SC Legislative Update
By Ben Homeyer
South Carolina is currently in a political lull with the General Assembly out of session. The plan is for them to return next month and begin taking up the next phase of the American Recovery dollars that are set aside for the State. AccelerateSC, the Governor’s task force has been meeting to discuss potential ideas for the money and this week a Senate Sub-committee which is debating the issue will start taking testimony. The House also has a sub but they have not yet begun to meet.
Both bodies are also dealing with redistricting. The Senate is taking up meetings all over the state to get input and the House is holding them here in Columbia. These meetings will help determine the political lines. Both bodies are scheduled to discuss in greater detail when they return in February.
Road User fee. The Road User fee case has been decided and it is not good news for local government. Organizations representing local governments in South Carolina plan to ask lawmakers to broaden the definition of fees they use to raise money for items like road maintenance after a state Supreme Court ruling suggested some of the fees are not legal. In the meantime, those organizations are also recommending governments review their fees in light of last month’s high court decision that tossed out two fees in Greenville County. Justices ruled they were taxes that must get legislative approval. The court case was brought by three members of the Greenville delegation. The full court case can be found here. 28041.pdf (sccourts.org)
User fees under state law have to apply directly to those who pay it, the state Supreme Court justices wrote in the June 30 ruling. Road fees also benefit the public at large and people who don’t pay the fee, defining them as a tax under state law, which can’t be levied without the General Assembly’s permission, the justices ruled.
Sadly Covid-19 numbers are on the rise again in the State. For the past week SC has averaged over 1,800 new cases a day with over 2,500 last Thursday. At this time the Governor has no plans to re-institute mask mandates. A proviso in the state budget also prohibits K-12 and Higher Education institutions in the state from having mask mandates. USC has put one in place which causing a showdown with the General Assembly. They plan to address the issue in September