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AMENDED--NOT PRINTED IN THE HOUSE
Amt. No. 1 (Doc. Name Council\bbm\amend\10226htc01)
May 23, 2001
Introduced by Senators Moore, Drummond, McConnell, Reese, Land, Richardson, Waldrep, Leventis, Passailaigue, Giese, McGill, O'Dell, Alexander, Hayes, Ravenel, Martin, Ryberg, Rankin, Jackson, Glover, Patterson, Hutto, Matthews, Pinckney, Setzler, Holland, Short and Ritchie
S. Printed 4/19/01--H.
Read the first time April 5, 2001.
TO AMEND TITLE 48, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AND CONSERVATION BY ADDING CHAPTER 59 ENACTING THE "SOUTH CAROLINA CONSERVATION BANK ACT" SO AS TO ESTABLISH THE SOUTH CAROLINA CONSERVATION BANK FOR THE PURPOSE OF MAKING GRANTS AND LOANS TO PUBLIC OR PRIVATE ENTITIES TO ACQUIRE INTERESTS IN REAL PROPERTY WORTHY OF CONSERVATION, TO PROVIDE FOR THE GOVERNANCE OF THE BANK, TO PROVIDE THOSE ENTITIES ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE BANK GRANTS, TO ESTABLISH THE SOUTH CAROLINA CONSERVATION BANK TRUST FUND TO RECEIVE BANK REVENUES, AND TO PROVIDE THE CRITERIA WHICH THE BANK MUST USE IN JUDGING APPLICATIONS FOR GRANTS; TO ESTABLISH THE "CONSERVE SOUTH CAROLINA" MOTOR VEHICLE LICENSE PLATE AND PROVIDE THAT THE REVENUE OF THE EXTRA FEE FOR THIS PLATE MUST BE CREDITED TO THE TRUST FUND ESTABLISHED BY THIS ACT; TO PROVIDE THAT REVENUES OF THE STATE PORTION OF THE DEED RECORDING FEE CREDITED TO THE GENERAL FUND OF THE STATE IS INSTEAD CREDITED TO THE TRUST FUND ESTABLISHED BY THIS ACT AND PHASE IN THESE REVENUES OVER TWO FISCAL YEARS; TO EXEMPT FROM THE REQUIREMENT THAT PUBLIC ENTITIES CONVEYING A CONSERVATION EASEMENT HAVE THAT CONVEYANCE APPROVED BY THE ADVISORY BOARD OF THE HERITAGE TRUST PROGRAM CERTAIN EASEMENTS CONVEYED BY COUNTIES AND MUNICIPALITIES THAT INVOLVE GRANTS OR LOANS BY THE SOUTH CAROLINA CONSERVATION BANK; TO REPEAL CHAPTER 59, TITLE 48, ADDED BY THIS ACT AND THE REMAINING PROVISIONS OF THIS ACT JULY 1, 2012, UNLESS THESE PROVISIONS ARE REENACTED OR OTHERWISE EXTENDED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY; AND TO PROVIDE FOR THE WINDING-UP OF THE AFFAIRS OF THE BANK.
Amend Title To Conform
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. Title 48 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:
Section 48-59-10. This chapter may be cited as the South Carolina Conservation Bank Act.
Section 48-59-20. The General Assembly finds that:
(1) South Carolina is experiencing rapid land development and economic growth which has benefited the state's people and economy, but has also led to the loss of forestlands, farmlands, open space, wildlife habitats, outstanding natural areas, and beaches; and has impacted the health of the state's streams, rivers, wetlands, estuaries, and bays, all of which impacts the quality of life of the state's current and future citizens and may jeopardize the well-being of the state's environment and economy if not addressed appropriately.
(2) This same rapid land development has also led to the loss of historical and archaeological sites that embody the heritage of human habitation in the State.
(3) Additionally, as urban areas expand and the separation of urban residents from open lands increases, there is a need to preserve greenways, open space, and parks in urban areas in order to promote balanced growth and promote the well-being and quality of life of our state's citizens.
