South Carolina House of Representatives
James H. "Jay" Lucas, 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 House Education and Public Works Committee met on Wednesday, February 10th and passed out six bills (all of which were Committee Bills). The Committee passed H.4936 (formerly H.4783 EDUCATIONAL GOALS) as a Committee Bill whose purpose is to ensure that graduates have world class knowledge based on college and career ready standards. The bill states that students should have the opportunity to learn one of a number of foreign languages, and have offerings in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, arts and social sciences. These are based on the declaration that the principles outlined in "The Profile of the South Carolina Graduate" are the standards by which our stateís high school graduates should be measured and are this stateís achievement goals for all high school students. Students must be offered the ability to obtain an array of world class skills such as critical thinking and problem solving; collaboration, teamwork and communication; and information, media, and technology. The Committee approved H.4937 as a Committee Bill (formerly H.4781 SOUTH CAROLINA EDUCATION AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COORDINATING COUNCIL). The bill reestablishes the South Carolina Education and Economic Development Coordinating Council. The Council is comprised of the 28 individuals, including, but not limited to, the following: the State Superintendent of Education; Director of the Department of Employment and Workforce; the Secretary of Commerce; Executive Director of the Commission on Higher Education; Executive Director of the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce; Chair of the Education Oversight Committee; legislators; business leaders; and representatives from the K-12 and higher education sectors. The Chair must be one of the Governorís appointees. The Council must advise the State Department of Education (SDE) regarding implementation of the Education and Economic Development Act (EEDA), review accountability and performance measures, report on the progress and compliance of the EEDA to the General Assembly, Governor and others, make recommendations for statewide awareness of EEDA, and provide input to the Department of Commerce and State Board of Education. The Council must be staffed by personnel from SDE. The Committee approved H.4938 as a Committee Bill (formerly H.4782 STUDENT SURVEYS). This joint resolution requires the State Department of Education (SDE) and the Center for Educator Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement (CERRA) to collaborate with the Commission of Higher Education in surveying students enrolled in the South Carolina colleges and universities. At a minimum, the survey must include the following questions: whether students have considered teaching in a rural and economically challenged districts; what incentives, if any, would cause them to move to, and work in, such a district and any additional questions SDE and CERRA consider useful. The survey results must be reported to the General Assembly by December 1, 2016. The Committee approved H.4939 as a Committee Bill (formerly H.4780 EDUCATION REFORM SERVICES). House Bill 4939 establishes a committee to review Title 59 (Education) of the South Carolina Code of Laws, determine which statutes are obsolete or inapplicable, and report its findings to the General Assembly by December 31, 2016. The Committee must be comprised of representatives for the following individuals: the State Superintendent of Education; the Executive Director of the Education Oversight Committee; the Chair of the House Education and Public Works Committee and the Chair of the Senate Education Committee. The report must be updated at least every five years. The State Department of Education (SDE) must develop a system for providing services and technical assistance to districts on a regional basis. This assistance includes both academic and financial assistance. The State Superintendent must report on the design of the system to the General Assembly by December 31, 2016. Every year after 2016, the Superintendent must report on the assistance provided to districts and the impact of the assistance on student achievement. The SDE must monitor the professional development of teachers, staff, and administrators in underperforming districts and determine what improvements are necessary. The Department must also monitor the operations of school boards in underperforming districts and recommend improvements to them as well. Oversight of professional development is limited to the provisions of the Education Accountability Act. Professional development created and provided by associations and local districts do not come under the purview of SDE. The Committee approved H.4940 as a Committee Bill (formerly H.4779 OFFICE OF TRANSFORMATION). House Bill 4940 codifies the Office of Transformation within the State Department of Education (SDE). The office will provide service and support to schools throughout the state, but must focus on building the capacity of staff serving in the lowest performing districts and schools. The office must provide leadership and curriculum coaches to work with teachers, superintendents, schools boards, families, communities, and other educational partners. Direct coaching and support must be provided through the analysis of data and the development of interventions within the context of strategic plans. Every two years, schools must have a diagnostic review of plans and practices. The review must include a leadership capacity report and a review of the schoolís mission/vision, governance, teaching and learning, resource allocation, and continuous improvement practices. Coaches must help leaders implement the plan of action. SDE must identify priority and focus schools that are in need of comprehensive support and intervention. The Education Accountability Act must be followed when defining low performing schools and determining which schools and districts are at risk. Criteria for exiting the priority and focus categories must be established, and schools must show three years of sustained improvement before they are removed from the categories. (Priority schools are in need of comprehensive support and intervention. Focus schools are in need of targeted support and intervention.) The Office must also identify best practices from other states in regard to innovations that produce