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From the Dome to Your Home: January 23, 2015

 
The Senate was in perfunctory session this week only meeting in subcommittees and committees to deal with bills and gubernatorial appointments. The House of Representatives met in committee and on the floor with the House Ways and Means committee working on the state budget bill. Governor Haley gave her fifth State of the State address unveiling her plan to fix roads and infrastructure with a gas tax increase/income tax decrease swap. 
 

Business license bills introduced

As expected, several bills relating to changes in business licensing have been introduced this session. Rep. Samuel Rivers (R - Berkeley, Charleston) introduced H3337 on Tuesday that would prohibit cities and towns from charging a business license fee. Also this week, Rep. Rick Quinn (R - Lexington) said he plans to introduce a bill that would change how business license taxes are calculated. If introduced as reported, this bill would have a tremendous impact on cities" ability to fund services. More details will be available once the bill is introduced on the House floor and referred to a committee.For questions about this bill and other business license bills, contact Melissa Carter (mcarter@masc.sc) at 803.933.1251
 

Local Government Fund legislation introduced

Rep. Brian White (R-Anderson), chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Rep. Jimmy Merrill (R-Charleston), chair of the Local Government Ad Hoc Study committee, sent a letter this week to all members of the House of Representatives alerting them to H3374, a bill introduced on Wednesday in the House regarding changes to the Local Government Fund calculation. The Association's staff has been working with both of these legislators during the off-season to supply them with data and background information regarding the importance of the LGF to cities and towns. Both Rep. White and Rep. Merrill have expressed willingness to work with Association staff to address our concerns with the bill. For questions about this bill, contact Melissa Carter (mcarter@masc.sc) at 803.933.1251.
 

Senate Judiciary subcommittee passes agenda bill

A Senate Judiciary subcommittee passed S11 with an amendment. The bill requires a public body to provide an agenda for all regularly scheduled meetings. Also items cannot be added to that agenda within 24 hours of the meeting except by a 2/3 vote of the body. The amendment, suggested to senators by Municipal Association staff, only requires a 2/3 vote when adding an item that requires a vote. Association staff has been working with Senator Larry Martin (R - Pickens) on this issue since the summer Supreme Court ruling of Lambries vs. Saluda County Council. For questions about this bill, contact Tiger Wells (twells@masc.sc) at 803.933.1270.
 

Senate Finance Committee passes benefits bill

The Senate Finance Committee passed S35 this week. This bill allows funds set aside by a political subdivision to fund post-employment benefits of its employees to be invested in equity securities. This includes funds invested in an independent trust such as the Association's SCORBET program. This bill will be on the full Senate calendar on Tuesday when senators convene for session. For questions about this bill, contact Melissa Carter (mcarter@masc.sc) at 803.933.1251.
 

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 Committee
S1 - Ethics Reform Act of 2015 - favorable report as amended by the subcommittee last week. The subcommittee's amendments did not make any changes that affect local governments.
Summary of the bill as introduced: Makes numerous changes to the state's current ethics and campaign laws.
 
House Judiciary Committee
H3184 - Makes numerous changes to the current state ethics law - favorable report as amended by the subcommittee last week. The subcommittee added the language from H3185 to this bill. H3185 adds a chapter in the current law that changes and expands penalties for ethics violations.
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.
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.
 
House Judiciary Constitutional Laws subcommittee
H3186 - Redefines certain terms regarding ethics and government accountability - favorable report
Summary of the bill as introduced: Revises the definition of "business with which he is associated" and revises the statements of economic interests form.
H3202 - SC Whistleblower and Public Employee Protection Act - favorable report
Summary of the bill as introduced: Eliminates the $2,000 cap on rewards for reports resulting in savings and eliminates the one year limitation on the period during which the employee is protected from adverse employment actions.
 
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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.