South Carolina House of Representatives
Robert W. Harrell, Jr., Speaker of the House
OFFICE OF RESEARCH
Room 213, Blatt Building, P.O. Box 11867, Columbia, S.C. 29211, (803) 734-3230
NOTE: THESE SUMMARIES ARE PREPARED BY THE STAFF OF THE SOUTH CAROLINA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND ARE NOT THE EXPRESSION OF THE LEGISLATION'S SPONSOR(S) OR THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. THEY ARE STRICTLY FOR THE INTERNAL USE AND BENEFIT OF MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND ARE NOT TO BE CONSTRUED BY A COURT OF LAW AS AN EXPRESSION OF LEGISLATIVE INTENT.
Secretary of Transportation
The legislation establishes the position of Secretary of Transportation to be appointed by the Governor and serve at his pleasure. The Secretary replaces the department's existing chief administrative officer, the Director who is appointed by the Department of Transportation Commission under current law. Under the legislation, the Secretary of Transportation appoints a deputy director for each the department's division to serve at his pleasure, except for the internal audit director and internal auditors who shall report to and serve at the pleasure of the commission. The DOT District Engineering Administrators or individuals performing the function of district engineering administrators who oversee the seven Highway Engineering Districts, serve at the Secretary's pleasure.
Reorganization of the Department of Transportation Commission
The legislation revises the composition of the Department of Transportation Commission and provides for new qualifications criteria, election procedures, terms of office, and compensation limits. The legislation eliminates the current provisions under which one commissioner is elected from each of the State's six congressional districts by the district's legislative delegation in the General Assembly with a seventh at-large member selected by the Governor with the advice and consent of the Senate. Instead, the commission is composed of one member from each of the State's seven highway engineering districts elected during a joint assembly of the House and Senate. The legislation provides that a commissioner must have at least a baccalaureate degree or a background of at least five years in a combination of the following: (a) transportation; (b) construction; (c) finance; (d) law; (e) environmental issues; (f) management; or (g) engineering. A member of the General Assembly is not eligible for election as commissioner until he has been out of office for at least one year. A Transportation Review Committee is established to screen candidates for appointment to the commission. The review committee is composed of ten members, three of whom must be members of the House of Representatives, including the Chairman of the Education and Public Works Committee, or his designee, and the Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, or his designee, and one member appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Three of the members must be members of the Senate, including the Chairman of the Transportation Committee, or his designee, the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, or his designee, and one member appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate. Two members of the committee must be appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives from the public at large, and two members of the committee must be appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate from the public at large.
Each commissioner shall serve for a term of four years. Initial terms of service are, however, structured to allow for staggered terms for the replacement of commissioners. Commissioners shall continue to serve until their successors are elected and qualify. Each successive commissioner must be appointed from a different county within a highway engineering district based upon the alphabetic order of the counties within the district. Members of the commission may be removed for cause. The chairman of the commission shall be a commissioner elected by a majority vote of the members of the commission and serve a term of two years.
Commissioners receive one thousand dollars for each month of service for district expenses and must be reimbursed for per diem and mileage as is provided for members of the General Assembly when traveling to Columbia for official commission functions.
Activities Requiring Commission Approval
The legislation requires the commission to approve the following activities: (1) the sale of surplus property by the department; (2) the advertisement for consultant contracts and authorize the selection of consultants by department personnel; (3) the adding to and deletion of roads from the State Highway System; (4) the execution of contracts by the department; (5) the department's annual budget; (6) the statewide transportation improvement program; (7) the dedication and naming of highway facilities by the department; (8) any contract entered into by the department with a value in excess of five hundred thousand dollars; (9) additional contracts entered into by the department during a fiscal year with an entity that has already received individual contracts during that fiscal year that together are worth at least five hundred thousand dollars; (10) all contracts relating to road construction and maintenance; and, (11) accept the Transportation Improvement Program.
