Legislation Enacted Into Law (Through Thursday June 8, 1995)

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The following legislation has been signed into law or has become law without the signature of the governor.

Offense of Child Endangerment (H. 3037, Rep. Kirsh). This act creates the offense of child endangerment. Under these provisions, a person age 18 or older is guilty of this offense if he (1) operates a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or causes great bodily injury or death while under the influence of these substances, and (2) at least one passenger in the vehicle is under age 16. If more than one passenger in the vehicle is under age 16, then the person may only be charged with one violation of this act. Upon conviction, the driver must be punished as follows:

(Currently under South Carolina law, penalties imposed on persons convicted of DUI vary according to the number of times the offense is committed, with a first offense resulting in a fine of $200 or imprisonment of between 2 and 30 days, while a fourth or subsequent conviction results in imprisonment of between 1 and 5 years. A driver who, while DUI, causes great bodily injury to another person must be fined between $5,000 and $10,000 and imprisoned between 30 days and 15 years; if, however, the death of another person results, the driver must be fined between $10,000 and $25,000 and imprisoned at least 1 year but not more than 25 years.)

No portion of any penalty imposed pursuant to this act for child endangerment may be suspended or revoked, nor may probation be granted. The act also requires a 60-day suspension of the driver's license of a person convicted of child endangerment and provides that a person may be convicted of child endangerment in addition to being convicted for DUI or causing great bodily injury or death while DUI. Furthermore, a first offense charge for child endangerment may not be used as the only evidence for taking a child into protective custody.

Status: Signed into law on June 7, 1995.

Truth-in-Sentencing (H. 3096, Rep. Thomas). This act is designed to bring more uniformity and predictability with regard to time served for various offenses, prohibiting parole for persons convicted of certain offenses.

H. 3096 prohibits a prisoner convicted of a "no parole offense" (i.e., offense punishable by maximum imprisonment of 20 years or more) from being eligible for work release until he has served at least 80 percent of the actual term of imprisonment imposed; furthermore, a person convicted of such offense is ineligible for early release, discharge or community supervision until he has served at least 85 percent of the actual term of imprisonment imposed. These percentages must be calculated without application of earned work credits, education credits and good time credits, with the percentages to be applied to the actual term of imprisonment, not to include the portion of the sentence which has been suspended. If while imprisoned a person commits an offense or violates one of the rules of the institution, then all or part of his credits can be forfeited at the discretion of the director of the Department of Corrections.

All sentences for a "no parole offense" (NPO) must include the incarceration period and completion of a community supervision program (hereafter called "program"), with this program operated by the renamed Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services, or DPPPS (as opposed to the former name of Probation, Pardon and Parole) and lasting a maximum of 2 years. The length of time a prisoner is required to participate in this program is at the discretion of the department and based on guidelines developed by the director. When the department determines that a prisoner has violated a term of the program, then a probation agent must initiate a proceeding (pursuant to a warrant or citation) in the General Sessions Court. The court must determine whether: (1) the terms of the program are fair and reasonable; (2) the prisoner has complied with the program's terms; (3) the prisoner should continue in the program under the current terms or under other terms as deemed appropriate by the court; and (4) the prisoner has wilfully violated a term of the program. If the court determines that a wilful violation has occurred, then the court may impose any other terms or conditions considered appropriate and may continue the prisoner on community supervision, or may revoke the community supervision and impose a sentence of up to 1 year for violation. A prisoner incarcerated for revocation is not entitled to earn any type of credits which would reduce the sentence for violation of the program. The maximum aggregate amount of time a prisoner may be required to serve when sentenced for successive revocations may not exceed an amount of time equal to the length of incarceration imposed for the original NPO. The department also must notify registered victims of the place where the prisoner is to be released on this program. Any adult placed on probation or community supervision must pay a regular supervision fee toward offsetting the cost of his supervision for so long as he remains under supervision. This supervision fee must be determined by DPPPS based on the person's ability to pay and must be between $20 and $100 per month. A delinquency of 2 months or more in paying the fee during the supervision period may operate as a revocation of this supervision.