improvements in academic growth and achievement of students, especially in low performing schools. The Committee approved H.4941 as a Committee Bill (formerly H.4777 SCHOOL FISCAL PRACTICES). House Bill 4941 requires the State Department of Education (SDE) to establish a program for identifying fiscal practices and budgetary conditions that could compromise the fiscal integrity of a school district. The program must contain the following three levels of concern: "fiscal watch," "fiscal caution," and "fiscal emergency." SDE must work with district superintendents and finance officers to develop the programís guidelines. If the Superintendent determines corrections have not occurred, or there is a law enforcement investigation involving the district, a fiscal watch must be declared. If an audit shows the district is operating outside of accounting principles or does not maintain at least a two percent reserve fund, a watch may be announced. Once a watch is in place, a district must submit a recovery plan to the State Superintendent within sixty days. If approved the district must implement the plan, and SDE will provide assistance. A district may not be released from a fiscal watch in the same fiscal year in which it was declared, but it may be released the following fiscal year if SDE believes that corrections have been implemented. If audits show the possibility of a fiscal emergency, the Superintendent may declare a "fiscal caution." If the audit shows one of the following the Superintendent must declare a fiscal caution: accounting practices are outside acceptable accounting limits; a districtís audit is more than sixty days late; audits from the past two years show conditions that may lead to a fiscal emergency; district records are unauditable; the district is not maintaining a two percent fund reserve; there are significant weaknesses and deficiencies that have a significant impact on the district; or, there is a law enforcement investigation involving the board of trustees. Should a district fail to develop or follow a correction plan, is at risk of defaulting on any type of debt, is under a fiscal watch or fiscal caution for three fiscal years, or problems are severe enough that additional action is necessary, the State Superintendent must declare fiscal emergency. Once declared, the State Auditor must direct SDE to assume emergency management of the district until the emergency is ended.
The House Judiciary Committee met on February 9, 2016, and reported out several bills.
H.3653 MUTUAL AID AGREEMENTS
This bill empowers county, municipality, or other political subdivision law enforcement agencies to enter into multijurisdictional task force agreements or assignments of their law enforcement officers to other law enforcement agencies for the aid and benefit of the participating agencies. The governing bodies of each county, municipality, or state political subdivision must vote to approve these agreements before they can become effective between these participating agencies. The agreements can be terminated in writing and may last in perpetuity if they are not terminated. H.4507 LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS HALL OF FAME
Membership on the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officer Hall of Fame Advisory Committee is expanded to include the President of the South Carolina Fraternal Order of Police, or his designee, to the committee. H.4666 DOMESTIC VIOLENCE FATALITY REVIEW COMMITTEE
Domestic Violence Fatality Review Committees are established under this legislation to review instances of domestic violence in each judicial circuit. Membership will be individuals within law enforcement, legal, medical, as well as other fields with expertise in domestic violence. The committee will make recommendations for changes to existing practices in an effort to reduce the number of domestic violence events in our state.
The House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee met on February 9, 2016, and reported out several bills. The committee gave a favorable report on H.3166, a bill making revisions to conditions that disqualify someone from receiving unemployment compensation, including an additional DISQUALIFICATION FROM UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS FOR THOSE WHO FAIL SCREENINGS FOR ILLEGAL DRUGS REQUIRED BY PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYERS as a condition of employment or who refuse to comply with such pre-employment drug tests. The committee gave a report of favorable with amendments on H.4141, a bill enacting the "LIMITED LINES TRAVEL INSURANCE ACT" to provide authority for travel retailers to offer and disseminate, under a limited lines travel insurance producer business entity license, travel insurance coverage for personal risks incident to planned travel such as: interruption or cancellation of trip or event; loss of baggage or personal effects; damages to accommodations or rental vehicles; and sickness, accident, disability, or death occurring during travel. The committee gave a report of favorable with amendments on H.4548, a bill addressing CLOSING FEES CHARGED BY MOTOR VEHICLE DEALERS. Responding to a 2015 ruling from the South Carolina Supreme Court, the legislation provides for clarification in the provisions authorizing motor vehicle dealers to charge closing fees in motor vehicle sales for all administrative and financial work needed to transfer a motor vehicle to the consumer. The committee gave a favorable report on H.4679, a bill to provide for the TOTAL DEREGULATION OF THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS INDUSTRY and complete the telecommunications deregulation initiatives that the General Assembly has approved over the course of many years as a means of enhancing the stateís competitive advantage in the industry. The legislation provides for full implementation by extending deregulation provisions to the final segment of the telecommunications industry that was excluded from previous deregulation initiatives when basic service telephone lines were kept under the regulatory authority of the Public Service Commission. The committee gave a report of favorable with amendments on H.4090, a bill revising requirements governing the operation of PAWNBROKERS. Offered as a comprehensive update of the provisions regulating pawnbrokers, the legislation includes among its revisions an increase in the maximum amount of a loan that a pawnbroker is allowed to make from $2,000 to $15,000.
