From the Dome to Your Home: June 5, 2015
The House of Representatives and Senate were in session this week and held a few conference committee meetings. Most of the action took place on the floor of the House and Senate since this was the last week in the first year of the two-year session. Any bill that didn’t pass this session is still active for the 2016 session. House and Senate members plan to return to Columbia June 16 – 18 to handle the budget and conference committee reports.
Body camera bill headed to the governor
The conference report on S47, the body camera bill, was approved by both the House and Senate on Thursday and enrolled for ratification. The final bill requires law enforcement agencies to deploy body camera systems if funding is made available. The state budget for 2015-2016 includes $3.4 million for body cameras.
The bill establishes state grant funding that is available to law enforcement agencies for body cameras. The bill also requires the Law Enforcement Training Council to study and develop guidelines for use of body cameras within 180 days of the effective date of the law. Within 270 days of the effective date of the law, law enforcement agencies would submit their proposed guidelines to the Training Council, based upon the Training Council’s guidance, for approval. Within 360 days of the effective date of the law, the Training Council would have to submit a report to the General Assembly on the status of the guidelines’ rollout.
Data generated from body cameras would not be considered public records, but would have to be disclosed under the SC Rules of Civil or Criminal Procedures and the data could be disclosed to other law enforcement-related agencies. Additionally, certain parties who are related to the recording, or a party with standing to bring a civil action where the recording may be relevant, may receive body camera data based on the SC Freedom of Information Act.
For more information on the body camera bill, contact Tiger Wells (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 803.933.1270.
Meeting agenda bill headed to the governor
House and Senate members approved the conference report on S11 and enrolled the bill for ratification. This is the last step before the governor has a chance to sign, veto or let the bill become law without her signature. The final bill requires a 2/3 vote to add any action item to the agenda of a regular meeting of a public body. Also the bill requires an additional finding of emergency circumstances if there has not been and will not be an opportunity for public comment or if the added item is the final action. For more information on the agenda bill and how it affects your city or town, contact Tiger Wells (email@example.com) at 803.933.1270.
Budget conference committee continues work
Conference committee members continued to discuss H3701, the state budget bill but adjourned on Thursday without a conference report. Budget conferees are Senators Leatherman, Peeler and Setzler and Representatives White, Pitts and Clyburn.
The budget includes $212.6 million in the Local Government Fund for Fiscal Year 2015-2016. This total includes $200.1 million as the base funding level and $12.5 million in one-time money. This total is the same amount as the current year and $81.9 million less than full funding.
The budget also has $3.4 million in the Department of Public Safety budget that includes $2.4 million base funding and $1 million one-time funding for 2,000 body cameras.
The budget also includes the 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 prohibits the circuit public defender from providing indigent defense in municipal court without an agreement with the city or town.
On Monday, the House Ways and Means Committee passed H4230, a bill that allocates the supplemental appropriations. When the House adjourned on Thursday, this bill was still on the contested calendar waiting on second reading. Included in the bill is $150 million in one-time money for county transportation committees to be spent on state secondary roads. For more information on the state budget bill, contact Melissa Carter (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 803.933.1251.
Uber bill goes to conference committee
H3525, the bill that allows Uber to operate in South Carolina, was sent to a conference committee on Thursday to iron out differences in the House and Senate versions of the bill. Conferees are Senators Hayes, Hutto and Bennett and Representatives Sandifer, Forrester and Stavrinakis.
The House language leaves municipalities to regulate transportation network companies like Uber and their drivers in the same manner that currently applies to taxi cabs or other motor carriers. The version sent back from the Senate puts primary responsibility for regulation of the transportation network companies and their drivers to the Office of Regulatory Staff, while allowing municipalities to continue regulating matters not addressed in the legislation. Under the Senate language, the Office of Regulatory Staff would also collect from these companies/drivers and remit to municipalities a local assessment fee equal to one percent of the company’s gross revenue.
Upon request by the Municipal Association, a transportation network company must, at its expense, engage a SC CPA with governmental accounting qualifications to perform an audit to determine it has appropriately remitted the local assessment fee and that it has been appropriately distributed to cities and towns. The Senate version of the bill allows the Office of Regulatory Staff to retain one percent of the local assessment fee to administer the tax distribution.
For more information on the Uber bill, contact Tiger Wells (email@example.com) at 803.933.1270.
Weekly bill introductions
Committee action this week
Several conference committees met this week, along with the House Ways and Means Committee. Those reports are included above. No other standing committees met this week.
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.