H. 3096 allows for good time credits for prisoners convicted of a NPO to be received and computed at the rate of 3 days for every month served, although these credits cannot be used to reduce the minimum percentage of a sentence a person convicted of an NPO must serve to be eligible for work release, early release, discharge or community supervision. Work and academic credits for an inmate convicted of a NPO are allowed to be received and computed ar the rate of 6 days total for every month an inmate is employed or enrolled, with the maximum annual credit limited to 72 days. Good behavior, work and academic credits may not be applied in a manner which would prevent full participation in the prerelease and community supervision program. If a prisoner commits an offense or violates one or more of the rules of the institution while imprisoned, then all or part of these credits may be forfeited in the discretion of the local official having charge of the prisoner. No person convicted of an NPO is eligible for furlough, or participation in the shock incarceration program. (On a related note, with regard to shock incarceration, the act deletes the shock incarceration selection committee and provides that the court orders who is eligible to participate in the program.) Additionally, a person convicted of an NPO may not participate in an extended work release program and may not be released back into the community where he committed the offense under the work release program unless the victim, the law enforcement agency of the arresting officer and the circuit solicitor all recommend such participation.

H. 3096 expands the statutory definition of "violent crime" to include attempted armed robbery, homicide by child abuse, and aiding and abetting homicide by child abuse. The act also sets forth the following sentencing options for murder: death, life imprisonment, and a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years. In death penalty cases, when the jury finds an aggravating circumstance but makes no recommendation of death, then the court must impose life imprisonment; however, if no aggravating circumstance is found, the defendant must be sentenced to either life imprisonment or a mandatory minimum of 30 years imprisonment. Under these sentencing provisions for murder, "life" means imprisonment "until death." No person sentenced to life imprisonment or the 30-year mandatory minimum sentence is eligible for parole or any early release program, nor is the person eligible to receive any work credits, good conduct credits or any other credits that would reduce either the life sentence or 30 year minimum sentence.

The act deletes a provision under which persons convicted of resisting arrest with use of a deadly weapon are eligible for parole, with the penalty for a violation of this provision amended so that now the penalty would be a mandatory minimum of 5 years but not more than 10 years. The act amends the definition of "deadly weapon" to mean "any instrument which can be used to inflict deadly force." The act also allows the current $10,000 cap on awards to and on behalf of crime victims to be increased up to $25,000 upon a two-thirds vote of the Crime Victim's Advisory Board and the concurrence of the director. Also, the State Office of Victim Assistance is substituted for the Victim's Compensation Fund, and the Department of Juvenile Justice is added to the agencies for which the director of the State Office of Victim Assistance must coordinate the development of policies and procedures to assure that victim restitution programs are administered effectively. DPPPS (Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services) and the Department of Corrections may exchange information on the victims and witnesses who wish to receive notification and information. The act also adds DPPPS to the list of departments to which the victim/witness notification requests and impact statements are sent.

H. 3096 also deletes a reference to parole eligibility for first degree burglary, providing that this offense is punishable by life imprisonment (i.e., until death) or imprisonment of not less than 15 years.

The act also contains a new "2 and 3 strike" provision. Current law providing for life imprisonment without parole for a third conviction for a violent crime is deleted, and in its place are mandatory life sentences without parole upon a certain number of convictions for "most serious" and "serious" offenses. A person convicted of a "most serious offense" (i.e., mainly violent offenses) must be sentenced to life imprisonment if he has at least one prior conviction for (1) a most serious offense; (2) a federal or out-of-state conviction for an offense that would be classified as a most serious offense; (3) or any combination of (1) and (2). If convicted of a "serious offense" (e.g., drug trafficking, certain "white collar" crimes, etc.), the person must be sentenced to life imprisonment if he has at least 2 prior convictions for offenses classified as "most serious offenses", "serious offenses", any federal or out-of-state offense that would be so classified, or a combination of these. For purposes of determining a prior conviction under this paragraph only (i.e., for "2 strike/3 strike"), a prior conviction means the defendant has been convicted of a most serious or serious offense (as may be applicable) prior to the instant adjudication. The decision to invoke sentencing under the "2 strike" provisions is mandatory, while the decision to invoke sentencing under the "3 strike" provisions is at the solicitor's discretion. Where the solicitor is required to seek or determines to seek sentencing of a defendant under this provision, written notice must be given to the defendant and his counsel at least 10 days before trial. The act also includes a "geriatric provision," under which for purposes of this 2/3 strike provision, a person sentenced under that provision may be paroled if the Department of Corrections requests DPPPS to consider the person for parole; DPPPS determines that the inmate, because of his age or health, is no longer a threat to society; and the prisoner meets one of the following conditions: (1) has served at least 30 years of his sentence and is at least age 65; (2) has served at least 20 years of his sentence and is at least age 70; (3) is afflicted with a terminal illness with life expectancy of 1 year or less; or (4) produces evidence comprising the most extraordinary circumstances.

