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From the Dome to Your Home: March 23

A weekly legislative summary from the Municipal Association of South Carolina

The Senate and House of Representatives met in regular session this week. The House debated the retirement bill on Wednesday, while the Senate worked in subcommittee and committee and took up bills on the floor.  

House Republican Caucus Tax Bills Pass Subcommittee The House Republican Caucus introduced several tax bills last week that make changes to property tax rates. These bills have a drastic fiscal impact on cities, towns, counties and schools.

The two bills that are most harmful to cities, towns, counties and schools are H4993 and H4998 that were passed favorably by the House Ways and Means Economic Development, Capital Improvement and Other Taxes subcommittee on Tuesday. The Municipal Association testified against both of these bills.  

H4993 reduces the property tax assessment ratio from 10.5 percent to 6 percent over a four year period for industrial property and business personal property. The total fiscal impact to local governments is $228 million annually. H4998 reduces the property tax assessment ratio from 6 percent to 5 percent over an eight year period for business and second home property. The total fiscal impact to local governments is $827 million annually. For a copy of the simple template to determine the impact of these bills on your city or town, use this link.  Please complete the template and email it back to Melissa Carter at mcarter@masc.sc by Friday, March 30, 2012. For more information on the bills, contact Melissa at 803.933.1251.  

Broadband bill passed out by Senate Judiciary committee then recommitted H3508 is the bill that would severely limit the ability of governments to provide Internet access to residents and businesses even in those areas where private companies find it not profitable to serve. Although the bill was passed out favorably by the Senate Judiciary committee on Tuesday, it was recommitted back to the committee on Wednesday from the Senate floor. Senator Gerald Malloy (D – Chesterfield, Darlington, Lee Marlboro) continued to stand strong for cities and towns. Thanks to Senator Malloy for supporting the ability of cities and towns to provide services to residents. For more information on the bill, contact Ed Schafer (eschafer@masc.sc) at 803.933.1203.  

House Retirement Bill Passes H4967, the bill that makes changes to the state, police officers and General Assembly retirement systems, passed the House this week. The Senate Finance committee’s special retirement subcommittee held a public hearing on the House version of the bill on Tuesday. Visit this link for a list of changes made to the current system in H4967. For more information on the bill, contact Melissa Carter (mcarter@masc.sc) at 803.933.1251.  

Local Government Fund Update The budget as passed by the House includes funding the Local Government Fund at 71 percent of the full funding level. This is a cut from FY 12 budget which funds the Local Government Fund at 76 percent of the full funding level. The House also approved H4710, the bill that allows the General Assembly to cut the Local Government Fund.  

Representative Jim Merrill’s proviso regarding lobbying activities also remains in the House version of the budget. This proviso prevents all local government entities and associations from using taxpayer funds for lobbying activities. This would curtail local governments’ ability to provide information to the General Assembly about how legislation could affect residents and businesses in their cities and towns. The proviso is 89.plg (amendment #16).  

The Senate Finance committee subcommittees are working on the House version of the budget. Now is the time for all local elected officials to call your senators and tell them that additional funding is needed in the Local Government Fund. For talking points and background on the Local Government Fund, the House version of the budget and H4710, contact Melissa Carter (mcarter@masc.sc) at 803.933.1251 or visit the Association’s website for more information. 

Weekly Bill Introductions Access bills that were introduced this week and bills that received action from a subcommittee or committee through our legislative tracking system complete with short summaries. Visit the legislative tracking system to see and comment on all bills pending in the House and Senate.   Committee Action This Week The Association’s legislative team covered these bills in committee or subcommittee and provided testimony where needed. Click on the bill's link for a full chronology of amendments and committee progress.


House Ways and Means Sales and Income Tax subcommittee H4957 – Fees for the automobile manufacturer standard license plate – favorable report Summary of the bill as introduced: Outlines that for 2013 and 2014, the annual fee for the automobile manufacturer standard license plate for vehicles in the manufacturer's employee benefit program and for the testing, distribution, evaluation and promotion of its vehicles is $702. This bill also credits $20 of each fee to the state's general fund and the balance to local governments.

House Judiciary committee
H4572 – Deletes language that provides a procedure for surety bonds – favorable report as amended by the subcommittee
Summary of the bill as introduced: Deletes language that outlines a procedure through which a surety bond may be relieved of liability for a bail bond upon filing of an affidavit when the defendant is incarcerated by the surety or a law enforcement agency as a result of a bench warrant.

