South Carolina House of Representatives
Robert W. Harrell, Jr., Speaker of the House
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND CONSTITUENT SERVICES
Room 212, 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.
The legislation removes the filing of a statement of economic interests from election law requirements and makes such filings an ethics law matter, exclusively, for candidates and incumbent office-holders, alike. Under the revisions, the failure to make a timely filing of required statements of economic interests would not cause candidates to be removed from the ballot or otherwise impair their status as candidates, but such a failure would be subject to the penalties established for violating the Ethics Act. The legislation requires candidates for public office and new public officials to file statements of economic interests with the State Ethics Commission within fifteen days or by the April 15 deadline established for incumbent officials to update their statements of economic interest, whichever comes last.
The procedures for becoming a candidate for public office are completely revised by the legislation so that the involvement of political party officials is no longer required, and all necessary filings, attestations, and payments of fees are conducted through governmental offices. In order to qualify as a candidate to run in the general election, all candidates seeking nomination by political party primary or convention must file for office under a revised protocol where candidates seeking nomination for a statewide, congressional, or district office that includes more than one county must: complete the statement of intention of candidacy, the notice of candidacy, and pledge obtained from the State Election Commission; obtain the signature of the appropriate State Election Commission official on the statement of intention of candidacy; and file the signed statement of intention of candidacy and the notice of candidacy and pledge with the State Election Commission along with the required filing fee. Under the revised protocol, candidates seeking nomination for the state Senate, the state House of Representatives, or a countywide or less than countywide office may obtain their necessary documents from either the State Election Commission or their appropriate county board of registration and elections, and must obtain the signature of the appropriate county board of registration and elections official on the statement of intention of candidacy, and make all required filings and payments of fees with the county board. The county board of registration and elections must, in turn, meet requirements for transmitting statements and filing fees to the State Election Commission. In every general election year , a county board of registration and elections is required to designate a specified place, other than a private residence, where a person may file as a candidate. The board must comply with the legislation's requirements for maintaining regular hours and necessary staffing at the filing place and for providing public notice of where, when, and how to file. A single designee for each recognized political party within the county, selected by the county chair, may be present at the filing place. The legislation includes requirements for political parties to receive notifications about candidate filings from county boards of registration and elections and from the State Election Commission.
The legislation establishes provisions for combining existing boards of voter registration and boards of elections in counties where these boards have not yet been combined into a single board of registration and elections.
The legislation establishes a revised mechanism for political parties to follow in order to nominate candidates by conventions. The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3474. The legislation establishes SCHOOL CALENDAR FLEXIBILITY provisions by revising various statutory requirements that set the length of the school year in terms of a minimum number of days so that these requirements may also be satisfied with an equivalent number of hours. Under the revisions, a local school district is afforded greater authority in deciding how best to structure the instructional day and how many days of instruction comprise the school year, in that the local school district calendar includes instructional days to coincide with official testing dates as set by the South Carolina Department of Education for the administration of the statewide testing program. The number of instructional hours in an instructional day may vary according to local board policy and does not have to be uniform among schools in the district. The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3602, a bill establishing criminal offenses targeting RETAIL THEFT OPERATIONS. The legislation creates the felony offenses of committing or conspiring with another to commit retail theft, amounting to more than $2,000 over a 90-day period, with the intent to sell the stolen property or to place the stolen property in the control of a retail property fence, which is a person or business that buys retail property knowing or believing that it is stolen. The legislation creates a felony offense relating to stealing goods or merchandise from a merchant by affixing a product code created for the purpose of fraudulently obtaining goods or merchandise at less than actual sale price. The legislation creates an offense for the use of a false or altered identification to commit retail theft by way of a refund. Violations are a misdemeanor if the value is less $2,000, and violations are a felony if the value is $2,000 or more. Regardless of the value involved, if an offender has two or more prior convictions, the third violation is a felony. When a defendant is ordered to make restitution by a magistrate or municipal court, this legislation requires the court, upon a motion, to hold a hearing to require a defendant who is in default to show cause why his default should not be treated as a civil judgment and judgment lien attached. A magistrate may convert unpaid court ordered payments into a civil judgment. The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3014, the "VETERANS TREATMENT COURT PROGRAM ACT" to address the criminal justice system's encounters with veterans who have returned from their military service having sustained traumatic brain injuries or suffering from service-related mental health impairments, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety or acute stress. This legislation provides authority for each circuit solicitor to establish a veterans treatment court program, subject to the availability of funds, to divert qualifying nonviolent military veteran offenders away from the criminal justice system and into appropriate mental health and substance abuse treatment programs, thereby reserving prison space for violent criminals and others for whom incarceration is the only reasonable alternative. The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3224, the "MILITARY SERVICE OCCUPATION, EDUCATION, AND CREDENTIALING ACT". The legislation