The act allows the Parole Board to grant parole to a person convicted of a violent offense which is not classified as a NPO (No Parole Offense) by a two-thirds majority of the full board, while the board may grant parole to an offender convicted of an offense which is not a violent crime or an NPO by a unanimous vote of a 3-member panel or by majority vote of the full board. The act also provides that no inmate has the right of confrontation at parole hearings.

The act also contains several provisions pertaining to juveniles. Juvenile status offenders (i.e., guilty of a violation of law or other misconduct which would not be a criminal offense if committed by an adult) may be committed to the custody of a correctional institution operated by the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) or to secure evaluation centers operated by that department for a determinate period of time not exceeding 90 days, but a child committed under this provision may not be confined with a child who has been determined by the department to be violent. Any juvenile committed to DJJ following an adjudication for a violent offense or for assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature who has not been paroled or otherwise released from the custody of DJJ by his 17th birthday must be transferred to the custody and authority of the Youthful Offender Division of the Department of Corrections. A juvenile who has not been paroled or released by his 19th birthday must be transferred to the custody and authority of the Youthful Offender Division of the Department of Corrections at age 19.

With regard to jurisdiction of magistrates, H. 3096 provides that magistrates have jurisdiction over all offenses which may be subject to penalties of fine or forfeiture not exceeding $500, or imprisonment not exceeding 30 days, or both. H. 3096 also clarifies that a magistrate may not have the power to sentence a person to consecutive terms of imprisonment totalling more than 90 days except in fraudulent check cases or in certain shoplifting cases. The magistrate must specify an amount of restitution in damages at the time of sentencing as an alternative to any imprisonment of more than 90 days which is lawfully imposed.

The act also prohibits expungement of convictions for criminal domestic violence offenses and allows a person sentenced to death to choose lethal injection as an alternative to electrocution. Furthermore, the act prohibits anyone from excavating or salvaging any sunken warship which is submerged in the ocean within 3 miles of the South Carolina coast and aboard which there are or are believed to be human remains unless that person obtains the approval of the Budget and Control Board. A person engaging in this excavating or salvaging activity without the approval of the Board is guilty of a felony, punishable upon conviction by a fine in the discretion of the court and/or a term of imprisonment not to exceed 5 years. The act also makes both retroactive and prospective in application a law adopted last year which makes an inmate eligible for parole after serving 25 percent of his term if, at the time he pleads guilty or nolo contendere to or is convicted of an offense against his spouse, he presents credible evidence of a history of criminal domestic violence suffered at the hands of the spouse. H. 3096 also clarifies that the current prohibition against distributing, selling, etc. controlled substances within a half mile of a school is a separate offense.

Also under these provisions, a committee must be appointed to study mandatory minimum sentences and alternative sentences for non-violent offenders and to examine anti-recidivism methods for first time non-violent offenders. This committee must report to the General Assembly by the beginning of next year's legislative session. This 7-member committee includes the attorney general (or his designee); three persons appointed by the Speaker of the House; and 3 persons appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate.

H. 3096 requires a law enforcement officer, in criminal domestic violence calls, to arrest a person if physical manifestations of injury to the alleged victim are present. The act sets forth the procedure for determining who is the primary aggressor when an officer received complaints of domestic or family violence from 2 or more opposing persons; prohibits an officer from threatening the possibility of arrest to discourage requests for intervention by law enforcement; and requires an officer who arrests 2 or more persons to include in his written incident report the grounds for arresting both persons. This section on domestic violence also provides that in addition to protections granted to the officer and agency under the Tort Claims Act, the officer is not liable for an act, omission or exercise of discretion unless such constitutes gross negligence, recklessness, wilfulness or wantonness.

