South Carolina General Assembly
125th Session, 2023-2024
Indicates Matter Stricken
Indicates New Matter
(Text matches printed bills. Document has been reformatted to meet World Wide Web specifications.)
Indicates Matter Stricken
Indicates New Matter
January 31, 2023
Introduced by Reps. G. M. Smith, Sandifer, Carter, Kirby, Oremus, Magnuson, Pace, Long, Elliott, Burns, May, Beach, Forrest, Blackwell, B. Newton, Caskey and Ligon
S. Printed 01/31/23--H.
Read the first time January 11, 2023
to amend the South Carolina Code of Laws by amending Section 40-1-80, relating to Investigations of licensees, so as to require the director to send information regarding an investigation to the licensee; by adding Section 40-1-85 so as to establish informal conferences; by amending Section 40-1-90, relating to Disciplinary action proceedings, so as to allow a licensee to request certification of an investigation from the director; and by amending Section 40-1-140, relating to effect of prior criminal convictions of applicants, so as to prohibit the denial of a license based solely or in part on a prior criminal conviction in certain circumstances.
Amend Title To Conform
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. Section 40-1-80 of the S.C. Code is amended to read:
Section 40-1-80. (A) If the director has reason to believe that a person has violated a provision of this article or a regulation promulgated under this article or the licensing act or regulation of a board or that a licensee has become unfit to practice the profession or occupation or if a person files a written complaint with the board or the director charging a person with the violation of a provision of this article or a regulation promulgated under this article, the director may initiate an investigation.
(B) Within thirty days after an investigation is initiated, the director must send the licensee:
(1) a letter advising the licensee that a complaint has been filed and that an investigation has been initiated and a request that the licensee respond in writing within fourteen da and
(2) a copy of the complaint;
(3) the name of the complainant, unless the board believes good cause exists to withhold the name of the complainant; and
(4) all materials filed with the complaint.
(C) In conducting the investigation, the director may subpoena witnesses, compel their attendance, take evidence, and require the production of any matter which is relevant to the investigation including, but not limited to, the existence, description, nature, custody, condition, and location of books, documents, or other tangible items and the identity and location of persons having knowledge of relevant facts or any other matter reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of material evidence. Upon failure to obey a subpoena or to answer questions propounded by the director, the director may apply to an administrative law judge for an order requiring the person to comply.
SECTION 2. Section 40-1-90 of the S.C. Code is amended to read:
Section 40-1-90. (A) The director shall review any case that the Board recommends for a formal complaint to ensure the Department mailed the notice of the investigation to the licensee and provided the licensee with opportunity to respond. This shall occur before the formal complaint is issued. The Director shall verify that:
(1) the Department mailed a copy of the complaint to the licensee;
(2) the name of the complainant was provided to the licensee, unless good cause existed to withhold the name of the complainant;
(3) the licensee was notified of the opportunity to provide a response to the complaint; and
(4) the licensee's response was included and considered in the investigative file.
If the Director determines that any of these procedural steps were not followed in the investigative process, the issuance of the formal complaint shall be held until such time as the procedural defects may be rectified. Nothing in this section should be construed to require the Director's review if a case is disposed of by any means other than issuance of a formal complaint.
(B) The results of an investigation must be presented to the board. If from these results it appears that a violation has occurred or that a licensee has become unfit to practice the profession or occupation, the board, in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act, may take disciplinary action authorized by Section 40-1-120. No disciplinary action may be taken unless the matter is presented to and voted upon by the board. The board may designate a hearing officer or hearing panel to conduct hearings or take other action as may be necessary under this section.
(B)(C) For the purpose of a proceeding under this article, the department may administer oaths and issue subpoenas for the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production and examination of books, papers, and records on behalf of the board or, upon request, on behalf of a party to the case. Upon failure to obey a subpoena or to answer questions propounded by the board or its hearing officer or panel, the board may apply to an administrative law judge for an order requiring the person to comply with the subpoena.
SECTION 3. Section 40-1-140 of the S.C. Code is amended to read:
Section 40-1-140. A person may not be refused an authorization to practice, pursue, or engage in a regulated profession or occupation solely because of a prior criminal conviction unless the criminal conviction directly relates to the profession or occupation for which the authorization to practice is sought. However, a board may refuse an authorization to practice if, based upon all information available, including the applicant's record of prior convictions, it finds that the applicant is unfit or unsuited to engage in the profession or occupation. (A)(1) A professional or occupational board may not solely or in part deny a license to an applicant because of a prior criminal conviction, unless the criminal conviction directly relates to the duties, responsibilities, or fitness of the occupation or profession for which the applicant is seeking a license.
(2) Notwithstanding any other provision in a professional or occupational licensing practice act regulated by this chapter, professional and occupational boards are prohibited from using vague or generic terms including, but not limited to, "moral turpitude" or "good character", and from considering charges that have been dismissed, nol prossed, or adjudicated with a finding of not guilty as a justification for denying an applicant a license.
(B) An applicant who has submitted a completed licensing application may not be denied a license because of the applicant's prior criminal conviction, unless the applicable professional or occupational licensing board has given the applicant an opportunity to appear at an application hearing to determine the applicant's fitness for the occupation or profession. The application hearing must be scheduled for the next available application hearing date for that board.
(C) If a board denies an applicant's license solely or in part because of the applicant's prior criminal history, then the board must issue a written final order within thirty days following the date of the application hearing. The written order shall include:
(1) the grounds for the denial; and
(2) that the final order is appealable to the Administrative Law Court pursuant to Chapter 23, Title 1.
SECTION 4. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
This web page was last updated on January 31, 2023 at 06:45 PM