authorizes a state-supported-post-secondary educational institution, including a technical and comprehensive educational institution, to award educational credit to a student honorably discharged from the Armed Forces of the United States for a course that is part of the military training or service of the student, provided: (1) the award must be made within three years after the enrollment of the student at the institution; (2) the course meets the standards of the American Council of Education or equivalent standards for awarding academic credit; and (3) the award is based upon the admissions standards, role, scope, and mission of the institution. The legislation provides an individual is exempt from completing continuing education requirements for his professional or occupational licensing while serving on active military duty. The legislation also allows military personnel who come to the state through duty assignment to avail themselves of the provisions for obtaining temporary professional and occupational licenses that were established to assist military spouses to continue their careers following relocation. The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3797, a bill to enhance the state's provisions governing the operation of CAPTIVE INSURANCE COMPANIES. Notably, the legislation establishes provisions for captive insurance companies to establish protected cells for assets and liabilities. The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3621, a bill relating to a HAZARDOUS INSURER LICENSEE REVOCATION, and enrolled the legislation for ratification. The legislation revises provisions governing the revocation or suspension of a certificate of authority to transact business in this state by an insurer, so as to revise provisions concerning a revocation of the licensee of a hazardous insurer. The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3047, a bill regarding GIGGING FOR FLOUNDER, and enrolled the legislation for ratification. The bill provides that it is unlawful for a person to gig for flounder in salt waters during the daylight hours. The prohibition does not apply to underwater spear fishing. A violator is subject to a fine of up to one hundred dollars or imprisonment for not more than thirty days. The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3571, a bill relating TROTLINES, SET HOOKS AND JUGS, and enrolled the legislation for ratification. The legislation provides for a smaller hook size to be used to fish along all river systems and changes the color of the jugs to white on trotlines. The House approved S.295, a bill pertaining to the DISSOLUTION OF CERTAIN SPECIAL PURPOSE DISTRICTS, and enrolled the bill for ratification. This legislation allows the governing body of a special purpose district created by act of the General Assembly that provides recreational services and has as its boundary the same as the county in which it is located to voluntarily dissolve itself and transfer its assets and liabilities to a county under certain circumstances. For purposes of calculating the millage limitation imposed pursuant to Section 6-1-320 for a county, any millage for operating purposes imposed by the dissolved special purpose district is considered to have been imposed by the county. These provisions do not apply to a special purpose district that provides both recreational and aging services. Further, these provisions expire two years after the effective date of the legislation. The House approved S.10, relating to the AUTHORITY OF SCHOOL TRUSTEES TO SELL OR LEASE SCHOOL PROPERTY FOR FISCAL YEAR 2012-2013, and enrolled the joint resolution for ratification. This legislation provides for Fiscal Year 2012-2013, school trustees of a school district that do not currently have the authority to do so, may sell or lease school property, real or personal, in the school district at any time they deem it expedient to do so and apply the proceeds of the sale or lease to the school fund of the district. The House approved and sent the Senate H.3752, the "EXPANDED VIRTUAL LEARNING ACT". The legislation changes references in law from the South Carolina Virtual School Program to a virtual education program. Also, the legislation removes limits on the number of online credits a student may be awarded under the program. The House approved and sent the Senate H.3973, a bill designating the month of September of every year as "GOLDEN SEPTEMBER CHILDHOOD CANCER AWARENESS MONTH" in South Carolina to honor and give courage to all those children in our State who are fighting this terrible disease. The House approved and sent the Senate H.3870, a bill revising FIREFIGHTER MOBILIZATION AND EMERGENCY RESPONSE provisions. The legislation provides in the "Firefighter Mobilization Act of 2000" that the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) has specific and exclusive jurisdiction on behalf of the state in matters pertaining to the response to, and crisis management of, acts of terrorism and emergency event management of explosive devices. The legislation adds the Chief of SLED to the South Carolina Firefighter Mobilization Oversight Committee. The legislation revises the South Carolina Firefighter Mobilization Plan provisions, so as to rename the committee as the South Carolina Firefighter Mobilization And Emergency Response Task Force Plan, to add the task force to those resources that the plan is intended to offer, and to provide the plan is operational when the Chief of SLED directs a response to a terrorist or explosive device event. The legislation revises the duties of the committee, so as to provide the committee shall develop guidelines for using resources allocated to the task force at the state and regional level. The legislation requires the Office of State Fire Marshal to provide administrative support as required by the committee to perform its prescribed functions. The legislation requires the state coordinator appointed by the committee to report to the State Fire Marshal and provide administrative support to the committee. The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3869, a bill REVISING THE RENEWAL OF LICENSES ISSUED BY THE SOUTH CAROLINA RESIDENTIAL BUILDERS COMMISSION. The legislation makes the renewal period biennial, rather than annual, and requires a licensee seeking renewal to submit a certificate of compliance with continuing educational requirements. The legislation establishes specific requirements for mandatory continuing education required of a licensee, and provides that no additional continuing education or examination may be required by a county or municipality. The legislation requires residential specialty contractor licensees to complete certain continuing education approved by the commission, and provides that a residential specialty contractor who has completed continuing educational requirements in addition to other existing requirements is exempt from related additional examinations required by a county or municipality. The House approved and sent the Senate H.3815, a bill that provides for the LICENSURE OF AUCTIONEERS to be biennial, rather than annual. The legislation