Most of H. 3096 takes effect on January 1, 1996 and applies prospectively to all crimes committed on or after that date. However, the following provisions of H. 3096 became effective upon the approval of the governor of this act last Wednesday, June 7:

Status: Signed into law on June 7, 1995.

Supplemental Appropriations (H. 3361, House Ways and Means Committee). This joint resolution appropriates nearly $38.8 million in supplemental appropriations from Fiscal Year 1993-1994 surplus revenues, as follows:

(1) Budget and Control Board, Div. of Operations......$17,000,000
(for Statehouse renovations)
(2) Coordinating Council for Economic Development.......4,700,000
(for economic development projects)
(3) Technical Education Commission......................3,775,731
(for special schools)
(4) Guardian Ad Litem.....................................200,000
(5) Forestry Commission (for firefighting equipment)....4,600,000
(6) Department of Corrections (Ridgeland Institution)...3,129,908
(7) Clemson-PSA (Garrison Livestock Arena)..............1,900,000
(8) John de la Howe School (sewer repairs)................425,000
(9) Higher Education Formula............................2,756,993
(10) University of Charleston.............................300,000
(for Center for Entrepreneurship)

The joint resolution requires the Clerk of the House, Clerk of the Senate, and director of the Division of Operations of the Budget and Control Board (or their respective designees) to act as agents of the State House Committee and be responsible for administration and implementation of the State House renovation project. Changes or modifications to the project that would constitute a substantive modification of the overall project, as approved by the State House Committee, must be considered and approved by that committee. These clerks and the director are granted authority to approve the expenditure of funds appropriated in this resolution for the renovation, or other funds appropriated or available for the renovation, and to manage and make all necessary decisions that may arise with regard to aspects of the project, such as hiring and supervision of consultants or other personnel responsible for all aspects of this project. These 2 clerks also have responsibility for decisions relating to the renovations and upfitting in any areas of the State House currently utilized by their respective bodies, if those renovations or upfittings do not constitute substantive modifications to the overall project.

This joint resolution also authorizes the Budget and Control Board to expend not more than $1.5 million of the funds appropriated in this resolution to the Coordinating Council for Economic Development, with the funds expended by the Board in support of (1) any South Carolina military facility or activity identified as being at risk of closure by the Base Closure and Realignment Commission and/or (2) any other federal facility for which the reduction in forces or activities will result in the loss of at least 3,500 jobs as projected or announced by the federal government. These expenditures must be made in consultation with the leadership of the affected local community, with not more than $500,000 to be used in support of any single activity or entity.

Status: Signed into law on April 21, 1995.

Enterprise Zone Act of 1995 (H. 3534, Rep. Wilkins). This act grants a number of tax incentives for businesses to locate in rural and economically depressed areas. Under these provisions, the Budget and Control Board designates enterprise zones every year, with an enterprise zone consisting of any of the following:

A "qualified business" in an enterprise zone must qualify for the Jobs Tax Credit Act; provide health care benefits to full time employees; and enter into a revitalization agreement with the Coordinating Council for Economic Development. The council must certify that the incentives are appropriate for the project and that the project's total benefits do not exceed the costs to the public.

The act provides a number of tax incentives for businesses. First of all, if at least 51 percent of the full time employees hired for the project either (1) reside in an enterprise zone at the time of employment, (2) have a household income that is 80 percent or less of the median household income for the county prior to employment, or (3) have been a recipient of AFDC payments within the past 12 months, then the business is entitled to the maximum Corporate Income Jobs Tax Credit of $1,000. Furthermore, the business is entitled to an additional $500 per year tax credit in the third, fourth and fifth year of any AFDC recipient's continued employment with the business. Additionally, the business is eligible to negotiate for fee-in- lieu property tax advantages if the business meets one-half the requirements of the fee-in-lieu statute. Businesses also are eligible to use special source revenue bonds under the Fee-in-Lieu Act.

