By Rep. Jackie Hayes
The House of Representatives took up more bills drawing upon the work of the special House Utility Ratepayer Protection Committee which was appointed by the Speaker of the House following the announcement from Santee Cooper and SCANA’s South Carolina Electric and Gas that construction on the V.C. Summer nuclear reactors in Fairfield County was being abandoned after billions of dollars in fees had been collected from South Carolina’s ratepayers under the Baseload Review Act to support the failed nuclear power project.
The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4376, a bill providing REFORM FOR SOUTH CAROLINA’S PUBLIC SERVICE AUTHORITY which governs the operations of the state-owned electric utility Santee Cooper. Terms of service ended for the current PSA Board of Directors and a schedule is established for the appointment of their successors. All new board members must meet a set of qualifications to ensure that they possess certain levels of educational attainment and a background that affords expertise in: energy issues; water and wastewater issues; finance, economics, and statistics; accounting; engineering; or law. In making appointments to the authority, the Governor must ensure that race, color, gender, national origin, and other demographic factors are considered to ensure the geographic and political balance of the appointments, and to ensure that the membership of the authority will represent, to the greatest extent possible, all segments of the population of the state.
The House amended and gave second reading approval to H.4421, a bill facilitating the more expansive use of SOLAR POWER AND OTHER DISTRIBUTED ENERGY RESOURCES by customers of investor-owned electric utilities. The legislation authorizes the development of solar power generation and other distributed energy resources above the cap that has been set at 2% of the previous fiveyear average of the electrical utility’s South Carolina retail peak demand. The legislation establishes new provisions governing the net metering that involves customergenerators being billed for power supplied by the electrical utility and receiving net excess generation credits when their generators produce excess power that is exported to the electrical utility’s grid. No electrical utility shall seek to recover through a general rate case or another proceeding the lost revenues associated with the energysaving measures that reduce a customer’s consumption of griddelivered electricity. The legislation discontinues existing arrangements where all of an electrical utility’s customers are subsidizing solar power programs, regardless of whether they are participating in the programs, by providing that nonparticipants in net energy metering programs are not required to subsidize the costs of customergenerators. Solar Bill 4421 removed the cap on solar panel allowing the production and sale of energy from solar panels at a whole sale price. Upon returning from the weekend there was a stunning reversal from the vote the week before. The Energy companies objected due to the uncompensated use of the energy grids as a solar battery for the solar energy produced by panels. This Bill was the original simple majority passage and on second reading it was deemed unconstitutional due to the tax exemption that was extended for future use. The tax exemption component raised the threshold of passage from the simple majority (50 + 1) to a 2/3) majority which it did not reach a third reading.
The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.4729, LIQUOR SALES legislation which follows a South Carolina Supreme Court ruling that found limitations placed on the issuance of retail liquor licenses to be unconstitutional, and enrolled the bill for ratification. Through this legislation, the General Assembly affirms its police power to regulate the business of retail liquor sales in the interest of the public’s health, safety, and welfare. The legislation specifies that this police power includes regulating the number and localities of retail dealer licenses that a person may be issued in order to prevent monopolies and avoid problems associated with indiscriminate price cutting, excessive advertising of alcoholic products, and concentration of retail liquor stores in close proximity. The legislation provides for the limitation that has restricted someone from holding no more than three retail dealer licenses to be increased gradually over the course of four years. A new maximum of six total licenses is established for an individual by allowing a licensee to be issued up to an additional three retail dealer licenses which must be for retail locations in counties with populations in excess of two hundred fifty thousand residents.
The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3591, a bill REAUTHORIZING SOUTH CAROLINA FIRST STEPS TO SCHOOL READINESS and making revisions and updates to this program for providing enhanced early childhood development, education, and family support services to enable children to reach school ready to achieve academic success.
The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.4654, a bill REVISING FINGERPRINTING REQUIREMENTS FOR INSURANCE PRODUCER LICENSURE including provisions that allow these criminal background screening requirements to be satisfied without submitting a new set of fingerprints when a set of fingerprints is already on file.
The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3775, a bill AFFORDING THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN ADOPTED GREATER ACCESS TO MEDICAL INFORMATION AND OTHER RECORDS. The legislation establishes a protocol that allows a person twentyone years of age or older who was born in the state of South Carolina and who has had his original certificate of birth sealed due to an adoption to, upon written request to the state registrar, receive a copy of his original birth certificate and any evidence of the adoption held with the original record if the biological parent has completed a form consenting to the release of the original birth certificate. The form also must allow for the biological parent to indicate contact preference and to consent to release of medical history. The contact preference form and medical history form are private communications from the biological parent to the adoptee named on the sealed birth certificate. The copy of the original birth certificate must be in a form that clearly indicates it is not a certified copy and that it may not be used for legal purposes.
The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4815, a bill updating and revising the practice act for SPEECH LANGUAGE PATHOLOGISTS AND AUDIOLOGISTS to better facilitate that needs for these professional services are met.
The House approved and sent the Senate H.4913, a bill designating the second Saturday of November of each year as “PENN CENTER HERITAGE DAY” in South Carolina to promote and preserve Penn Center’s true history and culture through its commitment to education, community development, and social justice.
The House approved and sent the Senate H.3177, a bill that DISCONTINUES THE PRACTICE OF RECOGNIZING NATIVE AMERICAN INDIAN GROUPS, which are distinct from recognized tribes, in this state. Groups that have already received recognition retain their status.
The House approved and sent the Senate to H.5090, legislation authorizing the use of WILD TURKEY PARTS, not simply feathers, in arts and crafts sold by American Indian artists. These provisions do not authorize the sale of wild turkey meat.
The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3622, a bill EXPANDING THE SCOPE OF PRACTICE OF PODIATRISTS that provides authorization for podiatrists to treat not only the foot but also the ankle
The House approved and sent the Senate H.4698. In order to attract needed professionals, this bill provides an EXEMPTION FOR LICENSED PHYSICIANS EMPLOYED WITH THE DISABILITY DETERMINATION SERVICES UNIT of the State Agency of Vocational Rehabilitation from additional examination requirements with the State Board of Medical Examiners.
The House gave second reading approval to H.4799, a bill providing authorization for South Carolina to join the PHYSICAL THERAPY LICENSURE COMPACT to facilitate interstate practice of physical therapy with the goal of improving public access to physical therapy services.
The House approved and sent the Senate H.4486, a bill providing authorization for South Carolina to join the EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES PERSONNEL LICENSURE INTERSTATE COMPACT which allows for reciprocal recognition of licenses among member states.
The House amended Senate amendments to H.3819, a bill establishing new REQUIREMENTS THAT MUST BE MET BEFORE PRESCRIBING OPIOID ANALGESICS TO MINORS, and returned the legislation to the Senate. More to come.
The House rejected H.4836, a bill directing the timely REPAIR OF PUBLIC ROADS AND HIGHWAYS RUNNING ATOP DAMS THAT FAILED DURING THE OCTOBER 2015 FLOODS.
If you would like any additional information on these bills, or any other legislation under consideration by the General Assembly, feel free to visit our website at www.scstatehouse.gov. If you have a comment or opinion concerning the issues discussed in this report, or if I may be of assistance to you at any time, please feel free to call your legislative office in Columbia (803-734-3099); my home (843-774-6125); or Business (843-841-3679). Thank you for the opportunity to serve you in the House of Representatives.