Weekly Rewind: Week of February 7th


(Published by the Office of Research of the House of Representatives)

HOUSE WEEK IN REVIEW
February 10, 2012

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent to the Senate H.4652, a bill providing for RIGHT TO WORK LAW ENHANCEMENTS. The legislation authorizes notifications that may be posted in workplaces in order to inform employees of South Carolina’s laws guaranteeing that a person’s right to work must not be denied or abridged because of membership or nonmembership in a labor union or labor organization. The legislation prohibits state and local government contracts from including project labor agreements which require that unionized labor comprise a percentage of the workforce on a project. A governmental unit is prohibited from making the award of a contract, grant, tax abatement, or tax credit conditional upon the adherence to a collective bargaining agreement or the refusal to enter into a collective bargaining agreement. The legislation establishes requirements for a labor organization to file reports concerning its finances and governance with the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. The legislation requires signed written or electronic authorization from an employee in order for labor organization membership dues to be deducted from wages and allows the employee to rescind this authorization at any time. The legislation revises criminal penalties for a violation of right to work laws by increasing the minimum fine from ten dollars to one thousand dollars and the maximum fine from one thousand dollars to ten thousand dollars. The legislation authorizes the award of treble damages as a remedy available to a worker for a violation of his right to work. An individual seeking relief from a court for a violation of his right to work must state the legal and factual basis for his claim through an affidavit filed with the director of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation. The legislation increases from one hundred dollars to ten thousand dollars the maximum civil penalty that the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation may assess an employer, labor organization, or other person for a right to work violation.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.4636 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation establishes the BLUE ALERT PROGRAM within the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED) as a means of rapidly disseminating information to assist in apprehending a suspect who allegedly kills, seriously injures, or abducts a law enforcement officer. The program is designed to make use of the Amber Alert infrastructure established for the rapid recovery of missing and abducted children, including messages to motorists posted on South Carolina Department of Transportation electronic traffic signs and releases to broadcast media, to distribute timely information that can help locate a fleeing suspect who poses a serious public safety threat.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.4627 and enrolled the legislation for ratification. This joint resolution addresses the actions taken by the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control to allow DREDGING IN THE SAVANNAH RIVER that would make a portion of the waterway suitable for navigation by large ocean going container or commerce vessels so that a new maritime port facility may be constructed in Georgia. Through the joint resolution the General Assembly, exercising its exclusive authority to suspend laws granted under Section 7, Article I of the South Carolina Constitution, suspends the authority of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control for all decisions subsequent to 2007 related to all matters pertaining to the navigability, depth, dredging, wastewater and sludge disposal, and related collateral issues concerning the South Carolina portion of the Savannah River as a waterway for ocean-going container or commerce vessels, in particular the approval by DHEC of the application of the United States Army Corps of Engineers for a Construction in Navigable Waters Permit for the dredging of the South Carolina portion of the Savannah River, because the authority of the Savannah River Maritime Commission, as established by Act 56 of 2007, superseded DHEC’s responsibilities for such approval and DHEC’s approval could present imminent and irreversible public health and environmental concerns for the South Carolina portion of the Savannah River. Under the joint resolution, DHEC retains its authority for all matters pertaining to the Savannah River that are unrelated to these issues.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3630 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation revises provisions for the SALE OF WINE BY A LICENSED WINERY LOCATED IN SOUTH CAROLINA by eliminating the requirement that a majority of the juice used in the wine produced onsite be derived from fruit or berries grown in this state.

The House amended, approved, and sent to the Senate H.4463, a bill relating to the TRANSFER OF CRIMINAL CASES from general sessions court to magistrates or municipal court. The legislation clarifies the types of cases that may be transferred includes criminal cases originally charged and those in which the charges are reduced for purposes of a guilty plea. The legislation allows an objection to be made to the chief judge for administrative purposes in the judicial circuit where the charges are pending, and it allows the defendant to waive certain rights. The legislation deletes factors a judge may consider in granting the petition for transfer; it also deletes provisions relating to the chief judge for administrative purposes for the court of general sessions retaining administrative supervision of cases.

The House amended, approved, and sent to the Senate H.3248. Relating to the STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR PROSECUTING CERTAIN ETHICS VIOLATIONS, this legislation provides that in the case of a public official, public member, or public employee who is alleged to have violated ethics provisions, a prosecution may also be commenced within three years after the person leaves public office or employment.

The House amended Senate amendments to H.3506, which revises ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROVISIONS, and returned the bill to the Senate. This legislation expands eligibility of the job tax credit for technology intensive facilities to include research and development in biotechnology and research and development in physical, engineering, and life sciences. The legislation revises provisions relating to the tax credit for infrastructure improvements for water, wastewater, hydrogen fuel, sewer, gas, steam, electric energy, and communication services, so as to include certain site preparation costs within the definition of infrastructure improvements which give rise to the credit. The legislation specifies that the duration of a fee in lieu of tax arrangement is for a maximum of thirty years rather than for thirty years outright.

A conference committee was appointed to address differences with the Senate on H.3124, the OMNIBUS SPECIAL LICENSE PLATE BILL.