SC Legislative Update

By Ben Homeyer

The South Carolina General Assembly is officially in summer recess. The year ended with 98 bills signed into law. This equated to less than 1% of all bills introduced before the House and Senate. While some of these will absolutely affect the business operations of our members
most will not.

For the past four days I attended a conference of legislative leaders from across the South.  Topics included economic development, road usage, the environment, and workforce development. The goal was to see what works in some states and what works in ours.

South Carolina was seen as a leader in Economic Development projects. The $10+ billion in projects already listed for 2023 far outweighed almost all of our neighbors. So, a building boom is still coming. As part of that building of industrial and corporate in the State, infrastructure needs as well as housing were discussed. The need for affordable housing was
a large topic of discussion, with South Carolina falling behind other States. The General Assembly has been working on this issue and plans to have further meetings with all stakeholders.

On infrastructure the largest discussion centered around Electronic Vehicles (EV). South Carolina is becoming the leader in the country on producing these vehicles but is lagging behind its counterparts in how to tax and regulate. A push will be coming in 2024 on how best to tax these vehicles so they contribute to the road costs like traditional vehicles. Data has
shown that because of the weight of EV’s due to the batteries needed they are causing significant damage to roads and bridges. Tires tend to get worn down quicker causing road damage and their disposal is also leading to environmental concerns. The Governor has formed an EV group and the General Assembly is also forming a group to look for solutions. I would suspect it will be done much similar to the road tax bill from 2017.

Finally, I met with the Department of Transportation while at the meeting to discuss future initiatives. They stated that they have reached out to the Feds about any changes about the Buy America program and were told the original parameters were still in place. And while the GA did not fully fund the bridge program like they had requested they are still moving forward with massive bridge programs because of funds they have been able to gather from other sources. However, they will be requesting dollars again in next years budget.

Things should be relatively quiet for the next four to six weeks as members are settling in to the summer routine.