H3110 – Partisan election or partisan advisory referendum voting – recommitted to the subcommittee. Later in the week, the House Judiciary Election and Ethics laws subcommittee gave this bill a favorable report.
Summary of the bill as introduced: Prohibits a person from voting in a partisan primary election or partisan advisory referendum unless the person has registered as being a member of that party.  

House Ways and Means Licenses, Fees, Insurance Tax and Other Charges subcommittee
H3787 – Deletes certain requirements for counties and municipalities on accommodations expenditures and eliminates the Tourism Expenditure Review Committee– carried over for interested parties to work out a compromise. Myrtle Beach City Manager Tom Leath testified on this bill.
Summary of the bill as introduced: Gives the administrative law court the authority to hear certain legal challenges related to tourism expenditures by cities and counties and eliminates the Tourism Expenditure Review Committee.

H4697 – Transfers a portion of the state admissions tax to the SC Arts Commission – adjourned debate
Summary of the bill as introduced: Requires an annual transfer to the SC Arts Commission of 15 percent of the general fund portion of state admissions tax revenues in the previous year after other transfers from the revenue.

House Medical Military, Public and Municipal Affairs committee
H4739 – Requires a specific number of lifeguards in a public swimming pool – favorable report Summary of the bill as introduced: Specifies the number of lifeguards, based on the square footage and number of patrons a public swimming pool, operated by the state or a political subdivision, must have as a condition of obtaining and maintaining an operating permit.

House Ways and Means Economic Development, Capital Improvement and Other Taxes subcommittee

H4698 – Allows multiple municipalities to participate in a TIF redevelopment project – adjourned debate

Summary of the bill as introduced: Allows a municipality and one or more taxing entities to at any time provide by intergovernmental agreement that they shall participate in a redevelopment project on a partial and modified basis.  

House Ways and Means Property Tax subcommittee
H4483 - Exempts people with dementia from property taxes – carried over
Summary of the bill as introduced: Exempts the dwelling house and a lot not to exceed one acre of land owned by a person with dementia.

H4484 – Allows a taxpayer to claim two 4 percent assessment ratios– carried over
Summary of the bill as introduced: Allows a taxpayer to claim the four percent assessment ratio for two residential properties located in the state so long as the taxpayer is attempting to sell the first residence.  

Senate Finance Sales and Income Tax subcommittee
H3720 - Revises the requirements of a qualifying service-related facility – favorable report. Later in the day, the full Senate Finance committee gave this bill a favorable report with amendments. The amendments make a provision for a data center at a facility, provides electricity only to the data center, not the entire facility, changes the $75 million threshold investment, and adds a job number and maintenance clauses.
Summary of the bill as introduced: Revises the requirements of a qualifying service-related facility and a technology intensive facility  

Senate Finance committee
H4664 – Provides a process for appointing certain members to the SC Rural Infrastructure Authority - favorable report with an amendment.
Summary of the bill as introduced: Provides a process for the appointment of certain members of the governing board of the SC Rural Infrastructure Authority.
S1268 – Fees for the automobile manufacturer standard license plate – the committee met but took no action on this bill even though it was on the agenda. Summary of the bill as introduced: Outlines that for 2013 and 2014, the annual fee for the automobile manufacturer standard license plate for vehicles in the manufacturer's employee benefit program and for the testing, distribution, evaluation and promotion of its vehicles is $702. This bill also credits $20 of each fee to the state's general fund and the balance to local governments.

Senate Judiciary committee
S10 – Creates the Commission on Streamlining Government and Reduction of Waste – the committee did not take action on this bill even though it was on the agenda
Summary of the bill as introduced: Creates the Commission on Streamlining Government and Reduction of Waste and provides for its procedures to submit recommendations.
S148 – Home Invasion Protection Act – carried over
Summary of the bill as introduced: Establishes the offense of home invasion in violent offenses.
S1065 – Clarifies the ban on video gaming machines – carried over
Summary of the bill as introduced: Clarifies that existing regulations on bingo and raffles do not allow any devices prohibited under the state's current video gambling ban.