The act permits qualifying businesses to collect Job Development fees by retaining certain employee withholdings. In order to collect the fee, the business must enter into a revitalization agreement which allows such withholdings, and the funds must be held in an escrow account with a bank insured by the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation). Employers may use the withheld amounts for any of the following purposes: (1) training costs and facilities; (2) acquisition and improvement of real estate; (3) improvements to both public and private utility systems (including water, sewer, electricity and telecommunications); (4) fixed transportation facilities (including highway, rail, water and air); and (5) construction and improvements for the purpose of complying with environmental laws. If a qualifying business does not achieve the level of capital investment or employment set forth in the revitalization agreement, then the Department of Revenue and Taxation may terminate the agreement and reduce or suspend all or any part of the incentives until the time the levels are met.

H. 3534 also creates "economic impact zones," which provide tax exemptions and tax credits for individuals and corporations as incentives to invest in areas affected by military base closures or realignments. Once an area is designated by the Budget and Control Board, the economic impact zone remains in effect for 15 years, unless shortened by the General Assembly.

As for the main benefits for these zones, the bill allows up to 20 percent of cash paid for Economic Impact Zone Stock Companies to be deducted against South Carolina taxable income, with a maximum deduction of up to $10,000, not to exceed a cumulative $100,000, with the deduction allowed to be carried forward. Companies must meet the following criteria to qualify for that benefit:

A 5 percent credit is allowed on all economic impact zone qualified manufacturing and productive equipment properties placed in service within the zone in the tax year (tangible personal property including software but excluding buildings and property).

The act also gives the Department of Revenue and Taxation flexibility to make the apportionment system fair to the taxpaying business of the state, and provides special case apportionment if the Advisory Coordinating Council for Economic Development certifies that a new facility or expansion will have a significant impact on the region for which it is planned and the public benefit will exceed the costs to the public.

Status: Signed into law on April 4, 1995.

Motor Vehicle Damage Disclosure Act (H. 3552, Rep. Jennings). This act requires motor vehicle manufacturers and dealers to disclose in certain instances damages to new motor vehicles. Under these provisions, a motor vehicle manufacturer must disclose in writing to a motor vehicle dealer at time of delivery of a new vehicle any damages or repairs to the new vehicle which occurred while it was in possession or under control of the manufacturer. This disclosure requirement, however, is applicable only if the damage exceeds 3 percent of the manufacturer's suggested retail price, as calculated at the rate of the dealer's authorized warranty rate for labor and parts; furthermore, the manufacturer is not required to disclose to the dealer that the glass, tires, bumper or in-dash equipment of or in the vehicle was damaged if the damaged item was replaced with original or comparable new equipment. The dealer also must disclose this information in writing to a purchaser of a new vehicle before entering into a sales contract, under these same conditions in which manufacturers must disclose this information to dealers (e.g., damage exceeds 3 percent of retail price, etc.). If disclosure of damages or repairs is not required under this act, then a purchaser cannot revoke or rescind a sales contract or bring a civil action solely on the fact that the new vehicle was damaged and repaired before completion of the sale. For purposes of this act, "manufacturer's suggested retail price" is the retail price of the new vehicle suggested by the manufacturer, including the retail delivered price suggested by the manufacturer for each accessory or item of optional equipment physically attached to the new vehicle at the time of delivery to the dealer.

Status: Signed into law on May 17, 1995.

Optional Methods for Financing New Road Construction (H. 3666, House Education and Public Works Committee). This act provides an alternative method for financing new roads, bridges and other transportation-related improvements, allowing counties to impose an additional sales tax or tolls for these purposes. These optional financing methods supplement already existing methods, such as the State Highway Bond Act and State Turnpike Bond Act, for financing highway and bridge projects.

Under these provisions, for purposes of making road improvements and the like, each county may by ordinance establish a transportation authority, whose board has all the rights and powers of a public body (such as acquisition and disposal of property, exercise of eminent domain, borrowing money and issuing notes). Members of the authority board must be appointed by the county governing body, except that if a county enters into an arrangement with one or more governmental entities and the parties choose to form an authority for such purpose, then these other entities also must be represented on the board. A county may enter into an authority or other intergovernmental agreement with other counties only if approved in referendums in each of the participating counties.