conforms continuing education requirements for auctioneers to the new schedule by doubling the requirements for a licensing period to make it eight hours rather than four hours. The House approved and sent the Senate H.3771, a bill that revises provisions governing the membership of the SOUTH CAROLINA REAL ESTATE COMMISSION, so as to detail procedures for appointing the seven commissioners who represent the seven congressional districts. The legislation requires the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation to designate certain personnel, including full-time inspector-investigators, for the exclusive use of the commission and prohibits the department from assigning other work to these personnel without approval of the commission. The legislation provides that these personnel only may be terminated by the director. The House amended and gave second reading approval to H.3609, a bill establishing RESTRICTIONS ON MINORS PURCHASING AND POSSESSING LASER DEVICES in response to the misuse of laser pointers and similar devices in causing eye injuries and creating dangerous distractions from remote locations, involving, most notably, the temporary blinding and debilitating of those piloting aircraft. The legislation prohibits the sale of laser devices to someone under the age of eighteen years or to someone who does not present, upon demand, proper proof of age. Criminal penalties are established for violations. The legislation prohibits a minor under the age of eighteen years from possessing or purchasing a laser device or offering fraudulent proof of age in an attempted purchase. The legislation establishes exceptions allowing a minors to possess and use laser devices in the course of business or education, for emergency signaling purposes, or with lawfully used gun sights and other uses connected with firearms and archery. A violation of these prohibitions on the possession and use of laser devices by minors incurs civil fines and confiscation of laser devices. A violation of these restrictions involving minors is not a criminal or delinquent offense and no criminal or delinquent record may be maintained. A minor may not be detained, taken into custody, arrested, placed in jail or in any other secure facility, committed to the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice, or found to be in contempt of court for a violation of these provisions, nor may a violation be used a disqualification for state scholarships or other university financial assistance programs. The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3268, a bill pertaining to the DISSOLUTION OF CERTAIN SPECIAL PURPOSE DISTRICTS. This legislation allows the governing body of a special purpose district created by act of the General Assembly that provides recreational services and has as its boundary the same as the county in which it is located to voluntarily dissolve itself and transfer its assets and liabilities to a county under certain circumstances. For purposes of calculating the millage limitation imposed pursuant to Section 6-1-320 for a county, any millage for operating purposes imposed by the dissolved special purpose district is considered to have been imposed by the county. These provisions do not apply to a special purpose district that provides both recreational and aging services. Further, these provisions expire two years after the effective date of the legislation. The House recommitted H.3782, the "PUBLIC EMPLOYER PAYROLL DEDUCTION POLICY ACT", to the Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee.
The full Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee met on Thursday, April 18, 2013, and reported out several bills. H.3762, a bill dealing with the UNLAWFUL HUNTING OF WILDLIFE, was given a favorable with an amendment recommendation by the full committee. The legislation includes all devices for seizing when used in unlawful hunting of deer or bear at night. The legislation also states that property seized for a second offense, and the device is of greater value than five thousand dollars, the owner may at any time before sale redeem it by paying to the department the sum of five thousand dollars. When the device is of lesser value than five thousand dollars, the owner may at any time before sale redeem it by paying to the department the retail market value. If there is a third or subsequent offense, the device must be forfeited to the state. H.3735, a bill relating to BLACK SEA BASS, was given a favorable with an amendment recommendation by committee. The bill clarifies that the Federal laws and regulations that regulate the taking of fish in state waters, does not apply to Black Sea Bass. In addition, there is no closed season on the catching of Black Sea Bass. The committee gave a favorable with an amendment recommendation to H.3774, legislation dealing with the TIME LIMIT SUSPENSION OF REAL PROPERTY APPROVALS. As a result of construction projects being approved in past years and not being able to move forward because of the economic crisis, this joint resolution applies retroactively for approved development that was current and valid on January 1, 2013; and it provides for extending these permit approvals through December 2017. This is a major effort to assist the construction/banking industry in this economic recovery period. The committee gave a favorable with an amendment to H. 3827, a bill relating to the FINAL REVIEW OF A DECISION OF THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL DECISIONS BEFORE REQUESTING A CONTESTED CASE HEARING BEFORE THE ADMINISTRATIVE LAW COURT. In an effort to streamline the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control review process, the legislation outlines that the department decision is final fifteen calendar days after notice has been mailed, unless a written request for a contested case is filed with the Administrative Law Court. As a result, the challenge to the department's decision proceeds to the Administrative Law Court. H.3847, legislation amending the "SOUTH CAROLINA MANUFACTURER RESPONSIBILITY AND CONSUMER CONVENIENCE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY EQUIPMENT COLLECTION AND RECOVERY ACT OF 2010", was given a favorable with an amendment recommendation by the committee. In an effort to reduce the unforeseen financial burden that has been placed on the counties due to electronic waste, the legislation outlines that counties will not be obligated to pay the cost. Among many things, the legislation outlines that manufacturers will submit a plan for the operation of a statewide recovery program for electronic recycling. The legislation also clarifies to include computer monitors in the labeling requirements as well as the recycling program requirements. The committee gave a favorable with an amendment recommendation to H.3925, a bill relating to PROHIBITING THE DISCHARGE OF POLLUTANTS INTO THE ENVIRONMENT AND REMEDIES FOR VIOLATIONS. The legislation outlines that any decision of the department with respect to which review could have been, but was not, obtained under this provision is not subject to judicial review in any civil or criminal proceeding.
