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.
Members also adopted several changes to the rules governing the South Carolina House of Representatives. House Resolution H.3494 was adopted to approve a HOUSE RULES CHANGE REGARDING THE CROSS OVER DEADLINE for considering legislation from the Senate without a supermajority vote. Under the revised rule, no bill or resolution from the Senate that is received by the House after April 10 during a regular annual session of the General Assembly may be considered unless two-thirds of those members present and voting agree to waive the rule and allow for consideration of the legislation. Any bill or joint resolution failing to receive the required vote must be returned to the appropriate committee. The April 10 deadline replaces a May 1 deadline set for the second year of a two-year General Assembly. The earlier deadline accommodates the shortened legislative session approved in Act Number 199 of 2016 and is consistent with the deadline for House-passed legislation that has been adopted by the Senate. House Resolution H.3497 was adopted to approve a HOUSE RULES CHANGE REVISING AND EXPANDING THE DUTIES OF THE ETHICS COMMITTEE in keeping with the enhancements to the state’s Ethics, Government Accountability, and Campaign Reform Act approved last year to provide for more independent means of investigating alleged misconduct of public officials (Act Number 282 of 2016) and more expansive statements of economic interests for public officials and others who are required to make Ethics Act filings (Act Number 283 of 2016). House Resolution H.3499 was adopted to approve a HOUSE RULES CHANGE REVISING LIMITATIONS ON AMENDMENTS PROPOSED FOR STATE GOVERNMENT BUDGET LEGISLATION. Under the revised rule, an amendment to the General Appropriations Bill or a Supplemental Appropriations Bill which has the effect of appropriating funds in excess of one million dollars must include within the amendment the corresponding appropriation reduction(s) and/or revenue increase(s) that would allow the budget to remain balanced. This rules change lowers the threshold, which was previously set at five million dollars. The rules change also provides that if an amendment identifies unspent projected revenue or balance as the funding source, the Speaker must consult with the Office of Revenue and Fiscal Affairs and confirm the existence of sufficient unspent revenue or balance before the House may consider the amendment. House Resolution H.3501 was adopted to approve a HOUSE RULES CHANGE REVISING NOTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS FOR CONFERENCE AND FREE CONFERENCE COMMITTEE REPORTS ON STATE GOVERNMENT BUDGET LEGISLATION. The rules change eliminates the requirement that a report of a Committee on Conference or Free Conference concerning the General Appropriations Bills, Supplemental Appropriations Bills for the ordinary expenses of State Government, or legislation appropriating the Capital Reserve Fund must be printed in the House Journal before it may be considered by the House. Even though this printing requirement is eliminated, the House Rules continue to require that these reports must be made available online to the public for at least twenty four hours before they may be considered by the House.
The Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment Affairs Committee met on Wednesday, January 25, 2017. The members reviewed and adopted committee rules for the next two years. The committee also discussed and passed the following bills. The committee gave a favorable with amendment recommendation to H.3531, a bill that addresses the REGISTRATION OF LARGE WILD CATS, NON-NATIVE BEARS AND GREAT APES. The committee noted that South Carolina is home to one of the nation’s preeminent wildlife preserves which is also a top tourist attraction and an interactive educational experience, attracting thousands of visitors annually and playing a significant role supporting the economy, specifically in Myrtle Beach. In an effort to control and monitor these types of wild animals in the state, the legislation requires a person owning a large wild cat, non-native bear or great ape on or before 2018 must register with the local animal control authority unless these animals are USDA regulated.
The definition of large wild cat include all lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, cougars, cheetahs, snow leopards and clouded leopards. The legislation outlines that non-native bears are all bears that are not native to South Carolina and not subject to oversight by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources. All great apes include all species of chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans.
