State Capital Report: Major Pieces Of Legislation
By Representative Jackie Hayes
June 7, 2012
In this Capital Report, I have summarized the major pieces of legislation that the S.C. General Assembly has enacted this year, as well as measures still under review or on their way to the Governor’s office. We completed actions on dozens of measures before adjourning at 5:00 p.m. on June 7.
We will be returning to Columbia on June 19, and possibly the following week, to take care of remaining issues, including considering any vetoes by the Governor, and voting on conference reports, which are essentially compromises negotiated by conference committees. These committees, composed of six House and Senate members, are convened when the House and Senate cannot agree on a bill.
-Act 105 (S 258) established the Office of Inspector General to investigate allegations of fraud, waste and abuse in state agencies.
-The General Assembly approved a joint resolution (H 3152) amending the constitution to allow for the joint election of governor and lieutenant governor starting with the 2018 general election. Voters will get a chance to vote on the amendment when it appears on the ballot in the November election.
-The S.C. Restructuring Act (H 3066) would modernize state government by transferring responsibilities from the massive Budget and Control Board to a new Cabinet-level Department of Administration. The House and Senate approved different versions of the bill, so a conference committee is negotiating a compromise.
-House and Senate versions of a measure (H 4967) reforming the state retirement systems is currently in conference committee.
The House and Senate have approved different versions of the appropriations bill (H 4813) that funds state programs for the Fiscal Year 2012-13, which begins in July. The differences are expected to be resolved in conference committee.
On June 6, the House approved budget amendments to spend nearly $300 million in additional funds, since budget funding projections are now higher than originally expected. Under the new House budget amendment, some of the new money would be used as follows:
-An additional $10 million to the Local Government Fund, increasing the total appropriation to nearly $200 million. The fund goes to counties and municipalities for local services. I supported an amendment to provide $40 million in extra funding for the local government fund, but it was defeated.
-Funding to cover an increase in the Employee Health Insurance Plan; The House plan includes a 2 percent pay raise for state employees. In contrast, the Senate plan provides a 3 percent pay raise for state employees other than teachers, who would get a 2 percent pay raise.
-A five percent pay raise for law enforcement officers who make less than $50,000 annually.
-An immediate reduction in income taxes for certain small businesses from 5 percent to 3 percent year — rather than phase in the reduction over four years as originally planned in the House budget. The tax reduction would apply to sole proprietorships, partnerships and S corporations that pass net income to shareholders.
-An additional $120 million to deepen the Port of Charleston, to be added to the $180 million already in the House budget bill for that purpose.
-Funding for three more family court judges and three additional circuit court judges.
–$800,000 in additional funding for local health departments, $500,000 for the Rural Physicians Program, in addition to the $1.8 million provided for community health centers.
-A guarantee that teachers will get a 2 percent state-funded pay raise.
-Act 164 (H 3241) strengthens the state’s charter school system, authorizes single gender charter schools, and allows charter school students to participate in extracurricular activites at traditional public schools, if the activities are not offered at the charter school.
-The House and Senate approved S 149, which allows homeschool students and students at the state’s Governor’s schools to compete for sports teams and participate in other interscholastic activities at nearby public schools. The bill is on its way to the Governor’s office for her signature.
-Act 140 (H 3793) outlaws the possession, sale, purchase or manufacture of chemical compounds used in making the drugs known as “bath salts” and synthetic marijuana.
-Act 124 (4636) created a blue alert system in the State Law Enforcement Division, to quickly get out information about suspects accused of killing, injuring or abducting a law enforcment officer.
- The House and Senate approved a conference report on H 3757 that strengthens state law regarding human trafficking, the illegal practice of subjecting a person to forced labor, sexual exploitation or servitude to pay off debts.
-Act 174 (S 1149) protects newborns who have survived an abortion attempt.
-Act 170(H 4690) requires middle school and high school teachers to undergo two hours of training in youth suicide awareness and prevention, as part of the 120 credit hours they must earn for recertification.
- Act 129 (S 929) sets new safety requirements for miniature train rides at amusement parks.
-Act 109 (H 3617) discourages large spills of untreated and partially-treated sewage into public waterways.
-The House and Senate approved and sent the Governor H 4689, which would improve the safety of baked goods and candy prepared and sold by home-based food production operations.
-The House and Senate approved H 4652 that would expand the state’s right to work laws,that ban contracts requiring employees to join unions. The measure is on the way to the Governor.
-S 1392, approved by the House and Senate, would add transparency to the manner in which financial derivatives are disclosed, measured and regulated. The measure is on its way to the Governor’s office.
-Act 162 (H 3063) extends funding for the state’s Conservation Bank,which provides a source of revenue to protect, through conversation easements, the state’s historic and environmentally-sensitive areas.
The Legislature meets in Columbia on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from January to mid-June. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me at 803-734-3099, at 333D Blatt Building, P.O. Box 11867, Columbia, S.C. 29211 or call me at home at 843-774-6125, at 240 Bermuda Road, Dillon, S.C. 29536. My email address is [email protected]