The full Education and Public Works Committee met on Tuesday, April 16, and reported out legislation. H.3752 received a favorable recommendation from the full Education and Public Works Committee. This legislation enacts the "EXPANDED VIRTUAL LEARNING ACT". The legislation changes references in law from the South Carolina Virtual School Program to a virtual education program. Also, the legislation removes limits on the number of online credits a student may be awarded under the program. H.3725 received a favorable with amendment recommendation from the full committee. This legislation enacts the "SAFE ACCESS TO VITAL EPINEPHRINE (SAVE) ACT" so as to allow public school district and private school governing authorities to obtain supplies of epinephrine auto-injectors, also known as EpiPens, for schools to provide or administer when necessary due to severe allergic reaction. The legislation authorizes certain healthcare professionals to prescribe and dispense these prescriptions in the name of a school; authorizes certain school personnel to provide epinephrine auto-injectors to students for self-administration in accordance with a prescription the student has on file; and authorizes certain school personnel to administer epinephrine auto-injectors to students and other people believed to be experiencing anaphylaxis regardless of prescription. The legislation requires participating school district and private school governing authorities in consultation with the State Department of Education and the Department of Health and Environmental Control to implement a plan for the management of students with life-threatening school allergies; the plan must be made available on the websites of the public school district and private school governing authorities and on the websites of schools. Among other things, the plan must include education and training for school personnel on the administration of an epinephrine auto-injector and techniques on how to recognize the symptoms of severe allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis. The legislation provides certain immunity from liability with regard to use of epinephrine auto-injectors by schools and development or implementation of a plan for the management of students with life-threatening allergies. Public school district and private school governing authorities may enter into agreements with manufacturers of epinephrine auto-injectors or third party suppliers in order to obtain these at fair-market, free, or reduced prices. The Education and Public Works Committee gave a favorable with amendment report to H.3853. This legislation makes various revisions pertaining to CHARTER SCHOOLS; highlights include the following. The legislation provides for greater accountability in both the application and school closing stages. The legislation requires charter school sponsors to adopt and follow national industry standards. The legislation adopts best practices, including requiring letters of intent to be filed by prospective charter schools prior to applications being submitted. Also, additional details must be included in charter school applications, such as an executive summary, descriptions of how standards will be met, start up plans, resumes of charter committee members, and information about the school's management team. The legislation creates alternative education campuses designed to serve at-risk and challenging student populations. Alternative education campuses may serve one of three categories of students: 1) students with severe limitations that preclude the administration of assessments, 2) fifty percent or more of the students have IEPs, or 3) ninety-five percent or more of the students are high-risk as defined by the legislation. Alternative education campuses are not subject to automatic closure, but may be closed if they fail to meet accountability standards or the provisions defined in their charter. Except for alternative education campuses, charter schools must automatically close at the conclusion of the school year if the schools receive the lowest performance level rating for three consecutive years. Administrative Law Courts will no longer be allowed to grant automatic stays of closures. The Charter School Advisory Committee is eliminated; the Committee is no longer necessary due to the creation and operation of the Statewide Charter School district. The State Department of Education is tasked with providing guidance on compliance to sponsors and applicants. Additionally, the legislation requires charter school sponsors to approve virtual school courses or courses for instruction; under current law, the Department of Education approves these courses. S.10, relating to the AUTHORITY OF SCHOOL TRUSTEES TO SELL OR LEASE SCHOOL PROPERTY FOR FISCAL YEAR 2012-2013, received a favorable report. This legislation provides for Fiscal Year 2012-2013, school trustees of a school district that do not currently have the authority to do so, may sell or lease school property, real or personal, in the school district at any time they deem it expedient to do so and apply the proceeds of the sale or lease to the school fund of the district. The full committee gave a favorable report to H.3631, relating to GOLF CARTS. This legislation moves existing golf cart provisions to Chapter 3 (Motor Vehicle Registrations and Licensing) of Title 56 (Motor Vehicles) so as to clarify that a violation of these provisions is subject to a misdemeanor penalty; last session legislation passed by the General Assembly moved these provisions out of Chapter 3 and placed them in Chapter 2 (Specialized Vehicles) of Title 56. Additionally, the legislation removes a restriction on golf carts only operating during daylight hours; the legislation provides that the night-time prohibition does not apply to a golf cart that is equipped with working headlights and rear lights. The legislation provides that the five dollar golf cart registration fee shall be retained by the Department of Motor Vehicles to defray expenses of producing and administering golf cart permits. Also, the legislation authorizes a political subdivision to prohibit golf cart operation when it determines that the prohibition is necessary in the interest of safety.