The bill empowers the local animal control authority and its staff and agents, local law enforcement agents, state law enforcement agents, and county sheriffs to enforce the legislation. The bill includes penalties of a fine not more than one thousand dollars or imprisoned for not more than thirty days for a first offense, and must be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned for not more than ninety days for a second offense. H.3340, a bill dealing with the NOTIFICATION TO DAM PROPERTY OWNERS WHICH HAS PUBLIC ROAD OR HIGHWAY ACROSS THE TOP was given a favorable with amendment recommendation by the full committee. In an effort to identify and address several breached roads and highways that are still closed as a result of the historic rainfall and flooding, the bill states that an owner of a dam that failed or fails or suffered or suffers breach on or after October 1, 2015, that has a public road or highway running across the top of it, must provide written notification to the State Department of Transportation and the Department of Health and Environmental Control within one year after the failure or breach, if the failure or beach occurs after the effective date of this legislation, indicating whether the owner intends to repair the dam and the date by which the repairs are anticipated to be completed. However, a dam that failed or suffered a breach between October 1, 2015 and the effective date of this legislation must provide the notification within 60 days after the effective date of this legislation to make a decision whether to repair the dam. The bill also states that the anticipated completion date in the notice cannot extend more than two years from the date the notification was provided. The bill further states that if the owner fails to give notice, this shall constitute and be construed as a negative intention on the part of the dam owner to fix or repair, in which case the Department of Transportation shall proceed as though a negative response was contained in the notice. The full committee gave a favorable with amendment report to H.3218 addressing REVISIONS TO THE "DAMS AND RESERVOIRS SAFETY ACT". As a result of the unfortunate outcomes of the October 2015 historic rainfall and flooding, the legislation gives the Department of Health and Environmental Control regulatory authority over a dam that is currently unregulated if DHEC determines that the dam’s failure will damage homes, public utilities, highways, or railroads. The bill revises the definition of dams to make it further applicable to certain types of dams. The legislation requires dams and reservoir owners annually to provide by July 1 the Department of Health and Environmental Control current contact information regarding the owner, including name, home or business address, phone number, and email address, if any, together with a completed dam owner checklist on a form provided by the department.
The owner of a dam or reservoir whose failure likely would cause loss of life or substantial property damage, a dam or reservoir classified as a high or significant hazard shall provide DHEC by July 1st of each year a current emergency action plan, including updated contact information for emergency management officials, such as police, fire, EMS, or utility departments or personnel, and for downstream residents and business owners located in the inundation zone for that dam or reservoir. The legislation further outlines that there will be no responsibility placed on the owner of the dam or reservoir classed as high or significant hazard to notify any downstream residents or business owners located in the inundation zone for that dam or reservoir owner has reason to believe that it is near failure or has failed. The owner must notify emergency officials and the department of the dam or reservoir’s failure or potential failure. It is the responsibility of the emergency management officials identified in the emergency action plan to inform any downstream residents or business owners located in the inundation zone of this fact and to cause them to be evacuated if it is considered necessary. H.3517, a bill relating to SPECIAL AUTHORIZATION FOR HUNTING AND FISHING LICENSES, was given a favorable report by the full committee. The bill outlines that the director of the Department of Natural Resources may issue special authorization for hunting and fishing license without charge to any person not more than twenty-one years of age who has been diagnosed with a terminal or life threatening illness or injury. The person seeking special authorization must be sponsored by a nonprofit charitable organization that has within its mission to provide opportunities and experiences to persons with life threatening illnesses or injuries.