The House Ways and Means Committee met on February 10, 2016, and reported out several bills. The committee gave a report of favorable with amendments on H.4717, a bill that responds to the unprecedented damage of the October 2015 floods by creating the "SOUTH CAROLINA FARM AID FUND" to assist farmers in order to prevent the economic collapse of many of the stateís farms which could cause a severe disruption in the stateís economy and food supply chain. Established with a $40 million appropriation from the 2014-2015 Contingency Reserve Fund and authorized to accept private funds, grants, and property, the South Carolina Farm Aid Fund is created for making financial awards to farmers who have experienced a verifiable loss of agricultural commodities of at least forty percent as a result of certain declared natural disasters, excluding drought. Grant awards must be used for agricultural production expenses and losses due to the declared disaster, such as purchases of seed and fertilizer, but may not be used for the purchase of new equipment or the paying down of debt. Grant awards that are falsely obtained or misspent must be refunded. The legislation makes provisions for each grant to equal twenty percent of the personís verifiable loss of agricultural commodities, and establishes limitations so that grants may not exceed one hundred thousand dollars and may not, when combined with losses covered by insurance, exceed one hundred percent of the actual loss. The grant application process and other fund administration is to be conducted by a Farm Aid Board composed of: the Commissioner of Agriculture, ex officio, or his designee, who serves as chairman; one member representing the South Carolina Farm Bureau Federation appointed by the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee; one member representing a Farm Credit Association appointed by the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee; one member of the crop insurance industry appointed by the Chairman of the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee; one agricultural commodities producer appointed by the Chairman of the House Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee; the Vice President for Public Service and Agriculture of Clemson Public Service Activities, or his designee; and the Vice President for Land Grant Services of South Carolina State Public Service Activities, or his designee. The committee gave a favorable report on H.4328, a bill SYNCHRONIZING CERTAIN FILING DEADLINES REGARDING INCOME TAX WITHHOLDINGS to eliminate a lag time that presents an opportunity for fraud. The legislation revises two requirements for filing income tax withholdings information with the Department of Revenue that relate to fourth quarter returns and final annual statements so that they both have due dates of the last day of January rather than the last day of February. The committee gave a favorable report on H.4577, a bill that provides for AIRCRAFT PROPERTY TAX PROCEEDS TO BE CREDITED TO THE STATE AVIATION FUND to support the maintenance and upkeep of airports. The committee gave a report of favorable with amendments on H.4092, a bill making provisions for a RETENTION OF THE OWNER-OCCUPIED SPECIAL PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENT RATE FOR A DECEASED INDIVIDUALíS ESTATE. The legislation provides that when a homeowner receiving the four percent property tax assessment ratio dies, the property shall continue to receive the special owner-occupied assessment rate until the deceasedís estate is closed, or upon recording of a deed or deed of distribution out of the estate, whichever occurs first. This extension of the special assessment rate only applies if the property is not rented. The committee gave a report of favorable with amendments on H.4712, a bill making clarifications regarding the CLASSIFICATION OF OFF-PREMISES OUTDOOR ADVERTISING SIGNS AS PERSONAL PROPERTY FOR TAX PURPOSES. The legislation classifies off-premises outdoor advertising signs as tangible personal property for tax purposes, and provides that the value of a lease or lease income on such billboards may not be used in the assessment of the tax value of the real property on which the advertising sign is erected. The committee gave a report of favorable with amendments on H.4537, a bill codifying provisions for an INCOME TAX CREDIT FOR CONTRIBUTIONS TO A SCHOLARSHIP FUNDING ORGANIZATION THAT PROVIDES TUITION GRANTS FOR EXCEPTIONAL NEEDS STUDENTS TO ATTEND INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS, including religious institutions and other eligible private schools. The legislation takes the initiative, which has been authorized by general appropriations acts since 2013, out of the year-by-year temporary law of budget provisos and places it in the ongoing law of state statutes.