Project Priority List
The legislation requires the department to establish within the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program a priority list of projects to be undertaken. Once the priority list has been established, it shall not be changed without two-thirds approval by the commission. When compiling this list of projects, the department shall use, but is not limited to use, the following criteria: (1) financial viability; (2) public safety; (3) potential for economic development; (4) traffic volume; (5) truck traffic; (6) the pavement quality index; and, (7) environmental impact. Projects included in the transportation improvement plan and projects submitted by the State Infrastructure Bank are excluded from modification by the Secretary of Transportation or the Department of Transportation Commissioners.
The department shall promulgate regulations that utilize these criteria for ranking projects in each highway engineering district. The commission shall annually review a road maintenance and bridge repair plan within each highway engineering district.
Public Hearings on Projects
The department shall conduct a public hearing in each county in which a public hearing is required by federal regulations to allow the department to share information regarding the project with the local community and to allow the local community to address its concerns with department officials. The hearing must include the opportunity for members of the public to address a hearing officer in a format in which comments can be heard by the general public attending the hearing or in a private setting, whichever is the speakers' choice.
South Carolina Procurement Code Exemptions
The legislation eliminates the DOT's expansive procurement code exemption and, instead, exempts from the South Carolina Procurement Code the construction, maintenance, and repair of bridges, highways, and roads by the Department of Transportation when these projects receive federal funding and must comply with applicable federal laws and regulations. The legislation exempts the South Carolina Transportation Infrastructure Bank, Councils of Government, County Transportation Committees, and Metropolitan Planning Organizations from the provisions of the South Carolina Procurement Code.
The legislation requires procurement audits to verify the validity of DOT Procurement Code exemptions.
The legislation creates an Internal Audit Division within the DOT and requires the division deputy director for internal audits to examine the finances of the department and provide an annual financial report to the commission.
The Legislative Audit Council is required to contract for an independent performance and compliance audit of the department's finance and administration division, mass transit division, and construction engineering and planning division. This audit should be completed by January 15, 2009. The Legislative Audit Council may contract for follow-up audits or conduct follow-up audits as needed based upon the initial findings. The costs of these audits are an operating expense of the department. Copies of these audits must be made available to the Governor and the chairmen of the Senate Finance and Transportation Committees, and the House of Representatives Ways and Means and Education and Public Works Committees.
At the end of each month, the Department of Transportation must submit an itemized and complete report of all revenues spent and for what purpose to the State Treasurer, the Governor, the Speaker of the House, and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate. Funds for the next month's expenditures must not be released to the department until the report is received by all the required recipients.
The department is required to conduct an annual review all real property titled to it and make a determination as to whether the property is in excess of the department's needs. Upon approval of the Engineering Administrator and the District Commissioner, properties determined to be in excess of the department's needs must be disposed of at fair market value
The legislation creates a Division of Human Resources within the DOT and requires the deputy director for human resources to: (1) employ an ethics compliance officer to ensure that the department's employees and commission comply fully with all laws that govern their ethical conduct, and (2) conduct two hours of mandatory ethics training seminars for all department employees and commissioners on a biennial basis. However, a mandatory two-hour ethics seminar must be conducted for each newly-hired employee and newly-elected commissioner within one month of their employment or election.
The legislation subjects the Department of Transportation Commission and the department's employees to the legal restrictions imposed upon the activities of lobbyists and lobbyists' principals.
The legislation requires DOT District Engineering Administrators to file a statement of economic interests.
