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From the Dome to Your Home: January 16, 2015

 
The 2015 legislative session began on Tuesday, January 13, at noon with new leadership in both the House and Senate. Governor Nikki Haley's second inauguration was on Wednesday. Little business took place this week on the floor with subcommittees and committees meeting to handle the budget, ethics bills and gubernatorial confirmations.
 

House Transportation Infrastructure and Management Ad Hoc committee

The House Ad Hoc committee on transportation met on Monday. Chairman Gary Simrill told the committee members that his goal is to have a bill to introduce in the House by the end of January. Committee members are also waiting to hear about Governor Haley's plan for transportation during her State of the State address on Wednesday. Municipal Association staff have testified several times in front of the committee and offered to work with members on a solution to road maintenance and funding. For more information on the committee and its plan, contact Scott Slatton (sslatton@masc.sc) at 803.933.1203.
 

House Ways and Means subcommittee hears testimony on Local Government Fund

The House Ways and Means Legislative, Executive and Local Government subcommittee met on Tuesday afternoon to hear testimony on funding the Local Government Fund.  The subcommittee has a new chair, Rep. Bill Herbkersman (R - Beaufort, Jasper) and new members Rep. Nelson Hardwick (R - Horry) and Rep. Bill Whitmire (R - Oconee). Association lobbyist Melissa Carter testified before the committee about the history and importance of the Local Government Fund and offered to work with the subcommittee members on a solution to stabilize the Fund going forward. Contact Melissa at (803.933.1251) at mcarter@masc.sc with questions about the subcommittee meeting.
 

Indigent Defense presents budget request to ways and means

The South Carolina Office of Indigent Defense staff alerted the House Ways and Means Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Subcommittee that some cities and towns across the state are not providing public defenders for indigent defendants in municipal court as required by the U.S. Constitution. As a result, municipal courts and possibly the state face liability. OID staff also testified that since municipal courts are "optional," public defenders are not required to be provided by the state, rather they should be provided solely at the expense of the municipality. For more information on the testimony at the hearing, contact Scott Slatton (sslatton@masc.sc) at 803.933.1203.

Weekly bill introductions

Access bills that were introduced this week and bills that received action from a subcommittee or committee through our legislative tracking system complete with short summaries. Visit the legislative tracking system to see and comment on all bills pending in the House and Senate.

Committee action this week

Senate Judiciary subcommittee
S1 - Ethics Reform Act of 2015 - favorable report as amended. The amendments made no changes that directly affect cities and towns.
Summary of the bill as introduced: Makes numerous changes to the state's current ethics and campaign laws.
 
House Judiciary Constitutional Laws subcommittee
H3184 - Makes numerous changes to the current state ethics law - favorable report as amended. The subcommittee took the language from H3185 and added it to H3184.
Summary of the bill as introduced: Reconstitutes the state ethics commission membership and their duties and responsibilities to receive complaints about members of the General Assembly.
H3185 - Creates a new section of the law entitled Ethics, Criminal Penalties - no action
Summary of the bill as introduced: Adds a chapter in the current law that changes and expands penalties for ethics violations.
H3187 - Revises the definition of a committee and campaign contribution - favorable report
Summary of the bill as introduced: Changes the definition of a committee and the campaign contribution of a committee related to campaigns.
H3188 - Makes changes to the current law on campaign contributions - favorable report
Summary of the bill as introduced:
Prohibits campaign contributions from certain noncandidate committees.
 

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. The deadline to register is January 19.
 

2015 Advocacy Initiatives for cities and towns

The 2015 Advocacy Initiatives offer a comprehensive approach to meeting the five major challenges identified as priorities this year through proposed legislation, training opportunities, research and collaboration with stakeholders. Councils are encouraged to adopt a resolution in support of the advocacy initiatives. Download a Word version of the sample resolution from this page. For more information on each initiative and the issues under each challenge, click here.
 
For more information on clearing blight and increasing efficiency, contact Scott Slatton (sslatton@masc.sc) at 803.933.1203, open government contact Tigerron Wells (twells@masc.sc) at 803.933.1270 and on fund services and fix roads, contact Melissa Carter (mcarter@masc.sc) at 803.933.1251. 
 
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.