The Education and Public Works Committee met on Wednesday, January 25, 2017, and reported out seven bills. The full committee gave a favorable, with amendment, recommendation to H.3427, the "SOUTH CAROLINA COMPUTER SCIENCE EDUCATION INITIATIVE". This bill enacts the "South Carolina Computer Science Education Initiative" and provides that beginning with the 2018-2019 school year public high schools and public charter high schools shall adopt grade appropriate standards for computer science and computational thinking and computer coding for grades 9-12 and by the 2019-2020 School Year, each public high school and public charter high school must offer at least one computer science course. In school year 2018-19, the Department must employ one full-time employee to coordinate and lead the computer science education initiative, support teachers in designing instruction and assignments, design career pathways that connect students to postsecondary programs, and offer teacher endorsements and professional development to new computer science teachers in a two to four week summer institute. Also, the Department of Education is to develop guidelines for outlining the educational and degree requirements for appropriate computer science teachers. The Commission on Higher Education shall determine what, if any, financial incentives are needed by institutions of higher education to design programs to prepare and credential computer science teachers. In addition, the Office of the Governor, beginning in fiscal year 2018-2019, shall establish criteria and a process for designating a STEM community or STEM region. Consistent with federal law, STEM includes computer science. The Committee reported out H.3220, the SOUTH CAROLINA EDUCATION AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COORDINATING COUNCIL. This bill adds a section to create the South Carolina Education and Economic Development Coordinating Council. The council is comprised of twenty-nine members serving four year terms representing the geographic regions of the State and are to be representative of the ethnic, gender, rural, and urban diversity of the state. Members span education and business leadership, school district professionals, and college and university and technical college educators. Initial appointments must be made by October 1, 2017 and appointments made by the Superintendent of Education and the Governor are to ensure that the demographics and diversity of this State are represented. The council's responsibilities include advising the Department of Education and the Department of Commerce, reviewing accountability and performance measures, and reporting annually to specifically include progress toward career pathways and the ability to provide a better prepared workforce. The council shall also make recommendations on a communication and marketing plan to the Department of Education and Department of Commerce and provide input on the promulgation of regulations to carry out these provisions. Personnel from the Department of Education and the Department of Commerce shall staff the council. The Committee passed H.3221, SCHOOL DISTRICT FISCAL AND BUDGETARY INTEGRITY, which requires the State Department of Education to develop and adopt a statewide program for identifying fiscal practices and budgetary conditions that, if uncorrected, could compromise the fiscal integrity of a school district and for advising the district on how to take appropriate corrective actions. This bill requires the Department of Education to work with and advise (including providing technical assistance) district superintendents and finance officers to develop a statewide program establishing three escalating levels of fiscal and budgetary concern: "fiscal watch" (lowest level), "fiscal caution" (intermediate level), and "fiscal emergency" (highest level, most severe level).
Each of these levels has specific triggers that determine the declaration of the fiscal status (e.g., accounting/audit problems, ongoing investigations and governance issues, risk of default). Each of these three levels have escalating requirements for the Department to address (e.g., review (with the authority to accept or reject) school district recovery plans, monitor required district responses (up to a year in duration), visit and inspect the district, provide technical assistance which may include ordering a performance audit, and possibly take over financial operations of the district for the fiscal year in which a fiscal emergency is declared as part of the technical assistance offered to the district (including if a district is at risk of defaulting on any type of debt, to include, but not be limited to, tax anticipation notes, general obligation bonds, or lease-purchase installment agreements). Upon approval of the recommendation by the State Board of Education, the department may maintain financial operations until the district is released from a fiscal emergency.
The State Auditor must replicate the requirements of the statewide program created by the Department of Education for state agencies that are also local education agencies. These seven agencies include the Governor's School for Math and Science, the Governor's School for Arts and Humanities, the School for the Deaf and Blind, the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Wil Lou Gray Opportunity School, the John De La Howe School, and the Palmetto Unified School District under the Department of Corrections.
The fiscal impact notes that the Department of Education indicates that thirty-six school districts may fall into one of the three levels of concern specified in this bill. The Department also indicates that the requirement for the department to take over the financial operations of a school district may occur in FY 2017-18. The full committee gave a favorable, with amendment, recommendation to H.3035, MILITARY IN-STATE TUITION RATES AT PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION. This bill makes revisions relating to in-state tuition rates at public institutions of higher education for certain persons associated with the Armed Services of the United States, so as to revise residency requirements and provide for veterans who evidence their intent to establish domicile in South Carolina. The bill removes the twelve month residency requirement and allows the veteran of the Armed Services and his or her dependents to qualify for in-state tuition. The full committee gave a favorable with amendment recommendation to H.3289, VEHICLE SPACING. This bill relates to the distance that must be maintained between vehicles by operators of trucks or motor vehicles traveling along a highway (including those "drawing" another vehicle). The bill establishes that the existing distance requirements do not apply to an operator of any non-leading vehicle travelling in a procession of vehicles when the speed of each vehicle is automatically coordinated. The full committee gave a favorable, with amendment, recommendation to H.3296, VIRGINIA TECH SPECIAL LICENSE PLATES. This bill authorizes that the Department of Motor Vehicles may issue Virginia Tech special license plates. The full committee passed H.3237, SECRETARY OF DOT. This bill repeals the requirement that the Secretary of Transportation must evaluate and approve the routine operation and maintenance requests or emergency repairs that are needed for existing roads and bridges that are not included in the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program. Additionally, the bill deletes the requirement that the Secretary must provide a report on requests for routine operation and maintenance or emergency repairs, and deletes the requirement that the Commission must approve these reports.
