SC Legislative Update
By Ben Homeyer
We are fast approaching the final week of session. This is a bit of a misnomer as the House has already announced they will come back the week of May 24th to take up their new version of the budget in committee. The week of June 8th to discuss the budget on the floor and then finally the week of June 28th to discuss Gubernatorial vetoes. Other items such as bills in conference, local legislation and appointments can still take place. They will then return in late summer early fall to discuss redistricting and appropriate any new federal dollars. The Senate has not announced their return plans. The Santee Cooper debate will now go to conference as the House and Senate have adopted different versions. The main difference between the two now is that the House has included a sale provision which the Senate has removed. On the unemployment front the Governor on Thursday May 6th put out the following release: “In order to address ongoing workforce shortages throughout South Carolina, Governor Henry McMaster today directed the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) to terminate South Carolina’s participation in all federal, pandemic-related unemployment benefit programs, effective June 30, 2021.” Other states are looking at this model. SC is the first in the SE to make this change and second in the country. And finally, CRMCA will be participating in the SC House Republican Caucus event this coming Wednesday with the Governor.
Bills and Legislation
S675 dedicated aviation funding for local airports
This bill revises the distribution of revenue from aircraft property taxes so that the revenue is credited to the State Aviation Fund. This revised distribution is phased-in with all revenue credited to the State Aviation Fund after Fiscal Year 2021-2022. The legislation provides that these revenues credited to the State Aviation Fund shall be used, in part, to aid counties within the State that do not have an airport facility in obtaining or developing an airport facility through the South Carolina Aeronautics Commission. These dollars are the 10% match that the airports use for their runway projects, aprons, control towers, etc. The bill is expected to make it thru the house next week. The governor has already stated he will sign it if it makes it thru this session.
H3011 – Slower Traffic Move Right
Conference Committee easily adopted compromise on “2 lane routes” and Senate Fines and Penalties, + clean-up. $25 Fine; non-moving violation; t-t/CDL exceptions provided. This is meant to make SC highways safer for all. The CDL exemption was a critical piece. Bill was adopted and sent to the Governor this week.
Currently an infrastructure maintenance fee is assessed against a vehicle (owned or leased) upon its first registration. Among several things, this bill would provide that upon its first registration this fee also applies to the first “titling” of a vehicle. This also applies to “lessors” (but not a second time when purchasing a vehicle for which they have already paid the fee). The House approved an amendment that excluded the fee to an insurer for the purpose of applying for a salvage title. Bill was adopted and sent to the Governor this week.
These past two weeks saw some of the lowest rates since testing begin. This past week saw the first day in over a year with no covid related deaths in South Carolina. Testing numbers have dropped dramatically. Anyone over 16 who wants a shot in SC can easily get one as currently there are more vaccines available then patients who are looking to receive them.
**At 5:00pm on 5/13 the General Assembly adjourned Sine Die. Meaning the bulk of the work is done and new items will wait until January. The Budget is still outstanding and won’t be finalized until the end of June. Hundreds of millions of road projects are in the works and will continue during the interim. As I sent in a couple of weeks back the biggest thing this year was the liability protection from covid lawsuits which was signed in to law. Dealings with the DMV for registrations and collections is continuing and we are continuing to work with the General Assembly to make the process easier. Working with the SCTA we should see some more movement on this issue. Left Lane driving restrictions (3011) were adopted by both bodies and are headed to the Governor (with a CDL carveout). There is a study committee that is looking at the electric car increases and how that will affect roads and dollars going for roads (those dollars come from gas taxes.) Economic development projects continue to be passed. The largest is the Gallo bill which will build a massive bottling and distribution center in Chester County. Multiple things like two new convention centers in the state and numerous small projects were in the Senate passed budget and the House is expected to keep many in place. With billions coming in infrastructure dollars from the feds and a committee already set up to look at those dollars we could have hundreds of projects in the near future. I think in a trying year we ended up ok at the statehouse. It’s still just year one of a two year session and a lot is still to come.