The full Judiciary Committee met on Wednesday, April 17, and reported out two bills. H.3464 received a favorable with amendment recommendation from the full committee. This legislation relates to Department of Social Services child abuse and neglect removal actions, in particular the EXPEDITED RELATIVE PLACEMENTS OF CHILDREN AT THE PROBABLE CAUSE HEARING FOR EMERGENCY PROTECTIVE CUSTODY. If the court finds at the probable cause hearing that the department made reasonable efforts to prevent removal of the child and that continuation of the child in the home would be contrary to the welfare of the child, this legislation provides that the court may order expedited placement of the child with a grandparent or other relative of the first or second degree. In making this expedited placement decision, the legislation requires the court to consider the totality of the circumstances including, but not limited to, the individual's suitability, fitness, and willingness to serve as a placement for the child. If the court orders expedited placement of the child with a grandparent or other relative of the first or second degree, the individual may be added as a party to the action for the duration of the case or until further order of the court. H.3945, comprehensive ETHICS REFORM legislation, received a favorable with amendment report from the full Judiciary Committee. Highlights of this legislation include the following.
South Carolina Commission on Ethics Enforcement and Disclosure
This legislation creates a new twelve-member South Carolina Commission on Ethics Enforcement and Disclosure with jurisdiction over all executive and legislative officials and employees as well as lobbyists and lobbyist principles.
Commission members are both appointed and elected. The House of Representatives and Senate each elect four members, and the Governor appoints four members. Vacancies must be filled in the manner of original election. Also, the legislation provides eligibility requirements for commission members, which include being a college graduate and having ten years of experience in one of several specified areas. The legislation further requires the House and Senate to provide for application, screening and bi-partisan election processes. Among other things, Member of the General Assembly and other public officials are not eligible to serve on the Commission.
The legislation includes provisions pertaining to compensation and benefits for commission members, it also includes provisions pertaining to term of office and conduct while in office by commission members. Commission members receive an annual salary of $12,000, and they may receive mileage and subsistence. Membership on the commission does not entitle commission members to participate in a state retirement system or to participate in the state employee insurance program. Members serve six year terms, and no person may serve consecutive terms. The legislation provides for staggered terms for initial commission membership. Commission members are prohibited from making political contributions and must conduct themselves in accordance with Cannons of Judicial Conduct.
The legislation provides for the commission's powers and duties. Members of the commission elect their own chairman; they may elect a vice chairman and such officers as they consider necessary. The commission may employ and remove, at its pleasure, an executive director to administer the daily business of the commission. Among other things, the commission handles ethics complaints. The legislation provides procedures for handing these complaints, which includes requiring complaints to be in writing and subject to confidentiality. The legislation authorizes a panel of three commissioners (one appointed by each of the appointing authorities) to be assigned to oversee the internal investigation of a matter. The panel may issue subpoenas, compel testimony and make requests for additional information; the panel may also request assistance of specialized staff from the State Law Enforcement Division or Department of Revenue. Results of an investigation by the three member panel are presented to the full commission in executive session. Prior to a finding that a complaint is substantiated, the commission can issue a private reprimand, enter into a public consent order or dismiss the matter. If the full commission finds the complaint has been substantiated and is of a substantive nature, all records and information to the commission relating to the complaint and its investigation at this point become public information. The legislation allows individuals, after being notified of the existence of a complaint against them, to waive their right to confidentiality; partial waivers are not allowed. Once substantiated, the matter may be disposed of by public reprimand or proceed to hearing. All hearings must be conducted in public before the full commission.
The legislation repeals provisions relating to the current State Ethics Commission and the Senate and House of Representatives Ethics Committees. Note appropriations, assets and liabilities of the current State Ethics Commission are transferred to the new commission. Current employees of the State Ethics Commission may be considered for employment.
South Carolina Public Integrity Unit
The legislation establishes a South Carolina Public Integrity Unit, which consists of five partner members: (1) the Attorney General; (2) the Chief of the State Law Enforcement Division; (3) the Director of the Department of Revenue; (4) the Executive Director of the South Carolina Commission on Ethics and Disclosure; and (5) the Inspector General. The members may provide employees or staff from their respective agencies for the unit as necessary. The unit is an investigative partnership and not an adjudicating entity. Completed investigations that substantiate serious criminal conduct may be provided directly to the Attorney General or a solicitor. Substantiated investigations of a civil nature or deemed to be procedural error must be sent to the appropriate supervisory office. Unsubstantiated investigations must be returned to the entity that forwarded the investigation to the unit. The unit may accept investigations by referral only; referrals may be made by the South Carolina Commission on Ethics Enforcement and Disclosure; the Supreme Court; and any of the five partners. The stated intent of the General Assembly in creating this partnership is to maximize existing resources, expertise, and available information to coordinate investigations of alleged government corruption, unethical conduct, and violations of the public trust, all of which are imperative to preserving the faith of the public in its institutions.
Statement of Economic Interests
The legislation revises what a public official must disclose on a statement of economic interests. The legislation requires disclosure of the source and type of private income. The legislation requires disclosure of the source, type, and amount or value of private income received from governmental sources, lobbyist or lobbyist principles, representation before a governmental agency, or political sources. Additionally, the legislation revises definitions; the terms "business with which he is associated" and "individual with whom he is associated" are expanded to include all nature of business arrangements. This expands the amount of disclosure required of public officials through their statement of economic interests. Also, the definition of the term "governmental entity" is expanded to include federal sources; this requires the disclosure of federal income.
