treasury the Motor Vehicle and Personal Property Tax Relief Trust
Fund into which 15% of new recurring State General Fund revenue growth would have been
deposited each year. Revenue credited to this fund would have been disbursed to local taxing
authorities which, in turn, would have reduced personal property tax bills accordingly. First
priority was given to eliminating personal property taxes paid on motor vehicles, then all other
personal property taxes would have been eliminated. When all personal property became wholly
exempt, each taxing entity would have received a monthly reimbursement equal to one-twelfth
of its local personal property base payment. The fund would have been used to reimburse local
taxing authorities up to the maximum amount of an estimated $1.3 billion- that is, the amount
collected in personal property taxes as of fiscal year 1998-99, when personal property taxes
would have been frozen under the proposed constitutional amendment.
The Senate also discussed a constitutional freeze on personal property taxes, proposed in Joint
Resolution S.941, and creation of a fund for eliminating
personal property taxes, provided in
S.940. Neither of these proposals passed the Senate.
The Senate passed Joint Resolution S.1055, which
proposed amending the South Carolina
Constitution so as to afford local taxing authorities an opportunity, but not an obligation, to
provide taxpayers with relief on personal property taxes paid on cars, boats, motors, and
aircrafts. Currently, the state constitution provides that such items of personal property must be
taxed on an assessment of 10.5% of fair market value. S.1055 proposed an amendment
state constitution allowing a county governing body, in consultation with all taxing entities in the
county, to tax the personal property of cars, boats, motors, and aircrafts on an assessment of no
more than 10.5% and no less than 6%.
STATUS: The House passed H.4846 and H.4847 and sent them to the Senate where they were
referred to the Finance Committee. Neither bill was reported out of that committee. S.1055 was
passed by the Senate and sent to the House, where it was referred to the Ways and Means
Committee. The bill was not reported out of that committee.
TRANSPORTATION & MOTOR VEHICLES
DRIVER'S LICENSE QUALIFICATIONS
The General Assembly passed H.3300, which provides
that a person who holds a valid restricted
driver's license on July 1, 1998, may obtain a regular driver's license before the age of seventeen
if, after one year from the date of issuance of the special restricted driver's license, the driver has
not been convicted of a point-assessable traffic offense posted to his driver's record during that
time. The bill also repeals SC Code Section 56-1-141, which concerns the equivalence
successful completion of a qualified school driver's education program with meeting standards
for a driver's permit or license.
STATUS: H.3300 has been ratified
The House passed H.3150, which defines the highways
encompassed by the interstate highway
system and the state highway primary system, and revises the speed limits to seventy miles an
hour on the interstate highway system and other officially posted freeways; sixty miles an hour
on officially posted multilane divided primary highways; fifty-five miles an hour in other
locations or on other sections of highways. Maximum speed in an "urban district" is
an hour, and speed limits on unpaved roads are limited to forty-five miles an hour. The bill also
revises the language on signs posted in a work zone and provides that the penalty displayed on
signs posted in a work zone are in addition to other penalties for speeding. The bill also provides
that manufactured modular or mobile homes must not be transported at a speed in excess of ten
miles below the posted speed limit when the posted limit is in excess of forty-five miles per
hour, and never in excess of fifty-five miles an hour. The bill also provides that a local
authority, under certain conditions, may determine that the maximum speed limit permitted is
less than thirty miles an hour in an urban district.
STATUS - H.3150 passed the House and was
reported favorable with amendment from the
Senate Transportation Committee; however, the bill did not receive full Senate approval before
the 1998 legislative session ended.
1998-99 GENERAL APPROPRIATION BILL
H.4700, the 1998-99 General Appropriation Bill reflects
the House of Representatives'
continuing emphasis on education -- both kindergarten through grade twelve and higher
education. $26.5 million is included in the bill for the Legislative Incentives for Future
Excellence (LIFE) scholarship program, and $7 million is included to provide income tax credits
for college tuition and fees (for more information on both the scholarship program and the tax
credit plan, see "Tuition Assistance" in this document).
Public education appropriations include an increase of $35.4 million for Education Finance Act
funding, which covers inflation, an increase in the base student cost, and a 2.55% salary increase
for teachers. The final year phase-in for full-day kindergarten is funded at $13.6 million. $36.2
million is appropriated for implementation of initiatives provided in the SC Education
Accountability Act of 1998 (see summary of this act above, under "Education
figure includes $19.6 million dedicated to reducing lower grades classroom size in impaired
Issues of particular contention in the budget conference committee negotiations included the
House-passed video poker ban; the Senate-passed "wish list," which appropriated
in uncertified funds; and the Senate-passed $101.3 million capital improvement bond
authorization. The Senate conferees voted against including the video poker ban in the bill, but
agreed not to appropriate the $52.4 million in video poker revenue. The Senate's "wish
the Senate's bond bill were excluded from the bill.
Property tax relief continues to be a budget priority, with an additional $30 million appropriated
for 1998-99 to annualize and maintain the current homeowner property tax relief program. This
additional funding brings the total appropriation for homeowner's property tax relief to $240
million. The Senate budget conferees also agreed to the House's permanent proviso establishing
the Trust Fund for Tax Relief, which will pay for property tax relief rebates directly, with a
portion of the income tax. This trust fund is also intended to guarantee the residential property
tax exemption, the homestead exemption for persons over age 65 or disabled, business inventory
tax exemption, and manufacturers' additional depreciation reimbursement. Monies in the fund
for 1998-99 total $354 million.
Also included in the 1998-99 budget plan is a 2.5% state employee pay increase, effective July 1,
1998. Also important to state employees, the budget bill includes an appropriation of $13.3
million for employer contributions to fund a health insurance rate increase for active and retired
employees, public school employees, and new retiree growth.
South Carolina's most vulnerable senior citizens will benefit from $4.7 million appropriated for
an additional 570 nursing home beds, and from an additional $6.3 million allotted to fund a
phase-in of 4,322 additional community long-term care slots to assist the frail and elderly in their
STATUS: H.4700 has been ratified
CAPITAL RESERVE FUND APPROPRIATIONS
The General Assembly also passed H.4702, a joint
resolution appropriating $86.9 million from
the Capital Reserve Fund for fiscal year 1997-98. Highlights of that funding include, but are not
limited to: $5 million to the State Department of Education for textbooks; $5.1 million to the
State Budget and Control Board for school technology; $38.8 million for higher education
institutional funding; $2.5 million for the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive
Research (EPSCoR); and $3 million to the State Department of Education for the Governor's
School for the Arts and Humanities.
STATUS: H.4702 has been ratified
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July 1, 2009 at 10:07 A.M.