(4) There is a critical need to fund the preservation of wildlife habitats, outstanding natural areas, sites of unique ecological significance, historical sites, forestlands, farmlands, watersheds, and open space, and urban parklands as an essential element in the orderly development of the State.
(5) The protection of open space by acquisition of interests in real property from willing sellers is essential to ensure that the State continues to enjoy the benefits of wildlife habitats, forestlands, farmlands, open space, parks, historical sites, and healthy streams, rivers, bays, and estuaries; for recreational purposes, for scientific study, for aesthetic appreciation, for protection of critical water resources, to maintain the state's position as an attractive location for visitors and new industry, and to preserve the opportunities of future generations to benefit from the existence of the state's outstanding natural and historical sites.
(6) It is critical to encourage cooperation and innovative partnerships among landowners, state agencies, local governments, and nonprofit organizations, which must work together in order to meet these objectives.
(7) In order to carry out these purposes, the State must establish an ongoing funding source to acquire interests in land from willing sellers that meets these objectives, and to ensure the orderly development of the State. To these ends, the General Assembly enacts the South Carolina Conservation Bank Act.
Section 48-59-30. As used in this chapter:
(1) 'Bank' means the South Carolina Conservation Bank.
(2) 'Board' means the governing board of the bank.
(3) 'Trust fund' means the South Carolina Conservation Bank Trust Fund established pursuant to Section 48-59-60.
(4) 'Eligible trust fund recipient' means:
(a) the following state agencies, which own and manage land for the land's natural resource, historical, and outdoor recreation values:
(i) South Carolina Department of Natural Resources,
(ii) South Carolina Forestry Commission, and
(iii) South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism.
(b) a county or municipality of this State and any agency, commission, or instrumentality of such a county or municipality; or
(c) a not-for-profit charitable corporation or trust authorized to do business in this State and organized and operated for natural resource conservation, land conservation, or historic preservation purposes, and having tax-exempt status as a public charity under the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, and having the power to acquire, hold, and maintain interests in land for these purposes.
(5) 'Farmland' means land used for the production of food, fiber, or other agricultural products.
(6) 'Land' means real property, including highlands and wetlands of any description.
(7) 'Conservation easement' means an interest in real property as defined in Chapter 8 of Title 27, the South Carolina Conservation Easement Act of 1991.
(8) 'Interests in lands' means fee titles to lands or conservation easements.
Section 48-59-40. (A) There is established the South Carolina Conservation Bank. The bank is governed by a fifteen-member board selected as follows:
(1) the chairman of the board for the Department of Natural Resources, the chairman of the South Carolina Forestry Commission, and the director of the South Carolina Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, all of whom shall serve ex officio;
(2) one member from each congressional district appointed by the Governor. Of these members:
(a) one must represent a charitable corporation or trust authorized to do business in this State that is actively engaged in the acquisition of interests in land from voluntary sellers for the purposes of natural resource or land conservation;
(b) one must be an owner of rural real property actively engaged in the management and operation of farmlands, and wildlife habitat;
(c) one must be an owner of real property who is actively engaged in the real estate business, or in the business of appraising forestland, farmland, or conservation easements;
(d) one must be a county or municipal elected or appointed official, and this official shall serve ex officio;
(e) one must represent a charitable corporation or trust authorized to do business in this State which is organized for historic preservation purposes; and
(f) one must be dean or professor at a college, school, or department of natural resource management, environmental studies, or urban planning at a university or college in South Carolina;
(3) three members appointed by the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, one who represents hunting, fishing, or outdoor recreation organizations, one who is an owner of real property actively engaged in the commercial real estate business or in the business of appraising commercial real property, and one who represents a charitable corporation or trust authorized to do business in this state which is actively engaged in the acquisition of interests in land from voluntary sellers for the purposes of natural resource or land conservation; and
(4) three members appointed by the Speaker of the House, one who represents hunting, fishing, or outdoor recreation organizations, one who is an owner of rural real property actively engaged in the management and operation of forestlands and wildlife habitat, and one who is an owner of real property actively engaged in the business of appraising forestlands, farmlands, or conservation easements.
