From the Dome to Your Home: February 20, 2015
The House of Representatives and Senate were in session this week and meeting in subcommittees and committees. The House Ways and Means Committee adopted its version of the budget on Thursday, while the Senate continued work on the floor on the criminal domestic violence bill.
House budget update
The House Ways and Means Committee adopted its version of the state budget on Thursday. The committee also unanimously adopted H3374, a bill that changes the Local Government Fund calculation from 4.5 percent of the previous year's general fund to a rolling calculation based on growth in the state budget of at least 4 percent. That bill is now on the House calendar for debate next week.
The committee also adopted 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. If this proviso is included in the final budget, these agreements will potentially impose additional costs on municipal courts.
In the House Ways and Means Committee's version of the budget, the Local Government Fund funding level for Fiscal Year 2015-2016 is $212.6 million. This total is the same amount as the current year and $81.9 million less than full funding.
For questions about H3374 and the Local Government Fund, contact Melissa Carter (email@example.com) at 803.933.1251.
Dilapidated Buildings bill in subcommittee
The House Judiciary Special Laws subcommittee adjourned debate on the Dilapidated Buildings Act, H3039, on Wednesday to give House staff time to make a minor technical change. Members plan to include this bill on the subcommittee agenda next week. This bill gives cities and towns another tool to deal with dilapidated buildings through the appointment of a receiver to either repair or demolish the property. Contact Scott Slatton (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 803.933.1203 for questions about the bill or to share stories that illustrate the challenges of dilapidated buildings.
House approves agenda bill
The House of Representatives gave third and final reading to H3192, a bill that requires public bodies to have an agenda for any regularly scheduled meeting. The bill, as amended by a House 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 require an emergency finding by council to add an action item at the time of a meeting. This bill is now in the Senate Judiciary Committee for debate.
The Senate passed its version of this bill, S11, and it is now in the House Judiciary Committee for debate. The House Judiciary Committee has taken no action on the Senate version of the bill. For more information on these bills, contact Tiger Wells (email@example.com) at 803.933.1270.
Business license bill updates
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 communicate with your House members 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. Two sponsors, Rep. Eddie Southard (R - Berkeley) and Rep. Mac Toole (R - Lexington), have removed their names as sponsors 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 last 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 revenue to number of employees. For questions about these bills, contact Melissa Carter (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 803.933.1251.
Weekly Bill Introductions
Committee Action This Week
Senate Judiciary subcommittee
S255 - Requires removal of arrest records on websites if the charges have been dismissed or discharged - favorable report as amended. As soon as the amendments are prepared by Senate staff, they will be posted in the tracking system.
Summary of the bill as introduced: Requires removal of arrest records on websites within 30 days if the charges have been dismissed, discharged or the person is found not guilty.
House Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Environmental Affairs I subcommittee
H3024 - Exempts highway construction projects from all local ordinances and laws that would require local permits and zoning - adjourned debate
Summary of the bill as introduced: Exempts highway construction projects approved by the SC DOT from all local ordinances and laws that would otherwise require them to obtain local permits and zoning authorizations.
House Labor, Commerce and Industry Insurance subcommittee
S342 - Amends the Insurance Holding Company Regulatory Act - favorable report. Later in the week, the full House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee gave this bill a favorable report.
Summary of the bill as introduced: Makes changes to the current Insurance Holding Company Regulatory Act.
Senate Finance Property Taxation subcommittee
S212 - Allows a person to claim a qualifying boat or watercraft as a primary residence for property tax purposes - favorable report
Summary of the bill as introduced: Allows a person to claim a qualifying boat or watercraft as a primary residence for property tax purposes.
S375 - Allows a local governing body to deposit surplus public funds - favorable report
Summary of the bill as introduced: Allows a local governing body to deposit all or a portion of surplus public funds in its control or possession collateralized by FDIC.
S379 - Makes technical changes to the state's tax code - favorable report
Summary of the bill as introduced: Makes technical changes to the state's tax code related to county auditors.
H3525 - Regulates transportation network companies, such as Uber - recommitted to the subcommittee
House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee
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 Judiciary subcommittee
S277 - State Telecom Equity in Funding Act - favorable report
Summary of the bill as introduced: Clarifies the jurisdiction of the Public Service Commission over certain providers regarding telephone service for hearing and speech impaired people.
S304 - Extends contracts to buy power for additional periods of time - favorable report
Summary of the bill as introduced: Allows for the renewal or extension of contracts between a joint power and energy agency and a municipality to buy power for additional periods not to exceed 50 years from the date of the renewal or extension.
Don't forget to follow the Municipal Association on Twitter to get up-to-the-minute updates on what's happening every day at the State House. Follow us @MuniAssnSC.
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.