The bill also states that the provision relating to certain Federal fishing regulations does not apply to cobia located in the Southern Cobia Management Zone. It further states that it is subject to the size limit established by federal regulation. The possession of cobia caught in the Southern Cobia Management Zone is limited to one person per day, and no more than three per boat per day, from June 1 to April 30. It is unlawful to take and possess cobia in the Southern Cobia Management Zone from May 1 to May 31, and at any time federal regulations provide for the closure of the recreational cobia season in the waters of the South Atlantic Ocean.
S.1030 PROTECTION OF NONGAME FISH Sen. Cromer
The bill outlines that it is unlawful for a recreational fisherman to take more than twenty-five American eels (Anguilla rostrate) a day. Each American eel must be at least nine inches long. H.4876 STRIPED BASS Rep. V. S. Moss
The bill revises the periods of time when striped bass may be taken in various bodies of water. The bill also provides for geographic boundaries for the portion of the Intracoastal Waterway located in Horry County and to make a technical change. H.4943 DEER HUNTING Rep. Hixon
Among many things, this bill revises the procedure whereby the Department of Natural Resources issues and charges a person for the privilege of hunting and taking deer. It also provides for bag limits for antlered deer and deer taken with a Deer Quota Program Permit.
H.4875 HOUSE LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATIONS REGARDING THE OFFICE OF COMPTROLLER GENERAL Rep. Newton
This bill provides for various statutory updates and revisions recommended by the House Legislative Oversight Committee as a result of its study of the Comptroller Generalís Office. H.4934 STATE EMPLOYEE INSURANCE PROGRAM REQUIRED TO PROVIDE BENEFITS FOR MEDICAL EXPENSES RESULTING FROM AN ACT OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE Rep. Tinkler
This bill provides that the State Employee Insurance Program must provide benefits for medical expenses resulting from an act of domestic violence. H.4935 STATE EMPLOYEE INSURANCE PROGRAM REQUIRED TO PROVIDE BENEFITS FOR MEDICAL EXPENSES RESULTING FROM INTENTIONALLY SELF-INFLICTED INJURIES OR ATTEMPTED SUICIDE Rep. Henegan
This bill provides that the State Employee Insurance Program must provide benefits for medical expenses resulting from intentionally self-inflicted injuries or attempted suicide. H.4942 INCOME TAX CREDIT FOR PURE BATTERY ELECTRIC VEHICLES Rep. J. E. Smith
This bill revises provisions for the income tax credit for plug-in hybrid vehicles, so as to add a tax credit for pure battery electric vehicles and to extend the time the tax credit is allowed. H.4945 "CONSERVATION BANK REAUTHORIZATION AND WETLANDS CONSERVATION ACT" Rep. Bingham
This bill enacts the "Conservation Bank Reauthorization and Wetlands Conservation Act". The legislation increases the portion of the state deed recording fee credited to the South Carolina Conservation Bank Trust Fund from twenty-five cents to thirty cents. The legislation revises South Carolina Conservation Bank Trust Fund grant provisions, so as to add isolated wetlands, Carolina Bays and the value of the proposal for the acquisition, reclamation, or improvement of wetlands to the list of conservation criteria of the Conservation Bank and to allow the board of the Conservation Bank to authorize up to eight and thirty-three one hundredths percent of the monies credited to the bank to be applied to applications that primarily or solely relate to the acquisition, reclamation, or improvement of wetlands. The legislation revises restrictions on the transfer of deed recording fees to the trust fund, so as to provide that the transfer of deed recording fees shall be decreased by twice the average percentage reduction of appropriations to each agency in a fiscal year when the General Assembly provides less appropriations than what was provided in the previous year. The legislation repeals certain provisions relating to deed recording fees and sunset provisions.
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