The legislation expands regulation of lobbying to include activity at local levels of government (county, municipal and school board).
The legislation requires members of the General Assembly to offer detail associated with any recusals. Also, the legislation requires public officials that are required to recuse themselves from votes to do so at all levels of consideration.
The legislation authorizes public officials to represent clients before agencies if the matter can ultimately become a contested case and is, therefore, subject to review by the judicial system.
Currently, a candidate, committee, or ballot measure committee must maintain and preserve an account the occupation of each person making a contribution. The legislation provides that a written request for this information shall satisfy.
The legislation provides that during the 20 day period prior to an election, a candidate, committee or ballot committee must electronically report a information about a contribution of more than $250 or a contribution of less than $250 when combined with all other contributions accepted from the person during the period have not been reported, exceed $250. This electronic report must be made within forty-eight hours after receipt.
The legislation abolishes what is commonly referred to as leadership PACs by prohibiting contributions from one and repealing language that authorizes the creation of one.
The legislation provides that contributions received to retire campaign debt must be used for this purpose only.
The legislation prohibits the head of any state agency or department who is selected by the Governor, General Assembly or an appointed or elected board from engaging in fundraising activity.
The legislation prohibits campaign funds from being used to pay penalties and fines issued by the commission pursuant to a finding of misconduct or levied by a court as a result of any criminal convictions.
The legislation revises the definition of the term "committee" to assure that non-candidate groups that have previously been subject to disclosure are once more subject to disclosure.
The legislation includes provisions for qui-tam and related actions; provisions like these are sometimes referred to as a state false claims act. These provisions allow the State Attorney General, and individuals on the state's behalf if the state elects not to proceed with an action, to file civil cases to combat fraud, waste and abuse.
The full Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee met on Tuesday, April 16, 2013, and reported out several bills. The committee gave H.3354, a bill allowing copies of DEATH CERTIFICATES to be issued upon request from any regional county vital records office, a favorable with an amendment recommendation. The records must be made available in photographic or other suitable format for public viewing. H.3366, a bill relating to the AUTHORIZATION OF DISCLOSURE OF MEDICAL INFORMATION, was given a favorable with an amendment recommendation by the full committee. A health care provider or the provider’s agent shall provide on the patient information form an opportunity for the patient to designate a family member or other individual, designated by the patient, as a person with whom the provider may discuss the patient’s medical condition and treatment plan. Nursing homes are exempted from this provision. This legislation satisfies the Federal requirements relating to public health and the privacy rule of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). H.3618, legislation dealing with physicians' supervisory relationship requirements with PHYSICIAN ASSISTANTS, was given a favorable with an amendment recommendation by the committee. The legislation states that a licensed physician who accepts the responsibility to supervise a physician assistant’s activities, must enter into a supervisory relationship with a physician assistant. The physician must notify the Board of Medical Examiners of South Carolina, in writing, of the proposed supervisory relationship and include the proposed scope of practice guidelines for the relationship. The legislation further outlines that no more than three full-time physician assistants can be supervised by a supervising physician. A physician assistant may practice in a public place, a private place, or a facility where the supervising physician regularly sees patients, may make house calls, perform hospital duties, and perform any functions performed by the supervising physician if the physician assistant is also qualified to perform those functions. A physician assistant may authorize prescriptions for an orally administered Schedule II controlled substance under certain requirements. The full committee gave approval to H.3263, a bill which enacts the "SOUTH CAROLINA MILITARY PREPAREDNESS AND ENHANCEMENT ACT". The "South Carolina Military Preparedness and Enhancement Act" is a proactive response to the presently evolving transformation of national defense strategies. As a result, the South Carolina Military Preparedness and Enhancement Commission will be established within the Governor’s Office. The commission will advise the Governor and the General Assembly on military issues and economic and industrial development related to military issues and make recommendations. The legislation provides for an eleven-member commission. Not later than July first of each year, the commission shall prepare and submit a report to the Governor and the General Assembly about the active military installations, communities that depend on military installations, and defense related businesses in this state. The legislation also establishes the South Carolina Military Value Revolving Loan Account which the commission can provide loans to assist defense communities to enhance the value of military facilities. The legislation also allows for the commission to accept grants and/or gifts to help with this effort.
