SC Legislative Update
By Ben Homeyer
There are six official legislative days left in the session. We know that further days will be added to the calendar to carry us in to June but during those days most of the legislation out there could not be taken up.
To date the biggest bill still in play, S399, that could affect us is the DHEC Restructuring The big thing about it is that the air and water quality standards that affects the industry and the permitting would all be moved, but to where is still up in the air a bit. And it’s possible it could be a study for another year. To be clear DHEC doesn’t want another study and would hope that if they are going to restructure it happens sooner rather than later. H 4124 is still in play also as it has passed the House and made crossover. So they could amend it and still get something over the finish line for the year.
Budget is done in the Senate and goes back to the House. The Senate didn’t fund all the projects for DOT like the House did. Road funding both at the state and local level, bridges, airports, and some other issues were given place holders in the Senate but not funding. It is expected that the House will put a bulk of the projects back in. SCDOT is putting on a full court press for the $200 million in bridge funding to be included. The House is scheduled to take up the budget May 3rd with a new pot of funding and then the conference will be in a few weeks when another potential funding influx would occur.
The Senate has continued to meet with SCDOT monthly as part of their Legislative Oversight hearings. DOT has given updates on potential tolling of I95, Electric Vehicles on the highways, movement of utilities along the highways as well as workforce issues and ongoing projects. This is all a part of DOT’s time during their five-year review by oversight.
Finally, one item that is receiving a lot of discussion over the past few weeks is power generation. Where will it all come from, how will the grid hold up and what does all this mean to manufacturers that are massive power users and residential in the State. The Electric Market Reform Committee is continuing to meet and receive plans for the best course forward for South Carolina. Plan suggestions range from joining regional transmission groups to simply adding more energy producing plants such as gas and solar. All of this means it could see changes to the cost of energy for all of the producers which goes in to all of your operational costs. It is something that will need to be monitored throughout the interim for the General Assembly.