By Ben Homeyer
The General Assembly is in full swing with week four beginning this week. Economic development is still at the forefront of conversations both with the legislature and the Governor. Governor McMaster made it the centerpiece of his state of the state last week. Legislation has been put forth to put together a new office for workforce development and put under one roof everything from higher education to DEW and other agencies to ensure that the most South Carolinians are working and in the best possible jobs.
The House has sent to the Senate a bill that allocates remaining ARPA dollars to water and sewer infrastructure. While it was very controversial on the floor of the House, the $586 million to the Rural Infrastructure Authority (RIA) for existing grant applications for water/sewer projects was approved. Of those funds, approximately $86 million must be available for projects designed by the Secretary of Commerce for economic development.
Conversations are continuing to be had about the potential changes to the states mining regulations. Assurances have been given from both DHEC and the SCDOT that changes will not be coming this year. SCDOT has spoken directly with DHEC and conveyed their concerns on what any changes could do to existing and upcoming road projects. We are continuing to meet with stakeholders such as the AGC’s, SCAA, Home builders and others that have an interest in the outcome of any potential changes.
DHEC is also looking at all potential surface and wastewater issues in the state. The environmental community is pushing for changes to the current laws and regulations. No legislation has been filed yet but we will continue to monitor the situation as it could affect the industry.
With the session about to conclude its first month there are now a decent number of bills that we are watching. Everything from driving in the left lane on the highway and hands-free driving to air pollution and changes to SC building codes. As bills begin to gain traction, we will continue to keep everyone updated.