The legislation provides that in calculating estimated state individual and corporate income tax revenues for a fiscal year, the Board of Economic Advisors shall deduct the following amounts that must be credited to the Department of Transportation for road construction and maintenance as follows: for Fiscal Year 2007-2008: $40 million; for Fiscal Year 2008-2009: $80 million; for Fiscal Year 2009-2010: $120 million; for Fiscal Year 2010-2011: $160 million; and for Fiscal Year 2011-2012 and thereafter: $200 million. In each of these fiscal years, the Department of Transportation must utilize half of these funds for an annual contribution from non-state tax resources to the State Highway Account of the South Carolina Transportation Infrastructure Bank and the other half of these funds for an annual contribution to the State Non-Federal Aid Highway Fund of the South Carolina Department of Transportation for maintenance and construction with seventy-five percent of the funds designated for maintenance and twenty-five percent designated for construction. The House amended and gave second reading approval to H.3124, a bill providing for SOUTH CAROLINA PUBLIC SCHOOL CHOICE PROGRAMS. Highlights of the legislation include:
Requirements For School Year 2007-08
The State Department of Education (the Department) establishes the Office of School Choice and Innovation (the Office) to provide districts with public school choice and open enrollment program information and assistance. The Office will: (1) conduct a statewide inventory on district growth projections, choice programs available, and choice options parents would like to have; (2) establish and assist district choice and open enrollment pilot programs where district participation is voluntary; and (3) provide information and recommendations to districts regarding problems experienced in pilot programs and the costs of implementation.
Each district convenes a School Choice Committee to develop an action plan.
The State Board develops guidelines listing factors to be used in determining school capacity. In developing the guidelines, a task force will be established with membership to include, but not be limited to, school board members, superintendents, principals, parents, and business and community leaders. The membership of the task force shall reflect urban and rural areas of the State.
Requirements For School Year 2008-09
Districts begin implementing school choice plans, providing at a minimum a choice option for elementary, middle, and high school students.
The School Choice Committee and district develop plans to implement an Open Enrollment Choice Program.
The Department reports to the General Assembly by January 1, 2009, regarding findings from pilot programs.
Requirements For School Year 2009-10
A parent may enroll his child in a public school in any district without paying tuition, and all districts must participate.
Assignment of students is based on capacity of receiving school. The receiving district shall: (1) notify resident district of receipt of application; (2) take action by the last day of February of the school year preceding enrollment to approve or deny an application; and (3) notify the parent and the resident district within five days after board action, with a written explanation if the application is denied. Students residing in a school attendance zone may not be displaced by a student outside the attendance zone.
School districts are not required to: (1) accept students outside of the district in excess of 3% of district's highest average daily membership in any year over the preceding ten year period; (2) alter the structure of a requested school; (3) establish and offer in a school a program not currently offered; or (4) alter or waive eligibility criteria for a program.
School boards will adopt policies for capacity standards, standards of approval, and priorities of acceptance. Standards for capacity may not be set less than 75% of those established in State Board regulations. Only permanent building structures are, however, allowed in the calculation of capacity. Applications must be considered in order received, but for assignment of students priority must be: (1) students residing in district who desire to attend a school outside their attendance zone; (2) returning students; (3) students who seek to attend the designated school in the district's feeder pattern; (4) siblings of students already enrolled in the school; and (5) students whose parent or guardian is employed by the school.
Receiving districts may deny students only if: (1) there is lack of capacity in district, school, or program requested; (2) the school requested cannot meet the special needs of a student; (3) student does not meet eligibility criteria for participation in a particular program; (4) denial is necessary to comply with a desegregation plan; or (5) the student is expelled or in the process of being expelled.
Sending districts may deny resident students a transfer only if the transfer would violate a desegregation plan. Denials by receiving district are subject to appeal to the State Board of Education.
Districts must annually submit capacity figures for all district schools to the Department and must post these figures, current enrollment, and school's current percentage of capacity on district and school websites. A student enrolled in a nonresident district may remain without reapplying until completion of the final grade within that school.
Receiving districts may terminate enrollment of nonresident students for habitual truancy, attendance policy violation, violations of student conduct code, or by mutual agreement between board of receiving and resident district and parents.
Parents are responsible for transportation, but parents with family income of 185% or less of federal poverty guidelines are eligible for transportation services provided by the district or for transportation reimbursement paid to the parent by the district (district would be reimbursed by the Department).
Districts receive 100% of base student cost for nonresident students.