(B) All appointed board members must have a demonstrated background, experience, and interest in the conservation of natural or historical resources, and the appointing authorities shall exercise due diligence to ensure that all persons nominated and appointed possess these qualifications.
(C) Terms of board members are for four years and until their successors are appointed and qualify, except that the initial terms of each appointing official's appointees must be staggered with the initial term noted on the appointment. Regardless of the date of appointment, all terms expire on July first of the applicable year. Vacancies must be filled in the manner of original appointments for the unexpired portion of the term. Members shall serve without compensation, but may receive the mileage, subsistence, and per diem allowed by law for members of state boards, committees, and commissions. The board shall elect a chairman and other officers as necessary from its membership.
(D) Board members must recuse themselves from any vote in which they have a conflict of interest including, but not limited to, any vote affecting or providing funding for the acquisition of interests in land:
(1) on land owned or controlled by the board member, the board member's immediate family, or an entity the board member represents, works for, or in which the member has a voting or ownership interest;
(2) on land contiguous to land described in item (1) of this subsection; and
(3) by an eligible trust fund recipient that the board member represents, works for, or in which the member has a voting or ownership interest.
The provisions of this subsection are cumulative to and not in lieu of provisions of law or applicable rule relating to the ethics of public officers.
(E) The board shall meet at least twice annually in regularly scheduled meetings and in special meetings as the chairman may call. All meetings shall be open to the public except that the board may go into executive session for the purposes of discussing values of interests in land, appraisals, litigation, and as otherwise provided for in Chapter 4 of Title 30, the Freedom of Information Act.
(F) Board members shall have no personal liability for any actions or refusals to act in their official capacity as long as such actions or refusals to act do not involve wilful or intentional malfeasance or recklessness.
Section 48-59-50. (A) The bank is established and authorized to:
(1) award grants to eligible trust fund recipients for the purchase of interests in land, so long as the grants advance the purposes of this chapter and meet criteria contained in Section 48-59-60;
(2) make loans to eligible trust fund recipients for the purchase of interests in land, at no interest or at an interest rate determined by the board, and under terms determined by the board, so long as the loans advance the purposes of this chapter and meet criteria contained in Section 48-59-60;
(3) apply for and receive additional funding for the trust fund from federal, private, and other sources, to be used as provided in this chapter;
(4) receive charitable contributions and donations to the trust fund, to be used as provided in this chapter; and
(5) receive contributions to the trust fund in satisfaction of any public or private obligation for environmental mitigation or habitat conservation, whether such obligation arises out of law, equity, contract, regulation, administrative proceeding, or judicial proceeding. Such contributions must be used as provided for in this chapter.
(6) exercise its discretion in determining what portion of trust funds shall be expended, awarded, or loaned in any particular year, and what portion of trust funds shall remain in the trust fund from one fiscal year to the next. Funds within the trust fund shall be invested or deposited into interest-bearing instruments or accounts, with the interest accruing and credited to the fund.
(B) To carry out its functions, the bank shall:
(1) operate a program in order to implement the purposes of this chapter;
(2) develop additional guidelines and prescribe procedures, consistent with the criteria and purposes of this chapter, as necessary to implement this chapter;
(3) submit an annual report to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and General Assembly that:
(a) accounts for trust fund receipts and dispersals;
(b) briefly describes applications submitted to the bank, and in greater detail describes grants and loans that were approved or funded during the current year, and the public benefits resulting from such proposals;
(c) describes recipients of trust fund grants and loans; and
(d) sets forth a list and description of all grants and loans approved, and all acquisitions of land or interests in land obtained with trust funds since the bank's inception. The report shall include a map setting forth the location and size of all such protected lands.
(C) To operate the bank and carry out the purposes of this chapter the board shall hire an executive director, and may hire staff, contract for services, and enter into cooperative agreements with other state agencies.
(D) Operating expenses of the bank must be paid out of the trust fund.
