From the Dome to Your Home: February 13, 2015
The House of Representatives and Senate were in session this week and meeting in subcommittees and committees. The House Ways and Means Committee begins to debate its version of the state budget next week, while the Senate debated its version of the ethics bill on the floor late Wednesday evening, eventually voting down the bill.
Business license bill updates
Last week, Rep. Rick Quinn (R - Lexington) introduced H3490 that would change how business license taxes are calculated and cap the tax for each business at $100. If passed, this bill would have a monumental negative impact on cities and towns and the services that they provide to residents, businesses and visitors. Click on the bill number above for a list of the bill's sponsors. Please continue to call your House member and tell them what specific impact H3490 would have on your city or town services, especially if you have a House member on the House Ways and Means Committee or your representative is a sponsor of the bill.
For more information about H3490, business license taxes in general and the Municipal Association's model business license ordinance, click here
. For talking points to use in contacting your legislators or a sample resolution for your council to pass in opposition to H3490, click here. Read this week's blog post about H3490 here.
Two other business license bills have also been introduced. Rep. Samuel Rivers (R - Berkeley, Charleston) introduced H3337 that would prohibit cities and towns from charging a business license tax. Rep. Jimmy Merrill (R - Charleston) introduced H3233 that would change the business license calculation from gross receipts to number of employees. For questions about these bills, contact Melissa Carter (email@example.com) at 803.933.1251.
House budget update
The House Ways and Means Committee will meet on Tuesday, February 17, at 10 a.m. to begin debating its version of the state budget, including the Local Government Fund. Also on the committee agenda for Tuesday is H3374, a bill that changes the Local Government Fund calculation. This bill was given a favorable report by the House Ways and Means Revenue Policy subcommittee last week.
The proposed state budget contains a proviso that requires cities and towns to negotiate an agreement with the circuit public defender to provide indigents with a public defender in municipal court. The proviso also prohibits the circuit public defender from providing indigent defense in municipal court without an agreement with the city or town. Please call House Ways and Means Committee members and urge them to vote to remove this proviso from the budget. For questions about the proviso, contact Scott Slatton (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 803.933.1203.
The Local Government Fund funding level for Fiscal Year 2015-2016 has not been determined yet. As soon as that information is available, Municipal Association staff will share that with you. For questions about H3374 and the Local Government Fund, contact Melissa Carter (email@example.com) at 803.933.1251.
House Judiciary Committee approves agenda bill
The House Judiciary Committee gave a favorable report to H3192, a bill that requires public bodies to have an agenda for any regularly scheduled meeting. The subcommittee amended the bill to remove the "irreparable harm" language that was a concern to the Association. The bill, as amended by the subcommittee, will allow an agenda to be amended by a 2/3 vote at the beginning of the meeting. This bill was further amended in the full committee to add an emergency finding requirement by council when adding an action item at the time of a meeting. This bill now goes to the floor of the House of Representatives for debate by all House members.
The Senate passed its version of this bill, S11, and it is now in the House Judiciary Committee for debate. For more information on these bills, contact Tiger Wells (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 803.933.1270.
Weekly bill introductions
Committee action this week
House Judiciary Committee
H3190 - Removes the legislative exemption in the Freedom of Information Act - adjourned debate
Summary of the bill as introduced: Removes the existing FOIA exemption for members of the General Assembly and their immediate staff.
H3191- Creates the Office of Freedom of Information Act Review within the Administrative Law Court - favorable report with amendments. The amendments protect public bodies from paying the attorney's fees of the entity submitting the FOI request when the Office of Freedom of Information Act Review determines the public body denied the FOI request properly. The amendments also remove two hours of free time for records retrieval that was included in the previous versions, and specifies that the 30 day production deadline doesn't start running until the 25 percent deposit has been paid by the party submitting a request.
Summary of the bill as introduced: Creates the Office of Freedom of Information Act Review within Administrative Law Court and reduces the time in which a public body has to respond to requests from 15 days to ten days.
House Education and Public Works Public Safety subcommittee
H3446 -Increases penalties for failure to stop for a law enforcement officer - adjourned debate
Summary of the bill as introduced: Increases penalties associated with failure to stop when signaled to stop by a law enforcement vehicle.
Senate Fish, Game and Forestry subcommittee
H3035 - Take Palmetto Pride Where You Live Act - favorable report
Summary of the bill as introduced: Creates the Take Palmetto Pride Where You Live Act Commission to develop a strategic state plan for litter removal, reduction and prevention.
House Education and Public Works committee
H3142 - Creates certain requirements for mopeds - favorable report
Summary of the bill as introduced: Regulates mopeds on public roads and requires flashing lights and reflective vests to be worn by moped operators and passengers.
H3165 - Defines mopeds as motor vehicles - favorable report
Summary of the bill as introduced: Defines mopeds as motor vehicles and not as motorcycles.
H3213 - Requires law enforcement officers to notify DMV of medical conditions of drivers - favorable report
Summary of the bill as introduced: Requires law enforcement officers who suspect that a motor vehicle accident was the result of a driver's loss of consciousness due to a medical condition to notify DMV of the determination.
House Education and Public Works Transportation subcommittee
H3440 - Makes several changes to the current law on mopeds - adjourned debate
Summary of the bill as introduced: Requires a moped to be registered, carry insurance and may not be operated on a public road whose speed limit is greater than 35 miles per hour.
House Labor, Commerce and Industry Public Utilities subcommittee
H3525 - Regulates transportation network companies - favorable report as amended. The amendments require any appeals go to the Administrative Law Court rather than the Public Service Commission, require vehicles to be inspected within 30 days of entering service, and remove the mileage cap.
Summary of the bill as introduced: Outlines the regulations for transportation network companies under the Office of Regulatory Staff and exempts these companies from regulation by the Public Service Commission.
Senate Finance Special Transportation Funding subcommittee
S2 - Establishes the Interstate Lane Expansion Fund - no action although it was on the subcommittee agenda
Summary of the bill as introduced: Increases the number of lanes on existing mainline interstates with funding from the taxes from the sale, use or titling of a motor vehicle.
S23 - Adds a motor vehicle user fee of 16 cents per diesel gallon to liquefied natural gas - no action although it was on the subcommittee agenda
Summary of the bill as introduced: Adds a motor vehicle user fee of 16 cents per diesel gallon to liquefied natural gas.
S142 - Requires all excess general fund revenues to be credited to the State Highway Fund - no action although it was on the subcommittee agenda
Summary of the bill as introduced: Requires all excess general fund revenues accumulated in a fiscal year in excess of general appropriations and supplemental appropriations to be credited to the State Highway Fund for improvements to existing mainline interstates and state and local roads.
S244 - Local Option Motor Fuel User Fee Act - no action although it was on the agenda
Summary of the bill as introduced: Allows a county to impose by ordinance and approved by referendum a user fee of no more than five cents a gallon on retail sales of fuel for the sole purpose of road improvement projects and road maintenance within the county.
S406 - Increases the gas tax and provides an income tax credit - no action although it was on the agenda
Summary of the bill as introduced: Directs the State Fiscal Accountability Authority to establish a motor fuel surcharge and provide for a refundable income tax credit for taxpayers who pay the motor fuel surcharge.
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