In order to fund these improvements, counties may impose either an additional one percent sales and use tax or may impose tolls on the transportation project; however, counties may not impose both at the same time. If an additional tax is sought, the county governing board may pass an ordinance imposing that, subject to approval in a public referendum. The ordinance must specify the project for which the tax proceeds are to be used, which may include projects located inside and/or outside the county; the maximum time (not exceeding 25 years or the length of payment for the project, whichever is shorter) for which the tax may be imposed, and the estimated capital cost of the project to be funded in whole or in part from the tax proceeds and the principal amount of bonds to be supported by the tax. Upon receipt of the ordinance, the county election commission must conduct a referendum on imposition of this tax. The referendum also must include a question on authorization of general obligation bonds, so that revenues from the tax may be pledged to repay the bonds. With voter approval, the county may issue bonds to fund the project's expenses, and if the additional tax wins voter approval, then the tax is effective the first day of the month occurring 180 days after the date of the referendum. This additional tax would not apply to items (such as motor vehicles) subject to the $300 sales tax cap nor to food purchased with USDA food stamps. Revenues from this additional tax must be remitted to the State Treasurer, credited to a separate fund and distributed, with any earned interest, quarterly to the county where the tax is imposed. The tax terminates at the earlier of the following two events: (1) the final day of the maximum time specified for imposition of the tax, or (2) the end of the calendar month during which the Department of Revenue and Taxation determines that the tax has raised sufficient revenues to fund the cost of the project(s) or the cost to amortize debts related to the projects.

If wishing to fund a project via tolls, the county governing body may pass an ordinance allowing (subject to public referendum) an authority to impose tolls for transportation improvements. The ordinance must specify the purpose for which the toll revenues are to be used; the maximum time (not exceeding 25 years) for which the tolls may be imposed, and the maximum cost of the project or facilities to be funded in whole or part by toll revenues and the principal amount of bonds to be supported by the tolls. The county election commission must conduct a referendum on imposing the tolls on the first Tuesday occurring 60 days after the commission receives the ordinance. When tolls are imposed for more than 1 purpose, the jurisdiction's governing body that authorized the referendum must determine the priority for expenditure of the tolls' net proceeds. These tolls terminate on the earlier of (1) the maximum time specified for the imposition, or (2) the end of the calendar month during which the authority determines that the tolls have raised sufficient revenues to fund the cost of the project(s) or the cost to amortize all debts related to the projects. If tolls are approved by referendum and the authority enters into a contractual agreement with the Department of Transportation relating to transportation authorities, then the authority may construct, operate, etc. designated highways, bridges and other such improvements as "turnpike facilities," as part of the state highway system or any federal aid system when it is determined that actual or potential traffic conditions justify these facilities. Under this partnership agreement, the authority may use funds available for maintenance of the state highway system for maintenance of a turnpike facility financed pursuant to this act. In designating, constructing, etc. turnpike facilities, the authority can exercise such authorizations as generally are granted to the Department of Transportation by statutory law. The authority may issue toll revenue bonds in a principal amount not exceeding the amount authorized in the referendum to allow the authority to impose tolls to fund all or a portion of the cost of these facilities, and maintenance of the toll road, following its adoption of a resolution setting forth certain information (such as the toll facility proposed to be constructed, a table showing estimated annual principal and interest requirements for the proposed toll revenue bonds, etc.). Additionally, in connection with these toll facilities, the authority, among other things, may revise and collect the tolls for transit over each turnpike facility constructed by it and control access to these facilities.

The act also requires any county which has previously imposed a local option sales and use tax and which opts to hold a referendum on an additional sales tax for transportation improvements to simultaneously hold a referendum as to whether the local option sales and use tax should continue in effect. If voters opt not to continue that local option tax, then that tax must terminate in the first day of the first fiscal year following the referendum.

Additionally, the act prohibits the Department of Transportation from (1) designating as a turnpike facility any highway, bridge or other transportation facility funded wholly or partially by this act's local option sales and use tax, and (2) reducing funds available to a municipality, county or multi-county area because the respective entity has funded a transportation improvement through its local option tax or tolls as approved by local referendum.

The act amends state law pertaining to administration of tolls on projects by the Department of Transportation so as to provide that a toll project in excess of $150 million may only be initiated through this local option sales tax or toll.

Status: Became law without signature of governor on May 18, 1995.