S1321 – Changes to the Omnibus Crime Reduction and Sentencing Reform Act of 2010 – favorable report Summary of the bill as introduced: Restructures the degrees of arson and changes penalties for an offender on parole to purchase a weapon. The changes also include code sections on youthful offenders and controlled substance offenses. House Ways and Means General Government, Personnel and Benefits subcommittee

H4429 – Requires procurement officers to undertake life cycle cost analysis for all public works projects – adjourned debate
Summary of the bill as introduced: Requires the chief procurement officers of governmental bodies to undertake life cycle cost analysis for all public works construction projects that are expected to cost more than $1 million.
H4732 – State tax credit for employers hiring unemployed veterans – adjourned debate
Summary of the bill as introduced: Allows a state tax credit for employers hiring an unemployed veteran receiving unemployment compensation benefits.
H4802 - SC Abandoned Buildings Revitalization Act – favorable report
Summary of the bill as introduced: Allows a taxpayer making investments of at least $500,000 in rehabilitation of an abandoned building may, at his option, receive specified income tax credits or credits against the property tax liability.
S6 – Ratifies the constitutional amendment passed on the November ballot – favorable report
Summary of the bill as introduced: Ratifies the constitutional amendment that passed on the November 2010 ballot that increases from three to five percent the amount of state general fund revenue required to be held in the state general reserve fund. Senate Labor, Commerce and Industry subcommittee
S1163 – State regulation of the retail sale of fireworks – carried over
Summary of the bill as introduced: Outlines that the retail sale of fireworks is solely subject to state regulations and except for an ordinance imposing a business license tax, the sale is not subject to regulation by ordinances of political subdivisions including zoning ordinances if the fireworks retailer has a valid state retail license, complies with state safety and building code requirements and as a valid fireworks license issued by the State Board of Pyrotechnic Safety.
H4652 – Restricts labor unions in the state – carried over
Summary of the bill as introduced: Requires employers to conspicuously post certain notice concerning the rights of an employee concerning joining a union and provides certain restrictions on government contracts.


House Labor, Commerce and Industry Business and Commerce subcommittee

H4718 – State regulation of the retail sale of fireworks – carried over
Summary of the bill as introduced: Outlines that the retail sale of fireworks is solely subject to state regulations and except for an ordinance imposing a business license tax, the sale is not subject to regulation by ordinances of political subdivisions including zoning ordinances if the fireworks retailer has a valid state retail license, complies with state safety and building code requirements and as a valid fireworks license issued by the State Board of Pyrotechnic Safety.

House Judiciary Local Laws subcommittee
H4771 – Outlines the priority of a lien – adjourned debate
Summary of the bill as introduced: Outlines the priority of a lien established under an ordinance relating to unfit dwellings.
H4510 – Requires municipal courts to utilize setoff debt collection for overdue debts – adjourned debate. The Municipal Association testified against this bill.
Summary of the bill as introduced: Requires municipal court debt to be collected by the solicitor’s office if the city was unsuccessful at collecting the debt after one year. The solicitor would be allowed to use a private collection agency to collect the debt and the money collected would be remitted to the State General Fund. 

House Education and Public Works committee
H4092 – Smoking bans on campuses of public institutions of higher learning – favorable report as amended by the subcommittee
Summary of the bill as introduced: Prevents smoking in buildings on campuses of public institutions of higher learning when it is prohibited by the governing body of the institution. House Judiciary Criminal Laws subcommittee
H3209 – Temporary protection orders for pets and animals in a domestic abuse case – the subcommittee did not take action on this bill even though it was on the agenda
Summary of the bill as introduced: Allows the court to prohibit harm or harassment to a pet animal owned, possessed, kept or held by the petitioner in a domestic abuse case by ordering temporary possession of pet animals.   

Senate Judiciary subcommittee
S1124 – Changes the governing authority of the SC Department of Insurance – favorable report
Summary of the bill as introduced: Requires the governing authority of the SC Department of Insurance to be the commissioner of insurance elected to the office instead of appointed

Senate Transportation Committee
S1162 – Removes the definition of commission from the Department of Transportation – favorable report
Summary of the bill as introduced: Removes the definition for "commission" and allows the secretary of transportation to establish other departmental divisions rather than the commission.

Senate Judiciary subcommittee
S1167 – Allows multiple municipalities to participate in a TIF redevelopment project – favorable report
Summary of the bill as introduced: Allows a municipality and one or more taxing entities to at any time provide by intergovernmental agreement that they shall participate in a redevelopment project on a partial and modified basis.
H3385 – Prohibits the sale of alcohol on Christmas Day and Thanksgiving Day - favorable report with an amendment. The amendment allows local governments to have a referendum to allow Sunday alcohol sales by liquor stores.
Summary of the bill as introduced: Includes Christmas Day and Thanksgiving Day in the statute that prohibits sale of alcoholic liquors on Sunday and Election Day

Senate Medical Affairs committee
H4721 – Business Freedom to Choose Act - favorable report as amended. The amendment would protect counties from liability if they had a flow-control ordinance in place prior to this legislation being passed.
Summary of the bill as introduced: Outlines that an ordinance that restricts solid waste disposal at permitted facilities located outside a county's boundaries or impedes a recycling program is inconsistent with the law.

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