THE STATE ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON EDUCATIONAL REQUIREMENTS FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT PLANNING OR ZONING OFFICIALS AND EMPLOYEES
MINUTES OF THE FIRST ORGANIZATION MEETING
HELD ON JULY 29, 2004
MASC BOARD ROOM
1411 GERVAIS STREET
Members Present: Philip England, Dennis Lambries, Donna London, Stephen Riley
Members Absent: None
Guests Present: Terry Farris (Member-nominee), Paula Benson (SC Senate Judiciary Committee)
1. Call to Order
The meeting was called to order at 4:10 p.m. by Phil England.
2. Introduction of Members
Donna London, Dennis Lambries, Phil England and Stephen Riley introduced themselves. Terry Farris introduced himself. It was explained that Mr. Farris had been properly nominated and reviewed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, but that the Legislature adjourned in May without acting on his appointment. It was agreed that unless the Governor could make an interim appointment, Mr. Farris would participate in all discussions and work efforts of the Committee, but would refrain from voting.
3. Freedom of Information Act Compliance
Public notification of this meeting has been published, posted, and mailed in compliance with the Freedom of Information Act
4. Election of officers
Dennis Lambries moved to elect Stephen Riley as Chairman of the Committee. Donna London seconded. The motion was approved with a vote of 4-0.
The committee commended Phil England for his work in organizing the first meeting.
5. Approval of Agenda
Dennis Lambries moved to amend and approve the agenda, by adding a new section entitled Approval of the Agenda, and by adding a new section entitled Discussion of Reappointments to the Committee. Donna London seconded. The motion was approved with a vote of 4-0.
6. Discussion of Reappointments
Dennis Lambries reported the original appointments for both himself and for Terry Farris were specified in the enabling legislation as one-year appointments expiring June 30, 2004. Mr. Lambries serves until his successor is named and thus continues to serve as a full member of the Committee. He was appointed as a representative of the University of South Carolina and his nomination for a second term will be submitted to the Governor’s Office shortly.
Mr. Farris reported that Clemson University will likewise be submitting a reappointment letter to the Governor on his behalf shortly.
7. Committee Bylaws
Dennis Lambries volunteered to develop a first draft of a set of By-Laws and will route to the other committee members for review and comment.
8. Meeting Schedule and Location
The committee discussed alternate meetings sites, such as at the Municipal Association offices or the offices of the SC Association of Counties. It was agreed that Mr. Riley would contact both entities to see if they would agree to hosting the Committee on a rotating basis.
The committee’s target goal is to conduct four meetings per year but will meet as needed in the early stages of organization.
The committee needs to investigate the meaning of Statute 1330(f) regarding telephone conference meetings. Does the FOIA notification requirement apply to teleconferences? Mr. Riley will ask Ms. Benson about this.
9. Mission; Goals and Objectives; Strategic Plan and Implementation
Following discussion there was a consensus that it is not the mission of the Committee to enforce the legislation. If we see a need to amend the legislation, we should report that to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The focus of the Committee needs to be:
- Developing a process to review and sanction qualifying educational programs.
- Determine what additional classes of individuals, if any, should be exempt from the educational requirements of the Act.
- Preparation of annual reports.
- Tracking committee reappointments.
- Determining how long a program is to be sanctioned.
10. Funding Options
Mr. Riley noted that the enabling legislation provides for a specific funding source; a fee charged to the programs that receive approval from the Committee. But representatives of both the MASC and SCAC had spoken to him about not imposing such fee in order to minimize the bureaucracy.
It was generally agreed by the Committee that we would hold off on imposition of a fee for the time being and instead move forward and identify and begin to quantify the costs that will be incurred, such as: secretarial and photocopying; travel to review programs initially; travel to meetings; or travel in response to meet with a group. It will also be necessary to review the quality of programs on an ongoing basis.
Steve Riley will talk to both the MASC and SCAC about any funding commitments they can make and also to make them aware and seek their assistance in helping local governments meet their obligations under the legislation.
11. Administrative Support/Minutes, Annual Report, Etc.
The Committee will look toward the Senate Judiciary Committee (Paula Benson), the MASC and the SCAC for administrative support initially. It was agreed that the Committee should have a webpage on the SC State Website and that the minutes should be posted on the Internet. Chairman Riley will be the internet contact point and will contact Connie Huff at the Legislative Printing Office. He will also try to get the two Associations, and association of COGs to link to the Committee site.
Minutes will also be posted following a teleconference meeting.
12. Categories of Persons Who are Eligible for Exemption From the Education Requirements
The Act provides for specific classes or groups of individuals who are exempt from the educational requirements and empowers the Committee to develop criteria for exempting additional groups or categories of people for the educational requirements. Following discussion it was generally agreed that if any categories or groups of individuals are considered for exemption, it will only be in regard to the annual requirements for three hours of continuing education. Everyone not already exempt under the law should be required to go through the initial 6 hour orientation course. The committee thought that persons seeking exemption would have to go through an orientation; after that, the exemption would be based on education and experience.
Committee members were in general agreement that we should encourage those otherwise eligible to go through the orientation course and should ask the SC Bar’s Continuing Education Committee to consider allowing the Orientation Course to count towards an attorney’s annual CLE requirements.
Terry Farris and Donna London volunteered to take the first cut in drafting exemption requirements.
It was noted that the enabling legislation refers to “Professional Employees” and that there was some question as to what this meant. Perhaps we should draft a statement of intent to guide local governments. The belief is that the intent is to encompass any employee who plays a role in the review and approval of plans, permits or appeals.
13. Solicitation of Submittals for Proposed Educational Programs
This is the top priority of the Committee given the deadlines for getting employees and officials certified in the time specified in the Act. Employees and officials in the Top 2 tiers of communities must be compliant by January 1, 2006. Thus, anyone in office, or employed, as of January 1, 2005 must go through the orientation program before the end of 2005. As such, the orientation program or programs need to be operational as early as possible in 2005.
Terry Farris volunteered to draft a proposed outline of the process to be used to review and sanction both the orientation program or programs and qualifying ongoing educational requirements. It was agreed that the orientation program should be the primary focus of the Committee.
14. Specifics of Educational Program Requirements
Mr. Farris agreed to consider, at a minimum, the following considerations in developing a program outline:
- Qualifications of sponsoring organizations
- Qualifications of instructors
- Criteria/guidelines for review and approval of educational programs submitted for approval
- After approval of education programs, need and frequency of reapproval
- Maintaining integrity of approved programs
- Delivery options (face-to-face, live video, tapes, etc.)
- Report from education program sponsors
It was generally agreed that certifications would be good for three years, but would be tied to the specific instructor(s).
It was reiterated that the focus needs to be on the orientation program, with more leeway given on continuing education requirements. As an example, it was noted that the State Bar has fifty-two CLE different programs a year – one each week – based on volunteer availability. They have in place a process to review and approve content and the qualifications of the instructor. Perhaps our Committee could simply pre-certify for continuing education purposes any program they put on that has a planning related focus.
15. Methods of Public Notification of Approved Education Programs and Categories of Exemption
It was generally agreed that the Committee would look towards the following sources to get information out to the officials and employees regarding the approved programs:
- State Register
- General Assembly Internet Website
- SCAC and MASC Internet websites
- Other methods as identified
16. Next Meeting Date and Location
It was agreed to target a date in October for the next meeting of the Committee, to be held at the SCAC offices; assuming approval from SCAC.
The meeting was adjourned at 6:26 p.m.