The Ways and Means Committee met on Wednesday, April 17, and reported out several bills. The committee gave a favorable report on H.3223, a bill that redesignates the Legislative Printing, Information and Technology Systems (LPITS) as the LEGISLATIVE SERVICES AGENCY (LSA). The committee gave a favorable report on H.3258, a bill authorizing the DONATION OF STATE EMPLOYEE LEAVE TO A SPECIFIC RECIPIENT. This bill provides that a leave donor under the State Employees Leave Transfer Program may also donate sick leave and/or annual leave to a specific leave recipient rather than to the leave pool account in the manner the Human Resource Management Division shall direct. The committee gave a favorable report on H.3860, a bill providing for CONSOLIDATED PROCUREMENT CODE REVISIONS that are geared towards allowing smaller businesses to compete with larger businesses that have the means to retain a wide array of professional and occupational license holders on their staffs. The legislation revises project delivery methods authorized for procurement of infrastructure facilities under the South Carolina Consolidated Procurement Code, so as to provide that an entity or individual offering to contract for design-build, design-build-operate-maintain, or design-build-finance-operate-maintain project delivery methods is not required to hold a professional or occupational license otherwise required by law, so long as the person who actually performs the regulated work holds the appropriate license. The legislation revises bond and security requirements under the Consolidated Procurement Code, so as to require performance and payment bonds equal to one hundred percent of the value of designated portions of construction, prior to the commencement of work on those portions of the project. The committee gave a favorable report on H.3784, a bill making revisions that address recent budgetary shortfalls experienced by the NATIONAL GUARD COLLEGE ASSISTANCE PROGRAM. The legislation revises provisions governing the National Guard College Assistance Program, so as to clarify that each academic year’s annual maximum grant must be based on the amount of available program funds. The legislation revises program qualification requirements, to provide that national guard members become eligible for college assistance program grants upon completion of basic training and advanced individual training. The legislation allows appropriations to the National Guard College Assistance Program to be carried forward to a subsequent fiscal year and expended for the same purpose. Appropriations to the National Guard College Assistance Program are exempted from midyear budget reductions. The committee gave a report of favorable with amendments on H.3896. This bill revises LIMITATIONS ON TUITION INCREASES UNDER THE SOUTH CAROLINA TUITION PREPAYMENT PROGRAM, so as to provide that, beginning with the 2013-2014 school year, a public institution of higher learning in this state shall accept as full payment of all tuition and fees due for those in-state undergraduate students whose tuition and fees are paid pursuant to a tuition prepayment contract under the Tuition Prepayment Program the amount of tuition and fees charged in-state undergraduate students for school year 2008-2009 who did not participate in the program. Under the legislation, the South Carolina Tuition Prepayment Program shall continue to pay tuition and fees for students participating in the program who attend in-state private institutions or out-of-state institutions on the weighted average tuition (WAT) amount basis. The committee gave a report of favorable with amendments on H.3561, a bill providing for ACCOMMODATIONS TAX REVISIONS. The legislation revises accommodations tax provisions, to remove room service, amenities, entertainment, special items in promotional tourist packages, in room movies, and other guest services from the list of items subject to the five percent tax on additional surcharges. Under the revisions, the additional tax would continue to apply only to charges for room service, laundering and dry cleaning services, in-room movies, telephone service, and rentals of meeting rooms. The committee gave a favorable report on H.3632, a bill relating to WORKERS’ COMPENSATION COMMISSION FUNDING. This bill authorizes the Workers’ Compensation Commission to retain a portion of the annual revenue of the maintenance tax imposed on self insurers as well as half of the interest charged on delinquent maintenance tax in order to pay the salaries and expenses of the commission. The committee gave a report of favorable with amendments on H.3796, a bill revising the COLLECTION OF FEES FOR PRIVATE PASSENGER VEHICLE TRUCKS. The legislation establishes provisions allowing someone to submit an affidavit attesting that a truck, within certain weight limits, that he owns or leases is exclusively for personal use so that the truck is subject to fees for private passenger vehicles rather than the fee schedule established for commercial vehicles. The committee gave a report of favorable with amendments on H.3093, the "SOUTH CAROLINA ABANDONED BUILDINGS REVITALIZATION ACT". The legislation establishes provisions allowing a taxpayer making qualifying investments in the rehabilitation of an abandoned building to receive income tax credits or credits against property tax liability in an amount comprising up to twenty-five percent of rehabilitation costs. The committee gave a report of favorable with amendments on H.3357, a bill providing for MOTION PICTURE PRODUCTION TAX REBATE ENHANCEMENTS. The legislation increases tax rebates to a motion picture production company by the South Carolina Film Commission, by providing that the rebate may not exceed twenty, rather than the current fifteen, percent of the total aggregate payroll for qualifying persons subject to South Carolina income tax withholdings, and may not exceed twenty-five percent for South Carolina residents, for persons employed in connection with the production when total production costs in South Carolina are at least one million dollars during the taxable year. The legislation allows a rebate of up to thirty, rather than the current fifteen, percent of qualifying expenditures made by a motion picture production company with a minimum in-state expenditure of one million dollars. The committee gave a report of favorable with amendments on H.3505, the "HIGH GROWTH SMALL BUSINESS ACCESS TO CAPITAL ACT OF 2013". The legislation establishes provisions for state nonrefundable income tax credits to encourage those who act as "angel investors" by providing early stage capital for