Section 48-59-60. To receive and hold revenues of the bank, there is created in the State Treasury separate and distinct from all other funds the South Carolina Conservation Bank Trust Fund. Earnings on the trust fund are retained in the trust fund and unexpended trust fund revenues at the end of a fiscal year are carried forward in the trust fund. The trust fund may receive revenues from any source the General Assembly may provide by law and from governmental grants and private gifts and bequests. Trust fund revenues may be used only as provided in this chapter.
Section 48-59-70. (A) An eligible trust fund recipient may apply for a grant or loan from the trust fund to acquire an interest in land identified in its application. Contiguous landowners and other interested parties may submit in writing to the board their views in support of or in opposition to the application. Based on a review of these submissions, or in any instance where the board determines the public interest so requires, it may hold a public hearing on the application at which the eligible trust fund recipient, contiguous landowners, and other interested parties may be heard.
(B) Before disbursing trust funds for the purchase of an interest in land, the eligible trust fund recipient receiving the funds must notify the owner of the land that is the subject of the trust fund grant or loan of the following in writing:
(1) that interests in land purchased with trust funds result in a permanent conveyance of such interests in land from the landowner to the eligible trust fund recipient or its assigns; and
(2) that it may be in the landowner's interest to retain independent legal counsel, appraisals, and other professional advice.
The application must contain an affirmation that the notice requirement of this subsection has been met.
(C) Grants and loans from the trust fund must be awarded based upon the conservation criteria contained in subsection (D) and the financial criteria contained in subsection (E). In each application the qualifying entity must provide information regarding how the proposal meets one or more of the following criteria and advances the purposes of the bank.
(D) For purposes of this chapter, conservation criteria include:
(1) the value of the proposal for the conservation of unique or important wildlife habitat;
(2) the value of the proposal for the conservation of any rare or endangered species;
(3) the value of the proposal for the conservation of a relatively undisturbed or outstanding example of an ecosystem indigenous to South Carolina;
(4) the value of the proposal for the conservation of riparian habitats, wetlands, water quality, watersheds of significant ecological value, critical aquifer recharge areas, estuaries, bays or beaches;
(5) the value of the proposal for the conservation of outstanding geologic features;
(6) the value of the proposal for the conservation of a site of unique historical or archaeological significance;
(7) the value of the proposal for the conservation of an area of critical open space, forestlands, farmlands, or wetlands that promotes the objectives of state or local plans for preservation of open space;
(8) the value of the proposal for the conservation of an area of forestlands or farmlands which are located on prime soils, in microclimates or have strategic geographical significances;
(9) the value of the proposal for the conservation of an area for outdoor recreation, greenways, or urban parkland;
(10) the value of the proposal for the conservation of a larger area or ecosystem already containing protected lands, or as a connection between natural habitats or open space that are already protected;
(11) the value of the proposal for the size of the land protected;
(12) the value of the proposal for the unique opportunity it presents to accomplish one or more of the criteria contained in this subsection, where the same or a similar opportunity is unlikely to present itself in the future; and
(13) the value of the proposal because of the likelihood that the land will be developed unless protected with trust funds.
(E) For purposes of this chapter, financial criteria include:
(1) the degree to which the proposal presents a unique value opportunity in that it protects land at a cost that is below fair market value, or protects at or below fair market value land that is likely to appreciate dramatically in value;
(2) the degree to which the proposal leverages trust funds by including funding or in-kind assets or services from other governmental sources such as federal, county, municipal, and other sources of state funds;
(3) the degree to which the proposal leverages trust funds by including funding or in-kind assets or services from private or nonprofit sources, or charitable donations of land or conservation easements;
(4) the degree to which the proposal leverages trust funds by purchasing conservation easements that preserve land at a cost that is low relative to the fair market value of the fee title of the land preserved; and
(5) the degree to which other conservation incentives and means of conservation, such as donated conservation easements or participation in other governmental programs, have been explored, applied for, secured, or exhausted.
(F) The board shall evaluate each proposal according to the conservation criteria listed in subsection (D) and the financial criteria listed in subsection (E), and award grants or loans on the basis of how well proposals meet these criteria. Priority must be given to proposals that fulfill both conservation and financial criteria. The more criteria a proposal satisfies, the higher priority it must be given.