Students enrolled in a receiving district are ineligible for interscholastic athletics participation for one calendar year after enrollment or, if student makes subsequent transfers, for one calendar year from date of each transfer. This restriction does not apply to a student's initial transfer, if student's district of residence does not offer the sport in which the student wishes to participate.
Department must annually survey districts to determine the number of students participating in the program and report to the General Assembly. Each year of implementation of the program is contingent upon appropriation of adequate State funding. The House committed H.3175, a bill establishing the SOUTH CAROLINA CHILD DEVELOPMENT EDUCATION PROGRAM (CDEP) to provide four-year-old kindergarten programs for at-risk children, to the Ways and Means Committee. The Governor returned H.3226, a bill providing for ETHICS ACT REVISIONS, to the House with his veto. The House appointed members to a conference committee to address differences with the Senate over H.3097, a bill establishing the SOUTH CAROLINA VIRTUAL SCHOOL PROGRAM. The House amended, approved, and sent to the Senate H.3033. This bill provides for a DOCUMENT OF RESCISSION TO CORRECT AN ERRONEOUS RECORDING OF A SATISFACTION OF A MORTGAGE OR OTHER LIEN AFFECTING REAL PROPERTY. The term 'document of rescission' means a document stating that an identified satisfaction or affidavit of satisfaction of a mortgage or other lien affecting real property was recorded erroneously or that a mortgage or other lien affecting real property was satisfied of record erroneously, the secured obligation remains unsatisfied, and the mortgage or other lien affecting real property remains in force. The legislation provides protection for a priority creditor who records after the erroneous recording. The bill provides that a person who erroneously or wrongfully records a document of rescission is liable to a person injured by the recording for a sum of money not exceeding one-half of the original face amount of the debt secured by the mortgage or twenty-five thousand dollars, whichever is less, plus actual damages, costs, and attorney's fees. The bill includes a model form for a document of rescission and authorizes the collection of a filing fee. The House approved and sent to the Senate H.3427. Under this bill, COMMON LAW MARRIAGE in the State may not be recognized on and after January 1, 2008; an exception is provided for common law marriages existing as of December 31, 2007. The bill also repeals a code section relating to the validity of a marriage contracted without the issuance of a license. The House approved and sent to the Senate H.3019, a bill relating to the DEFINITION OF THE TERM 'PERSON' FOR PURPOSES OF A CIVIL CAUSE OF ACTION. For purposes of a civil cause of action, this bill provides that the term "person" includes an unborn child. The term "unborn child" means a child in utero with certain exceptions. The House approved and sent to the Senate H.3795, a joint resolution directing the South Carolina Commission of Archives and History to establish the SOUTH CAROLINA AFRICAN-AMERICAN HERITAGE COMMISSION to assist and enhance the efforts of the department to preserve and promote historic buildings, structures, and sites reflecting the State's African-American heritage. The House amended, approved, and sent to the Senate on H.3516, a bill requiring a CRIMINAL RECORD CHECK AND COMPETENCY REVIEW FOR LICENSURE AS A REAL ESTATE BROKER, SALESPERSON, OR PROPERTY MANAGER. This bill revises the requirements for licensure as a real estate broker, salesperson, or property manager, so as to also require an applicant to provide and pay for criminal record reports and satisfy the Real Estate Commission that he possesses the competency, honesty, truthfulness, integrity, and general moral character necessary to protect the public interest and promote public confidence in the real estate brokerage business. The Real Estate Commission shall issue a license if: (a) the applicant completes all requirements, including but not limited to, education requirements; (b) the commission finds that the results of any required competency examination and investigation of the applicant's moral character are satisfactory; and (c) the applicant pays the fee for licensure. If the applicant has an unsatisfactory examination or investigation, the commission must notify the applicant in writing. The applicant has sixty days from the date of notification to respond to the commission. The House amended, approved, and sent to the Senate H.3525, pertaining to SPECIAL ROUTE-RESTRICTED DRIVER'S LICENSES. This bill provides that a person whose driver's license has been suspended for failure to comply with an order for child support may obtain a special route-restricted driver's license from the Department of Motor Vehicles. The special route-restricted driver's license allows