From the Dome to Your Home: December 5, 2014
The 2015 legislative session begins on Tuesday, January 13, 2015, at noon leaving little time until the General Assembly reconvenes for the first half of a two-year session. Weekly From the Dome to Your Home legislative reports will resume the first week of the legislative session.
2015 Advocacy Initiatives for cities and towns
The 2015 Advocacy Initiatives offer a comprehensive approach to meeting these five major challenges through proposed legislation, training opportunities, research and collaboration with stakeholders. For more information on each initiative and the issues under each challenge, click here.
For more information on clear blight and increase efficiency, contact Scott Slatton (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 803.933.1203, open government contact Tigerron Wells (email@example.com) at 803.933.1270 and on fund services and fix roads, contact Melissa Carter (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 803.933.1251.
Marketplace Fairness Act needs your help
Hometown brick and mortar businesses are at a 5 to 10 percent competitive disadvantage as compared to out-of-state online retailers because online companies don't have to collect sales tax on purchases at the point of sale like hometown businesses do. It's the consumer's responsibility to pay the state and local sales tax when submitting his income tax return.
A remedy for this situation is the Marketplace Fairness Act that could be considered in the U.S. House in the next two weeks. Please call or email your Congressman and let him know how important this legislation is to your hometown.
Ad Hoc committees in the House
During the fall, Speaker of the House Jay Lucas established several ad hoc committees to study different issues facing the House of Representatives upon their return in January. Municipal Association legislative staff has followed these committees and offered testimony on issues important to municipalities.
House ethics and the Freedom of Information Act study committee
The House Ethics and FOIA study committee met several times during the fall to discuss the current FOIA and the Lambries vs. Saluda County Council Supreme Court decision on agendas. The study committee is proposing draft legislation that would require an agenda at all regularly scheduled meetings and require a 2/3 vote at the time of the meeting to add anything to the agenda if failure to do so would result in irreparable harm. The study committee is also recommending that the time for a public body to inform the requestor of its determination be reduced from 15 business days to 10 if the document requested is less than two years old. The response time for determination for documents that are more than two years old would be expanded to 20 days.
The Senate also had a study committee on the FOIA agenda issue, and Municipal Association staff met with Senator Larry Martin (R - Pickens) several times to work on a bill. Senator Martin prefiled a bill that would require agendas and require 2/3 vote of the body to add anything to the agenda at the time of the meeting. Open government is one of the Association's five advocacy initiatives. Read more here.
For more information on the proposals from the study committee, contact Tigerron Wells (email@example.com) at 803.933.1270.
Transportation and Infrastructure Management Ad Hoc committee
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Management Ad Hoc committee met several times throughout the fall and continues to meet to discuss solutions to funding and maintaining roads and infrastructure throughout the state. Municipal Association staff testified at one meeting of this committee and this week submitted several suggestions for the committee to consider. The committee hopes to have a proposal to present to the full House of Representatives in January. Fix roads is one of the Association's five advocacy initiatives. Read more here.
For more information on the committee, contact Scott Slatton (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 803.933.1203.
Expungement task force
The Expungement Task Force has met several times over the course of the fall to study expungement and determine whether to expand the number of offenses that are eligible for expungement. Senator Karl Allen (D - Greenville) is the chair of the task force and has pulled together representatives from law enforcement agencies and other interests to look at the different areas related to expungement, such as process and cost. The task force is now scheduling meetings in small groups between now and January to take a closer look at these individual issues. Municipal Association staff will continue to be part of these task force meetings. For more information on the task force, contact Tigerron Wells (email@example.com) at 803.933.1270.
Uniform election date update
Included in the 2014-2015 state budget is a proviso directing the State Election Commission to meet with stakeholders to study the possibility of establishing a uniform municipal election date. The stakeholders have not met yet, but the Municipal Association will have the opportunity to provide information and direction to the group. For more information on the proviso, contact Tigerron Wells (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 803.933.1270.
Prefiled bills in the House and Senate
The House and Senate began prefiling bills on December 3 for the 2015 legislative session. Each chamber has two dates when they can prefile bills. Check the weekly Uptown Update and the legislative tracking system for summaries on prefiled bills that affect cities and towns. For more information on the prefiled bills, contact Casey Fields (email@example.com) at 803.933.1256.
Save the date
Hometown Legislative Action Day is on Wednesday, February 4, 2015, at the Marriott in Columbia. Make plans now to attend. Registration and hotel information are available now on the Association's website.
Year end legislative report
The Municipal Association encourages reprints and reproductions of this report; however, contact the Municipal Association for permission and give credit for any reprints or re-use of this report.