(G) For each grant or loan application the applicant shall specify:
(1) the purpose of the application;
(2) how the application satisfies criteria listed in subsections (D) and (E);
(3) the uses to which the land will be put;
(4) the extent to which hunting, fishing, or other forms of outdoor recreation will be conducted upon the land;
(5) the extent to which farming, forestry, timber management, or wildlife habitat management will be conducted upon the land;
(6) the party responsible for managing and maintaining the land; and
(7) the parties responsible for enforcing any conservation easements or other restrictions upon the land.
(H) Where an eligible trust fund recipient seeks a trust fund grant or loan to acquire fee title to land, it must demonstrate both the expertise and financial resources to manage the land for the purposes set forth in its application. Where an eligible trust fund recipient seeks a trust fund grant or loan to acquire a conservation easement, it must demonstrate both the expertise and financial resources to manage and enforce the restrictions placed upon the land for the purposes set forth in its application. The board shall evaluate each proposal to determine the qualifications of the proposed managing party and to determine whether the proposed management is consistent with the purposes of the bank and the purposes set forth in the application.
(I) An eligible trust fund recipient seeking a grant or loan from the trust fund must:
(1) demonstrate that it is able to complete the project and acquire the interests in land proposed;
(2) indicate the total number of acres of land it has preserved in the State; and
(3) briefly describe the lands it has preserved in the state, including their size, location, and method of preservation. The reporting requirement of this subsection need not be complied with for specific preserved lands when in the grant or loan applicant's discretion, or in the discretion of the owners of such preserved lands, the privacy or proprietary interests of the owners of such preserved lands would be violated.
(J) Partnerships, matching contributions, management agreements, management leases, and similar collaborations among state agencies, the federal government, eligible trust fund recipients, and local governments, boards, and commissions may be encouraged to fulfill the requirements of this section and promote the objectives of this chapter.
(K) No matching funds or other contributions are required to receive grants or loans from the trust fund. However, the board shall encourage matching funds and other contributions by weighing the degree to which applications meet the criteria of subsection (E) when determining which proposals to fund.
(L) The board may authorize up to ten percent of the monies credited to the trust fund during the preceding fiscal year to acquire interests in land that solely or primarily meet the criteria of subsection (D)(6) of this section. No other monies in the trust fund may be awarded to applicants for the acquisition of interests in land that meet the criteria of (D)(6) unless the application also satisfies other criteria contained in subsection (D) in a substantial way.
(M) The board may only authorize grants or loans to purchase interests in lands at or below fair market value. In no cases may funds from the trust fund be used to acquire interests in lands at a price that exceeds the fair market value of the interest being acquired. The board must establish reasonable procedures to document the fair market value of interests in lands and to ensure that the purchase price does not exceed the fair market value. The board must also establish reasonable procedures to ensure the confidentiality of appraisals before the award of a grant or loan, and the subsequent acquisition of interests in lands obtained with such grant or loan.
(N) In awarding a grant or loan from the trust fund the board shall set forth findings that indicate:
(1) how the application satisfies the purposes of this chapter, and the criteria and other considerations set forth in this section;
(2) the purpose of the award and the use to which the land will be put;
(3) the extent to which hunting, fishing, or other forms of outdoor recreation will be conducted upon the land;
(4) the extent to which farming, forestry, timber management, or wildlife habitat management will be conducted upon the land;
(5) the party responsible for managing and maintaining the land;
(6) the party responsible for enforcing any easements or other restrictions upon the land;
(7) the parties designated in items (5) and (6) possess the expertise and financial resources to fulfill their obligations; and
(8) any other findings or information relevant to the award.
Section 48-59-80. (A) The interests in lands acquired with funds from the trust fund must be held by an eligible trust fund recipient.
(B) The bank may not hold or possess any interest in land or other interest in real property, except for mortgage interests as security for loans made from the trust fund as provided for in subsection (J), and leasehold interests in office space secured for bank operations and staff.