The House Judiciary Committee met Tuesday, January 24, 2017 and passed six bills. The full committee gave a favorable, with amendment, recommendation to H.3036, APPOINTED SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION. The bill amends SC Code § 59-3-10 to require the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint a qualified candidate for the State Superintendent of Education position. These qualifications include experience in public education as well as in operational and financial management. This bill become effective after approval and ratification of an appropriate amendment to Section 7, Article VI of the 1895 SC Constitution. The full committee gave a favorable recommendation to H.3146, SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION APPOINTMENT. The bill proposes an amendment to our 1895 SC Constitution to have the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, appoint the State Superintendent of Education. The Superintendent of Education would serve at the pleasure of the Governor and must meet qualifications the General Assembly establishes by law. After ratification, the appointment process would begin in January 2023, or upon an earlier vacancy in the office. The full committee gave a favorable recommendation to H.3204, JUDICIAL MERIT SELECTION COMMISSION NOMINATIONS. Instead of releasing only three nominated judicial candidates, the JMSC must release to the General Assembly a list of all qualified candidates for judicial elections. The full committee gave a favorable recommendation to H.3406, WORKERS COMPENSATION SELF INSURERS. In this bill, the SC Workers Compensation Commission will continue to report each July to the House Ways and Means Chair and the Senate Finance Chair on its annual revenue received from the maintenance tax imposed on self-insurers. This bill removes the original enactment’s five-year expiration date. The full committee gave a favorable recommendation to H.3442, NONRESIDENT AND RESIDENT ADOPTIONS IN SCDSS ACTIONS. This bill amends existing adoption laws. Residents may adopt children in all circumstances, including children in SCDSS custody. Adds circumstances when nonresidents may adopt children in our state, including when SCDSS has placed a child in their custody, with a nonresident, and when the parent has consented to the nonresident adopting the child. The full committee gave a favorable recommendation to H.3465, SCDSS ABUSE AND NEGLECT CASES / TERMINATION OF PARENTAL RIGHTS. This bill modifies the definition of a "party in interest" to add "interested party" to include former foster parents or other caregivers. Requires the South Carolina Department of Social Services [SCDSS] to provide notice in certain additional circumstances. For permanency planning purposes, SCDSS must give permanency planning hearing notices to listed individuals. Requires DSS to provide a 10-day hearing notice for to the guardian of a child, unless DSS receives less than a 10-day notice. Gives foster parents the right to intervene if that child has lived with them for more than 120 days. Sets out rights of individuals to file motions for case review at any time. In termination of parental right cases, certain evidence must be in the record before selecting a permanent child placement plan rather than terminating parental rights. A party seeking termination of parental rights can also petition for adoption. Adds circumstances under which nonresidents can adopt children in our state. For consents and relinquishments to adopt a child, allows a person, or agency, to specify a person to whom a consent and relinquishment is directed.
The House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee met on Tuesday, January 24, and reported out two bills. The Committee gave a report of favorable with amendments on H.3488, a bill that makes provisions for ELECTRONIC INSURANCE DOCUMENTS, including authorization for insurers to deliver, store, or present evidence of insurance coverage by electronic means and provisions that afford consumers the option of receiving and signing notices and documents electronically. The Committee gave a report of favorable with amendments on H.3441, a bill authorizing ELECTRONIC PAYMENT OF WORKERS’ COMPENSATION as an alternative to traditional payment by means of a check. The legislation affords the option of receiving workers’ compensation payments by such electronic means as an electronic funds transfer, a direct deposit, or debit card.