emerging high-growth enterprises in such areas as manufacturing, processing, warehousing, wholesaling, software development, and information technology services. The committee gave a favorable report on H.3767, a bill providing an ACCOMMODATIONS TAX EXEMPTION FOR CERTAIN RENTALS OF PERSONAL RESIDENCES. The legislation provides that the two percent state sales tax imposed on accommodations does not apply to gross proceeds from rentals received by persons renting their personal residence for fewer than fifteen days total in a year if the gross proceeds of the rental income are excluded from federal taxable income. The committee gave a favorable report on H.3125, the "MICROENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT ACT". The legislation provides for the Department of Commerce to establish the Microenterprise Partnership Program to promote and facilitate the development of microenterprises, which are businesses, whether new or existing, including startup, home-based, and self employment, with five or fewer employees. The legislation establishes a procedure for the Department to award grants to community organizations to make loans and develop loan sources. The legislation provides that appropriated funds may be awarded as a grant to microloan delivery organizations and that such grants must be matched by nonstate funds. The legislation establishes the purpose for which grant funds may be expended and specifies certain provisions that must be in a contract between the Department and a statewide microlending support organization. An annual report must be submitted to the Governor and the General Assembly. The committee gave a report of favorable with amendments on H.3410, a bill that provided for the TRANSFER OF THE REGIONAL EDUCATION CENTERS established by the Education and Economic Development Coordinating Council to the Department of Commerce. The committee gave a favorable report on H.3557, a bill providing for the EXPANSION OF THE TAX CREDIT FOR PORT CARGO VOLUME INCREASE. The legislation expands the types of businesses that qualify for the tax credit for port cargo volume increase so that the credit also applies to businesses engaged in freight forwarding, freight handling, goods processing, cross docking, transloading, or wholesaling of goods. The Coordinating Council for Economic Development is afforded discretion in awarding credits. The legislation provides that taxpayers engaged in the movement of goods imported or exported through South Carolina’s port facilities may be eligible for the credit if the cargo supports a presence in the state and meets other job and capital investment requirements. The committee gave a report of favorable with amendments on H.3644, a bill establishing provisions for CLEAN ENERGY INDUSTRY MARKET DEVELOPMENT. This bill establishes within the Division of State Development of the Department of Commerce the Clean Energy Industry Market Development Advisory Council and provide for its membership and functions. The legislation revises the Renewable Energy Tax Credit Incentive Program, so as: to redesignate the program the South Carolina Clean Energy Tax Incentive Program; to revise definitions to extend the credit to additional forms of energy production and operations; to decrease investment thresholds and decrease job creation thresholds for qualifying for the credit and make the credit, previously due to expire December 31, 2015, available through 2019; and, to revise credit administration procedures. The legislation revises the income tax credit for corn-based ethanol or soy-based biodiesel production in this state, so as to extend the credit to all liquid fuels derived from renewable sources, make conforming definitions, reduce the amount of liquid fuel eligible for the credit, and extend the period during which the credit may be claimed through 2019. The committee gave a favorable report on H.3783, a bill that revises CRITERIA FOR THE ADMISSIONS LICENSE TAX EXEMPTION FOR A MOTORSPORTS ENTERTAINMENT COMPLEX by establishing the requirement that the complex be a NASCAR sanctioned speedway that hosts at least one race each year featuring the preeminent NASCAR cup series, instead of the current requirement that the speedway have at least sixty thousand seats for race patrons. The committee gave a report of favorable with amendments on H.3027, a bill to provide for the EXPANSION OF THE OWNER-OCCUPIED RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENT RATIO ELIGIBILITY FOR MILITARY PERSONNEL. The legislation provides that an active duty member of the Armed Forces of the United States who receives the special assessment ratio for owner-occupied residential property retains this four percent assessment ratio as long as the owner remains on active duty, regardless of the owner’s subsequent relocation or change of duty station and regardless of any rental income attributable to the property. The legislation also provides that an eligible active duty member of the U.S. Armed Forces who receives orders for a permanent change of station or a temporary duty assignment for at least one year, may claim the four percent assessment ratio and applicable exemptions for two residential properties located in the State for up to two years so long as the owner is attempting to sell the first acquired residence. These provisions also include the spouse of the service member who jointly owns the qualifying property. The committee gave a report of favorable with amendments on H.3502, a bill relating to the TRANSFER OF PRIVATELY DONATED FUNDS OR PROPERTY BY THE CITADEL BOARD OF VISITORS TO A NONPROFIT ELEEMOSYNARY CORPORATION ESTABLISHED BY THE BOARD. The legislation removes the current twenty million dollar limit on the amount of funds or property privately donated to the college, and income or proceeds derived from them, that the board may transfer to the corporation.
The Legislative Update is on the Worldwide Web. Visit the South Carolina General Assembly Home Page (http://www.scstatehouse.gov) and click on "Publications," then click on "Legislative Updates." This will list all of the Legislative Updates by date. Click on the date you need. Also available on the website is a bill summary index, where bills referenced in one or more issues of the Legislative Update are listed in numeric order. Links to the specific text of the Legislative Update issue are provided in the bill summary index.
NOTE: THE LEGISLATIVE UPDATE IS AVAILABLE TO LEGISLATIVE TRACKING SUBSCRIBERS. YOU MAY REGISTER FOR THIS FREE SERVICE ON THE SOUTH CAROLINA GENERAL ASSEMBLY HOME PAGE BY CLICKING ON "TRACK LEGISLATION" (ON THE VERTICAL MENU BAR).