(C) The bank and eligible trust fund recipients receiving monies from the trust fund shall retain all records of acquisition of interests in land with trust funds including, but not limited to, surveys, inventories, appraisals, title and title insurance policies, environmental assessments, closing documents, and contracts.
(D) The bank must be named as an insured on a title insurance policy acceptable to the board and obtained by the loan recipient for loans it makes to eligible trust fund recipients. The bank must be indemnified as to title in the amount of any grants it makes to eligible trust fund recipients, and this indemnification must be secured by a title insurance policy acceptable to the board and obtained by the grant recipient. These requirements for title insurance and indemnification as to title may be waived by the board in extraordinary cases where insurable title is unobtainable, the risk of adverse claims to title are small, the land in question presents a particularly valuable conservation opportunity according to the purposes of this chapter and the criteria of Section 48-59-70, and the cost of the interest in land acquired reflects the lack of insurable title.
(E) In order to identify potential liability pursuant to applicable state or federal environmental law or regulation, an environmental hazard assessment must be conducted on lands before the disbursement of trust funds for the acquisition of an interest in such lands.
(F) All interests in lands acquired with trust funds must be held by the eligible trust fund recipient that was approved by the board to acquire the interest in land, except that an interest in land obtained with trust fund money may be assigned from one eligible trust fund recipient to another upon approval of the board by majority vote.
(G) Except as provided in subsection (F), no interest in land acquired by an eligible trust fund recipient with trust funds may be extinguished, sold, transferred, assigned, alienated, or converted to a purpose or use other than that set forth in the grant or loan award, without securing a:
(1) two-thirds vote of the board, following a finding of fact that the land no longer exhibits the characteristic that qualified it for acquisition with funds from the trust fund; and
(2) majority vote of the State Budget and Control Board.
(H) If any interests in lands that have been acquired by an eligible trust fund recipient with trust funds are extinguished, sold, transferred, assigned, alienated, or converted pursuant to subsection (G) of this section, the eligible trust fund recipient extinguishing, selling, transferring, assigning, alienating, or converting the interests in land shall replace them with interests in land of substantially equal current fair market value, with any deficit being made up by contribution to the trust fund. The replacement land must also exhibit characteristics that meet the criteria of this chapter. The board must verify that suitable replacement interests in lands have been identified and will be obtained before authorizing that any interest in land purchased with monies from the trust fund be extinguished, sold, transferred, assigned, alienated, or converted.
(I) Interests in land acquired with trust funds must be managed and maintained in order to perpetuate the conservation, natural, historical, open space, and recreational uses or values for which they were originally acquired. Uses which are adverse to the original purposes for which the interests in land were acquired with trust funds are not permitted without securing a:
(1) two-thirds vote of the board, following a finding of fact that the land no longer exhibits the characteristics that qualified it for acquisition with funds from the fund; and
(2) majority vote of the State Budget and Control Board.
(J) Loans made from the trust fund must be secured by mortgages upon the subject properties. Any funds received from foreclosure proceedings upon these mortgages must be deposited in the trust fund for subsequent distribution as grants or loans according to the provisions of this chapter. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (B), the bank may accept a deed in lieu of foreclosure or as a result of foreclosure proceedings, for land in which it held a mortgage interest by virtue of awarding a loan as provided for in this chapter. However, upon receiving such a deed the bank must as soon as practicable either transfer the property to an appropriate eligible trust fund recipient, or sell the land and deposit the proceeds in the trust fund for subsequent distribution as grants or loans according to the provisions of this chapter. If the bank sells the land, it may first donate a conservation easement upon the land to an eligible trust fund recipient before the sale.
Section 48-59-90. Funds from the trust fund may not be used to acquire interests in lands or other interests in real property through the exercise of any power of eminent domain or condemnation proceeding.