Enacts the "South Carolina Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act" to prohibit dismemberment abortions. Also, includes prohibition exceptions and defines relevant terms, including ‘attempt to perform an abortion,’ ‘purposely,’ ‘dismemberment abortion,’ ‘purposely,’ ‘serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother,’ and ‘woman.’ Creates criminal penalties, as well as civil liabilities, for individuals involved in these prohibited procedures. H.3549 ON-PREMISES CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOL LICENSING CONSENTS Rep. Cobb-Hunter
When a license application will be made for on-premises liquor consumption in bars, saloons, taverns, taprooms, and other such venues, and the proposed location will be close to a church, school, or playground, the governing bodies, or owners, of the church, school, or playground, must first issue their written statements that they have no objection to the liquor license being issued. H.3550 SOCIAL SERVICE HEARING NOTICES Rep. Putnam
Requires the SC Department of Social Services [SCDSS] to provide 10-days’ notice of a hearing. It must also inform foster parents of their right to submit a report to the Family Court. The Foster Care Review Board must inform foster parents about their rights to submit reports and to be heard at hearings on that child. SCDSS must provide notice of a permanency planning hearing to foster parents, preadoptive parents, or relatives who are providing care for that child.
H.3562 APPOINTMENT OF AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER Rep. B. Newton
Proposes an amendment to the 1895 SC Constitution to remove the Agriculture Commissioner from the list of state-elected officers and instead grant the Governor, upon the advice and consent of the Senate, the power to appoint someone to this position. This change becomes effective in 2022, or upon the expiration of the term for the Agriculture Commissioner elected in 2018, whichever occurs first. H.3563 APPOINTMENT OF TREASURER Rep. B. Newton
Proposes an amendment to the 1895 SC Constitution to remove the State Treasurer from the list of state-elected officers and instead to grant the Governor, upon the advice and consent of the General Assembly, the power to appoint someone to this position beginning in 2022. The General Assembly would also set out the duties, compensation, and qualifications for the appointed Treasurer. H.3564 APPOINTMENT OF COMPTROLLER GENERAL Rep. Fry
Proposes an amendment to the 1895 SC Constitution to remove the Comptroller General from the list of state-elected officers and instead to grant the Governor, upon the advice and consent of the Senate, the power to appoint someone to this position, beginning in 2022. H.3565 AUTOMATIC STAY IN ADMINISTRATIVE APPEALS Rep. Fry
Establishes, under the Administrative Procedures Act, an automatic stay of any license issuances, or renewals when a contested case hearing is requested. It can remain in effect until the appeal is resolved. Also lists circumstances when this automatic stay may be lifted. Furthermore, when a preliminary injunction is requested during the pendency of the appeal, an appeal bond may be required. H.3567 TERM LIMITS CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION Rep. Bedingfield
The South Carolina General Assembly would apply, under Article V of the United States Constitution, for a convention of states to be held. This convention would discuss whether the US Constitution should be amended to set term limits on all elected members of the U.S. House of Representatives or the U.S. Senate. H.3571 INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURE COMMITTEES/ REPORTING REQUIREMENTS
Rep. J.E. Smith
Requires independent expenditure (also known as ‘black money’) committees to provide certain disclosures and disclaimers regarding their election communications. Also, defines the terms "independent expenditure" and "election communication." H.3578 REGISTRATION AND REPORTING BY LOBBYISTS Rep. Pitts
Increases lobbyists and lobbyist’s principle reporting and registration filing fees from $100 to $200 dollars. Revises reporting periods and deadlines. H.3579 CONTRIBUTION LIMITATIONS Rep. Pitts
Clarifies who cannot solicit contributions. Prohibits employment advantages, or disadvantages, to public employees based on their contributions or noncontributions to a candidate, political party, or committee as defined by statute. Anyone fined for a violation, and has failed to pay it, cannot be a candidate for an elected or appointed position within state or local government. Requires the State Ethics Commission to make electronic filings accessible to the public. Also requires all salaried members of boards, commissions, or agencies to file statements of economic interests.
H.3581 PENALTIES FOR OVERTAKING A SCHOOL BUS Rep. Thayer
Registered owners of any vehicle that unlawfully overtakes a school bus can be subject to a civil penalty, when the vehicle operator cannot be identified, but the registered owner can be determined. Provides exceptions to responsibility for paying this civil penalty as well as procedures for enforcing penalties, fines, and fees. H.3592 PURPLE PAINT TO PROHIBIT TRESPASSING Rep. Burns
Anyone who enters onto someone’s land, with a posted notice, and without permission, will be guilty of misdemeanor trespassing. Revises the definition of "notice" to include painting trees on property perimeter lines with purple paint, subject to certain painting specifications.
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