By Ben Homeyer
Legislative and Funding Updates
The House and Senate adjourned Sine Die May 12th, marking the official end of the legislative session.
There is still a lot of unfinished business. Numerous conference committees will be meeting in the coming weeks to sort out differences between House and Senate legislation.
Legislators adopted the Sine Die resolution S1325 this week, which dictates matters they can act on now that session has ended. It also specifies the dates they will return to take up unfinished business.
Legislators plan to return to Columbia June 15-17 to take up the budget, gubernatorial vetoes, conference reports, appointments, and matters related to redistricting legislation. They will then return on June 28-30 to take up gubernatorial vetoes on the budget, so a spending plan is in place before the fiscal year begins on July 1.
One of the major issues being discussed are the tax plans. The House tax plan would condense tax brackets, reduce the 7% top rate to 6.5% and provide a phased-in reduction to 6% thereafter, including safeguards to trigger reductions. Each year, the top income tax rate will go down a tenth of a percent until it reaches 6%. However, if the state doesn’t grow at least 5% each year, those cuts won’t happen. It also exempts military retirement income.
The Senate tax plan reduces the top income tax rate from 7% to 5.7%, eliminates taxes on military retirement income, reduces industrial/manufacturing property taxes, and provides a one-time rebate for taxpayers using surplus revenues.
Anytime between July 1 and November 13, legislators could be called back into session by the Speaker and Senate President to take up unfinished business pursuant to the Sine Die resolution or a special session to take up abortion legislation in response to any US Supreme Court decision.
At 5:01 on May 12th the New Speaker Murrell Smith officially took over in the House, Gary Simrill was installed as the new Ways and Means Chairman, Davey Hiott is the new House Majority Leader and Bill Hixon is the new Chairman of House Agriculture.
The Senate unanimously concurred with the House amendments to legislation dealing with ARPA fund allocations. These funds will go towards infrastructure projects, including water/sewer, broadband, flood mitigation, public health, and $453 million for roads. Funding, to address the state’s workforce shortage by incentivizing students in the South Carolina Technical College System to pursue degrees/certifications in high-demand fields such as manufacturing, healthcare, computer science and information technology, transportation, distribution, and logistics, or construction was also included.
The House and Senate budgets include a one-time allocation of $350 million to the SC State Ports Authority (SCSPA) to complete the intermodal facility and container barge infrastructure.
The House and Senate maintained a non-recurring allocation of $642,500 to fund the Be Pro Be Proud mobile workforce program for another year.
The Conference committee will be looking at funding models for the DMV to overhaul how motor carrier operations are done. This could be a significant change for our members.
S2 DHEC Reorganization fails to make the finish line
Legislation that would have divided the Department of Health and Environmental Control into two separate cabinet-level agencies, the Department of Behavioral and Public Health and the Department of Environmental Services, ultimately failed to move in the House of Representatives after an unsuccessful attempt was made Wednesday evening to attach an amendment that would have reformed the state’s “certificate of need” (CON) requirement for hospitals and other health care providers to receive state approval before building out new facilities or purchasing large medical equipment.
Max Metcalf to become SCDOT Commissioner
Governor Henry McMaster has appointed Max Metcalf to serve on the SCDOT Commission (4th Congressional District), pending legislative approval. This Commission seat was formerly held by Woody Willard, whose second consecutive term expired this year. Once approved, Metcalf’s term on the SCDOT Commission will run through February 15, 2026. Metcalf currently serves as an executive with BMW and is the past president of the South Carolina Manufactures Alliance and sits on the board of the Greenville Chamber of Commerce as well as the Upstate Alliance.