Section 48-59-100. Neither this section nor Section 48-59-90 may be repealed, amended, or otherwise modified except by an affirmative two-thirds vote of the total membership of both the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Section 48-59-110. The provisions of this chapter must not be construed to eliminate or unreasonably restrict hunting, fishing, farming, forestry, timber management, or wildlife habitat management, as regulated by the laws of this State, upon lands for which interests in lands are obtained pursuant to this chapter. These and other traditional and compatible activities may be conducted, where appropriate, upon lands preserved with trust funds.
Section 49-59-120. When trust funds are used to purchase a conservation easement on land, the conservation easement will be the controlling legal document regarding what is and what is not permitted upon the land, how the land will be preserved, and what rights are vested with the eligible trust fund recipient or its assigns which hold the conservation easement. If any inconsistencies or ambiguities arise between the provisions of this chapter and the terms and conditions of a conservation easement purchased with trust funds, the terms and conditions of the conservation easement must prevail. The board must exercise due diligence to assure the terms and conditions of conservation easements are consistent with the purposes of this chapter before disbursing trust funds for the purchase of such conservation easements."
SECTION 2. (A) The Department of Public Safety may issue special motor vehicle license plates to owners of private passenger-carrying motor vehicles or light pickups having an empty weight of six thousand pounds or less and a gross weight of nine thousand pounds or less registered in their names which shall have imprinted on the plate "Conserve South Carolina" and which may have an emblem, a seal, logo, or other symbol of the South Carolina Conservation Bank. The South Carolina Conservation Bank shall submit to the department for its approval the emblem, seal, logo, or other symbol it desires to be used for this special license plate. The South Carolina Conservation Bank may request a change in the emblem, seal, logo, or other symbol not more than once every five years. The fee for this special license plate is initially forty-eight dollars every two years in addition to the regular motor vehicle registration fee set forth in Article 5, Chapter 3, Title 56 of the 1976 Code. However, the South Carolina Conservation Bank may in its discretion alter the fee no more frequently than once every two years, and must notify the department of changes in the fee. This special license plate must be of the same size and general design of regular motor vehicle license plates. The special license plates must be issued or revalidated for a biennial period which expires twenty-four months from the month they are issued.
(B) The fees collected pursuant to this section must be credited to the South Carolina Conservation Bank Trust Fund established pursuant to Section 48-59-60 of the 1976 Code.
(C) The provisions of Section 56-3-8100 of the 1976 Code apply to the license plate authorized by this section.
SECTION 3. Notwithstanding the provisions of Section 12-24-90(B)(3) of the 1976 Code, effective July 1, 2002, twenty-five cents of the one dollar thirty cent state deed recording fee must be credited to the South Carolina Conservation Bank Trust Fund.
SECTION 4. The provisions of Section 27-8-30(E)(3) of the 1976 Code do not apply to an easement conveyed by a county or municipality if the county or municipality is compensated for the easement from the Conservation Bank Trust Fund under Chapter 59 of Title 48 of the 1976 Code, or if the donation of an easement by a municipality or county is an integral part of a larger proposal for which a grant or loan is made from the Conservation Bank Trust Fund under Chapter 59 of Title 48 of the 1976 Code.
SECTION 5. Chapter 59, Title 48 of the 1976 Code and Sections 2 through 4 of this act are repealed effective July 1, 2015, or ten years after the full funding of the trust fund, whichever is greater, unless reenacted or otherwise extended by the General Assembly. However, the South Carolina Conservation Bank established by this act may continue to operate as if Chapter 59, Title 49 of the 1976 Code was not repealed until the South Carolina Conservation Bank Trust Fund is exhausted or July 1, 2018, whichever first occurs. Any balance in that trust fund on July 1, 2018, reverts to the general fund of the State. Repeal does not affect any rights, obligations, liabilities, or debts due the South Carolina Conservation Bank. For these purposes, after the bank's termination, the State Budget and Control Board is the bank's successor, except that, after the bank's termination, the board's voting rights provided in the former provisions of Section 48-59-80(F), (G), (H), and (I) of the 1976 Code are devolved upon the Department of Natural Resources Board, and any contribution to the trust fund required pursuant to the former provisions of Section 48-59-80(H) of the 1976 Code must be made to the Heritage Trust Program.
SECTION 6. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
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