the person to operate a motor vehicle only as transportation between his home and work, or as a part of his work duties, or as transportation to a college, university, technical college, or any other institution of higher learning in which he is enrolled. The House amended, approved, and sent to the Senate H.3373, relating to PERMITS ISSUED BY DHEC TO INSTALL INDIVIDUAL WASTE TREATMENT AND DISPOSAL SYSTEMS. After the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has conducted soil suitability testing and has issued a permit for the installation of an individual waste treatment and disposal system, this bill provides that DHEC is only required to conduct random final inspections on ten percent of these installed systems. Penalties are provided for those out of compliance. The bill also requires DHEC to promulgate regulations for the licensure of persons who contract or advertise to offer to provider services for the installation, repair, modification, or final inspection and approval of on-site wastewater treatment disposal systems. The House approved and sent to the Senate H.3543, relating to the REINSTATEMENT OF A LICENSE ISSUED BY THE ENVIRONMENTAL CERTIFICATION BOARD. This bill changes the period in which a licensee may file an application to reinstate a lapsed license from 90 days to 365 days. The bill also requires that an applicant seeking reinstatement of a lapsed license meet certain continuing education requirements The House amended, approved, and sent to the Senate H.3258, pertaining to HUNTING REVISIONS IN GAME ZONE 1. This bill revises the open season for taking antlered deer in Game Zone 1 as well as the equipment that may be used during certain periods. The bill also revises the open season for hunting and taking bear in Game Zone 1 as well as the equipment that may be used during certain periods. The bill further provides for certain lawful and unlawful activities with regard to bear hunting.
The House Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Environmental Affairs Committee met on Wednesday, March 28, 2007, and gave consideration to one bill. H.3545, which makes REVISIONS TO THE ATLANTIC INTERSTATE LOW-LEVEL RADIOACTIVE WASTE COMPACT IMPLEMENTATION ACT (BARNWELL LEGISLATION), did not receive a favorable recommendation from the full committee.
The following bills were reported out of the committee favorable with amendment; on Wednesday, March 21, 2007; however, the amendments were not available in time to be included in last week's Legislative Update:
After the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) has conducted soil suitability testing and has issued a permit for the installation of an individual waste treatment and disposal system, this bill provides that DHEC is only required to conduct random final inspections on ten percent of these installed systems. Penalties are provided for those out of compliance. The bill also requires DHEC to promulgate regulations for the licensure of persons who contract or advertise to offer to provider services for the installation, repair, modification, or final inspection and approval of on-site wastewater treatment disposal systems.
This bill increases the registration fee from $100 dollars to $135 dollars. This bill provides that the amount of registration and late fee revenue used for administration may not exceed the total amount collected from funds received by federal grant, interest, registration, and late penalty fees. Current law provides that the amount used for administration may not exceed three million a year. Additionally, the bill increases the environmental impact fee from one-half cent a gallon to one cent a gallon.
The stated intent of this bill is to protect the waters of the State by authorizing the removal of nuisance structures from the public waters of the State in accordance with specified procedures and timetables.
The bill allows the owners of structures to apply for a permit from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) authorizing the owner to maintain his structure in its permitted location for five years. There is a fifty-dollar fee for the permit; permits are not allowed if the structure presents a hazard to navigation or encroaches upon private property. The permit may be revoked by DNR under certain circumstances.
An unpermitted structure is declared to be a public nuisance. Reports of unpermitted structures must be made to the Attorney General, and the Attorney General is authorized to maintain an action for removal of the structure. The bill provides that magistrate's court shall have jurisdiction over these actions. The bill also includes criminal penalties for violations.
The full committee did not meet this week.
The full committee did not meet this week.
The full committee did not meet this week.
The full committee did not meet this week.
The full committee did not meet this week.
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