Senate Reapportionment Plan (S. 9, Sen. Holland). This act was passed in response to the federal court order two years ago requiring the Senate to draw up new district lines. Population of the Senate districts is based on 1990 U.S. Census information, with the average district having a population of approximately 75,800. Tables listing the population of these Senate districts were published in the Update of 5 weeks ago (see pages 4-12 of the May 9 Update); the House made no substantive changes to this act, although the Senate the following day made minor adjustments in the boundaries of Senate Districts 15 and 16 in and around York County and to Districts 32, 37 and 44 in and around Charleston. Under S. 9, 11 of the 46 Senate districts include a black voting age population percentage exceeding 50 percent (i.e., a majority of persons 18 or older is black in those 11 districts). Approved by the U.S. Justice Department on May 30, the provisions of S. 9 are effective through the year 2000, after which time new district boundaries for the following 10 years (2001-2010) would be drawn.

Status: Became law without signature of governor on May 18, 1995.

Lease Purchase or Financing Agreements Subject to 8 Percent Debt Limit (S. 48, Sen. Leatherman). This act prohibits the State's political subdivisions (municipalities, counties, school districts, etc.) from entering into a financial agreement (other than an enterprise financing agreement, a lease purchase contract for energy efficiency products, or a guaranteed energy savings contract) if the principal amount of the financing agreement, when added to the principal amount of limited bonded indebtedness outstanding on the date of execution of the financing agreement, exceeds 8 percent of the assessed value of the subdivision's taxable property. However, this 8 percent limit may be exceeded upon approval of the financial agreement by a majority of the entity's voters in a referendum. Furthermore, if an entity has outstanding any financing agreement (other than an enterprise financing agreement) on the date of issuance of any limited bonded indebtedness pursuant to any bond act, then the amount of this limited indebtedness, plus the amount of the entity's other limited bonded indebtedness (when added to the principal balance under the entity's financial agreement[s]) cannot exceed the entity's constitutional debt limit except upon a favorable vote by referendum of the entity's voters. Also under these provisions, a payment made by the State pursuant to a financial agreement is deemed general obligation debt subject to the South Carolina Constitution's debt service limitation.

For purposes of this act, a "financing agreement" is a contract entered into after 1995 under the terms of which:

An "enterprise financing agreement" is one entered into to provide an asset for a governmental enterprise, revenues from which are expected to be sufficient to pay amounts due under the agreement.

The act also provides that bonds issued by a school district under the Constitution's bonded indebtedness limitation and which are called before the maturity date may be reissued only if the amount required to service the reissuance and pay off the called bonds does not (1) increase by more than 8 percent in any 1 year the amount of the district's budget needed to service the original bonded indebtedness, or (2) exceed the district's debt limit.

Status: Ratified on June 6, 1995.

Increased Penalties for Transporting Child Out of State with Intent To Violate Custody Order (S. 316, Sen. Courtney). South Carolina law provides that when a court awards custody of child under age 16, it is a felony for a person with intent to violate the court order to transport or cause to be transported the child from South Carolina to another state, or to keep that child outside this State. However, the person is guilty only of a misdemeanor if he returns the child to the jurisdiction of the court issuing the order within 7 days after removing the child from this State. Prior to passage of S. 316, a person convicted of this crime could be fined at the discretion of the court and/or imprisoned not more than 3 years, with there being no distinction in punishment set for felony and misdemeanor violations. With passage of S. 316, however, the maximum imprisonment which may be imposed on a person convicted of this offense when a felony increases from 3 years to 5 years, while the maximum imprisonment imposed for a misdemeanor violation is set at 3 years. Under this act, the court would still retain the option to fine persons convicted of violating these provisions and to both fine and imprison offenders (with the amount of the fine imposed remaining at the court's discretion).

Status: Signed into law on April 10, 1995.

Students Caught Bringing Firearms to School Must Be Expelled (S. 482, Sen. Reese). This act requires a school district board of trustees to expel for at least 1 year any student determined to have brought a firearm to school or any setting under the jurisdiction of the local board. This 1 year expulsion is subject to modification by the district superintendent of education on a case-by-case basis, and students expelled pursuant to these provisions are not precluded from receiving educational services in an alternative setting. The act also requires the local board to establish a policy requiring the student to be referred to the local county office of the Department of Juvenile Justice or its representative.

Status: Signed into law on May 17, 1995.